The British Chambers of Commerce has welcomed the “new era” of digital trade documents after a new Act received Royal Assent.
The Electronic Trade Documents Act was first introduced in autumn 2022 and replaces legislation dating back 141 years that stated all trade documents had to be paper-based to be legally valid.
It is thought that over 28 billion paper trade documents are printed every day in the UK alone.
The new law gives digital trade documents the same legal status as physical ones, making foreign trade more efficient, cleaner and cheaper.
BCC Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said: “Campaigners have worked for years to have the Electronic Trade Documents Act passed, and its introduction in mid-September will a mark transformational change in digitalising international trade.
“The BCC will work with our colleagues in the International Chambers of Commerce, and with Chambers and businesses across the UK to ensure the full benefits of digitalisation are felt in increased global trade.
“This new era begins in the UK, but it can also act as a beacon, leading towards further digitalisation of trade across the world. We also urge governments to accelerate their work to digitalise border processes.
“In our new Trade Manifesto, we called on Government to work with business to ensure 60% of the UK’s exports are carried out digitally by the end of the decade.”
The new legislation will come into effect in mid-September this year providing opportunities to digitalise international trade documents and reap efficiency benefits.
It also covers trade documents such as promissory notes, warehouse receipts, marine insurance policies, and cargo insurance certificates.