The government has asked airlines to submit details of passengers on a flight taking off from India only in a “flat file” format to the Customs department. Generally, a flat file provides easier access to data among computer systems.
The directive, effective May 15, means airlines have to furnish such information only in the said format and not in the one as prescribed by the UN.
As of now, carriers have the option to file manifests for outbound passengers in the United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport Passenger List Advance Passenger Information (UN/EDIFACT PAXLST API) message format. This particular template is used globally.
“It has been decided that with effect from May 15, 2017, all carriers shall start transmitting electronically, the manifests for the outbound passengers 15 minutes before leaving or taking off from the port of embarkation in India, to the Indian Customs in a flat file format,” said a circular of the revenue department.
The decision has been taken following consultations and tests that were carried out “in respect of electronic transmission” with some of the carriers and their respective service providers. Besides, carriers are required to transmit the pre- check passenger manifest 12 hours before the departure of the flight.
The revenue department has also asked airlines to carry out necessary modification in their systems to transmit the pre-boarding manifest in flat file format by November.
UN/EDIFACT, a standard data format, was adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). One of its versions has been codified by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for worldwide use by carriers.