Guatemala launches transformative Maritime Single Window (VUMAR) 

Alliance project expedites operations at main ports, boosts national competitiveness 

Guatemala has formally marked the May 2 launch of its Maritime Single Window (VUMAR), an electronic platform automating documentation procedures for vessels arriving and departing the country’s main ports.  

VUMAR, an initiative supported by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, digitalises previous manual processes, enabling shipping agents, terminal operators, and at least five government agencies, including Customs, to expedite authorisation procedures for international shipping at the ports of Santo Tomas de Castilla, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Barrios, and Boyas San Jose.

The Alliance’s public private partnership approach enabled business inputs into the project – which included designing and agreeing new standard operating procedures – from inception to completionActivities included organising several public-private workshops and training sessions involving port officials, shipping agents, and other relevant stakeholders.  

Vice-Admiral Edy Chinchilla – Vice-Minister of the Marine celebrates the launch of VUMAR

Speaking at the launch hosted by the Ministry of National Defense of Guatemala on April 30 ahead of go-live, ViceAdmiral EdyChinchillaViceMinister of the Marine, said VUMAR would strengthen the country’s position as a strategic logistics centre servicing the Americas and beyond.    

“We expect the time and resources previously dedicated to free pratique procedures [permission given by a port for a vessel to enter once it has been certified free of infectious disease by health authorities] will translate into economic benefits, while required controls will now be conducted without interrupting vessel operations,he said      

A follow-up event on May 2 attended by government officials and the private sector included a panel discussion involving Fanny D. Estrada, Director of Institutional Relations of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT); Roberto Papadopolo, President of the Association of Shipping Agents (ASONAV); Ricardo Monterroso, General Manager of Port Quetzal; Alejandro Toledo, President of the Council of International Transport Users of Guatemala (CUTRIGUA) and Maissie Wright, representative of shipping agents with operations in Puerto Quetzal.  

“Public-private dialogue enhances the quality of the procedures, and it is vital to increase competitiveness in the short term,” Ms Wright said. 

Participants praised VUMAR, which is anticipated to produce cost savings of more than US$ 4 million a year for the government and the private sector. It eliminates the need for in-person travel to various government offices to process documents before a vessel can receive clearance to load and unload cargo. This slashes a typical eight-hour process to less than an hour, while also strengthening security through co-ordinated risk analysis of centralised data. 

VUMAR strengthens Guatemala’s competitiveness, assists the country in meeting its obligations under the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement and in adhering to the recommendations and standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), under the Convention to Facilitate International Maritime Traffic (FAL 65) to which it became a party in 2023.   

The new system enables Guatemala to attain the highest level of compliance with the provisions of IMO and FAL 65 on maritime single windows in Central America.