2023: our year in a nutshell

Iwan vd Wolf

“Seamless, safe and sustainable logistics processes. That’s what Portbase stands for. We would like to thank the port community for their hard work, dedication and real commitment to Portbase over the past year. In 2024, we once again hope to extend our collaboration to create the smartest port communities in the world.”

Iwan van der Wolf (CEO)

Peter de Graaf (CIO)

2023 was the year of the Automated Export System


The number of permanent FTEs at Portbase rose to 129 in 2023 (2022: 117.2 FTE), while our complement of agency staff increased to 37 FTE (2022: 26.8 FTE). A major reason for this growth was that we were handed the role of Anchor Developer for the national Data Infrastructure Logistics (DIL) programme. This meant we were able to accelerate some major changes in the ports via Living Labs. Implementation called for additional capacity.

In an ongoing tight labour market, Portbase is doing well at retaining talent. Expanding our recruitment team has proved crucial in this regard. IT staff in particular are hard to come by and will remain so.

Portbase is a non-profit organisation. Revenue in 2023 was €24.3 million, an increase of €2.5 million compared to 2022. This is mainly the result of grants received and income from projects. The year 2023 ended with a pre-tax result around the break-even position. Consequently, Portbase’s equity at the end of 2023 stood at €3.4 million. Equity serves as a buffer for possible losses and investments in the future.


FTE agency


FTE recruited


FTE in permanent employment

Port community

Portbase’s port community continued to grow over the past year. 25,000 individual users (2022: 24,000) at over 5,600 participating companies (2022: 5,100) are now using the Port Community System (PCS). This growth is particularly remarkable since inactive users were removed from the PCS in 2023. More and more companies are also choosing to integrate the PCS services they purchase into their own systems via a system interface. This means the number of users is not visible.

The growth in the number of customers and further expansion of services increased the annual direct added value generated by Portbase for the port community by 5% to €420 million in 2023.

Portbase wants to be a transparent and recognisable partner for the community and other stakeholders. In that context, last year we devoted even more attention to chain-wide solutions, integrated services and the use of the Portbase platform by third parties for (their own) customised solutions.




Connected organisations

PCS availability

The Port Community System (PCS) was available 99.94% of the time in 2023. This is slightly lower than in 2022 (99.95%), but higher than in the Service Level Agreement established with the market (99.8% for Hinterland Container Notification and 99.5% for the other services).

Portbase’s predictability and reliability in delivering services last year was 91%, which is well above the target of 88% set for 2023.


In 2023, Portbase worked to further raise awareness and increase adoption around sustainability. This involved looking at our own organisation, our service portfolio and the larger ecosystem within which we operate, based on the sustainability strategy formulated in 2022. Under this strategy, Portbase seeks to contribute to meeting the sustainability challenges faced by humanity by delivering the desired change within the organisation and in the community.

Together with research firm Ecorys, an emissions reduction model was developed in 2023. This model shows the potential CO2 savings for companies from using the Port Community System (PCS). Moreover, Portbase now explicitly includes sustainability as a decision factor when expanding existing services and developing new ones. Through knowledge sharing, Portbase also aims to raise awareness internationally about how Port Community Systems can contribute to making ports more sustainable.

Customer satisfaction survey 

Every year, Portbase holds a survey to gauge customer satisfaction – one year at strategic level, the next at operational level. In 2023, it was the turn of strategy. Just under 300 customers and stakeholders gave our services an average rating of 7.8 – the same figure as for the strategic review of 2021. Respondents were positive about aspects including the improved user-friendliness of services and service maintenance. They saw room for improvement in information and assistance around malfunctions. These are areas which Portbase is now working on.

The customer satisfaction survey included separate questions about security and sustainability. The issue of security appears to be a high priority for respondents. All Portbase’s activities to secure its own platform and the logistics chain are perfectly aligned with that. The great majority of customers and stakeholders also set sustainability goals for themselves, which Portbase supports with its own sustainability strategy.


Portbase exists thanks to the trust and mandate of the port community. Together with them, we determine the direction of the organisation and the portfolio. Consultation takes place at multiple levels and in different forms. Portbase’s shareholders, the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Amsterdam, the Supervisory Board, the Strategic Advisory Board and the client panels each have their own roles and responsibilities. The Supervisory Board oversees the management and general affairs of Portbase. The Strategic Advisory Board consists of representatives from the various customer groups. They take a perspective on what is good for the ports and the community that transcends their own domains. The customer panels, drawn from a wide range of Portbase customers and their industry bodies, discuss the priorities for Portbase services in each domain.

Brief impressions

New and updated services 

In 2023, Portbase continued to develop its service offering via the Port Community System. The following services are new, updated or expanded:

  • Cargo Declaration Export Containers (expanded)
  • Cargo Declaration Export Bulk (expanded)
  • Pre-arrival Cargo Declaration Import (expansion in preparation)
  • Cargo Declaration Import (expansion in preparation)
  • Vessel Notification (expanded)
  • Notification Bunkers (new)
  • Track & Trace Export (updated)
  • Cargo Controller (expanded)
  • Cargo Release Manager (new)
  • Hinterland Container Notification (expanded)

Goverment changes

Automated Export System

Dutch Customs introduced the Automated Export System (AES) in 2023. This is a new way of registering goods leaving the European Union and is a consequence of the introduction of the Union Customs Code in 2016.

Portbase was quick to anticipate the new customs requirements. Existing export services have been updated and expanded over the past year. A new transshipment service (REN) for shipping lines, shipbrokers and agents has been created for this purpose within the services Cargo Declaration Export Containers and Cargo Declaration Export Bulk. The required changes have also been made for inland terminals and depots, allowing companies to make a smooth transition to AES.

Import Control System 2

The European Union will start implementing the Import Control System 2 (ICS2) for the maritime sector from 3 June 2024. This will significantly change customs declarations for the ENS (Entry Summary Declaration) and ATO (Declaration for Temporary Storage).

In 2023, Portbase worked with industry bodies and customer groups to identify a solution that would allow optimal data retention for reuse further down the logistics chain. With this requirement in mind and in consultation with the community, Portbase decided that it would adapt the services Pre-arrival Cargo Declaration Import (for the ENS) and Cargo Declaration Import (for the ATO), so enabling shipping lines, shipbrokers and agents to meet the obligations of ICS2 with as little impact as possible.

European Maritime Single Window

With the European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe), the European Union (EU) aims to reduce the administrative burden on vessels calling at EU ports. By streamlining reporting requirements through a standardised digital platform, EMSWe is designed to facilitate more efficient information exchange between vessels and port authorities. Portbase conducted research and exploratory discussions on the implications of EMSWe in 2023. Its introduction is scheduled for 2025


Secure Chain

The Secure Chain is a public/private partnership between government and industry to make port logistics chains more resilient. One of the key components is the more secure and reliable release and collection of import containers in Dutch ports. It will be rolled out first in Rotterdam. Portbase was asked to make this technically possible. An additional authorisation layer has been added to the services Cargo Controller and Hinterland Container Notification for this purpose. It has also been introduced as an additional option for new users of the service Cargo Release Manager.

The Secure Chain creates a closed logistics chain made up of only known, authorised parties who securely pass the right to collect a container from the terminal to each other via the Port Community System. The use of PIN codes provided by the shipping line/agent, a system which is sensitive to abuse, will end. Only a inland operator authorised via the Secure Chain can prenotify to the terminal and pick up the container there. The introduction of the Secure Chain began in the second half of 2023. Portbase expects to be connecting many new participants. Besides modifications to the Port Community System, this will involve changes to companies’ own systems and practices. We are working with partners including Secure Logistics to make this happen.

ECT data add on in portbase cargo controller

Cargo Tracking System

Under the Cargo Tracking System programme, Portbase is working to make it easier for terminals and depots in the port to track and transfer goods to, from and between different locations in different customs regimes.

Within this programme, in 2023 a lot of time and effort was put into developing a port-wide temporary storage facility for all deep-sea terminals in Rotterdam. Uniform arrangements have been made with terminals and Customs on how to administer the process. The rollout of the port-wide temporary storage facility will begin in mid-2024, starting with Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam.

Data Fuel

In the multi-year Data Fuel programme, Portbase is working with the community to improve hinterland transport to and from the port of Rotterdam. The programme involves smart innovative solutions that benefit transport by road, rail and inland waterway alike.

In 2023, the focus of the work was on the Container Cockpit element for seamless sharing and monitoring of container statuses, and in particular on the realisation and initial pilot of Port Alert. Port Alert gives inland operators insight into congestion and disruption at the port. For the rail sector, we have been working on the service Train Composition under the Port of Rotterdam’s Rail Connected programme. In the inland navigation sector, several additional terminals and depots have started using the service Hinterland Container Notification Barge. This also provides the basis for Nextlogic, with whom we have an excellent working relationship, to include those parties in the integrated planning for all container barge visits to the port of Rotterdam.

Securely Sharing Data Together

Reliable information exchange is the basis for the functioning of logistics chains. In today’s society, security in that process cannot be taken for granted. Together with the community, Portbase therefore attaches a high priority to being able to work securely, with reliable parties and data. That includes Multi-Factor Authentication for access to the Port Community System (PCS) and continued investment in its security.

The introduction of so-called Quarterly Reviews in 2023 was another step towards ensuring reliable identities for everyone working with the PCS. Quarterly Reviews mean that every three months, administrators at organisations participating in the PCS can verify that employees registered in IAMConnected (the access system for the PCS) are still entitled to access Portbase services. This enables the participating organisations to effectively fulfil their own responsibilities in this area.

Looking to the future

Digital Infrastructure Logistics

In order to accelerate and improve digital business in freight transport, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has initiated the Digital Infrastructure Logistics (DIL) programme. DIL involves numerous parties working together and includes so-called ‘Living Labs’, a key element for learning, innovating and achieving results in practice. Several Living Labs have been assigned to Portbase, such as the Container Tracking System (CTS), the Secure Chain, the Transport Tracking System and the Expected Discharge Time. Through the Living Labs, we are realising the vision of the Basic Data Infrastructure (BDI). We are preparing to shape a more devolved way of communicating in port logistics.


In 2023, considerable strides were made in making additional data available to participants. In order to better support data sharing within the ecosystem, via the Port Community System (PCS) we enable customers to unlock their data themselves and link it to partners or data suppliers. This creates new added value for both data providers and customers. The MyData platform has been further developed for this purpose. Through the platform, organisations can securely share data or make it available on their own terms. All 5,000+ organisations working with the PCS were linked to MyData in 2023, enabling them to use current and future services provided on the platform if they wish.

Portbase’s most important data service is currently Vessel Visit. Its operation was further expanded in 2023. At the same time, usage has increased. A link has also been established with the service Cargo Controller in the PCS to enable the sharing of additional terminal and hinterland information by means of data authorisations for companies.

Iwan van der Wolf (CEO)

“Portbase is doing all it can to meet the challenges in port logistics. We are making progress on a number of major port-wide programmes that will have a significant impact on working practices at the ports in the coming years, and at the same time we are investing in supporting the innovation ecosystem by opening up our infrastructure to third parties and making data sharing easy for our customers. Together with the Community, we will continue to work towards the smartest port communities in the world.”

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