Import Control System 2 – The Next Generation of Import Controls

Import Control System 2 – The Next Generation of Import Controls

Changes are coming for how goods are moved into the EU: Import Control System 2 begins its rollout in March, gradually replacing the current system.

How it currently works

Up to now, goods introduced into the customs territory of the EU have been monitored and risk-analyzed with the current Import Control System. 

Currently, the first step is to submit an entry summary declaration (ENS) in the relevant national customs declaration system before the goods arrive at the customs office of entry. How far in advance depends on the transport route. In container shipping, for example, the deadline is 24 hours before the goods are loaded onto the ship. The next steps in the current Import Control System are to submit the arrival notification and presentation notification.

What ICS2 improves

Beginning in March 2021, Import Control System 2 will be rolled out in several phases to replace the old system. The first phase involves the migration of mail and express shipments imported into the EU via air freight. 

The aim of the EU's new ICS2 project is to adapt or replace the current IT systems to accommodate today's customs law. One new development: A web app and a technical interface for the customs software are being integrated as part of the current EU Customs Trader Portal. Member states can generally offer economic operators their own access to ICS2. However, this could vary per country and access might not be provided by all member states.

ICS3 rollout: Three phases

ICS2 will be gradually rolled out with three releases as follows:

Release 1: Mail and express shipments in air freight

For this type of shipment, an entry summary declaration with minimal data is submitted before the aircraft is loaded. This is known as a pre-loading advance cargo information (PLACI). The customs authorities then have the option to request further information on individual packages (including x-rays) or even prohibit them from being loaded. Release 1 is set to go live on March 15, 2021, and be fully implemented by all operators by October 1, 2021. Areas where the current ICS system has been required up to now will continue unchanged alongside the messages from ICS2 Release 1.

Release 2: Entry summary declaration, arrival notification, and presentation notification

The second phase introduces the complete entry summary declaration, arrival notification, and presentation notification for all air freight - not just airmail shipments (Release 1). When PLACI declarations are required, they may need to be expanded into or supplemented by complete entry summary declarations. This phase is scheduled to go live between March 1 and October 2, 2023. ICS2 Release 2 replaces the use of the previous ICS system for air freight.

Release 3: Extension to all modes of transport

The final phase extends the process to all modes of transport. Rollout is scheduled from March 1 to October 1, 2024. For economic operators, this means that Release 3 will fully replace the old ICS system.

More changes with ICS2

Generally, it is the obligation of the transporter to submit the entry summary declaration. ICS2 Release 2 adds the option of multiple filing - allowing multiple operators to each provide some of the data needed to complete an entry summary declaration.

The EU joined with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Norway to form a common customs security zone under two additional agreements from July 2009. While these countries waive the requirement to provide security data (entry/exit summary declarations) when trading among themselves, Switzerland/Liechtenstein and Norway must still collect this data for imports from outside the EU. That's why ICS2 is being implemented in these countries as well.

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