On 15 March 2021 the European Union launched a new EU customs pre-arrival security and safety programme, supported by a large-scale information system called ICS2 (Import Control System 2).

The programme will help establish an integrated EU approach to reinforce customs risk management framework. It is a core delivery of the Union Customs Code, the EU customs risk management strategy and action plan adopted by the Council in year 2014. It will support effective risk-based customs controls whilst facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU external borders. It will do this through improved data-driven customs security processes, adapted to global business models.

Its implementation is an essential EU customs instrument for managing entry security and safety border controls. It is the first line of defence in terms of protecting the internal market and EU citizens. The programme involves a complete overhaul and reform of the existing regime from IT, legal, customs risk management/controls and trade operational perspectives. As a result, the existing Import Control System (ICS), will be phased-out and replaced by the ICS2.

As an advance cargo information system, ICS2 will collect data about all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. Economic Operators will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2, through a so-called Entry Summary Declaration. The obligation to start filing such declarations will not be the same for all Economic Operators. It will depend on the type of services that they provide in the international movement of goods and is linked to the three release dates of ICS2 (15 March 2021, 1 March 2023, and 1 March 2024).

All Economic Operators involved in handling, shipping and transporting of cargo, express or postal consignments will be affected by ICS2, and need to start getting ready for it. How? By adapting their business processes, taking steps to ensure high quality and precise data is provided, developing or updating their IT systems for exchange of information, and providing training and support to their staff.

If the different Economic Operators are not ready in time and the necessary data has not been submitted to ICS2, consignments and cargo will be stopped at EU Customs borders, and customs will not proceed with goods clearance. It should also be noted that poor quality declarations will either be rejected or subject to unnecessary interventions, and may result in sanctions for non-compliance.

Click here for more information on the ICS2 website