Enhanced customs security in the EU: What businesses need to know about ICS2 Release 3.

The European Union is transforming customs protocols through the new Import Control System 2 (ICS2). Joining forces with Switzerland, Norway and Northern Ireland, this initiative aims to enhance security while facilitating trade.
Enhanced customs security in the EU: What businesses need to know about ICS2 Release 3.

What is ICS2 and why does it matter?

ICS2 is the EU's commitment to stronger customs control. By requiring comprehensive shipment data upfront, ICS2 allows authorities to pre-emptively identify risks, while expediting trade. This balances safety with efficiency.

Key benefits of ICS2

  • Proactive risk management: ICS2 allows customs authorities to analyse data about goods entering the EU before they arrive. This enables them to better identify high-risk shipments that might pose security threats and prioritise inspections accordingly.
  • Increased security: by efficiently targeting inspections, ICS2 helps safeguard the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Northern Ireland against safety and security risks associated with imported goods.
  • Streamlined customs processes to enable smooth trade: ICS2 facilitates smoother data exchange between businesses and customs authorities which can expedite the clearance process for legitimate trade and reduce delays at borders.

Critical deadline: 3 June 2024

On Monday 3 June the ICS2 Release 3 goes live, meaning economic operators carrying goods by sea, inland waterways, road and rail need to connect to ICS2 and will have to submit a complete Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) dataset to the system.

Deployment window

There's a deployment window associated with this launch for economic operators who are not ready to start the ENS filing on their go-live date. This means some economic operators may have a grace period to adapt to the new system.

This deployment window is not applicable by default and should be requested at least one month before the go-live date scheduled for your transport mode. The deployment window can be requested at the National Service Desk of the EU Member State where the EORI number of the economic operator is registered.

The respective go-live dates for ICS2 Release 3 are:

  • 3 June 2024 – 4 December 2024: maritime and inland waterways carriers
  • 4 December 2024 – 1 April 2025: maritime and inland waterways house level filers
  • 1 April 2025 – 1 September 2025: road and rail carriers

How can you prepare your business for ICS2?

To complete your Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) you will need to provide the following information for each item:

  • EORI Number: If you're a company involved in customs activities within the EU, it's imperative to have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number, obtained from one of the EU member states' customs authorities. For countries like Switzerland, Norway, and Northern Ireland, where an EORI might be unavailable, a VAT registration number should suffice.
  • Accurate Product Descriptions: Every item in your shipment must have a precise description. This should be a reflection of its nature, composition, and intended use.
  • Harmonised System (HS) Codes: An internationally recognised classification system, HS codes are essential to determine duties, taxes, or any potential restrictions. Every item in the shipment should have, at a minimum, a six-digit HS code.
  • Additional details of parties involved: For instance: seller, buyer, the lowest bill of lading level consignee, consignor.

Apart from gathering all the mandatory data mentioned above, you can prepare your business for ICS2 by:

  • Making clear agreements on what the responsibilities are of your business and what your carrier will take care of. Who is submitting the ENS dataset?
  • Updating your businesses IT systems to connect directly to ICS2 and run the mandatory self-conformance tests to test if the communication between the systems is working.
  • Ensuring you have business processes ready to comply with ICS2 requirements.
  • Requesting a deployment window to make sure you connect with ICS2 within the legal timeframe.

More information on ICS2 Release 3

ICS2 signals a new era in EU customs procedures. With preparation businesses can navigate these changes smoothly and prevent delays at EU borders and compliance risks. So, make sure your business is ready. Got further questions? Find our more information on ICS2 Release 3 here.