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Implementation of the European Union Import Control System 2 (ICS2)

Back in 2001, the European Union implemented the European Import Control System (ICS) in the safety and security measures framework. It was implemented to perform risk analyses on goods loaded on whatever means of transport (air, sea, rail, road) before they enter or transit the customs territory of the European Union where it was sufficient to declare the goods on arrival.

What is Import Control System 2 (ICS2)?

ICS2 is a central electronic system (data collection point) to register goods that will be imported to the European Union (EU) prior to their arrival. It allows the EU to gain more control over the goods that are transported to or through its borders.


  • Improve the safety and security measures to better protect the internal market and people against threats. This is done by better identifying high-risk shipments and taking action before they are shipped to the customs territory of the European Union;

  • Simplify the information exchange between the different stakeholders via one central European database;

  • Facilitate legitimate trade when crossing the European border;

  • Improve the data quality received from the economic operators.

Entry of the goods into the EU consists of the following process:

1. Lodging of an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) in ICS2. This document is for advance cargo screening and is to HAWB level. It is not the customs declaration system used to clear the consignment for release into free circulation. The ENS has a prescribed format and must be lodged within specified time frames. Its “filing”(lodgement) can contain either partial or full information, as discussed below.

2. Cargo arrival and examination by Customs in case of a potential risk;

3. Temporary storage of goods before their release or bonded storage and;

4. Lodgement of the customs declaration

ICS2 operational in three releases:

The first release becomes effective on 15 March 2021 and affects express carriers, European based postal operators, and third-country postal operators shipping to Europe. The Union Customs Code will require these economic operators to provide the minimum set of advanced electronic data in the Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) format using the minimum ENS dataset.

The second release becomes effective on 1 March 2023 and will affect postal operators, express and air carriers, and freight forwarders. Operators have to complete the ENS dataset for all goods in air transport.

The third and final release becomes effective on 1 March 2024 and will affect economic operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways and roads and railways. Operators have to complete the ENS dataset for all goods in these sectors, including postal and express consignments.


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