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What Is ICS2 (Import Control System 2)?

Published 24 Mar 2021

What Is ICS2 (Import Control System 2)?

ICS - Import Control System

The European Union makes it a top priority to ensure the security of its citizens and single market. With this aim the EU Customs is taking steps to improve the entry security and safety border controls and want to facilitate the free flow of legitimate trade across external borders through improved data-driven customs security processes. Every year trillions of Euros worth of goods are imported into EU, with the EU-27 now accounting for around 15 % of the world’s trade in goods.

ICS (Import Control System) is the electronic security declaration management system for the importation of goods into the European Union customs territory. This EU regulation came into force at the end of 2010. Nowadays it has to be improved and advanced to ICS2.

What Is ICS2?

The Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is the new customs advance cargo information system of the EU. The system aims to collect data about all goods entering the EU prior to its arrival and will be applied to reinforce customs risk management and to ensure security and safety to all EU citizens. The benefit of the new system is clearly the “Shared Trader Interface” (STI) which can be seen as one single service interface for traders in all EU member states. The European Commission provides EU member states the possibility of using the new STI and sending Entry Summary Declarations (ENS) directly to ICS2 OR providing a national service interface on their own (such as ATLAS in Germany).

The new regulation requires that a certain number of data elements be sent to the EU customs office of first entry before the merchandise enters the territory and in most cases, even before leaving the country of export. Economic Operators (EOs) will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2, through the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). Upon receipt of the ENS - Entry Summary Declaration message, the customs office of first entry performs the security-related risk analysis.

The pre-arrival security and safety programme will support effective risk-based customs controls whilst facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU external borders. It represents the first line of defence in terms of protection of the EU internal market and the EU consumers. Advance cargo information and risk analysis will enable early identification of threats and help customs authorities to intervene at the most appropriate point in the supply chain.

ICS2 Introduces More Efficient And Effective EU Customs Security And Safety Capabilities That Will:

·         Increase protection of EU citizens and the internal market against security and safety threats;

·       Allow EU Customs authorities to better identify high-risk consignments and intervene at the most appropriate point in supply        chain;

·       Support proportionate, targeted customs measures at the external borders in crisis response scenarios;

·       Facilitate cross-border clearance for the legitimate trade;

·       Simplify the exchange of information between Economic Operators (EOs) and EU Customs Authorities


What Will Happen When?


The new system will be introduced in three release phases. Economic Operators (EOs) will begin declaring safety and security Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) data to ICS2 in a stepwise approach. This depends on the type of services they provide regarding to international movement of goods.

Each release phase affects different EOs and modes of transport, as the figure below shows:

Release 1 - 15.3.2021: Air postal and express consignments

Release 2 - 01.3.2023: Goods in air traffic

Release 3 - 01.3.2024: Goods in maritime and inland waterways, road and rail traffic

What Are The ICS2 Releases?

Release 1:

·       Express carriers and European based postal operators and Third-country postal operators shipping to Europe.

·       Express carriers and designated postal operators established in the European Union (destination posts) will be required by the      Union Customs Code to provide the minimum set of advance electronic data, in the format of the electronic Entry Summary          Declaration (ENS) to the ICS2, for all goods in consignments they are responsible for bringing into the EU customs territory.

·       The electronic Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) will be mandatory for all express and postal consignments destined to enter      the Union customs territory.


ICS2 aims to provide an extra security layer to the existing civil aviation security requirements. Pre-loading advance cargo information – PLACI, as a subset of the ENS will be used by the EU customs authorities to perform air cargo and mail security risk assessments. The scope of these assessments is to detect immediate threats to aviation security i.e. bringing on board an aircraft articles that could lead to the destruction of the plane and/or loss of lives – improvised explosive (IED) or incendiary device (IID) a.k.a. ‘bomb in the box’.

Release 2:

·       Postal operators, express and air carriers and freight forwarders.

·       Operators have to complete the ENS dataset for all goods in air transport.

·       All goods transported by air in postal, express and general cargo consignments will be subject, in addition to pre-loading filing      requirements, to complete pre-arrival ENS data requirements.

Release 3

·       Operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways and roads and railways.

·       Operators have to complete ENS dataset for all goods in these sectors, including postal and express consignments.

·       Maritime, road and rail carriers will have to submit ENS data to ICS2. This includes postal and express carriers who transport        goods using these modes of transport as well as other parties, such as logistic providers, and in certain circumstances also final    consignees established in the EU, will have to submit ENS data to ICS2.

All Economic Operators Will Be Affected

Directly affected:

The new ICS2 will directly affect all Economic Operators involved in handling, shipping and transporting of cargo, express or postal consignments, such as:

These operators need to provide the safety and security data to ICS2.

Indirectly affected:

All manufacturers, exporters, and individuals from outside the EU, wishing to send shipments to or through the EU will be affected indirectly by this change. They will have to provide the necessary information to the stakeholders mentioned above.

What Does That Mean To Your Business?

As soon as ICS2 is in place, certain EOs will be required to send the necessary data to the system depending on the respective release phase. If you won’t do so, consignments/cargo will be stopped at EU customs border. This means that customs will not proceed with goods clearance. In addition, poor quality declarations will either be rejected or subject to unnecessary interventions and may result in sanctions for non-compliance.

Therefore, Economic Operators (EOs) with existing ICS obligations need to upgrade their systems. But more important, with ICS2 also EOs without ICS obligations today might have ICS obligations starting with 2024 and must therefore prepare for it.

What You Can Do To Prepare For ICS2?

In order to prepare your business for this major transition from ICS to ICS2, some preparations are crucial. First of all, analyze your business processes to evaluate if and how you are affected by ICS2. If this change affects your company, then adjustments of your business processes to the new system are necessary.

Furthermore, good data is key to successful and complete registration of your goods in the ICS2 system. Develop or upgrade your IT systems, so that you are sure of the quality of your data. Adapt your business processes accordingly and train your staff.

Take The Load Off Your Mind 

If you have any questions on ICS2, or would like support for your ICS2 preparations, contact our expert customs agents on Frachtbox. They are standing by to help you take the load off your mind.