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The EU ICS system: Debrief for businesses

The EU import control system – ICS2 – is - partly - in operation for postal and express consignments. Does this spell further delays for your parcels and small packages? Let's find out.

The European Union is implementing a new customs pre-arrival security and safety programme, underpinned by a large-scale advanced cargo information system – Import Control System 2 (ICS2). This is dubbed "a major reinforcement of the Customs Union's "first line of defence" against security and safety threats posed by illicit traffic in goods across the EU's external borders".

Postal and express consignments

In its first phase, ICS2 focuses on postal and express consignments coming to or through the EU by air, before eventually being applied to all modes of cargo transport.

Advanced cargo risk management platform

ICS2 is the new advance cargo risk management platform at the heart of the reform of the EU's Customs Pre-arrival Safety and Security programme. It will gradually replace the existing import control system in three releases between 15 March 2021 and 1 March 2024.

What is it?

The EU's new advance cargo information system ICS2 supports the implementation of this new customs safety and security regulatory regime aimed to better protect the single market and EU citizens.

Starting this year with Release 1, the programme will progressively introduce improved supply-chain data collected by customs and new tools and processes in order to enable, for the first time, real-time collaborative risk analysis while goods are still moving through their supply chains to or through the EU. It involves a complete overhaul of the existing regime from the perspectives of IT, customs risk management and trade operations, and has been prepared in close collaboration between the Commission, Member State customs authorities and business.

How does it work?

It collects data about all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. Economic Operators (EOs) will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2, through the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). The obligation to start filing such declarations will not be the same for all EOs.

Who is concerned?

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).

Three Release Dates

CS2 in detail

In Release 1, express carriers and designated postal operators established in the EU will begin providing a subset of their Entry Summary Declaration data before goods are loaded on aircraft bound for the EU.

This pre-loading advance cargo information - also known as “PLACI” data - will be analysed by customs with a view to detecting immediate threats to aviation security, delivering a complementary intelligence-driven layer of consignment-level risk analysis in the context of the EU civil aviation security regime. It will involve close co-operation between customs and national competent authorities for civil aviation security.

The first release of ICS2 will in particular introduce advance cargo information for postal consignments for the first time. This will be crucial in enabling customs to address a wide range of unsafe traffic in the context of massive and growing flows of e-commerce. Whether it is weapons or narcotics, fake medicines or dangerous toys, illicit supply chains will continue to try to exploit the possibilities presented by large flows of small parcels across the globe.

Two further releases of ICS2 will complete this important reform: Release 2 is scheduled to extend these new capabilities to general air cargo in March 2023, and Release 3 will include maritime, rail and road modes of transport from 2024.

Download the Datasheet

ICS Factsheet 2021
Download PDF • 3.90MB


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