By Sade Williams/Business a.m.
All freight forwarders, air carriers, express couriers, and postal operators transporting goods to or through the European Union (EU) (including Norway and Switzerland) are from March 1, 2023, required to submit advance cargo information in the form of a complete Entry Summary Declaration (ENS), under the second phase of the EU’s new customs pre-arrival security and safety programme – Import Control System 2 (ICS2) Release 2.
Economic operators involved in handling, sending, shipping and transporting cargo, express or postal consignments to or via the EU by air have to comply with new advance data reporting requirements for pre-loading and pre-arrival customs risk assessments.
By collecting data about all goods entering the EU prior to their loading and arrival, ICS2 will be supporting effective risk-based customs controls while facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU’s external borders, according to an explanatory statement.
The ICS2 will also simplify the movement of goods between customs offices at the first point of entry and final destination in the EU, the statement noted.
It added that for economic operators, ICS2 will streamline requests for additional information and pre-departure risk screening by customs authorities. In addition to air carriers’ ENS filing responsibilities under the multiple filing regime of Release 2, freight forwarders, express couriers, and postal operators will also be legally responsible for providing data.
They either have to share it with the air carriers, who will then complete the ENS filing requirements, or submit the data directly to ICS2. Postal operators and express couriers, who have previously been declaring partial information regarding inbound shipments (under ICS2 Phase 1), will now also be required to coordinate with their air carrier to submit all required data.
Those in the air transport sector who are currently filing in advance cargo information into the Import Control System (ICS) will have to gradually start filing this data into ICS2 during the operational roll-out of Release 2.
Economic operators were strongly advised to prepare in advance for Release 2, in order to avoid the risk of delays and non-compliance.To help prepare for the introduction of ICS2 Release 2, the European Commission (EC) will make available a conformance testing environment from July 2022 until February 2023, to be able to verify the economic operator’s ability to access and exchange messages with customs authorities through the intended ICS2 trader interface.
“This conformance testing is mandatory for all economic operators concerned. Economic operators responsible for filing ENS data to ICS2 should determine whether they have an existing Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If not, they should contact the EU customs authority of their choice to get this number and to receive support in preparing for ICS2 Release 2.
“They should also evaluate their trade operations for the handling of imports into the EU and contact their selected customs authority to connect and take part in the upcoming Release 2 conformance testing,” the statement further read.
‘ ICS2 Release 2’ explained
The EU Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is a large-scale initiative to enhance customs oversight of the movement of goods prior to their arrival at the EU external borders (air, maritime, land and inland waterways). ICS2 enables customs authorities to identify high-risk consignments that necessitate early intervention, while facilitating legitimate trade into the customs territory of the EU, Norway, and Switzerland.
The system is being implemented in three releases.
Having successfully completed Release 1 covering the pre-loading process for postal and express consignments by air on 15 March 2021, Release 2 is the next step in the system’s implementation, and it will go live on 1 March 2023.
Release 3 will be implemented from 1 March 2024, requiring operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways, roads and railways to comply with the new regulations.
The European Commission is leading the operational delivery of ICS2 in close collaboration with customs authorities in member states, Norway and Switzerland and industry stakeholders.