What is the Import Control System 2 (ICS2)?


The Import Control System (ICS) is an electronic system developed by the European Commission and Member States for the lodging and processing of Entry Summary Declarations (ENS), and for the exchange of messages between national customs administrations, between them and economic operators, and with the European Commission.

Entry Summary Declaration

An Entry Summary Declaration is an electronic safety and security declaration from the carrier to the customs authorities. It must be submitted for goods imported into the customs territory of the EU directly from countries outside the Union, and it must be lodged in advance of the arrival of the consignment.

How does the ICS work?

When goods enter into the European Union for the first time, they do so via the Office of First Entry. If these goods remain on the same mode of transport and are imported into another Member State, they do so via an Office of Subsequent Entry. Using EU agreed common risk rules, the Entry Summary Declaration will undergo risk analysis and any appropriate safety and security data will be passed to the other Member States.

The main objective of the ICS is to ensure that import operations starting in one Member State can be completed in another Member State without resubmission of the same information and was introduced across the European Union (EU) as part of the safety and security amendment.

The new ICS

On 15 March 2021, the European Union will launch a new EU customs pre-arrival security and safety program, supported by a new information system called ICS2 (Import Control System 2). The program is one of the main contributors towards establishing an integrated EU approach to reinforce customs risk management under the common risk management framework (CRMF), and it will support effective risk-based customs controls while assisting the free flow of legitimate goods across the EU’s external borders.

The new program's implementation will involve a complete reform of the existing one from IT, legal, customs risk management/controls, and trade operational perspectives. As a result, the current Import Control System will be gradually phased out and replaced by the ICS2.

All economic operators involved in handling, shipping, and transporting of cargo, express, or postal consignments will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2 through an Entry Summary Declaration.

If the necessary data has not been submitted to ICS2, consignments and cargo will be stopped at EU customs borders, and the customs officers will not clear the goods in question. It should also be noted that unsatisfactory declarations will be either rejected or subject to unnecessary intervention and may lead to penalties for non-compliance.

The three release dates of ICS2


The ICS2 will be operational in three releases, and each release will affect different economic operators and models of transport.

The first release becomes effective on 15 March 2021and 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 2023and 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.

Economic operators that will have to provide safety data for ICS2

1.      Manufacturers / Importers / Exporters

2.      Postal operators inside and outside the EU

3.      Express delivery services

4.      Air cargo carriers

5.      Freight forwarding and logistics companies

6.      Final consignee established in the EU (for goods received by sea)

7.      Sea, rail, and road transport

8.      Representatives of all the areas mentioned above

The importance of correct commodity data

In addition to the directly affected economic operators mentioned above, ICS2 will also indirectly affect all retailers from outside the EU who wish to ship goods to or through the EU.

Any retailer that wants to ship their goods to the EU will have to provide the necessary information to the economic operators directly concerned.

It is therefore crucial, now more than ever, to provide complete and correct data to your carriers (including harmonisation codes, product descriptions, and country of origin, among others). You must also ensure you are screening effectively for prohibited and restricted items.

Shiptheory can help you ensure that you submit the correct commodity data for your goods to your carriers and significantly reduce the chance of your shipments being delayed, returned, or paying more tax.

Our Commodity Data Checking Tool automatically identifies and highlights any issues or omissions in your product data and helps you reduce friction when shipping internationally.

If you have any queries regarding ICS2 or Shiptheory’s Commodity Data Checking Tool, please do not hesitate to reach out to support.

Otherwise, create a free Shiptheory account and start shipping smarter and faster today!

Stathis Kampylis

Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Shiptheory