The European Commission has launched the EU's new import control system: ICS2.

This represents 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.

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

ICS2 will gradually replace the existing import control system in three releases between March 15, 2021, and March 1, 2024.

A more efficient and effective risk-based approach

Paolo Gentiloni, EU Commissioner for the Economy said: 

“The release will bring a step-change in the capacity of customs to help protect our citizens and the EU's internal market from wide-ranging threats posed by the traffic of dangerous and illicit goods.

It will help deliver a more efficient and effective risk-based approach to customs controls in our rapidly evolving supply chains, while supporting a level playing field and facilitating legitimate trade across our external borders.

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.

ICS2 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 businesses.

Data gathered by ICS2 will also feed into ongoing work on analytics capabilities at EU level, as laid out in the EU's recent Customs Action Plan.

Key data links with the Schengen Information System and with Europol are also being explored to further strengthen co-operation on security risks.

Two further releases of ICS2 will complete this reform

In Release 1 of ICS2, 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.

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.

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.