Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is a major EU initiative intended to enhance security and safety for goods entering the region. With EU accounting for around 14% of the world’s trade goods, the EU has put in place a risk management platform for goods entering the EU. ICS2 mandates air carriers and freight forwarders to complete entry summary declaration (ENS) data on shipments before arrival into the EU, Switzerland, Norway, or Northern Ireland.
With the grace period for ICS2 Second Release coming to an end on October 1, 2023, businesses need complete clarity on what these new customs regulations involve. In this guide, we will explain what ICS2 is, why it’s important for sellers to be aware of it — particularly focusing on the second release — and how Hurricane’s services can aid in compliance.
What Is ICS2 Release 2 and Why Is It important?
ICS2 is the EU’s next-generation customs pre-arrival security and safety program. It requires the electronic submission of advance data on shipments prior to arrival.
The aim is to perform risk analysis of shipments earlier in the supply chain rather than relying solely on border inspections. This provides customs with more insights to spot anomalies and potential threats. It also facilitates legitimate trade by flagging compliant shipments that do not require intensive screening.
The ICS2 has a 3-phase rollout:
- Release 1: Released in March 2021, this initial phase applied ICS2 requirements to maritime containerised cargo entering the EU. Air cargo was temporarily exempted at this stage.
- Release 2: Released in March 2023, the second phase expands ICS2 to also include air cargo shipments arriving into the EU. Pre-arrival declarations are mandatory for most air freight from this point.
- Release 3: Releasing in March 2024, the third and final phase will extend ICS2 to all transport modes (road, rail, inland waterways) and expand the data requirements to include safety and security declarations. This will replace the existing Import Control System (ICS) entirely.
After initial adoption for ocean containers in March 2021, air cargo was given a grace period. But, as of October 1, 2023, most air freight shipments will also need ICS2 pre-arrival declarations. This phase 2 rollout represents a major change for air carriers and freight forwarders shipping goods by air to Europe.
Does ICS2 Apply to the UK?
With Brexit, the UK now represents a non-EU origin for customs purposes. Air cargo flights from the UK to the EU will therefore require ICS2 pre-arrival declarations just like other third countries. The same cut-off times and data elements will apply to UK-EU shipments. For UK companies still trading with the EU, ICS2 compliance will be essential.
Why Should I Care About ICS2 Release 2?
Businesses shipping goods to the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Northern Ireland must now provide accurate HS codes and detailed item descriptions on their customs paperwork. As of March 1, 2023, HS codes are mandatory for all EU imports. If sellers fail to classify their products, carriers or logistics providers will often refuse to accept shipments or may have to assign codes themselves, often incorrectly.
In addition, vague descriptions on custom forms are no longer acceptable. Businesses should proactively classify goods with precise HS codes and item details to avoid delivery delays, additional duties or sales taxes, and possible penalties. This is especially important if the retailer charges customers for duty/sales tax upfront. Understanding and adhering to these updates is vital for maintaining compliance and ensuring uninterrupted trade flow with the EU. Failure to comply with ICS2 could lead to delays, fines, and disruption of your supply chain.
While representing a major change in process, ICS2 also provides benefits which businesses should know about:
- Harmonisation: Replaces varied national pre-arrival rules with a single EU system which means simplified cross-border shipments.
- Risk assessment: Enables early screening to expedite release of compliant goods and reduces the need for physical inspections.
- Visibility: Provides customs with more data earlier to facilitate enforcement and trade.
- Efficiency: Data-based processes means potentially faster clearance post-arrival.
What Are the ICS2 Air Cargo Filing Requirements?
The core ICS2 requirement is submitting a pre-arrival customs declaration electronically before goods arrive at the entry point to the EU. This must include:
- Parties involved: Consignor, consignee, customs brokers
- Route details: Airport of loading, flight details, arrival airport, dates
- Goods description: Detailed descriptions, HS codes, weight, values, package counts
- Location: Where cargo loading will occur for any given shipment
For short-haul EU flights under 4 hours, data can be submitted right before take-off. But there are strict cut-off times — just 2 hours before arrival for flights under 4 hours.
The party responsible for the carriage of goods must electronically lodge the ICS2 entry summary declaration. Typically, this will be the air carrier or freight forwarder.
How Can Hurricane Help?
With the ICS2 Second Release, companies now face an urgent need to assess their readiness and address any gaps before October 2023. With significant risks of delay and disruption for non-compliance, focus must turn immediately to ICS2 implementation.
Given the complexity, many companies are choosing to outsource ICS2 completion and filing rather than handle internally. Hurricane Commerce streamlines the entire ICS2 filing process and supports our customers in mitigating the risks of non-compliance, freeing up businesses to focus on higher value activities.
Hurricane offers a suite of comprehensive services designed to assist businesses in achieving ICS2 compliance seamlessly. Our core ICS2 Second Release service, Kona, provides end-to-end solutions for managing customs processes, ensuring accurate data submissions, and streamlining compliance efforts. With Hurricane’s expertise and technology, you can navigate the complexities of ICS2 with confidence.
Contact us today to future-proof your EU air cargo operations. ICS2 Second Release is coming — prepare now to take it in your stride.