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ICS2 project documentation

All necessary technical documentation for the update of the EOs IT systems is found on CIRCABC, a collaborative platform, which offers an easy distribution and management of documents.

  • CIRCABC groups ICS2 release 1: Click here >>
  • CIRCABC groups ICS2 release 2: Click here >>
  • CIRCABC groups ICS2 release 3: link available soon

The ICS2 folders on CIRCABC are publicly available. Please click on the button ‘Library’ at the upper-right corner of the screen. Joining the interest group is not necessary in order to access the ICS2 documentation. Click here >> to see further instructions.


What is the aim of the new Import Control System 2?
Customs action at the external border plays an essential role in protecting
citizens and the internal market against safety and security threats. Advance
cargo information and risk analysis will enable early identification of threats
and help customs to intervene at the most appropriate place in supply chain.

For customs purposes, security and safety risks cover a range of issues
including explosives in air cargo, narcotics, precursors, dangerous fake
medicines, dangerous toys or electronics, contaminated foods, weapons, and
all types of organised smuggling.

New threats like postal delivery of lethal synthetic opiates are now emerging.
Organised groups use entry point shipping and arrange their supply chains to
evade detection, innovating on a continuous basis.

At the same time, the volume of consignments supervised by customs is
multiplying due to changes in the global trade business models generated by
e-commerce. New advance data for goods in postal consignments will offer
new opportunities as well as challenges.

What is ICS2?

ICS2 is a large-scale EU information system supporting the following

  • lodging of the Entry Summary Declarations - ENS (advance cargo information) to customs;
  • security and safety risk analysis by customs;
  • arrival of means of transport;
  • presentation of goods to customs authorities and control by the customs authorities of goods, where necessary.

What is ICS2 not?

ICS2 is not an import system and it is not used to process the customs
declarations for release into free circulation.

How does ICS2 fit into the customs domain?

Entry of the goods into the EU is a 5-step process, consisting of:

  1. Lodging of the Entry summary declaration (ENS);
  2. Notification of the arrival of the means of transport;
  3. Presentation of goods;
  4. Temporary storage of goods and;
  5. Placing the goods under a customs procedure.

ICS2 business process scope covers three steps out of five: lodging the ENS,
the notification of the arrival of the means of transport and the presentation of

Which business models and transport modes will be affected by ICS2?

ICS2 will support the communication of advance cargo information for safety
and security risk analysis on the entry of goods into the EU for the following
transport modes: maritime, air, road, rail and inland waterways. General
cargo, express and postal business models will also be affected by ICS2.

Is ICS2 an upgrade of ICS1?

No. ICS2 will fully replace ICS1 with an entirely new business process in
accordance with the Union Customs Code legal requirements and the
strategic operational needs expressed in the EU Customs Risk Management
Strategy and Action Plan
(adopted in 2014). Furthermore, ICS2 enables
multiple filing of advance cargo information for application of Article 127 (6) of
the Union Customs Code and involves more supply chain actors and business
models as per Article 127 (4) of the Union Customs Code, with the goal of
collecting better quality and timely data related to the goods supply chains.

Are ICS1 and ICS2 going to run in parallel?

They will operate in parallel for a limited period of time. After the roll-out of
ICS2 Release 3 on 1 March 2024, ICS1 will be phased out after a transitional
period of 200 days.

Which are ICS2 releases?

The ICS2 Transition Strategy and Plan foresees implementation of the new
system and consequently new Entry Summary Declaration requirements and
related business and risk management processes in three operational

  • Release 1: Express carriers and European based postal operators and Third-country postal operators shipping to Europe – Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) using the minimum ENS dataset;
  • Release 2: Postal operators, express and air carriers and freight forwarders – Operators have to complete ENS dataset for all goods in air transport;
  • Release 3: Operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways and roads and railways – Carriers in these transport sectors have to complete ENS dataset for all goods in these sectors, including postal and express consignments.

What is the scope of different ICS2 releases?

  • Release 1:
    • Lodging of pre-loading minimum data set (PLACI) for air express and postal consignments;
    • Presentation process for postal consignments.
  • Release 2:
    • Lodging of the complete ENS for all goods in air traffic;
    • Lodging of the arrival notification for all goods in air traffic;
    • Presentation process for air express consignments and general air cargo.
  • Release 3:
    • Lodging of the complete ENS for maritime and inland waterways, road and rail traffic (this includes goods in express and postal consignments transported in these means of transport);
    • Lodging of the arrival notification for maritime and inland waterways;
    • Presentation process for all goods on all modes of traffic.

What is an express consignment?
An express consignment is a single item conveyed by or under the responsibility of an express carrier.

What is an express carrier?
An express carrier is an operator providing integrated services of expedited/time- definite collection, transport, customs clearance and delivery of parcels whilst tracking the location of, and maintaining control over, such items throughout the supply of the service.

What is an ENS?
Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) is the act whereby a person informs the customs authorities, in the prescribed form and manner and within a specific time limit, that goods are to be brought into the customs territory of the Union.

What is an ENS filing?
ENS filing means either partial or full ENS data set required by the legislation per specific mode of transport or business model.

What is a multiple filing?
A multiple filing means that an ENS is composed of two or more partial ENS filings (i.e. two or more prescribed data sets), which together form an ENS declaration.

What is PLACI?
PLACI refers to a specific type of partial ENS filing, which is the mandatory minimum dataset (‘7+1’) to be filed as soon as possible prior to loading of the goods onto the aircraft in a third country. It is limited to air traffic only and covers all goods (i.e. general cargo, express consignments and postal consignments).

What is pre-loading?
Pre-loading indicates the phase before the goods are loaded onto the means of transport that will bring them into the customs territory of the European Union.

What is pre-arrival?
Pre-arrival indicates the phase before the means of transport arrives in the customs territory of the European Union.

Who must file an ENS and when?
In general, the carrier bringing the goods into the customs territory of the European Union is obliged to lodge an ENS for those goods [Article 127 (4) UCC]. When the carrier does not have all legally required particulars of the ENS at its disposal, those particulars are to be filed by the person who holds those particulars and did not share them with the carrier. This will eventually enable the carrier to lodge a complete ENS [Article 127 (6) UCC; case of multiple filing].

Depending on the mode of transport, the ENS is to be filed within the
following time limits:

Transport by sea
a) At the latest two hours before the arrival of the vessel at the first port of entry into the Union in case of goods coming from Greenland, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, ports on the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea or Morocco;

b) The same two hours apply in cases where the goods are coming from other third country territories and enter the customs territory of the Union, the French overseas departments, the Azores, Madeira or the Canary Islands and the duration of the vessel’s journey is less than 24 hours;

c) At the latest four hours before the arrival of the vessel for bulk cargo in other cases than a) or b) above;

d) For containerised cargo in other cases than a) and b) 24 hours before the
goods are loaded onto the vessel which will bring them into the customs territory of the Union.

Transport by air
e) The ENS, or when it is not possible, the minimum data set for air pre-loading, shall be lodged as early as possible but at the latest before the goods are loaded onto the aircraft which will bring them into the customs territory of the Union;

f) When only minimum data set was lodged under (e), the complete ENS shall be lodged at the time of actual departure of the aircraft when the duration of the flight is less than four hours;

g) For other flights than those mentioned under f), the complete ENS is to be lodged four hours before the arrival of the aircraft at the first airport in the customs territory of the Union.

Transport by rail
h) When the train voyage takes less than two hours from the last train formation station outside the customs territory of the Union to the first point of entry into the customs territory, the ENS is to be lodged at the latest one hour before the train arrives at the border entry point of the Union;

i) In other cases than those mentioned under h), the ENS is to be lodged at the latest two hours before the train arrives at the entry point of the Union.

Transport by road
The ENS shall be lodged at the latest one hour before the goods arrive at the entry point of the Union.

Transport by inland waterways
The ENS shall be lodged at the latest two hours before the goods arrive at the
entry point of the Union.

ICS2 background information

In 2005 and 2006 security aspects were introduced into the EU customs legislation (Regulation (EC) 648/2005, 1875/2006) in response to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. The purpose of these measures went beyond addressing security threats and preventing terror attacks but also sought to improve the overall safety of the international goods supply chains in the new millennia. Thanks to these measures, EU customs authorities can fully ensure the
protection of EU borders and its citizens (Article 3 of the Union Customs Code) from illicit trade. Additionally, the measures seek to strike an appropriate balance between customs controls and legitimate trade.

The integral measures included:

  • the requirement to submit electronic data prior to the arrival of goods in the EU (the so-called Entry Summary Declaration - ENS) in order to analyse and identify security and safety risks before goods arrive at the external borders;
  • setting up an advance cargo information system (Import Control System – ICS);
  • the introduction of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme;
  • deployment of a common risk management framework with controls based on electronic risk analysis techniques;
  • control focus on high-risk goods movements while identifying and facilitating cross-border movements of goods involving legitimate trade.

When the new regime first entered into force, new security threats emerged. The Transatlantic Aircraft Bomb plot in October 2010, where a shipment containing improvised explosive devices was found on-board of an airplane transiting the EU towards the United States, exposed certain structural weaknesses and gaps in the system.

Consequently, the EU promptly decided to review the ICS and the entire risk management framework, focusing on reinforcing the structure and becoming more responsive, efficient, effective and adaptable to new emerging threats.

In 2014 the European Council adopted the Commission Strategy and Action Plan for better Customs Risk Management, which provided the basis for additional legislative, IT and operational reforms.

The cornerstone of the reform in the field of protection of safety and security is a complete overhaul of the ICS transforming it into a new large-scale advance cargo information programme underpinned by the ICS2. It will be developed, deployed and operational between 2021 and 2025. It aims to further strengthen the “first line of defence” for customs.