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EU customs authorities and industry welcome second phase of ICS2

Industry has got behind the EU’s new Import Control System 2 (ICS2), following the launch of its second phase last week, but concerns linger over its implementation.

UK customs manager for Flexport Jamie Houlihan said ICS2 meant there would be more emphasis on ensuring “better quality data pre-departure”, and noted it would be “great for customs authorities”.

Mr Houlihan told The Loadstar: “ICS2 gives customs authorities where goods arrive the ability to perform better risk assessment and checks, based on the new data set requirements.”

Implementation of ICS2 is being staged – phase one came online in 2021, requiring all air carriers, couriers, forwarders and post operators moving goods by air to, or through, the EU to complete ‘entry summary declaration’ data before arrival at an EU border.

Phase 2 introduced more data requirements and processes for those moving goods from third countries, but provisions exist for operators seeking a temporary delay on compliance.

“It’s apparent with these changes that customs is looking for better entry summary data which needs to be accurate further upstream in the supply chain, especially at the harmonised system level and description of goods,” explained Mr Houlihan, and added: “Although from an importer’s perspective, this does bring some challenges and a new way of working.”

Mr Houlihan’s largely positive appraisal of the system mirrors that of other industry sources. European Shippers Council secretary general Godfried Smit described it as offering “more harmonised risk analysis”.

But despite seeing it as “in principle, good for business”, he expressed concerns over how it is being implemented.

“The implementation is not going smoothly, member states are involved in a lot of other automation processes, such as entry into the declarant’s record (EIDR) Automated Export System, and this makes it a real challenge,” he told The Loadstar.

In addition, he noted one of the major benefits of ICS2, the possibility to complete a declaration by those best placed for this, is not being appreciated by all involved. He added: “We already see that this so-called multiple filling is not welcomed by all airlines. Shippers and forwarders always asked for this, as it would possibly improve the quality of declarations.”

While the current rules relate purely to air traffic, ICS systems for all transport modes will be replaced by ICS2 by the end of next year.

For those seeking an extension as they adapt their systems to meet the new requirements, applications must be lodged through the member state in which the EORI number of the economics operator is registered.

This transition strategy is, however, time-limited, with delay only permissible up to 2 October, after when consignments without the required data will not be cleared by customs authorities.

By: Alexander Whiteman



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