EU introduces stricter controls of goods on import

Importers of goods into the EU should beware. From 15 March 2021, Release 1 of ICS2 – a new electronic system for controlling imports of goods into the EU – is underway. ICS2 will contribute to increasing the effectiveness of customs controls, facilitating legal trading in goods released through customs procedure, and strengthening the protection of the internal market and EU citizens. At the same time, however, it will place higher demands on importers of goods than before. ICS2’s full operation should be achieved during 2024.

ICS2, to be launched in three phases (releases) according to the nature of the activities carried out by the importers and the mode of transport, will allow for the timely exchange of information on imported goods, the analysis of possible risks even before goods are loaded onto the means of transport (pre-loading) or delivered at the destination point (pre-arrival), and the sharing of the results of customs controls. This should close the gaps in the current ICS1 system and ensure greater protection of the internal market and of EU citizens against defective or otherwise undesirable products (e.g. imports of counterfeit medicines, dangerous toys, illegal drugs or weapons).

On 15 March 2021, Release 1 of ICS2’s implementation was launched, covering (i) express carriers, (ii) EU based postal operators and (iii) third-country postal operators shipping to the EU. As of mid-March, prior to importing goods, these carriers are obliged to submit via the ICS2 system an entry summary customs declaration containing minimal information (PLACI) on all goods for whose import to the EU they are responsible. Collecting this data will enable the customs authorities to find out more in advance about the goods being imported and to detect possible safety risks (e.g. if it involves transport of substances or equipment that could explode aboard an aircraft). These obliged entities should therefore prepare for the implementation of ICS2 as soon as possible, if they have not already done so. Otherwise, they face the risk that the goods being carried might not be released into the EU.

The next phase of the implementation of ICS2, to be launched from 1 March 2023, will also apply to air carriers, and freight forwarding and logistics providers. During this phase, reporting obligations, including the scope of the information reported, will be further extended: they will cover all goods transported by air in postal, express and freight consignments.

The third phase, effective from 1 March 2024, will cover maritime, inland waterway, rail and road carriers, including consignments carried by these modes of transport. In some cases, it will also apply to the final consignees of the goods.

Finally, we would like to point out that until individual carriers are obliged to report via ICS2, they may continue to use ICS1, functioning parallelly. However, this will only be possible until 2024, when ICS2 will be fully operational.

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