What is ICS2?

The European Union makes it a top priority to ensure the security of its citizens and single market. Every year trillions of Euros worth of goods are imported into EU, with the EU-27 now accounting for around 15 % of the world’s trade in goods. The European Union is implementing a new customs pre-arrival security and safety programme, underpinned by a large-scale advance cargo information system – Import Control System 2 (ICS2). The programme is one of the main contributors towards establishing an integrated EU approach to reinforce customs risk management under the common risk management framework (CRMF).

The pre-arrival security and safety programme will support effective risk-based customs controls whilst facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU external borders. It represents the first line of defence in terms of protection of the EU internal market and the EU consumers. The new programme will remodel the existing process in terms of IT, legal, customs risk management/controls and trade operational perspectives.

The EU’s new advance cargo information system ICS2 supports implementation of this new customs safety and security regulatory regime aimed to better protect single market and EU citizens. It will collect data about all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. Economic Operators (EOs) will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2, through the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). The obligation to start filing such declarations will not be the same for all EOs. It will depend on the type of services that they provide in the international movement of goods and is linked to the three release dates of ICS2 (15 March 2021, 1 March 2023, and 1 March 2024).

Advance cargo information and risk analysis will enable early identification of threats and help customs authorities to intervene at the most appropriate point in the supply chain.

ICS2 introduces more efficient and effective EU customs security and safety capabilities that will:

  • Increase protection of EU citizens and the internal market against security and safety threats;
  • Allow EU Customs authorities to better identify high-risk consignments and intervene at the most appropriate point in supply chain;
  • Support proportionate, targeted customs measures at the external borders in crisis response scenarios;
  • Facilitate cross-border clearance for the legitimate trade;
  • Simplify the exchange of information between Economic Operators (EOs) and EU Customs Authorities.

What will happen when?

In alignment with the UCC – Union Customs Code work programme (Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2019/2151 – UCC Work Programme), the Import Control System 2 (ICS2) will be operational in three releases. Each release affects different Economic Operators (EOs) and models of transport. EOs will begin declaring their goods to ICS2 depending on the type of services they provide.

What are the ICS2 releases?

Release 1


Express carriers and European based postal operators and Third-country postal operators shipping to Europe.


The first release becomes effective on 15 March 2021.


Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) using the minimum ENS dataset.

More precisely:

Express carriers and designated postal operators established in the European Union (destination posts) will be required by the Union Customs Code to provide the minimum set of advance electronic data, in the format of the electronic Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the ICS2, for all goods in consignments they are responsible for bringing into the EU customs territory.

The electronic Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) will be mandatory for all express and postal consignments destined to enter the Union customs territory.


ICS2 aims to provide an extra security layer to the existing civil aviation security requirements. Pre-loading advance cargo information – PLACI, as a subset of the ENS will be used by the EU customs authorities to perform air cargo and mail security risk assessments. The scope of these assessments is to detect immediate threats to aviation security i.e. bringing on board an aircraft articles that could lead to the destruction of the plane and/or loss of lives – improvised explosive (IED) or incendiary device (IID) a.k.a. ‘bomb in the box’.

Further details on Release 1 can be consulted in the ‘EU guidance on air cargo security referral protocols for ICS2′, click here >> to access the document which can be read in a range of european languages (and are also available in ArabicChineseRussian). Additional ICS2 project documentation can be consulted here.

Release 2


Postal operators, express and air carriers and freight forwarders.


The second release becomes effective on 1 March 2023.


Operators have to complete the ENS dataset for all goods in air transport.

More precisely:

All goods transported by air in postal, express and general cargo consignments will be subject, in addition to pre-loading filing requirements, to complete pre-arrival ENS data requirements.

Further ICS2 project documentation for Release 2 can be consulted here.

Release 3


Operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways and roads and railways.


The final release becomes effective on 1 March 2024.


Operators have to complete ENS dataset for all goods in these sectors, including postal and express consignments.

More precisely:

Maritime, road and rail carriers will have to submit ENS data to ICS2. This includes postal and express carriers who transport goods using these modes of transport as well as other parties, such as logistic providers, and in certain circumstances also final consignees established in the EU, will have to submit ENS data to ICS2.

Further ICS2 project documentation for Release 3 can be consulted here.

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