ICS2: Understanding EU Import Control System 2

January 11, 2024 
|  Passport

The European Union has consistently been at the forefront of implementing stringent safety measures for products entering its market. With the implementation of Import Control System 2 (ICS2), a new layer of customs security and clearance procedures has been introduced. This system is not just a regulatory update; it represents a significant shift in how cargo information is processed and analyzed before goods even reach EU borders. For global e-commerce businesses, understanding and adapting to these changes is crucial.

What is EU Import Control System 2?

The Import Control System (ICS) is a customs declaration procedure established by the European Union to enhance border security and streamline cross-border trade. It mandates the electronic submission of detailed shipment information before goods enter the EU customs territory, enabling advanced safety assessments to identify shipments that may require further inspection. This proactive approach not only strengthens protection against potential risks, but also contributes to a smoother and more efficient import process.

The first phase of ICS went into effect on March 15, 2021, focusing on postal and express carriers. The second update, ICS2, was implemented on March 1, 2023, and expanded the scope of parties required to submit data to include freight forwarders and air carriers. Starting on June 3, 2024, Release 3 will extend these regulations to road, railway, and maritime shipments.

ICS2 Requirements for B2C Shipments

If you’re an e-commerce business importing products to the EU, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, or Norway, you’ll need to provide the following key data elements.

  • A six-digit Harmonized System (HS) code for every item in your shipment: Ten-digit, country-specific HS codes are preferable and even required in certain member states like Ireland.
  • Accurate product descriptions for every item in your shipment: These should clearly state what the product is, what it’s made out of, and its intended use. For additional guidance, you can refer to this document of acceptable terms from the European Commission.

Shipping partners are required to submit this information to comply with EU ICS2 requirements.

How Passport Can Help

Here at Passport, we understand the complexities of international shipping and offer tailored solutions for US merchants to easily navigate the global e-commerce market. Our expertise in ICS2 compliance extends beyond that of a typical shipping carrier; we’re a knowledgeable internationalization partner, equipping brands with the tools they need for successful expansion. Passport’s integrated technology is equipped to accept and transmit all required EU ICS2 data elements. Additionally, our in-house licensed customs brokers and compliance specialists are available to assist with accurate HS code classification for your products, determining proper goods descriptions, and keeping you informed of relevant regulation updates. This comprehensive support is essential for businesses to prevent any shipment delays and avoid penalties. For expert guidance on seamless international shipping and ICS2 compliance, reach out to the Passport team here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is ICS2?
Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is an advance cargo information system established by the EU to enhance border security through the mandatory submission of detailed shipment data prior to arrival.

What is the ICS2 requirement?
The ICS2 requirement mandates that before goods arrive in the EU, shippers and carriers must electronically submit comprehensive cargo data, including product descriptions, materials, and intended use, to facilitate customs security assessments and risk management.

What countries are affected by ICS2?
ICS2 affects all goods entering the European Union, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, and Norway, whether destined for or transiting through these countries​.