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ICS2 Release 2 - March 2023 requirements

Tiffanie Archie

March 1, 2022

ICS2 Release 2 - March 2023 requirements

ICS2 Release 2: March 2023 requirements

If you are not prepared for the requirements being imposed due to the second release of the Import Control System 2 that went into effect March 2023, you may experience customs delays. Even if you do not ship directly to EU countries, you may still be impacted by cross-border supply chain delays.

If you are a retailer creating international shipping labels to fulfill orders for your customers, you will need to pay attention to new regulations that have been implemented by the European Union (EU) effective March 2023. Even if you are not shipping directly to the EU, you may still be impacted by customs delays and penalties if goods are not appropriately documented for compliance.

To understand the new regulations for importing goods to or through the EU, you will need to know these three things:

  • What is the Import Control System 2 (ICS2)?
  • What data/documentation do I need to be compliant?
  • What are the timing requirements for submitting data to EU customs authorities?

What is the Import Control System 2 (ICS2)? 

ICS2 stands for "Import Control System 2" and is the EU's new system responsible for screening goods for import to ensure safety and compliance. Before ICS2's electronic system, there was a less advanced system, Import Control System (ICS). The new electronic filing is an updated, streamlined way of security screening for shipments traveling to or through the EU*, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, and Norway. The purpose is to ensure safety through accuracy in documentation.

EU countries:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

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

  • Increase the protection of EU citizens and the internal market against security and safety threats
  • Allow EU Customs authorities to identify high-risk consignments better and intervene at the most appropriate point in the supply chain

There are three releases for ICS2:

Release 1: The first release went into effect on March 15, 2021, and impacted postal operators and express carriers. Modes of transportation impacted in the first release were air express preloading and postal air preloading.

Release 2: The second release of ICS2 requirements directly impacts freight forwarders, logistics providers, and air carriers with modes of transportation for general air cargo, full air express, and postal by air. Public-facing requirements have been implemented effective March 1, 2023.

Release 3: The third and final ICS2 release will take effect on March 1, 2024, and impact maritime, road, and rail transportation modes.

What data do I need to be compliant under ICS2? 

Although ICS2 governs shipments arriving in the EU, the required data is applicable to any international shipment, regardless of origin or destination. This is to account for possible diversion into or through an EU country.

The following pre-arrival data is required under ICS2 for international shipments:

  • Six-digit HS codes (see the Universal HS codes section for more details)
  • A valid description of goods (see the Item descriptions section for more details)
  • Shipper and receiver full names and contact details (valid phone number for each)
  • Shipper and receiver complete addresses (street, number, city, country, postal code)
  • For B2B shipments entering the EU, the sender must collect the recipient business' EORI number before passing the shipment to the carrier.
  • Detailed weight (lb/kg), a unit of measure (each, pieces, bundles, etc.), and quantity for each line item on the commercial invoice

Universal HS codes 

Six-digit Harmonized System (HS) codes will be required for all goods imported. This six-digit HS code* will be the same, no matter the destination country, as the first six digits are universal. Complete, country-specific HS codes can vary in length and determine the duty/VAT rates assessed within each destination country. The complete, country-specific HS code is preferred, but only the first six digits are required to comply with the second release of ICS2.

*While the six-digit code is universal and sufficient to meet the requirements discussed here, there are other circumstances where eight digits or more are required to be compliant.

Item descriptions 

A quality description of the goods will also be required. A good package description answers the following questions:

  • What is the item being shipped?
  • What material(s) is it made of?
  • What is the item used for?
  • What is the item's serial or part number (if applicable)?

The following image reflects vague vs. detailed descriptions:

My image

Do I need an EORI number?

Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) numbers are required for EU businesses to import or export goods into or out of the EU. EORI numbers are only required for B2B shipments; only the EU recipient business must have one. (Non-EU businesses will have one as sender if they have an EU headquarters).

For B2B shipments entering the EU, the sender must collect the recipient business' EORI number before passing the shipment to the carrier. The carrier cannot depart without it.

What are the timing requirements to provide data to EU customs authorities?

Timing requirements may vary based on the carrier's internal processes and how they pass the required data to EU customs. At the latest, it would have to be filed four hours before the aircraft arrives in the EU; if the flight is shorter than four hours, it has to be provided before departure.

Understanding this, if your shipment manifest data is not sent to the carrier when you create your shipping label or if the commercial invoice does not include all of these details, your shipments may be delayed, rejected, or returned at your cost. The carrier would need to request and verify the missing data with you before it can be released to depart to the EU.

What now? 

If you are scratching your head or are confused about finding or creating product classification codes for your entire product catalog, there are ways to automate this process. With the right software tools to automate classification, like Zonos Classify, keeping up with ICS2 requirements is easy.

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