container ship

EU increases reporting requirements for handling, shipping, and transporting goods

Published: 01 May 2024

The third release of the European Union’s customs pre-arrival safety and security system – Import Control System 2 (ICS2) – goes live on 3 June 2024. Failure to meet the new requirements can result in delays of goods at the EU customs borders and possibly even imposing of sanctions due to non-compliance.

What is ICS2? 

ICS2 is an IT system that collects data on all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. If you’re involved in handling, shipping, or transporting goods (including express and postal consignments) to or through the EU, Northern Ireland, Norway, or Switzerland by sea and inland waterways, you need to be aware of the new ICS2 requirements and take the necessary steps to comply with them. These requirements also concern e-commerce businesses. 

What will change? 

In brief, a range of mandatory and more detailed information about the goods being transported will need to be electronically submitted in the ICS2 system in the form of a complete Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). For each item, the required information includes: 

  • A complete and accurate commercial description the HS 6-digit commodity code
  • Additional details of parties involved (for instance, seller, buyer, the lowest bill of lading level consignee, consignor)
  • The EORI1 number (when assigned to any of these parties). 

To comply with ENS data requirements, ICS2 introduces multiple filing. Where you are the carrier issuing a master bill of lading, you will have to obtain the necessary data from all underlying house bills of lading from the issuing freight forwarders (including express or postal operators issuing equivalent transport documents). The information required includes buyer and seller data available to the consignee at the lowest house bill of lading. If the freight forwarder does not share the required data, then you will need to submit a partial ENS based on your master bill of lading and declare the EORI of the freight forwarder in your filing. The freight forwarder will then become responsible for the house level data filing to ICS2 and will have to obtain data from other house bill of lading issuing parties or declare in its partial ENS filing the identity of parties still required to file. 

Where you are the carrier issuing a straight bill of lading, you will have to obtain certain additional commercial data from the EU established consignee. If the consignee does not share the required data, you will need to declare its EORI in your partial ENS and the consignee will become responsible and liable for its partial filing into the ICS2 system. 

Where you are the freight forwarder, express or postal operator issuing a house bill of lading or equivalent, you will have to inform the carrier (or the so-called ‘master freight forwarder’ if you are acting as a co-loading party) to whom you issued a house bill of lading. You must either share the necessary data with the carrier or the master freight forwarder or file a partial ENS with ICS2 yourself, including certain commercial data to be obtained from the EU-based consignee stipulated at the lowest level of the house bill of lading. 

Note to consignees: you may be required to file an ENS containing buyer and seller information depending on the contractual arrangements between the parties. 

When will the changes apply? 

You will need to make a request to start filing with ICS2 during a time-limited deployment window. You should do this through the Member State where the EORI number that will be used for ICS2 data filings is registered. 

For maritime and inland waterway carriers, the deployment window is from 3 June 2024 to 4 December 2024. 

For maritime and inland waterway house level filers, it is from 4 December 2024 to 1 April 2025. 

How to get ready? 

  • Familiarise yourself with the new requirements: 
  1. European Commission website and FAQ 
  2. European Commission CIRCABC document sharing platform 
  3. Decide if you want to submit the complete ENS dataset to the ICS2 yourself, or instead, arrange contractually with your clients that, as a carrier, you submit the master level data and they submit the necessary partial information to ICS2 under their responsibility and within the legal time limit. 
  • Obtain an EORI number from one of the EU Member States’ customs authorities
  • Update your IT systems to connect directly with ICS2, or instead, contract an IT service provider to offer IT services for ENS filings. Contact the National Service Desk of the Member State where your EORI number is registered to get guidance on the steps to follow
  • Ensure you have the necessary business processes in place to comply with ICS2 requirements for multiple filing or for receiving notifications from the customs authorities, including having operational protocols in case of system failures
  • Train your staff and allocate resources to operate the updated IT systems and business processes
  • Run the mandatory self-conformance tests as of 11 December 2023, to make sure that your IT systems can be used for sending and receiving technical messages to and from ICS2. Check the self-conformance testing organisation document for next steps
  • Request a deployment window from the Member State of EORI registration to connect to ICS2 within the legal timeframe.

What will happen if you’re not ready in time? 

Goods will be stopped and delayed at the EU customs borders. The goods in question will not be cleared by the customs authorities. Inadequate declarations will either be rejected or subject to intervention, with possible sanctions imposed for non-compliance. 


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Jakob Paaske Larsen


Jakob Paaske Larsen

Head of Maritime Safety & Security

Copenhagen, Denmark