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The EC has urged companies to start preparing for the second phase of its customs security and safety programme for air freight.

This launches on 1 March next year – testing processes in advance is mandatory and must be done before February.

Advance cargo information must be submitted via an entry summary declaration (ENS), which will impact forwarders, airlines, express couriers and postal operators transporting goods to or through the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

Under Import Control System 2 (ICS2), companies which handle, send or ship cargo by air to or via the EU must comply with new advance data requirements for pre-loading and pre-arrival customs risk assessments.

The new regulations are designed to enhance risk-based customs controls, while helping legitimate goods flow freely.

The EC said: “ICS2 will simplify the movement of goods between customs offices at the first point of entry and final destination in the EU. For economic operators, ICS2 will streamline requests for additional information and pre-departure risk screening by customs authorities.”

Airlines must file under ENS, but other parties, including forwarders, are legally responsible for providing data, which they must share with carriers or submit directly to ICS2. Postal and express operators must coordinate with the air carrier to submit the required data.

“Those in the air transport sector currently filing advance cargo information into the current Import Control System will have to gradually start filing this data into ICS2 during its operational roll-out,” said the EC.

“Economic operators are strongly advised to prepare in advance for Release 2, in order to avoid the risk of delays and non-compliance,” it added.

The mandatory testing begins this month and runs until February, enabling companies to ensure they are able to comply.

Release 3 will be implemented on 1 March 2024, which will require operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways, roads and railways to comply with the new regulations.

Two factsheets are available: one showing businesses how to get IT systems ready in time; while the explains the new data reporting requirements for business with facilities outside the EU. There is also a video available.

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