By Stefan Busselot
As global supply chains grow in complexity, regulatory and customs authorities are becoming more ambitious in implementing electronic customs filing processes to improve security and speed processes. While many of these filing requirements have similarities, additional complexities need to be considered when crossing multiple jurisdictional boundaries — an especially challenging issue when dealing with European Union (EU) compliance demands.
As with other regions, the EU is introducing customs compliance regulations to standardize and automate its customs filings process. As the world's most important exporter and second most important importer, according to a 2008 EU Commission report, the EU's efforts to address the security and automation of trade shipments through electronic customs initiatives will have a significant impact on exporters and importers across the global supply chain.
Specifically, as of January 1, the EU's Import Control System (ICS) and Export Control System (ECS) customs manifest filing processes and requirements take effect. The burden of supplying advanced shipment information for products en route to the EU, or going to other destinations via the EU, will now rest with the carriers. This transition presents process change requirements for non-EU exporters and carriers alike.
While the focus is on the carriers to meet documentation requirements, exporters, importers and forwarders must equally make tangible efforts to understand the challenges those carriers face in light of the ICS legislation. For exporters and importers, not understanding the requirements and/or working with carriers that are not technologically capable of handling these new complexities could potentially lead to significant delays, increased container inspections, additional costs and lost revenue opportunities.
The EU's ICS and ECS filing processes and requirements are expected to be comparable to initiatives in the US and Canada. However, there is one significant difference that supply chain partners must consider: Each of the EU's 27 member states has its own filing requirements, communications platform and language of choice. To ensure the continuity of goods delivery when these new filing regulations come into effect, supply chain partners will need to understand and work with specifications for all 27 member states.
ICS Requirements Explained
As of the final January 1, 2011, transition date, it will be mandatory for carriers to provide EU customs authorities with advance electronic information on shipments in transit through the EU or destined for an EU member state for security checks and profiling. This new approach will enable customs authorities to transition from a post-clearing model to a pre-arrival one.
Carriers bringing shipments from non-EU destinations into the EU will be required to provide Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) information to the customs office of the first EU port of entry. The responsibility for filing the ENS lies with the carrier or a designated third party under the carrier's direction.
Pre-arrival information will be used by EU customs authorities to conduct a risk assessment of the transaction based on pre-established criteria, including commodity, point of origin and trading partners. The information that will be required in the ENS includes:
- Unique consignment reference, container numbers, seal numbers, goods description, shipping marks and commodity codes;
- The names of the consigner, consignee, carrier, person filing or lodging the ENS;
- Identification of the consignee and authorized economic operator (AEO) status.
The timelines for ENS compliance filing vary depending on the mode of transportation. A number of member states have implemented ICS systems, while others are still to complete deployment. Time limits based on mode of transport and types of cargo are as follows: