A Global Solution for the EU Import Control Systems

New customs manifest filing requirements in the European Union will pose new challenges for carriers ... and shippers, too


  • Deep sea container transport: 24 hours before loading at the port of departure;
  • Bulk/break bulk: 4 hours before arrival at the first EU port;
  • Short sea transport: 2 hours before arrival at the first EU port;
  • Short haul flights: at least by the time of the actual takeoff of the aircraft;
  • Long haul flights: at least 4 hours before arrival at the first EU airport;
  • Road traffic: 1 hour before arrival at the first EU customs office;
  • Inland waterways and rail: 2 hours before arrival at the first EU customs office.


Once the ICS requirements are in effect, failure to comply will lead to delays, rejection of the cargo upon receipt in the EU or prior to shipment (in the case of deep sea transport), and, in some cases, penalties set by the individual member states. This is very much in line with compliance enforcement policies in the United States, China and Canada.

Embracing a Single-source Approach

To prevent delays at the EU border, complete and accurate information must be provided about the shipment in a timely manner. Collecting, reusing and sharing information electronically throughout the supply chain will become increasingly more important to streamlining this new process and complying with the new legislation. Among other issues, this will demand strong integration capabilities on a global scale.

The biggest challenge faced by supply chain participants, however, is getting access to accurate data on a timely basis. In many cases, carriers must work with partial data and manual processes; or they may have to rely on partners to supply the additional information they need to complete their filings (e.g., AEO status, commodity and dangerous goods codes, consignors, contents, etc.).

Adding to the challenge of meeting ICS requirements, each EU country uses different data formats, business logic, communication protocols and certification processes. To overcome the disparate systems and processes, supply chain partners need a cost-effective means to integrate, collect and transmit data efficiently and accurately. This demands sophisticated, globally based technology solutions that can address all member state requirements and easily convert and distribute master data to any required format prior to distributing the ENS.

Contrary to what one might think, this capability is not beyond existing IT budgets. Rather than working with local providers developing solutions for individual member states, partners can achieve a seamless exchange of information on a global level with brokers, shippers and regulatory authorities around the world by using a centralized, global filing system that automatically converts and distributes master data to any agreed format, regardless of the member state, communication platform and mode of transport. This will enable users to meet ICS requirements prior to sending the ENS to the respective authorities and allow exporters, importers and forwarders to keep pace with supply chain activities in real time, while also improving data quality and integration. All these factors will help carriers avoid potential delays, mitigate risks and stay compliant.

With ICS deadlines around the corner, carriers must have the resources in place to meet increasingly demanding compliance requirements. A single point of access to a global system for managing multiple data entry and filing requirements will become essential for ensuring compliance today and into the future.

About the Author: Stefan Busselot is product manager, EU import security and declarations at Descartes Systems Group, where he has been working on product suite direction, including functional analysis and product management of several solutions of the customs portfolio. Busselot has been developing and implementing customs applications handling customs declarations (import, export and transit) and customs warehouse management for several European countries. He is considered a customs systems and solution expert in Europe. More information on Descartes Systems Group is available at www.descartes.com.

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