The European Project ICS2 (Import Control System)

What is ICS2?

ICS2 stands for Import Control System 2, which is a freight prior information system. Through this system, data is collected on all goods imported into the joint security area of Switzerland, the EU and Norway before they reach the external border of the security area. Within the joint security area, prior notification obligations are waived. ICS2 will enable custom authorities to carry out targeted risk analysis based on the pre-declaration data, to identify high-risk consignments (dangerous goods, war material, dual use) earlier and better, and to repell threats at the optimal point in the supply chain. At the same time, ICS2 should lead to faster and more efficient handling of goods that do not qualify as high-risk shipments. ICS2 replaces the existing IT systems.

Why is Switzerland participating in ICS2?

Switzerland forms a joint customs security area with the EU and Norway. This is based on the Agreement on the simplification of inspections and formalities in respect to the carriage of goods and on custom security measures between Switzerland and the EU (ZESA; SR 0.631.242.05) and the Agreement between Switzerland and Norway on customs security measures (SR 0.632.315.982). These agreements aim to ensure the equivalence of the customs security measures of the contracting states vis-à-vis third countries. In ZESA it has been agreed that the relevant further developments of EU law, in the drafting of which Switzerland can participate without voting rights, must be adopted by Switzerland in an equivalent manner. In order to implement the innovations resulting from the current update of ZESA, Switzerland has decided to participate in ICS2. This is probably the most efficient and cost-effective option both for the economy and the administration.

What are the advantages of the Swiss participation in ICS2?

With ICS2 and the access to the Common Repository (CR), new perspectives for risk analysis and thus risk management by the Swiss Federal Customs Authorities (FCA) will arise. The FCA will thus have access to the advance declarations of goods destined for Switzerland across all transport modes before these goods cross the Swiss border. Previously, such information was only available in relation to direct imports by air. In future, the FCA will be able to participate in the risk analysis of consignments arriving at the port of Rotterdam or Antwerp, for example, which are then transported to Switzerland by truck or train, and, if necessary, proactively initiate any necessary measures.

What changes exactly, what remains the same as today?

One of the current exemptions from the prior notification requirement will be abolished. For postal consignments, advance notification data must now also be recorded. This closes a security gap and puts the postal operator on an equal footing with couriers. In addition, data will now be transmitted before the start of air transport activities (before the goods are loaded), and a reduced pre-notification, the so-called Pre-Loading Advanced Cargo Information (PLACI), will be introduced. The complete pre-notification before entering the security area, the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS), will remain in place.

For which industries and companies is ICS2 relevant?

In principle, the carrier is responsible for the timely transmission of the pre-notification. In Switzerland, this primarily concerns the postal service, courier companies, airlines, transport and logistics companies and freight forwarding businesses.

Which branches / types of transport are affected and when?

The EU provides for 3 stages (releases), which also apply to Switzerland.

- 15.03.2021 Courier and postal transport

- 01.02.2023 Air freight transport

- 01.02.2024 Rail, road and maritime transport


The customs law team of MME Legal | Tax | Compliance is always available to answer any questions you may have in connection with the introduction of ICS2.

November 2020 | Authors: Raphael Brunner, Karl Fässler

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