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Managing Security Filings – are you ready for the latest safety and security regulatory deadlines?

Managing Security Filings – are you ready for the latest safety and security regulatory deadlines?

By Martin Meacock, Vice-President of Product Management, Descartes

Post 9/11 and in the wake of heightened global terror risk, governments and industry bodies across the world have been evaluating and implementing strategies and systems to strengthen the protection of citizens and internal markets against safety and security threats. Part of this process includes improved security filings during the import and export of goods, requiring digitisation, automation and the creation of joined-up data systems that replace traditional paper processes– with a view towards making it easier, quicker and more accurate to submit data productively, and with transparency, for all parties involved. 

Europe’s Import Control System 2 (ICS2) has been set up to drive the change required in this regard for security filings across the region, while the UK’s Border Target Operating Model is driving developments nationally. With so much change taking place continuously, and so rapidly, what do hauliers and freight carriers need to be aware of? Further, with various regulatory deadlines to meet over the next few months, how should the industry familiarise itself and prepare for the future? 

Europe’s Import Control System 2 (ICS2): 

next key deadline – 1 March 2024

Screening shipments before they arrive in the EU is a top priority to ensure security and safety for internal markets and citizens alike. However, maintaining compliance with evolving regulations is complex. To facilitate this, the EU is implementing a customs pre-arrival security and safety programme underpinned by a new centralised automated entry process, ICS2. The system has been created to collect data on all goods entering the EU prior to arrival, with Economic Operators (EOs) having to declare safety and security data through the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). 

Additionally, documentation about the ICS2 cites several further benefits: transparency that enables EU customs officials to better identify high-risk consignments and intervene at the most appropriate point in the supply chain; supporting proportionate targeted customs measures at the external borders in crisis scenarios; facilitating cross border clearance for legitimate trade; and simplifying the exchange of information between EOs and EU Customs Authorities. 

Most of the supply chain is affected by ICS2 legislation. This includes express carriers; freight forwarding and logistics companies; postal operators inside and outside the EU; air cargo carriers; maritime, road and road transport carriers; the final consignee that is established in the EU; and representatives of all affected EOs. What is more, as the EU implements this system, it is key for the wider value chain to be aware of the key release dates and deadlines.

For example, release one took place in March 2021; it affected air express pre-loading and postal air pre-loading. Release two came in during March 2023 and applied to air general cargo, air express full and postal by air full. The next important deadline is around the corner: 1 March 2024 – it sets out guidance for the maritime, road and rail sectors. They, too, will have to provide the necessary information to directly affected economic operators.

The UK’s Border Target Operating Model: 

next key deadline – 31 October 2023

As many are aware, when the UK left the EU in 2020 it became responsible for designing and managing its own border arrangements. Since then, this has involved driving change that is based on technology to simplify and streamline import and export processes for business. As a result, the UK has created the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) – which has introduced improvements in sanitary, phytosanitary and security controls on imports. It also forms part of the UK’s 2025 UK Border Strategy, emphasising technological transformation.

What is key to know at this stage is that BTOM is demanding technological and process change of all industries that it touches. It is driving this change in a phased approach to try and give all parties affected a chance to adapt. This change affects hauliers and freight companies alike and there are some key timelines to be aware of too across the industry in preparation for this. According to the industry needs to be mindful of the following key deadlines.

31 October 2023: The introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU will come into play.

31 January 2024:The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU will become effective. At this point, imports of Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the new risk based model. Existing inspections of high-risk plants/plant products from the EU will move from destination to border control posts.

31 October 2024: Safety and Security declarations for imports from the EU will come into force from 31 October 2024. Alongside this, UK government will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of a UK Single Trade Window (STW) will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets – such as Safety and Security, Sanitary and Phytosanitary, and pre-lodged customs declarations.

While ICS2 is driving change in Europe, BTOM is evidently driving change in the UK. For UK organisations - especially hauliers, freight and the maritime sector – it’s useful to appreciate what the UK Single Trade Window is trying to achieve too. At its core, it is trying to create a single entry point for border data that results in reduced duplication of data. The idea would be that submitting data only once through the single portal is enough to communicate with all relevant concerned border authorities. For example it would be the interface between the trader/intermediaries and HMRC, DEFRA and the Home Office. A vital cog in the digitisation of UK customs, and also an enabler of security filings effectively in due course. Regardless of the progress of the STW, though, the need to submit Safety and Security declarations for imports from the EU will become a reality after the immediate post Brexit hiatus.


It’s obvious that the UK and EU customs systems are on a golden path towards digitisation. ICS2 is, essentially, an IT system – and, so is the UK’s BTOM and UK Single Trade Window. 

Carriers need to accept that regardless of whether or not they like this change, it will take place whether they act on it or not. Therefore, they have a choice: they can ignore it and fall behind and lose revenue – or, they can embrace the evolutionary state the industry is in, collaborate with peers and experts, and develop their own most efficient strategy to take advantage of this new approach to managing customs and security filings. What is important to add here, too, is that cloud-based supply chain management technologies can enable teams and support them with effective customs and security filings. 

Many of these technology providers offer the expertise and knowledge required to support and guide organisations through the various upcoming deadlines set out by EU and UK regulators. They can advise on the best strategies to implement when dealing with ICS2 or the UK’s BTOM and Single Trade Window – and their technologies are designed to streamline and automate the laborious entry of data traditionally associated with security filings. What is more, they enable organisations to truly increase organisational productivity, achieve compliance and drive revenue. They integrate with key supply chain systems and are, ultimately, purpose-built to enhance and improve customs management for the industry.

By combining innovative technology, powerful trade intelligence and the reach of our network, Descartes deliver the industry’s most complete offering of cloud-based logistics and supply chain management solutions. Ready to see the Descartes Customs & Compliance solution in action. Schedule a no-obligation demonstration today. or visit

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