What’s new with ICS?


New EU regulations controlling the risks of cross-border freight movement came into force last year. What has changed — and is the new system working?

In the wake of 9/11, both the US and EU decided to introduce freight profiling systems to protect air traffic against potential attacks.  Last year the EU introduced ICS (Import Control System), a mandatory electronic security declaration management system for all shipments crossing into EU customs territory.

The Finnish automated customs clearance system, comprising both ICS and Export Control (ECS), is called “AREX”. Finnair Cargo’s AREX project manager is Petteri Hellén, who explains what has changed:

“Finnair now provides Customs with full air waybill and house air waybill data from the forwarder. The biggest change is the expanded level of data, which requires a new way of thinking and a new tool to communicate with customs systems.”

The expanded requirements presented some daunting software challenges. “Only a couple of system providers were up for it. Our provider, Champ Cargosystems, was one. That’s one main reason why we provide the service for many other airlines,” says Hellén.

Paper-free future

The entire AREX process is paper-free. Finland has a major advantage here, because paper-free customs clearance will become mandatory in the EU in 2014.

After the necessary waybill data is submitted for profiling, each shipment receives an MRN (Movement Reference Number) to activate import clearance.

“The biggest challenge has been getting our customers to provide the needed data on time, as profiling has to be done hours before the flight enters EU airspace,” says Hellén.

“For ICS and ECS, there are no further big changes on the horizon. But it’s good to keep in mind that similar systems are popping up all over the world. For instance Thailand is now implementing its own system.”

All AREX procedures are currently functioning well, and Finnair Cargo thanks its customers for providing the needed information smoothly.

“We are looking for new companies to send data as FWB (air waybill) and FHL (house air waybill) messages directly to our system. We have plans to provide a worldwide web service for entering this data, but at the moment we are able to provide the service only in Finland.”

Hellén reminds all customers to always attach a house air waybill manifest with full address details, which is mandatory also for EU export shipments.

If you have any questions concerning ICS or ECS, please do not hesitate to contact MRN@finnair.com.
By Silja Kudel

Published October 8, 2012

Category: Local features