Forwarders flock to freight association's Import Control System seminars

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) reports that it is experiencing high demand for a series of seminars that outline the security amendments to the European Community (EC) Customs Code coming into effect on 1 January, 2011. To date, the series of half day seminars have seen almost 500 attendees from Belfast to Southampton, learn about the new requirements that forwarders will face from the start of the New Year.

BIFA is keen to point out, as well, that this series of highly regarded workshops is not at an end, and is alerting freight forwarders that they do not have to be caught out by the changes that are set to change the information that forwarders are compelled to supply to carriers. There are still a number of seminars in the Association's summer-long road show to acquaint forwarders with the new Import Control System (ICS) regime. Members and non-members alike are invited to attend the remaining seminars.  

ICS is due to implemented in all 27 Member States on 1 January 2011 and is intended as another measure that will help increase the security of the global supply chain. Peter Quantrill, BIFA Director General, said: "For some time our members have expressed uncertainty with regard to how the introduction of the first phase of an Import Control System, which requires electronic pre-arrival information to be provided to the customs authorities on all goods entering and passing through the customs territory of the Community, will operate in practice and how it may impact on their business activities. In business, like in so much of life, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. There is no reason to be caught by surprise by the implementation as BIFA staff have worked very hard with Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to produce seminars that are bolstering knowledge and understanding of the changes that will impact the freight forwarding community. It's a perfect example of the work undertaken by the trade association for the benefit of its members."  

A series of seminars so far this year has seen attendees gain knowledge of the changed requirements of ICS data gathering and input that the new regime will require. Seminars have also been provided in-house at a number of forwarders. Key to the new rules is the onus on the carriers to supply information to the respective national authorities that in turn has been supplied by the forwarder. ICS requires that electronic entry summary declarations (ENS) are submitted to the first airport or seaport of landing in the EU prior to any cargo destined for, or transiting, the EU.  The ENS declaration must be submitted, on ocean shipments at least 24 hours prior to a vessels departure or on other modes within a specified period prior to the flight or vehicles arrival at the airport/port of first landing.  A security risk assessment will be undertaken using agreed Community risk profiles.   

According to Robert Windsor, BIFA Manager - Trade Services, everyone who has attended the series of meetings has been rewarded with better knowledge of the new regime that will benefit their operations once the system is in place. The road shows have given BIFA, its members and HMRC the opportunity to exchange views regarding the new system and to try to understand one another's problems. The remaining seminars are to held at locations in East London, Aberdeen, Felixstowe and Grangemouth.

Quantrill added: "The fact the UK has set a target date of 2nd November 2010 to introduce an operational ICS system, ahead of the official EU deadline of the 1 January 2011, is significant.  HMRC believes that it is important that the system is extensively used prior to the 1st January 2011, to ascertain that it is operating correctly and that accurate ENS declarations are being made within the mode relevant timeframes. This means our seminars are not theoretical exercises but are immediately relevant as the new regime is introduced in the UK in just under seven weeks."

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