HMRC sets out plan for £5m rollout of EU-wide import IT system

The Import Control System 2 will be rolled out in three phases over 16 months

Credit: Pxfuel

HM Revenue and Customs has detailed its implementation plan for the new £5m-plus IT system for processing parcels and post arriving in the UK.

The Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is a Europe-wide platform to enable the online processing of safety and security declarations for firms sending goods overseas. According to procurement documents newly published by HMRC, the UK is proceeding with the rollout of the technology on the assumption that all four nations of the UK will remain within the European “safety and security zone” and will thus be required to adopt ICS2

This is despite media reports earlier this year that the UK no longer wished to participate in the zone once the Brexit transition period concludes on 31 December.

But HMRC plans to press on with the ICS2 rollout, and this summer awarded a £5.45m deal to software consultancy Equal Experts to support the first phase of the delivery of the new system.

The company will provide “three scrum teams of eight personnel” over the course of a 16-month contract that began on 27 July 2020 and runs until November 2021.

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The deal will cover the completion of various elements of the IS2 platform, including a service providing “risking” teams with “pre-arrival import information for parcels and post”. The results of risk assessments also need to be transferred to a centralised EU repository.

Phase one of the rollout also includes the deployment of a user interface Border Force agents.

This will enable messages and information about to be sent between the UK and EU.

“For ICS2 phase one, the incoming messages will arrive from EU central services via the Common Communication Network 2 end point,2 the contract said. “Incoming messages will be requests, notifications or responses to UK information requests.”
It added: “All messages received from the EU will be in a .xml message format and will be translated into a .json format.. for internal HMRC use. Outgoing messages will follow a reverse process being translated into .xml messages on the way out. Messages are always added to queues in their original format and any transformation happens when processing from the queue.

“The Royal Mail Group are also an actor in the messaging sphere. They have a specific role and must submit notifications of presentation of goods (parcels) to the UK ICS2 system. These messages are received and handled in the same way as other inbound messages.”

As well as the design, testing, and implementation of these services, Equal Experts will be tasked with ensuring “knowledge transfer to HMRC for the ICS2 service”.


Sam Trendall

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