The European Union (EU) has promulgated new advance cargo security rules that came into effect for all vessel voyages that began after midnight December 31, 2010. These rules are similar to those established in other jurisdictions, e.g., the U.S., Canada and the People's Republic of China.

The European 24 Hour Rule requires that the ocean carrier file with the relevant national Customs authority in the EU an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) for all shipments that will be carried on a vessel that will call one or more ports in the European Union. This new EU regulation also applies to imports into Norway and Switzerland as they have the same status as the EU Member States as far as this regulation is concerned.

When an ENS is required

An ENS is required irrespective of the final destination of each individual shipment on a vessel arriving in the EU. This means that an ENS is required for shipments:

  • Imported into the EU
  • Discharged in an EU port for transit by rail or truck to a non-EU destination
  • Transshipped in an EU port for loading on to another vessel for carriage to a non-EU destination
  • Remaining on board the vessel (FROB) during ports of call in the EU with a destination outside the EU 


The EU rules require that the ENS must be filed no later than 24 hours before commencement of vessel loading for container shipments in each foreign (i.e., non-EU) port on the vessel schedule and no later than 4 hours before arrival in the 1st port of first entry of the Community for break bulk and ro-ro cargo.

The EU rules prescribes the data elements that must be included in the ENS. An incomplete ENS will be rejected by the Customs authorities. A container shipment for which an ENS has not been filed and accepted by Customs may not be loaded. In other words -- the EU 24 Hour Rule applies a "no documentation - no load" requirement for container cargo. Penalties and delay of the vessel and shipments carried may result in case of breach of this requirement.

The ENS has to be sent to the Customs office of the first port of entry (first port of call) in the EU. This Customs office will carry out the security assessment. In case a risk is identified subsequent EU ports will be informed. Following risk types can potentially be assigned to shipments submitted in the ENS information:

  • Risk Type A = do not load
  • Risk Type B = interception of a suspicious shipment at the first port of entry
  • Risk Type C = interception of a suspicious shipment at the port of discharge