What, why and how?

Find out what the Inbound Release Platform (IRP) is, what the benefits are and how it works.

What is IRP?

The Inbound Release Platform (IRP) is a digital platform that collects the various data streams around customs processes. On the platform, the various actors in the inbound customs process exchange information. It can also be reused in this way. The platform forms an intermediate link between the business systems and Customs' PN/TS system for all cargo flows at the port of Antwerp-Zeebrugge and the port of Ghent.

Why IRP?

In May 2016, Europe's decision on the Union Customs Code (UCC) changed the process for goods entering the EU. An important part of this was replacing all existing ICT systems. Specifically, as of June 2024, the new PN/TS customs system will replace the existing 'PLDA-Goods Compatibility'. The Inbound Release Platform makes it easier for you to meet that obligation. 

What is PN/TS?

The PN/TS customs system will be mandatory from June 2024. PN stands for Presentation Notification. A TSD stands for Temporary Storage Declaration. Thanks to the application, you can make a declaration to customs of goods entering the EU. 


These declarations are required when non-Union goods are being temporarily stored under customs supervision. They will remain there until they are placed under another customs procedure. Bringing in Union goods also requires a PN notice.

Portretten werden gemaakt voor vernieuwing MAS Havenpaviljoen. Foto's niet gebruiken tem 12-12-2020

Input process prior to PN/TS

The process of bringing in before PN/TS is as follows:

  1. The shipping company submits an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS), at the first port of arrival. There, customs makes an initial risk analysis.
  2. The shipping company sends a cargo list (CUSCAR message) to customs (PLDA Commodity Compatibility).
  3. The freight list (CUSCAR) is activated. For Antwerp, this is when the ship passes through Vlissingen.
  4. The goods are now under Temporary Storage (TS) at the terminal.
  5. Customs has the right to inspect goods under Temporary Storage.
  6. All goods in Temporary Storage must be assigned a customs destination (write-off of freight list).

New input process after PN/TS implementation

  1. The shipping company files an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS), at the first port of arrival. There, customs makes an initial risk analysis.
  2. The shipping company sends an Arrival Notification (AN). This is mandatory for any transport entering the EU.
  3. The ship agent files a pre-lodge Temporary Storage Declaration (TSD). This is done before the goods are unloaded from the ship. The TSD message is the cargo list.
  4. The terminal confirms the physical unloading of the goods by sending a Presentation Notification (PN). This activates the Temporary Storage Declaration (TSD) and is considered the moment the goods are reported to customs. 
  5. The goods are now under Temporary Storage (TS) at the terminal.
  6. Customs has the right to inspect goods under Temporary Storage.
  7. All goods in Temporary Storage must be assigned a customs destination (write-off of freight list).

IRP helps keep up with new regulations

The Inbound Release Platform is a tool for meeting the PN/TS obligation, but it is more than that. 


The platform includes the following functionality:

  • Temporary Storage Declaration (TSD) reception, processing and sending.
  • Creating and sending a Presentation Notification (PN) automatically.
  • Creating and sending Re-Export Notification (REN) and any transfer message for transshipment loading automatically.
  • Providing transparency around the customs process at the port, including in the event of inspection by customs and/or FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain).
  • Providing for the mandatory RTO inventory management for the terminals.
  • Release notices (Customs Status Release) for all commodity types.
  • Control of customs light in Certified Pick-up (CPu).
  • IRP web interface and Import Consignment API. This transmits TSD data and status updates on the registration and write-off process to the hinterland parties involved. This is how you optimise and automate the filing of follow-up declarations and plan your shipments more efficiently.
  • Offering Proof of Union Status (PoUS) for Union goods

What is a Proof of Union Status (PoUS)?

Customs considers all goods to be non-Union goods unless you can prove otherwise. The burden of proof is imposed more strictly in PN/TS. Specifically, with the introduction of the PN/TS customs system, effective proof of Union goods must be provided to customs for all Union goods.


So Union goods that you declare without Proof of Union Status are considered non-Union goods by customs. They are mistakenly included in Temporary Storage and must be manually processed by customs after a PoUS is applied. Until then, the goods remain blocked at the terminal.

Wat is een Proof of Union Status (POUS)?

How does IRP work?

The ICS2 process for the shipping company, with an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) and Arrival Notification (AN), will be retained outside the IRP.

  1. Before unloading at the terminal, the ship agent sends a pre-lodged Temporary Storage Declaration (TSD) to the Inbound Release Platform (IRP). The platform processes the information and forwards it to customs. 
  2. The terminal operator unloads the goods and sends an unloading message (TD) to the IRP. 
  3. The IRP uses the information from the ship agent's TSD and the terminal operator's unloading message to create and send a Presentation Notification (PN) to customs. The goods are stored in the terminal's Temporary Storage Area and are now under the supervision of customs.
  4. The ship agent and the terminal can receive all the data and updates from the IRP via API or consult it in the web interface. 
  5. Recipients or their logistics providers can subscribe to receive the data and updates relevant to them via the Import Consignment API or on the IRP web interface.The declarant, often a logistics service provider, sends a follow-up declaration to customs' IDMS or NCTS system. Pre-lodged declarations and their automation are made possible thanks to the data flowing in via the Import Consignment API.
  6. Customs carries out any documentary and/or physical inspections and relays the inspection and verification data back to the IRP. 
  7. Once customs confirms to IRP that all declarations have been released, IRP automatically creates a Customs Status Release and the goods are customs-cleared and ready to leave the terminal. 

What are the benefits?

The IRP creates a more efficient, transparent and secure customs declaration process

  • A cost-effective way to meet legal obligations as a ship agent or terminal operator.
  • A simple way to exchange information with various chain partners.
  • Transparency across the chain.
  • A secure process for releasing goods in accordance with proper customs regulations.

How will IRP be rolled out?

The Roll-out plan will be drafted in collaboration with IRP Product Governance. Based on location and type of goods the go-live timing might be different in order to guarantee a smooth transition for the entire port community.


The onboarding plan will include the Start Date. The Onboarding plan will be shared and updated here as soon as all required input is available.


The Inbound Release Platform grew out of a collaboration between NxtPort, a subsidiary of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, and The Way Forward, a project by Alfaport Voka to develop basic digital infrastructure at ports. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is supporting the project and is involved in the collaboration. North Sea Port is also getting behind this collective project.

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