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What is ISF and When Should I File It?


Enacted in 2009, the Importer Security Filing, or ISF, is a mandated regulation by U.S Customs and Border Protection designed to prevent smuggling and ensure cargo safety and security. Also known as “10 + 2”, the regulation is required for any commercial imports entering the United States by ocean vessel and does not apply to any other mode of transportation. Continue reading to learn and understand more about the ISF and how it relates to you.


Who Files the ISF?

The importer is ultimately responsible for filing the ISF, but many businesses utilize a freight forwarder/customs broker such as ClearFreight to organize necessary information to file on their behalf. Filings must be done electronically via the Automated Manifest System (AMS) or the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) as there are no customs paper forms to complete this requirement.

Gathering and checking all relevant information required to file the ISF can be time consuming, that is why many businesses opt for partnering with a freight forwarder who has the knowledge, expertise, and data transmission interface. Whether you are filing your own ISF or using an agent, getting your ISF filed timely and correctly is extremely important. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties.


When Should You File the ISF?

Your ISF must be filed no later than 24 hours prior to the vessel departing from origin port. Many third-party filing agents recommend filing up to 72 hours in advance to ensure proper data transmittal.

What Data Must be Included in the ISF?

In order to properly file the ISF, below data must be included:

  • Seller

  • Buyer

  • Importer of record number

  • Consignee number(s)

  • Manufacturer (or supplier)

  • Ship-to party

  • Country of origin

  • Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) number

Two additional data elements must be submitted no later than 24 hours prior to the vessel’s arrival at a U.S. port:

  • Container stuffing location

  • Consolidator (if any)

What Are Penalties for Not Filing the ISF?

ISF penalties can range from receiving a cargo inspection to fines up to $5,000 per shipment, as evaluated by CBP on a case-by-case basis. For C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) companies, CBP might consider suspending, reducing or even revoking their C-TPAT status.

To avoid any issues with filing your ISF, contact us today for information on how ClearFreight can help you with your ISF and Customs Brokerage needs.

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