ISF: Importer Security Filing

Customs has announced that they will begin the final phase of the ISF program and begin enforcement by issuing penalties for non-compliant ISF filings.
Non-compliant ISF filings as those that are late filed, not filed, inaccurately filed, or duplicate filed.

Effective January 26 2009 US Customs has required data to be filed with Customs for shipments exported to the USA. Failure to transmit the required data to Customs no later than 24 hours prior to departure of the vessel for the USA may result in a monetary penalty of $ 5000 per instance. Penalties may also be issued for inaccurate filings.

The deadline to transmit ISF data with Customs is no later then 24 hours prior to loading of the cargo on the vessel.

ISF data must be filed against all cargo arriving in the US via ocean freight.  This includes personal effects, cargo to be re-exported (IE or TE), Carnet, FTZ, etc.


-What is ISF?
ISF is a set of data elements (information) related to shipments imported into the USA by seafreight

-Who is responsible to send the ISF data and who is responsible for the data's timeliness and accuracy?
The importer is responsible for the data submission and accuracy. Customs states that the importer is usually the cargo's owner, consignee, purchaser, or the party who caused the cargo to arrive in the US

-What is the deadline to file ISF data on a shipment bound for export to the US?
Customs states that the ISF data must be submitted not less than 24 hours before the cargo is loaded on the ship at the port of origin. Any submission later than this is considered late and is in violation of US Customs regulations. Customs may issue a penalty to the cargo owner for late submissions

-What is the penalty for late or inaccurate ISF filings?
US Customs may issue a penalty of $ 5,000
per violation, or they may issue a "Do Not Load" message to the carrier which will prohibit the cargo from being loaded on the ship. In the beginning of the enforcement period Customs will not allow the goods to be released from the dock until the correct ISF data is submitted.

-What data is required by Customs under the ISF requirement?
  • Seller (name and address)
  • Buyer (name and address)
  • Importer of record (name, address, FEIN #), usually the cargo's owner
  • Consignee number (FEIN #), this is who will receive the cargo after release
  • Ship to party, if the goods are not shipped directly to the buyer (example: distribution warehouse), otherwise usually the consignee
  • Manufacturer/Supplier (name and address), the party who manufactured or supplied the goods, not always the seller who may be a trading company or agent
  • Country of Origin, the country where the goods were manufactured
  • Commodity tariff numbers, also known as the HTS number, all tariff numbers related to the cargo are required, only the first six digits of each tariff number is required
  • Container stuffing location (name and address), where was the cargo loaded into the container
  • Consolidator/Stuffer (name and address), the party who ordered that the cargo be loaded into the container, on full container loads this is usually the factory/mfr. On less than container cargo this is usually the cargo agent.