If you’re importing goods into the United States, you must have heard of a regulation called the Importer Security Filing (ISF), also known as 10+2. Through the ISF, the Customs and Border Protection (CPB) gathers information of an import shipment, in order to avoid any illegal or terrorist activity. In this blog, we share with you everything you need to know about ISF:

1.What is an ISF (Importer Security Filing)/ 10+2?

ISF – Importer Security Filing – is a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulation that requires importers or their agents to file data/information electronically regarding their cargo being imported in the US. The Importer Security Filing usually informs CBP of the container detail, as well as arrival plan, no less than 24 hours before goods, are loaded onto the vessel destined to the US.

In order to ensure the country’s security, the CBP instituted the Importer Security Filing (ISF) to screen all shipments destined to the US and identify the high-risk cargos. The regulation only applies to shipments arriving in the US via ocean freight.

Meaning of 10 +2 ISF: Usually 10 data elements are required from the importer to comply with regulations for goods being imported into the US. The other 2 data elements are required from the carrier. Both these elements (10 + 2) are required 24 hours before the cargo is laden aboard a vessel destined to the United States. ((source: Wikipedia)

The 10 data elements required from the importer or supplier are:

  • Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address
  • Seller (or owner) name and address
  • Buyer (or owner) name and address
  • Ship-to name and address
  • Container loading location
  • Consolidator (loader) name and address
  • Importer of record (IOR) number / foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  • Consignee number(s)
  • Country of origin
  • HS code for each product on the shipment

The 2 data elements required from the carrier are:

  • Vessel stow plan
  • Container status messages

2.What Does This Mean for You?

  • Lower chances of Inspection – Inspections costs a lot of time and money. With leveraging all 12 data points of the entire supply chain in ISF, the CPB is able to identify the low-risk shipments and let them pass without any inspections (or at least this is the trend)
  • Choose a Reliable Agent – According to the ISF, all filings must be completed by an agent or broker electronically, using either the Automated Manifest System (AMS) or the Automated Broker Interface (ABI).  Therefore, it is important that the agent you choose for ISF filing is knowledgeable and trustworthy
  • Prepare Data Beforehand – Arrange for all necessary paperwork an agent or broker might need for filing ISF, beforehand. If you get stuck somewhere, don’t hesitate to ask your agent about the documents they might require for filing ISF

3.How Much Would Late ISF Cost You?

As mentioned above, the ISF is required to be filed no less than 24 hours before the goods are loaded onto the carrier destined to the US. If it is past 24 hours, the ISF is considered to be late and the CBP issues a fine against the Importer in the amount of $5,000 for each violation and no more than $10,000 per shipment. In addition to the penalty, CBP may also hold the shipment at the port (upon arrival) for a few days to weeks for examination, causing delays. And during this time, all the costs at the port are borne by the Importer. However, for new Importers, CBP does take into account their inexperience and give leniency to a majority of shipments.

4. ISF Requirements: Best Practices

We recommend the following best practices for your ISF:

  • Don’t wait till the last minute:  While ISF must be filed at least 24 hours prior to carrier departure, we advise you to complete your ISF as soon as you can. Make sure you provide all the required information to the filer at least 72 hours prior to sailing so that he gets ample time to file it properly
  • Look for templates:  There are a lot of templates available online for filing your ISF. Here is an example template of an ISF document, if you don’t have one. Working on an existing template would save your time and energy
  • Ask your suppliers to provide details on time:  Keep following up with your suppliers to provide the information required in the ISF timely as almost all the information required is there on various documents such as purchase orders, bill of lading, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to make corrections:  You can make corrections in your ISF till the time your goods arrive at the US port. Therefore, do not waste time by re-filing the ISF
  • Ensure that the bill of lading matches:  Make sure you get a bill of lading match at least 24 hours prior to cargo arrival. If you get an “AMS Bill Not on File” message, do not resend the ISF. Double-check the bill of lading number to be sure that it is the lowest level bill number on file in the Automated Manifest System (AMS). If it is, the match will occur once the carrier files the manifest. If the carrier sails and you still don’t have a match, then contact your supplier to verify the bill of lading information
  • Monitor your ISF report regularly:  The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) portal sends reports detailing the number and types of errors occurring and on-time percentage while filing ISF, to its filer. Make sure to track these reports on a monthly basis

5. Are you Involved in Global Trade?

At Trademo, we provide global trade data insight to help businesses find reliable buyers/suppliers, monitor competition, get real-time updates on important shipments, and more. Try it for yourself today.   If you need more information, visit our official website: www.trademo.com.


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