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ISF Filing for Inbound Ocean Shipments

The famed ISF 10+2 is compulsory for all inbound ocean shipments entering the U.S. by vessel. The rule for Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements (10+2) came into effect in January 2009, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) and Department of Homeland Security oversee adherence. ISF informs the CBP of essential details regarding your shipment. Let’s look at what, why, and how.

What is ISF Filing?
If you’re bringing in goods via ocean, they won’t even be allowed into the U.S., let alone cleared for customs without an Importer Security Filing (ISF). Responsibility for filing the 10+2 rests with the importer – the party causing the goods to arrive by vessel within the limits of a port in the U.S. Typically, the ISF Importer is the goods’ owner, purchaser, consignee, or agent, such as a licensed customs broker.
The ISF form must include specific data and be filed electronically with the CBP in advance of cargo arriving in the U.S. by ocean vessel. The requirement only applies to shipments arriving by ocean vessel and not cargo entering by other means of transportation.
Why File an ISF?
The CBP states that the importer must submit the Import Security Filing (ISF) no later than 24 hours before the vessel leaves its port of origin on its way into the U.S. The CBP may issue liquidated damages of $5,000 per violation to submit any inaccurate, incomplete, untimely filing or failure of ISF withdrawal. The maximum liquidated damages per ISF filing is $10,000.
Besides financial consequences, failure to comply can result in increased inspections and, thereby, cargo delays.
While this may seem unfair and harsh, the reason behind ISF filing is to improve the CBP’s ability to detect high-risk shipments to prevent smuggling and guarantee cargo security and safety.
What data must you file?
Before giving a short list of what an ISF form must include, here are a few essential tips:

  1. Please do not wait until the last minute: While you must file the ISF at least 24 hours before vessel departure, do it as soon as you can. Gather the information you need at least 72 hours in advance to allow for holidays and weekends.
  2. Consider using a continuous customs bond: If you are a regular importer, keep in mind that a Customs continuous customs bond covers both ISF Filing and Customs Entry. If you do not have a continuous bond, you need a separate ISF bond for each filing.
  3. Don’t be scared to revise your ISF filing: If you need to amend or update any information in your ISF, don’t delete it to refile later and miss the submission deadline. You can edit the ISF at any point up to the time the cargo arrives in the U.S.
  4. Does your bill of lading (B/L) match? The 10+2 must be filed 24 hours before the cargo sails from the last port of origin into the U.S. Carriers must file the AMS arrival notice up to 48 hours before departure from the last port of origin and provide it to the importer if requested. The importer can then check for Bill of Lading issues, such as if the numbers match.

The following lists the primary ISF information to be filed:

  • Importer of record IRS or EIN
  • Consignee IRS or EIN
  • Buyer’s name and address
  • Ship to” name and address
  • Seller’s name and address
  • Manufacturer’s name and address
  • Consolidator’s name and address
  • Container stuffing location
  • Country of origin
  • International HTS number – This number comprises ten digits – the first six are international, and the last four are local. You only need the first six for ISF compliance.
  • Bill of Lading number

How to File an ISF
Many importers are opting for DIY online filing options. Internet-based solutions for filing the 10+2 form make direct, self-filing cost-effective and straightforward. It can also save a significant amount of time and effort and makes sense as importers don’t need a CBP Filer Code or licenses or permits.
Electronic filing and payment are also recognized and encouraged by the CBP. The CBP uses an online platform called the Automated Manifest System (AMS) for submitting documents they require for processing shipments coming into the U.S.
eezyimport takes this to the next level by making DIY customs clearance easy, transparent, low-cost, and doable from anywhere, anytime. Whether you’re filing the ISF form or even the Entry Summary, we simplify the processes so that you can keep more money in your pocket and accelerate your success!

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