The Importer Security Filing (ISF) requirement applies to importers and carriers moving maritime shipments into or through the United States. Certain data elements about the cargo must be submitted in advance and electronically to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no later than 24 hours prior to loading cargo onto the vessel at the origin port. Submitting ISF data as early as possible will speed up the processing of cargo clearances and help importers and carriers avoid penalties.
US eManifest Filing: 10+2 ISF Time Frames
The CBP determines the timeliness of filings based on the vessel departure date minus 24 hours (for regular cargo). For certain shipments such as exempt break bulk, the carrier is not required to submit the ISF until 24 hours before arrival into the United States. ISF filings after vessel arrival at a U.S. port are always late and subject to liquidated damages claims and ISF holds. “Significantly late” filings are defined by the individual ports. This covers shipments with or without ISFs that prevented CBP from effectively evaluating risk and putting cargo on hold.
Security filings must include the bill of lading number, which is needed to match the ISF to a customs manifest. All carriers and NVOCCs (non-vessel operating common carriers) are already required to submit the BOL number as part of their US eManifest submission 24 hours before the cargo is loaded onto the vessel destined for the U.S. The key is not to wait until the last minute to file, and take into account weekends and holidays. File the ISF as soon as possible, and provide all the required information to the filer no later than 72 hours or 3 days before the vessel leaves port.
In July 2009, penalty guidelines were published for late filings, but full enforcement did not begin until July 2013, when Customs started issuing liquidated damages against importers and carriers that fail to comply with US eManifest filing requirements, including the 10+2 ISF time frames. Monetary penalties start at $5000 for failure to file an ISF, late ISF, inaccurate ISF, incomplete ISF, and failure to withdraw an ISF.