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  • 17 May 2019
  • USA
  • #ACE #Trade #Customs #CBP #ISF #ISF5

CBP Begins ISF-5 (Importer Security Filing) Enforcement

Table of Contents:

What is Importer Security Filing (ISF)?

Importer Security Filing (ISF) Required Data Elements

What is ISF-5?

ISF Violations and Penalties

ISF-5 Submission 

GeTS Solutions for ISF-5

On April 12, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expanded the definition of “Importer” for certain types of shipments in terms of the Importer Security Filing (ISF) rule. The changes, which took effect on May 14, 2018, were needed to ensure that the ISF Importer included parties that have a commercial interest in the cargo and have best access to the required data. 


On March 15, 2019, CBP began ISF-5 (Importer Security Filing) enforcement and started issuing liquidated damage claims for violations of the ISF-5 rules. CBP also ended its delayed enforcement period for ISF-5 violations on this date. CBP planned to issue the liquidated damage claims for ISF-5 violations on January 21, 2019, but the date was pushed back due to the government shutdown and lack of funding.


To avoid penalties and delayed shipments, CBP urges marine importers, carriers, authorized agents and other filers to be compliant.

What is Importer Security Filing (ISF)?

GeTS Importer Security Filing (ISF)


Importer Security Filing (ISF) is a rule that requires importers, customs brokers and other authorized agents in the marine mode of transport to submit additional information to CBP electronically before the shipment arrives in the U.S. The ISF rule became mandatory in January 2009.

Importer Security Filing (ISF) information is important because it is used for risk assessment and trade control. CBP use ISF-5 data to identify high risk shipments, prevent illegal activities like smuggling, and ensure that inbound marine shipments are not a threat to the health, safety and security of citizens. Failure to transmit accurate, complete and timely ocean cargo and ISF data to CBP may lead to monetary and non-monetary penalties, including delayed shipments and more frequent inspections.

FROB shipments


FROB (Freight Remaining on Board) and other containerized shipments, including break bulk cargo, IE (Immediate Exportation) and T&E (Transportation and Exportation) cargo transported by marine carriers require an ISF. Bulk cargo, air freight, and cross-border shipments are exempt from the ISF rule.


In general, importers and carriers must submit the data elements to CBP at least 24 hours before the shipment is loaded onto the ocean vessel at the foreign port. For containerized ocean cargo, the first eight data elements must be filed 24 hours before cargo is loaded onto the vessel at the foreign port. The other two data elements must be submitted 24 hours before the vessel arrives in the U.S.


It is the responsibility of the importer of record to submit the ISF to CBP. The importer is typically the owner/buyer of the imported merchandise or the party causing the goods to enter the limits of a port in the United States. An authorized agent such as a licensed customs broker may also submit the ISF on behalf of the importer.


For FROB, the importer is the carrier. For IE shipments, T&E in-bond shipments, and shipments destined for a foreign trade zone (FTZ), the importer/carrier is the party filing the IE, T&E, or FTZ documents. If IE or T&E documentation has not been filed 24 hours prior to lading, the party who will file the IE or T&E documentation is required to submit the ISF.


CBP Definitions:


Importer Security Filing Importer. The ISF Importer is the party causing goods to arrive within the limits of a port in the United States by vessel. For shipments other than FROB, the ISF Importer will be the goods' owner, purchaser, consignee, or agent such as a licensed customs broker. For IE, T&E in-bond, and shipments to be delivered to a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), the ISF Importer may also be the party filing the IE, T&E, or FTZ documentation. For FROB cargo, the ISF Importer will be the carrier or the non-vessel operating common carrier.


Importation. Importation means the point at which cargo arrives within the limits of a port in the United States.


Bulk cargo. Bulk cargo is defined as homogeneous cargo that is stowed loose in the hold and is not enclosed in any container such as a box, bale, bag, cask or similar. Such cargo is also described as bulk freight. Specifically, bulk cargo is composed of either a) free flowing articles such as oil, grain, coal, ore, and the like, which can be pumped or run through a chute or handled by dumping, or b) articles that require mechanical handling such as bricks, pig iron, lumber, steel beams, and the like.


Break bulk cargo. Break bulk cargo is defined as cargo that is not containerized, but which is otherwise packaged or bundled.

Importer Security Filing (ISF) Required Data Elements

ISF 10+2

The ISF 10+2 rule requires importers or their agents to submit 12 data elements to CBP:

  1. Ship to Name and Address
  2. Importer of Record Number/FTZ Applicant Identification Number     
  3. Consignee Number
  4. 6-digit Commodity Number
  5. Manufacturer Name and Address
  6. Seller Name and Address
  7. Buyer Name and Address
  8. Consolidator Name and Address
  9. Container Stuffing Location
  10. Country of Origin of Goods


The carrier must also transmit two additional data elements to CBP:

  1. Vessel Stow Plan
  2. Container Status Message

ISF-5 (Importer Security Filing)

What is ISF-5?

ISF-5 is similar to the ISF rule, but ISF-5 is mainly for Freight Remaining Onboard (FROB), Immediate Export (IE) and Transportation and Exportation (TE) Bonds shipments. Importers, authorized filers or FTZ operators must submit five (5) data elements to CBP for these shipments: 

  1. Booking party
  2. Foreign port of unlading
  3. Place of delivery
  4. Ship to party
  5. Commodity HTSUS number

ISF Violations and Penalties

CBP has provided guidelines for the enforcement of the ISF-10 rule, including local discretion at the port level based on infrastructure and staffing considerations, such as issuing liquidated damage claims vs. holding the shipment. An ISF violation is considered severe if the ISF filing is missing or significantly late.


Significantly late: The time depends on the duration of the voyage. The ISF must be filed at least 24 hours before the vessel laves the foreign port.

Failure to file ISF: Shipments that arrive without an accompanying ISF will be placed on hold and exposed to liquidated damage claim.


Before CBP pursues a liquidated damage claim against the violator, importers that violate the rule will receive at least three warnings (informed compliance outreach) via letter, email or phone call. This allows CBP officials to see which violators are repeat offenders based on a database that tracks these violations.


The 3-strike rule applies to all ISF importers. For shipments that arrive without the required ISF, CBP will contact the importer to find out what happened and helped them correct the issue. This is the “first strike” record for that importer. Importers are allowed three strikes before liquidated damage claims can be issued. Violators can expect liquidated damages within six months of the violation.


Similar violations and penalties are expected for the ISF-5.

ISF-5 Submission 

Importers, brokers and agents may submit ISF-5 electronically via the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) in ACE or the ACE Secure Data Portal (low-volume filing only). For large businesses and high-volume importers, dedicated ACE customs and security filing software or a similar service from a third party is recommended to streamline and speed up processing.


Solutions for ISF-5 from Global eTrade Services (GeTS)

GeTS Solutions for ISF-5

Global eTrade Services is a CBP-approved IT service provider, offering advanced, comprehensive and flexible solutions to help importers, carriers, customs brokers and other participants comply with the ISF-5 requirement and streamline cargo processing cost-effectively.


GeTS Importer Security Filing solution allows convenient access anywhere with an Internet connection, reduces data entry through template creation, and enables instant receipt of CBP responses/notifications. All ISF solutions come with multiple connectivity options and pricing plans and 24/7 expert assistance from GeTS trade and compliance professionals.


To learn more, visit our ISF (Importer Security Filing) page or contact us today.