ISF stands for Importer Security Filing. As of January 26, 2009, all importers in the United States must notify US Customs and Border Protection of any ocean freight coming into the US. This rule was put into practice so that the Department of Homeland Security would have knowledge of all foreign imports shipping out by ocean freight, 24 hours prior to the event. This rule was put into place to protect the US from acts of terrorism.
Notification must be provided at least 24 hours prior to ocean freight loading for shipment to the US. The “10+2” portion of the filing rule refers to the importer reporting 10 required data elements to US Customs and Border Protection, and the carrier reporting 2 additional data elements.
These are the 10 data elements required from the importer:
- Manufacturer or supplier name and address
- Seller or owner name and address
- Buyer or owner name and address
- Ship-to name and address
- Container stuffing location
- Consolidator or stuffer name and address
- Importer of record number/foreign trade zone applicant identification number
- Consignee number or numbers
- Country of origin
- Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number
These are the 2 data elements required from the carrier:
- Vessel stow plan
- Container status messages
Many importers have little or no knowledge of US Customs bond systems. Therefore, most importers work directly with a customs broker or transportation and logistics company to handle the filing requirements. US Customs and Border Protection realized that compliance would be difficult for some, so they granted a one year delay on enforcement. Now that January 26, 2010 has passed, bonds are required for importing by way of ocean shipping. You must obtain the bond before you can file.
Four types of bonds are acceptable and meet the ISF filing requirement; custodial bonds, basic importation bonds, international carrier bonds, and foreign trade zone operator bonds. Continuous bonds are preferred.
If you are an importer using a transportation company to handle the import filing process, the transportation company can use their bonds to file and secure the transaction. However, the liability of accuracy still lies on the importer. Bonding is required for both filing and entry of the ocean freight.
Some importers use specialty software to bring 10+2 ISF filing in-house. By using this software or application, ISF entries can be sent directly to customs. Most importers find it possible to do their own ISF filing, but find the entry filing requirements more difficult. Smaller importers are sometimes unable to acquire the bonding that they need for initial filing and entry filing, and find it necessary to go through a third party service provider.