On January 26, 2009 CBP ISF (Importer Security Filing) came into force.  The ISF can be submitted via the AMS (Automated Manifest System) or ABI (Automated Broker Interface).  The ISF needs to be submitted at the lowest bill level (Master, Regular or House) that is submitted in the ACE Ocean eManifest system.  The bill of lading or Cargo Control Number forms the link between the ISF and the ACE Ocean eManifest.  The Importer Security Filing needs to be submitted for all ocean cargo destned to the United States.  The timeframes to comply with the ISF ruling is all manifest information must be submitted 24 hours before the cargo is loaded on the vessel for containerzed cargo.  Authorized break-bulk cargo needs to be submitted 24 hours before arrival.  Bulk cargo does not need an ISF submitted.

ISF is also sometimes referred to as “10+2” since the rule requires ten (10) data elements from the importer and an additional two (2) data elements from the carrier.

Who is Responsible for Filing the ISF?

The ISF importer is responsible for filing the Importer Security Filing. The reason for this is that they are directly responsible for facilitating the arrival of cargo into an American port. Usually, the ISF importer is the owner of the goods, consignee, purchaser, or the customs broker or agent working on behalf of any of the parties.

Transit cargo or foreign cargo that remains on board the vessel (FROB), the carrier is the typical ISF importer.  There is a subset of the ISF data known as ISF (5) since the data requirements for transit and FROB cargo consist of five (5) data elements.

Existing Requirements under AMS Ocean (ACE Ocean eManifest)

Current CBP rules require carriers to file advance cargo data no more than 24 hours before the loading of cargo onto vessels headed to the US from foreign ports, in what is usually referred to as the “24 Hour Rule.” The information needs to be submitted through the Automated Manifest System (AMS) to CBP.

Importer Requirements

The ISF importer may designate a licensed customs broker to submit the ISF on their behalf. Any party with access to either AMS or ABI systems may act as a designated agent in the submission of the Importer Security filing documents.

The party that files the Importer Security Filing is required to update the ISF in the case of any changes in the submission and before the merchandise arrives at a US port.  Changes can include providing more precise information if it becomes available.

For US import shipments the ISF needs is comprised of ten (10) data elements.

The ten (10) data fields are:

  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Consolidator
  • Container stuffing location
  • Foreign trade zone applicant I number/Importer of record number
  • Commodity HTSUS number (6 digit level)
  • Consignee number
  • Country of origin
  • Supplier or manufacturer
  • Ship to party

For in-transit, FROB, T&E or IE bonds the ISF needs to have five (5) data elements.

The five elements are:

  • Booking party
  • Commodity HTSUS number
  • Foreign port of unlading
  • Ship to party and
  • Place of delivery

Flexible Filing Options

The ISF allows for some flexibility when it comes to the data submitted or when the data is submitted.  These options are known as:

  • Flexible Range (FR)– best known data for the manufacturer, Ship-to party, country of origin, HTS has been provided. The ISF must be updated as soon as better information becomes available no later tha  24 hours before arrival
  • Flexible Timing (FT)- The Consoliadator, Stuffing location is not provided in the original submission. The ISF must up updated as soon as this information becomes available
  • Flexible Range & Flexible Timing (FX)- A combination of Flexible Range & Flexible Timing is being used

Unified Filing with ABI

The importer of record, commodity HTSUS number, country of origin, and consignee number are identical what is submitted on the entry summary CBP Form 7501 and CBP Form 3461. As such, these elements may be reused for both entry summary and ISF filing purposes.

Any importer wishing to reuse the elements in a unified filing for both ISF and entry summary need to either be a self-filing importer or have the data submitted by a customs broker to CBP no later than 24 hours before lading.  Moreover, theHTS  number will have to be submitted at the ten-digit level.

Carrier Requirements

1. Vessel Stow Plan

Besides the 24-Hour Rule regulations, the ISF “10+2” rule makes it mandatory for carriers to file a vessel stow plan for all vessels heading to the US. All ships transporting containers need to have a stow plan on file with the CBP no later than 48 hours after the vessel leaves the foreign port for the United States. The stow plan will need to be sent to CBP before the vessel docks at its first port of call in the US. Breakbulk and bulk carriers are usually exempted from this requirement but all other carriers need to submit the advanced electronic record through email, secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), and any other electronic data interchange system approved by the CBP.

The vessel stow plan typically includes standard data such as;

Vessel information,

  • Vessel name
  • Voyage number
  • Vessel operator

Concerning every container,

  • Container operator
  • Port of discharge
  • Equipment number
  • Port of lading
  • Equipment type and size
  • Hazmat code if it applies
  • Stow position

2. Container Status Messages

In addition to the 24-Hour Rule requirements, the ISF “10+2”  rule also mandates carriers to file container status messages (CSMs) to the agency daily. The notification messages apply to particular events related to the container cargo headed to the United States from foreign ports. Applicable CSM’s include any created by the UN EDIFACT or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

CSMs are mandatory in the event of the following:

  • When the carrier confirms that their booking concerning a container heading for a US port is complete.
  • When the terminal gate inspection of a vessel set to arrive in a US port is completed.
  • When a container headed to a US port departs or arrives at a facility.
  • When a container headed to a port in the US is unloaded or loaded from a means of transport.
  • When a ship conveying a container headed to a US port arrives or departs from a port.
  • When a container headed to a port in the US is subjected to intra-terminal movement.
  • When a container headed to an American port by ship is ordered stripped or stuffed
  • When a container headed to an American port by ship is confirmed stripped or stuffed.
  • When a container headed to a port in the US is grounded for major repairs.

ISF Violations

Customs & Border Protection Agency (CBP) will enforce the Importer Security Filing, container status message, and vessel stow plan by assessing liquidated damages alongside any other penalties as stated out in the law.

The ISF rule will be enforced under the following violations:

  • Failure to file
  • Late filing
  • Inaccurate filing
  • Inaccurate updates
  • Failure to cancel an ISF that is no longer valid

Customs City Global Solutions offers a variety of ISF online filing options.  Our plans are geared towards large volume eCommerce shippers.  Check out more info and pricing here.

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