Importer Security Filing (ISF) | Most Detailed Knowledge

Importer Security Filing (ISF)  stands for Importer Security Filing. It is a U.S. Customs requirement for U.S. importers. Goods imported into the U.S. by sea are required to electronically submit the required cargo information to CBP prior to shipment at the port of embarkation.

The importer is responsible for sending 10 declarations, the shipping company is responsible for sending 2 declarations, but in practice, this issue is in the hands of the exporter.

Who is responsible for the ISF declaration?

The importer is responsible for filing the Importer Security Filin return, which CBP defines as “the party that brings the goods to a U.S. port within the boundaries of the vessel,” depending on the type of cargo.

  • For FROB shipments, the ISF importer will be the carrier;
  • For IE and T&E bonded shipments, as well as shipments to be delivered into a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), the ISF Importer is the party submitting the IE, T&E or FTZ documents;
  • For all other goods, the Importer Security Filing Importer will be the Goods’ owner, Purchaser, Consignee, or Agent of the goods, such as a licensed Customs broker.

If you want to learn more about tax free zones, you can click on this article:

What Is Free Trade Zone?




How do I file an Importer Security Filin claim?

ISFs must be filed electronically through CBP’s Automated Broker Interface (ABI) or Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

Filers have the option of filing on their own, i.e., registering to submit ISF data directly to CBP through the ACE Secure Data Portal, which applies to no more than 12 filings per year. Or submit ISF returns through the services of a licensed U.S. customs broker or other CBP-approved third-party software vendor.

Deadlines for agent-assisted ISF filing

1. If you let agent help you to file Importer Security Filing declaration, you need to provide bill of lading, sailing information and ISF10 form to the agent on the day of cut-off date, and the consignee can cooperate with you to fill in and provide POA in time; if you file the declaration after the shipment has sailed, you will incur late filing fee.

2. Generally speaking, the agent only accepts to declare Importer Security Filin for the cargoes which have not arrived at the port within 2 weeks of shipment, and the consignee who has not declared the Importer Security Filing within 24 hours before the shipment is loaded still has the risk of being fined.

If the consignee fails to declare the Importer Security Filing within 24 hours before loading, the consignee is still at risk of being fined. If the consignee arrives at the port and then declares the Importer Security Filin , the fine will be doubled, and it will be more troublesome and time-consuming to deal with it.

3. If the agent doesn’t help to declare, Cnee can google to find the customs broker near them or find the website to declare by himself. If the consignee needs, the agent can also provide the U.S. government website listed on the local customs broker information.

Most importantly, the shipment is not filed with an Importer Security Filing when it is unloaded in Canada or Mexico, only to the United States.

The Importer Security Filing should be filed as successfully as possible in a single filing. Any changes to the original filing information may affect U.S. Customs’ risk assessment of the shipment’s compliance and result in an inspection of the shipment, increasing the rate of inspection.

If you don’t want to just read these text interpretations, you can click on the video below to help you understand more quickly about Importer Security Filing


What are the consequences of not filing an ISF?

When exporting goods to the U.S. by sea, you must do your due diligence in completing all paperwork. Compliance is very important as Customs can impose significant fines for non-compliance. Customs brokers receive product data and forward it to Customs. Failure to provide cargo data can result in fines of up to $5,000 per shipment.

ISF – 10 Data Elements

  • Completed no later than 24 hours prior to shipment
  • Importer of Record Number
  • Consignee Number
  • Seller (Owner) name/address
  • Buyer (Owner) name/address
  • Ship to Party
  • Manufacturer(supplier) name and address
  • Country of Origin
  • Commodity HTS-6 HS
  • 24 hours before the latest port arrival
  • Container Stuffing Location
  • 1Consolidator (Stuffer) name/address

shipping routes and options


ISF -2 data elements

  • Vessel loading plan
  • Container Status Message

ISF10+2- Additional Information

The data in the ISF can be defended by a bill of lading.

Also, you should not confuse ISF submission with customs clearance, ISF and US clearance are separate things.

ISF is not a substitute for AMS (Automated Manifest System), an electronic system used to transmit and validate cargo data when exporting to the United States.

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