News Update


Timely ISF Filings Becoming More Critical


The timely filing of the ISF (Importer Security Filing) is now more important than ever before. The ISF program began in 2009 and allows U.S. Customs to review import shipment data before the shipment leaves the country of shipping allowing Customs the ability to target shipments that appear to pose a greater security risk. The data transmitted in the ISF includes information about the shipper, U.S. importer, product description, HTS classification number, master and house bill of lading numbers, container number and other shipment data.

The U.S. importer is fully liable for ensuring that the ISF data is electronically filed with U.S. Customs before the ocean container is loaded onboard the export vessel at the port of export. Importers must coordinate the ISF filing working with their suppliers, freight forwarders and customs broker to ensure the filing is timely.

The penalty for failure to file an ISF in the required timeframe can result in the issuance of penalties of $5,000 per failure to file. Customs has not issued any penalties yet, but have made it clear they plan to begin full enforcement at any moment without further warning.

A major problem with late filing today is that Customs requires that containers with a late ISF filing must be examined at the U.S port of arrival. The cost of these exams can exceed $1,000 per container and can cause delays lasting days or even a week or more.

Every importer should take steps now to help ensure that the ISFs for all their import shipments are filed on time in order to avoid exams and penalties. For more information about the ISF program and for assistance in this are please contact us at

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