What is Importer Security Filing (ISF)?


Import / Customs



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What is ISF?

Also known as “10+2,” or Importer Security Filing,  ISF is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulation, specifically mandated on ocean cargo imports entering the United States. To successfully complete the ISF filing process, importers should send all necessary documents and information to their U.S. Customs Broker at least 24 hours before sailing from the last port of origin. 

Why is ISF important? 

ISF is important because it improves CBP’s ability to flag high-risk shipments that may pose a safety threat upon arrival. This is also to ensure that they can prevent the smuggling of substances or people inside of the U.S. border. 

What is needed for ISF filing?

To file an ISF form, you must have access to the following information: 

Importer/Supplier Information 

  • Supplier or manufacturer name and address
  • Owner or seller name and address
  • Ship-to name and address
  • Container stuffing location
  • Consolidator name and address
  • Importer of record number or foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  • Consignee number
  • Country of Origin
  • Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number (each product on the shipment)
  • House bill (whenever applicable)
  • Master bill including SCAC (standard carrier alpha codes)


Carrier Information 

  • Vessel stow plan
  • Container status message


What will happen if I don’t file ISF? 

Failure to comply with the CBP’s ISF regulations results in high monetary penalties, increased inspections, and ultimately a delayed shipment. 

If your ISF filing is incorrect or incomplete, CBP may refuse to grant a permit to unlade or to take the merchandise. If such cargo is unladen without the permission of CBP, the cargo will be subjected to seizure. In such a case, a “Do Not Load” order is applied to this cargo.


How much do ISF penalties cost? 

The U.S. Customs can assess damages up to $10,000 per shipment for various violations. Here’s a general breakdown: 

  • Failure to file ISF - $5,000 / shipment
  • Late filing of ISF - $5,000 / shipment
  • Incomplete filing of ISF - $5,000 / shipment
  • Failure to withdraw ISF - $5,000 / shipment
  • Failure to match ISF filing to Bill of Lading - $5,000 / shipment


What are some ISF filing errors?

Here are some common mistakes shippers make while filing the ISF: 

  • Provide incorrect Bill of Lading numbers
  • Filing their ISF forms late  


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