Importer Security Filing (ISF)
An Importer Security Filing (ISF) is required by US customs (CBP). This document includes importing information from each point in the transit process. If the ISF isn’t submitted or completed properly before shipment, importers will be fined up to $5,000.
ISF Costs & Charges
Who Charges the ISF Filing Fee: Forwarder or Customs Broker
Charge At: Early task
ISF Filing Fee Description: Often included as part of the Customs Clearance charge, this cost covers lodging in compliance with CBP’s (US Customs and Border Protection) ’10+2′ advance cargo reporting requirements. It only applies to ocean freight. Forwarders prepare this information from the Commercial Invoice and/or Shipper’s Letter of Intent.
CBP uses this information for identifying low-risk shipments for potential early release, but as most shipments are released it is effectively identifying high-risk shipments to prevent sailing.
Your forwarder also prepares for Customs Entry, required before the ship arrives in port. This reporting includes the same information required for 10+2 reporting, plus additional information. It is prepared from information on the Ocean manifest (House B/L) and Commercial Invoice.
Late ISF Filing Fee & ISF Filing Penalty
CBP may impose a heavy fine on late filing if you do not transmit this information at least 24 hours before the cargo is loaded. Don’t hold back on filing because you don’t have all required information, because you may update right up until the cargo arrives in the US.
CBP may also conduct a more thorough cargo inspection, increasing inspection costs (indirectly, by the privately owned inspection facility). The total ISF Filing penalty cost may run into several hundred dollars even for smaller shipments. Any delivery delay will also incur cost. You should include a clause in your supply contract that will require the supplier to take responsibility for the cost if they are at fault.
To avoid costly delivery delays, make sure that your forwarder files for Customs Entry before the ship arrives in port, and that the entries on the Commercial Invoice, Ocean Manifest and ISF are identical.