Common myth about ISF Fillings and how you can avoid it



First introduced in 2009 and fully in effect since 2010, ISF filing is a crucial part of any importing any cargo coming into the United States by ocean carrier.


While ISF has no bearing on your cargo’s admissibility and does not generally influence trade enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection will compare the data with your customs entry to assess risk. Failure to comply with the rule could ultimately result in monetary penalties, increased inspections and delay of cargo.


Can I file the ISF myself instead of appoint a professional custom broker to do it?


CBP requires all the containerized cargo needs to be file Imported Security Filling ( AKA: ISF) at least 24 hours before vessel departs , for national security purpose . The ISF needs to be submitted at the lowest bill of lading level (i.e., house bill or regular bill) that is transmitted into the Automated Manifest System (AMS). The bill of lading number is the only common “link” between the ISF and the customs manifest data


The ISF 10+ 2 fillings is consist of 12 key elements including

1. Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address

2. Seller (or owner) name and address

3. Buyer (or owner) name and address

4. Ship-to name and address

5. Container stuffing location

6. Consolidator (stuffer) name and address

7. Importer of record number or foreign trade zone applicant identification number (Tax ID Number or SSN Number)

8. Consignee number ( Tax ID or SSN Number)

9. Country of origin

10 Harmonized Tariff Schedule number to six (6) digits.


From the carrier, 2 data elements are required:

11. Vessel stow plan

12 Container status messages .


Yes, an importer can legally file an ISF using a CBP certified software provider, such as ACELYNK. You can find more CBP certified software list from its government website and save ISF filling fees. However, by appointing professional Custom Broker can definitely relief your responsibility ( if you provide all the needed document to your broker) and your valuable time.


Common Misunderstandings about ISF and how you can avoid it

  • As long as I transmit the ISF Fillings , even there is no match message, that is totally fine

--- As long as there is no ISF "bill on file“ message coming back, the ISF filling should not be considered completed and the ISF Filler is still subject to up to $5000 Late penalty. Please always check with your forwarder to make sure they have provided the correct AMS bill of lading number . If your broker file the ISF , make sure you ask your broker to provide transaction number , which is a unique number generated by the US Customs ACE ABI Interface, in which confirms that the ISF is in their system.

  • If the ISF elements changed after vessel depart, as long as I have filled it and get bill on match message, I do not even bother to update it

--- Taking for instance, the shipment is sold in transit. At a minimum, the ISF importer must notify CBP that the goods have been sold, and the party must update the Buyer (Owner) field and any other field that the party knows has changed as a result of the sale. You or your broker must deleting the original ISF and replacing it with a new ISF .


Therefore If you know any elements are changed , it is your responsibility to update or have your custom broker to update the ISF filing before CBP capture it and post liquidated damages ( up to $5000) for inaccurate ISF filling to you.

  • If I bring in multiple commodity, I can only report one commodity tariff classification number

---- As Per CBP requirements indicates " HTSUS number must be linked to one another at the line-item level " , it means all commodity classification needs to be reported at the time you transmit ISF fillings . You would not get away with it because ultimately they will appear on your 7501 entry summary . Inaccurate ISF filling is again subject to up to $5000 penalty.



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