Importer Security Filing (ISF) is a government mandate requiring importers to file additional data elements for all shipments entering the U.S. via ocean cargo. Unless you are preparing for your first import into the U.S. you should already have procedures in place to transmit your ISF.
As you continue to improve your ISF program to avoid accumulating $5,000 penalties, please review these helpful tips:
- Evaluate your ISF record: Are you monitoring your ISF progress reports? Importers have access to a progress report prepared by CBP via the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) program. Signing up for ACE is free and can be done online.
- Always File: You are better off filing late than not filing at all. Your policies and procedures should make sure that each ocean shipment has an ISF filed 24 hours prior to the departure of the vessel OR sooner. However, should an ISF be missed, your policies should ensure that an ISF is filed as soon as possible before the ship reaches the port of arrival.
- Keep Notes: Make sure that you and/or your filer maintain detailed records of everything done in order to file an accurate and timely ISF. Should mitigation need to take place for an ISF, CBP will want to see that you performed due diligence to file correctly and on-time.
- Ask Questions: The more you understand the process, the smoother the filing will go. In most cases, you are doing the majority of the ISF filing and your filer is simply hitting the transmit button. It is up to you to be aware of problems that may occur. ISF FAQs can be found here.
- Evaluate resources: Should you find that your ISF compliance is below par and your costs to import are increasing due to ISF penalties, look into the other options available. Many importers are not aware of the compliance software that exists and readily available to them.
ISF compliance is a crucial aspect of supply chain management and the importing process. Luckily there are plenty of resources to take advantage of regarding Importer Secuity Filing. Make sure you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law by educating yourself on this important issue. For more information, check out this article, or visit US Customs and Border Protection’s website–Their list of resources is commendable.