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Tighter Enforcement of Importer Security Filing to Begin on 30 June

Tighter enforcement of the importer security filing requirement beginning on 30 June could result in an increase in penalties or cargo holds at some ports and may also present a challenge to small and new importers. Under the ISF rule, importers and maritime cargo carriers must submit additional cargo data prior to lading goods on board vessels destined to the U.S. customs territory. Unless specifically exempted, importers must provide the following 10 information elements for shipments other than those consisting entirely of freight remaining on board or goods intended to be transported in-bond as an immediate exportation or transportation and exportation. The manufacturer (or supplier), country of origin and commodity HTSUS number must be linked to one another at the line item level.

  • Seller
    The name and address of the last known entity by whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the goods are to be imported otherwise than in pursuance of a purchase, the name and address of the owner of the goods must be provided. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Buyer
    The name and address of the last known entity to whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If the goods are to be imported otherwise than in pursuance of a purchase, the name and address of the owner of the goods must be provided. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Importer of Record Number / Foreign-Trade Zone Applicable Identification Number
    The Internal Revenue Service number, Employer Identification Number, Social Security Number or CBP-assigned number of the entity liable for payment of all duties and responsible for meeting all statutory and regulatory requirements incurred as a result of importation. For goods intended to be delivered to a foreign-trade zone, the IRS number, EIN, SSN or CBP-assigned number of the party filing the FTZ documentation with CBP must be provided.
  • Consignee Number(s)
    The IRS number, EIN, SSN or CBP-assigned number of the individual(s) or firm(s) in the United States on whose account the merchandise is shipped.
  • Manufacturer (or supplier)
    The name and address of the entity that last manufactures, assembles, produces or grows the commodity, or the name and address of the supplier of the finished goods in the country from which the goods are leaving. In the alternative, the name and address of the manufacturer (or supplier) that is currently required by U.S. import laws, rules and regulations may be provided (this is the information that is used to create the existing manufacturer identification number for entry purposes). A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Ship to Party
    The name and address of the first deliver-to party scheduled to physically receive the goods after they have been released from customs custody. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Country of Origin
    The country of manufacture, production or growth of the article, based upon U.S. import laws, rules and regulations.
  • Commodity HTSUS Number
    Duty/statistical reporting number under which the article is classified in the HTSUS. The HTSUS number must be provided to the six-digit level and may be provided up to the 10-digit level. This element can only be used for entry purposes if it is provided at the 10-digit level or greater by the importer of record or its licenced customs broker.
  • Container stuffing location
    The name and address(es) of the physical location(s) where the goods were stuffed into the container. For break bulk shipments, the name and address(es) of the physical location(s) where the goods were made “ship ready” must be provided. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Consolidator (stuffer)
    The name and address of the party who stuffed the container or arranged for the stuffing of the container. For break bulk shipments, the name and address of the party who made the goods “ship ready” or the party who arranged for the goods to be made “ship ready” must be provided. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.

All information must be filed no later than 24 hours before the cargo is laden aboard the vessel at the foreign port, with the exception of data on container stuffing location and consolidator (stuffer), which may be filed no later than 24 hours prior to arrival in a U.S. port (or upon lading at a foreign port that is less than a 24-hour voyage to the closest U.S. port).

Four elements are subject to flexibility as to interpretation: the manufacturer (or supplier), ship to party, country of origin and commodity HTSUS number. While these elements must be filed 24 hours prior to lading, ISF importers may provide in their initial filing a range of acceptable responses based on facts available to the importer at the time in lieu of a single specific response (which may become known to the importer only at a later time). ISF importers are required to update their filings with respect to these elements as soon as more precise or more accurate information is available, in no event later than 24 hours prior to arrival in a U.S. port (or upon lading at the foreign port if that is later than 24 hours prior to arrival in a U.S. port).

For shipments consisting entirely of FROB and shipments intended to be transported in-bond as an immediate exportation or transportation and exportation, the following elements must be provided for each good listed at the six-digit HTSUS number at the lowest bill of lading level (i.e., at the house bill of
lading level, if applicable).

  • Booking Party
    The name and address of the party who initiates the reservation of the cargo space for the shipment. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Foreign Port of Unlading
    The port code for the foreign port of unlading at the intended final destination.
  • Place of Delivery
    The city code for the place of delivery.
  • Ship to Party
    The name and address of the first deliver-to party scheduled to physically receive the goods after they have been released from customs custody. A widely recognised commercially accepted identification number for this party may be provided in lieu of the name and address.
  • Commodity HTSUS Number
    The duty/statistical reporting number under which the article is classified in the HTSUS. The HTSUS number must be provided to the six-digit level and may be provided to the 10-digit level.  

Importers are legally responsible for the accuracy and timeliness of their ISF filings, regardless of whether a customs broker or other intermediary does the actual filing. Typically, the ISF importer is the goods’ owner, purchaser, consignee or agent, such as a broker. For foreign cargo remaining on board, the ISF importer is the carrier. For immediate exportation and transportation and exportation in-bond shipments, and goods to be delivered to a foreign-trade zone, the ISF importer is the party filing the IE, T&E or FTZ documentation.

In 2014 CBP adopted a revised enforcement strategy for the ISF-10 requirement that provided for discretion at the port level based on infrastructure and staffing resources (i.e., cargo holds vs. liquidated damage claims). Under this strategy CBP has given at least three warnings to violating importers before pursuing LD claims against their bonds (the so-called three strikes approach). Ports were advised to focus enforcement actions on the most severe violations; i.e., significantly late or missing ISFs, which are subject to penalties of US$5,000 to US$10,000 each. Under this strategy ISF filings after arrival are always late and exposed to both LD claims and ISF holds.

CBP now states that for shipments that are on the water on or after 30 June (i) ports will no longer be required to send requests for LD claims to CBP headquarters for review and (ii) the three strikes approach to LD claims will end. CBP notes that there is no change to cargo holds for ISF non-compliance and that ports may hold cargo instead of (or in addition to) initiating LD claims.

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