Understanding ISF Deadlines and Requirements for U.S. Imports

ISF Deadlines and Requirements for U.S. Imports

The Importer Security Filing (ISF) program, also known as “10+2,” refers to the Advanced Notice of Import Shipments required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for vessel shipments of goods destined for the United States. Importers and carriers must electronically submit shipment data to CBP prior to vessel sailing to comply with CBP regulations.

What is the ISF Deadline?

The critical deadline associated with ISF is the 24 hour rule – importers or their agents must submit the ISF filing no later than 24 hours before the vessel leaves the port of departure. This 24 hour cutoff is a firm deadline, with very few exceptions. If an ISF is submitted late, there are strict penalties – $5,000 per late ISF submission.

The ISF deadline essentially requires importers to file shipment data one day in advance to give CBP time to perform necessary risk assessments before the vessel departs. When the deadline was initially implemented in 2009, it was set at 24 hours. While there have been calls from industry groups to extend this timeframe over the years, it remains firmly set at 24 hours in advance of vessel departing.

What Data is Filed in the ISF?

An ISF filing requires importers or their agents to electronically submit 10 data elements.
This includes basic logistical data such as:

  • Manufacturer or supplier name and address
  • Seller name and address
  • Buyer name and address
  • Container stuffing location
  • Consolidator name and address
  • Importer of record number
  • Consignee number
  • Country of origin of goods
  • Commodity HTSUS code

In addition to these 10 data elements, carriers must file a vessel stow plan which indicates where each container is located on the vessel.

Who is Responsible for Submitting ISF?

The importer is responsible for the ISF filing.
While the ISF can be filed by an importer, customs broker, freight forwarder or other authorized agent, U.S. importers typically rely on their customs broker to handle the ISF filing process on their behalf. However, there are faster and cheaper alternatives to file isf online – eezyimport provides such an alternative, with a unique DIY interface that allows a speedy and efficient filing.

It is ultimately the importer’s liability to file the ISF any comply. However, very often customs brokers act as the filer and take responsibility for meeting ISF requirements. It is important for importers to have a binding agreement in place with their broker or agent to define responsibility for ISF submission.

What are the ISF Filing Penalties?

Failure to comply with ISF filing deadlines or data accuracy requirements can lead to strict penalties from CBP:

– Late ISF filing: $5,000 per late ISF submission. This penalty applies if the ISF is submitted even 1 minute past the 24 hour deadline.
– Inaccurate ISF data: $5,000 per inaccurate ISF filing. If any of the 10 data elements are incorrect, penalties can be issued.
– Non-filing of ISF: $5,000 penalty in addition to potential shipment delays and cargo inspections.

In addition to fines, importers who fail to meet ISF requirements also run the risk of cargo held at the port until full compliance is met. This can lead to demurrage fees or delivery delays. Strict adherence to ISF regulations is critical for importers seeking to avoid penalties and shipment disruptions.

Are There Any ISF Exemptions?

While most vessel cargo imports to the U.S. require a timely and accurate ISF filing, there are some exempt shipments, including:

  • Bulk and break bulk cargo that is not containerized
  • Commodities intended for another country, but transiting the U.S. en route to the destination country.
  • Some shipments from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean regions.


Shippers should confirm specific ISF exemption eligibility with CBP or their customs broker to avoid making false assumptions about exempted cargo. Even shipments that seem exempt likely still require ISF submission in most cases.

Elements of an Effective ISF Compliance Program

Given the strict ISF enforcement and penalties, it is essential for importers to implement internal processes to support ISF compliance. Key elements include:

– Clear assignment of ISF filing responsibility between importers and brokers/forwarders.
– Advanced shipment data collection procedures.
– Invoice/packing list and shipping instruction review for data accuracy.
– Internal ISF audits and quality control checks.
– Interfaces with CBP’s vessel AMS system for status updates.
– Contingency protocols for late bookings or filing errors.

By instituting protocols and controls around ISF, importers can improve compliance rates and reduce the risks of fines and shipment delays.

In summary, the ISF regulation represents an important CBP program aimed at enhancing maritime cargo security through advanced data submission. Importers need to be diligent in complying with ISF requirements to maximize supply chain efficiency and avoid penalties when importing goods into the United States.

FAQ on ISF Deadlines and Compliance

ISFs can be filed earlier than 24 hours in advance of loading, up until the time of vessel departure from the foreign port. Submitting earlier can help avoid missing the deadline.

CBP does not make concessions for short booking timelines. Even for last minute bookings, the ISF must be filed 24 hours in advance of cargo loading cutoffs.

CBP will provide a status update on an ISF filing within 24 hours of submission. (eezyimport’s users receive feedback within minutes in most cases) This will indicate whether the ISF was accepted or rejected.

No. If the ISF filing is rejected, you need to resubmit/amend the ISF and receive an acceptance notice from CBP before the cargo can legally be loaded.

If cargo will not be arriving to meet the previously submitted vessel and voyage, you may need to update your ISF and resubmit 24 hours in advance.

Most ocean cargo imports require ISF, but there are some limited exemptions. Refer to CBP’s website or consult your customs broker.

Yes, the importer of record remains liable for ISF compliance even if using a broker. Have a binding ISF agreement in place.

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eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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