What is ISF in shipping and Why is needed?

Learn about ISF (Importer Security Filing) in shipping - the mandatory U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirement that helps prevent security risks. Essential for cargo entering the U.S. by sea.
what is isf,Importer Security Filing(ISF)

Table of Contents

Importer Security Filing(ISF)

ISF means Importer Security Filing, also known as counter-terrorism filing.

Is the United States Customs requirements for importers in the United States, this is after “9/11”, the United States Customs and Border Protection (U.S.Customs and Border Protection, referred to as CBP) in order to strengthen the United States security requirements, this is a United States specific declaration, its purpose is to improve security supervision.

What does ISF included?

The content contains 12 items,10 items are provided by the importer and 2 items are provided by the shipping company, so ISF is also called 10+2.

Before goods are loaded onto the vessel, the Importer Security Filing (ISF) requires the following information to be submitted at least 24 hours in advance:

  • Consignee Number.
  • Seller (Owner) Name and Address.
  • Buyer (Owner) Name and Address.
  • Manufacturer (Supplier) Name and Address.
  • Ship-to Party Information.
  • Country of Origin.
  • Importer of Record Number or Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Applicant Identification Number.
  • Commodity HTS Number (Harmonized Tariff Schedule).
  • Container Stuffing Location.
  • Consolidator (Stuffer) Name and Address.


The +2:

  • Shipping loading position plan
  • Loading container status information


This is the sample of ISF file:


Why is ISF needed?

  1. National Security: After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there was a heightened focus on national security in the United States.
  2. Risk Assessment: ISF allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the cargo before it arrives in the country.

What will happen if I don’t file ISF?

If you fail to file the ISF (Importer Security Filing) or submit incorrect/incomplete information, there are potential consequences:

  • Massive Fees: Non-compliance can lead to significant penalties imposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • Increased Inspections: Shipment may undergo more extensive inspections, causing potential delays and added costs.
  • Delayed Shipment: CBP may refuse to grant permission to unload the cargo, resulting in shipment delays.
  • Seizure: If cargo is unloaded without CBP permission, they can seize the goods, and a “Do Not Load” order may be issued.

The penalties for ISF violations can reach up to $10,000 per shipment, depending on the specific violation, including failure to file, late filing, incomplete filing, failure to withdraw, or failure to match the ISF filing to the Bill of Lading.

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