ISF Filing Deadline
One of the most common questions among importers is "what is the deadline to file the ISF?". According to the ISF 10+2 Rule set forth by U.S. Customs, the requirement is for all shipments to have the ISF filed no later than 24 hours before departure of the overseas vessel. The reason for this deadline is for Customs to prescreen all goods well ahead of time before they arrive to the U.S.
Do I need to file the ISF if I am late?
Yes, for shipments which are late to file the ISF. U.S. Customs still requires the ISF to be filed in order to complete the prescreeing of the container for homeland security. Based on past history and data, late ISF Filers who are new importers and do not have a long history of being late to file their ISF would not incurr any fines or penalties if action is taken to get it filed after knowing the fact. Importers therefore are highly encouraged to get their ISF filed as soon as possible to stay in compliance with CBP and to minimize the risk of fines.
What are the ISF fines and penalties?
The possible penalties for late ISF Filing is $5,000 per shipment, and total $10,000 per shipment in aggregate if multiple offences are found within the shipment. All ISF's are required to be filed, even if late or goods arrived. Failure to file ISF may result in fines and delays to your shipment when arrived to port, such as costly intensive examinations.
What are the best way to ensure the ISF is filed before the deadline?
The best practices to ensure your ISF is filed before the 24 hour deadline is to ask the seller or shipper to provide you with the ISF Information Sheet and Commercial Invoice 3-5 days before goods are ready to ship overseas. Getting your documents in advance allows you time to file your ISF Online and to receive your ISF Confirmation in which the ISF was filed successfully. Many times the importer will need to send multiples requests to push their seller / shipper to provide as it is the importers responsibilty to get the ISF filed on time by customs law.
ISF Filing Best Practices
File your ISF 3-4 days before vessel departure, no later than 24 before loading of vessel.
If your ISF is late, you must file immediately. Late shipments still require ISF Filing.
Obtain ISF documents from your seller as early as possible. Ask them for ISF documents after you make payment.
Late ISF Filing Fines and Penalties
CBP has the right to issue fines of $5,000 per late or erroneous filing, and up to $10,000 for each shipment in aggregate.
CBP can issue "Do Not Load" status message overseas shipping carrier to prevent goods from leaving the country.
Goods that are shipped without an ISF Filing can be subject to costly customs exams and holds when arrived to port.