Ocean Shipments And Importer Security Filing

Ocean Shipments And Importer Security Filing

You've made the decision to import into the USA. You have researched your product, found a supplier overseas, placed your order and received notice that the goods will be ready to ship soon. This is pretty easy, or so you think, until your supplier asks you who is going to file the Importer Security Filing (ISF).

What Exactly Is An ISF?

The ISF, otherwise known as the Import Security Filing, is one of the most recent requirements impacting the supply chain for cargo arriving via ocean into the U.S. January 6, 2009, U.S. Customs & Border Protection phased in this new requirement in order to enhance their ability to target cargo by requiring additional information prior to loading. Improving their targeting capabilities this has resulted in fewer exams on low risk shipments.

Full Enforcement Of Importer Security Filing (ISF) "10+2"

Who Is Responsible For Filing The ISF?

The Importer of Record, usually the party who purchased the goods, is responsible for the ISF filing.


There Are Two Types Of Import Security Filings.

1. The filing of an ISF10 (the most common type of ISF) applies to all containerized cargo shipments arriving into the commerce of the United States.

2. The filing of an ISF5 applies to cargo that arrives but does not enter into the commerce of the United States. There are two scenarios for the ISF5:

  • the first is for Freight Remaining on Board (also known as FROB) which covers cargo proceeding to a foreign port on the same vessel, and
  • the second is for freight that is offloaded and traveling in-bond through the United States to a foreign destination.

Basically, an ISF10 is like inviting someone into your house for dinner and an ISF5 is like waving hello to someone as they walk by. Sounds easy enough!


What Are The Requirements For Filing An ISF?

For An ISF10 You Will Need To Supply:

  • Name and address of the Seller
  • Name and address of the Buyer
  • Importer of Record
  • Consignee Number
  • Name and address of the Manufacturer
  • Name and address of the Ship-To Party
  • Country of Origin
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule number or HTS for the Commodity
  • Container Stuffing Location
  • Consolidator

For An ISF5 You Will Need To Supply: 

  • Name and address of the Booking Party
  • Foreign Port of Unlading
  • Place of Delivery
  • Name and address of the Ship to Party
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule number or HTS for the Commodity

As the importer, you are responsible for filing the ISF 24 hours prior to the goods being loaded on the vessel; we recommend that you file your ISF 48 hours prior to ensure compliance. Good business practices dictate that you have a team in place to handle these requirements. Part of that team would be a reputable customs broker. You will find that receiving your goods is easier when you have a team in place. As we solidify our status as a global economy, importing regulations will continue to change as governments continue to refine their requirements and as the importer it is your job to try to keep up! That is why having a good team in place is so important.

Importer Security Filing: Mandatory Bond Requirement

Importer Security Filing is one of the latest and greatest changes to the supply chain, and complying with this regulation is easy if you file your information completely and timely. The prospect of importing into the U.S. is a worthwhile endeavour and ISF filing is just one more piece of the profitable puzzle.

Begin Importing into the U.S.

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About Author
April Collier

April Collier is a Trade Compliance Specialist with PCB Customs Brokers USA with over 36 years of experience in international trade. April has been a valued member of the PCB team for 18 years, having taking the lead in implementing the Compliance department for US imports. Her current responsibilities include advising and coaching clients on a variety of regulatory compliance matters, and include expertise in Antidumping & Countervailing matters. In addition to her regular duties, April is also the CTPAT coordinator for PCB.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.