What is the ISF 10+2 or Import Security Filing?
Import Security Filing (ISF 10+2) is a regulation approved at the end of 2008 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The regulation requires certain information to be declared about cargo in containers bound for import into the United States by ship. It does not apply to air freight, nor does it apply to bulk shipping cargo.
After the regulation came into force in January 2009, the American customs authorities set up a transition period of 12 months so that importers could adapt gradually to compliance. Since 26th January 2010 the regulation has been fully in force, albeit with a certain amount of goodwill with regard to prescribed sanctions. Since 9th July 2013, the regulation has been fully applied with no flexibility around the imposition of penalties.
What information should be declared on the ISF 10+2?
The name 10+2 refers to the information the exporter and importer should communicate about the cargo (10 items), as well as information regarding the stowage plan and container status (2 items). The declaration can only be made electronically.
- 10 items:
- Importer Registration Number.
- Consignee Registration Number.
- Seller details.
- Buyer details.
- Ship-to party.
- Manufacturer or supplier details.
- Country of origin.
- Tariff heading, according to the Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
- Details of where the container was packed.
- Consolidator (container packer) details.
- 2 items:
- Ship stowage plan.
- Container status messages.
Only five items are requested for cargo that is in transit and destined for re-export and cargo destined for free trade zones.
Who needs to make an ISF 10+2 declaration?
The importer in the United States, either themselves or via their customs agent, is responsible for submitting a correct declaration on time, regardless of who provides the information. Indeed, some of the information provided at the destination is obtained from the exporter via their forwarder.
Given the complexity and importance of the process, the declaration is usually submitted at the destination by the importer’s forwarder/customs agent rather than by the importer themselves. It is therefore advisable for both the exporter and importer to work with a forwarder who has offices in Spain and in the USA or a network of reliable agents.
When should the ISF 10+2 declaration be submitted?
The regulation requires the information to be submitted 24 hours before the cargo is loaded onto the ship which is normally 48 hours before the ship sails. This should be seen as a minimum deadline to allow for receiving notice of acceptance because if the cargo is loaded onto the ship without that acceptance there are likely to be serious consequences, as we will see later on.
In practice, exporters and importers should submit the information earlier to allow for the following circumstances:
- The time difference between country of origin and destination.
- Different working hours of the exporter, importer and forwarder in the country of origin and destination.
- Public holidays in the country of origin and destination.
- Shipments for which the exporter cannot produce the documentation prior to loading.
- Dangerous goods shipments that usually have specific timeframes for full containers to enter the port terminal.
Given all of the above, we recommend that the exporter provides the information to their forwarder 96 hours prior to the estimated time of departure. Under normal circumstances, this leaves enough time to receive a response and to change any details if necessary before the 24-hour deadline set by the American customs authorities.
It is worth noting that these timeframes could lead to additional costs such as those for port terminal activities and electrical connections for reefer containers.
The consequences of non-compliance with the ISF 10+2
There are four types of non-compliance:
- Not making the declaration.
- Making a mistake or submitting an incomplete declaration.
- Submitting a declaration after the deadline.
- Not cancelling a declaration, e.g., if the cargo changes destination or it is abandoned.
In all of the above cases, the prescribed sanctions range from a minimum of 5,000 USD per declaration to a maximum of 10,000 USD (if there is more than one type of non-compliance). However, the customs authorities can take certain factors into consideration to reduce the amount, such as the percentage of incorrect declarations, measures taken by the importer to rectify the non-compliance, circumstances beyond the control of those making the declaration, incorrect information having been supplied by someone in the logistics chain, etc.
In the first scenario, the customs authorities can also withhold the cargo until the declaration is submitted.
As we saw in the article on how to export to the United States all importers should have a single entry or continuous bond which guarantees the payment of taxes. Those importers who already have a continuous bond will not have to carry out any additional procedures (the guarantee for the ISF is already covered by their continuous bond). In contrast, importers who do not have this surety should either (i) obtain a single entry bond and an ISF bond for each operation, or (ii) obtain a continuous bond which is more cost effective if the importer carries out more than three operations a year.