In the complex world of imports and exports, understanding and adhering to customs regulations is essential to ensure that goods move smoothly across borders. One of the most crucial regulations for those seeking to import goods into the United States is ISF, or Importer Security Filing.

Commonly referred to as “ISF 10+2,” this customs requirement not only ensures the security of goods entering the country, but also protects U.S. borders against potential threats.

In this article, we will dive into the world of ISF, breaking down its importance, how it works and why every importer should consider it in their import process.

As we navigate through this topic, we will discover the implications of not complying with this regulation and how it can affect businesses. In addition, we will provide tips and resources to ensure that, as an importer, you are well informed and prepared to meet all ISF requirements.

So, whether you are an experienced importer or someone just starting out in the world of international trade, this article will give you a complete and detailed overview of the ISF and its relevance in today’s U.S. import landscape.


What is ISF (Importer Security Filing)?

ISF, known as Importer Security Filing, is a U.S.A specific customs regulation that requires importers to provide detailed information about their shipments before they arrive in the country.

This information is essential for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess the content, origin and destination of the goods to determine if they pose a national security risk.

The designation “10+2” refers to the data that importers must provide:

10 items of information related to the goods and 2 additional transport data.

This data provides a complete view of the shipment, from the original supplier to the final recipient in the United States.


Origins of the regulation

The history of the ISF dates back to the need to strengthen U.S. border security following the events of September 11, 2001.

In an increasingly globalized world, with millions of shipments crossing borders daily, it was essential for the U.S. government to have a system that could identify potentially dangerous shipments before they reached U.S. soil.

In 2009, after several years of development and consultation with industry, CBP officially implemented the ISF as a key tool in its efforts to protect the nation’s borders and ensure the safety of its citizens.

The ISF not only represents a security tool, but also reflects the commitment of the United States to modernize and streamline its customs processes, seeking a balance between trade facilitation and border protection.


The “10+2” Standard: Breakdown and Comprehension

The ISF 10+2 designation is a direct reference to the specific data importers must provide to CBP before their goods arrive in the United States. This data is essential for CBP to conduct risk assessments and determine whether a specific shipment needs further inspection upon arrival in the country.


The 10 commodity-related data are

Manufacturer or supplier: Name and address of the manufacturer or supplier of the goods.

Seller: Name and address of the last known seller.

Buyer: Name and address of the buyer or final consignee of the goods.

Importer identification number: Importer’s registration or identification number.

Consolidator: Name and address of the entity that consolidates and packages the goods.

Container depot: Location where containers are loaded and stored.

Place of origin: Place of manufacture, production or assembly of the goods.

Consignee: Name and address of the final consignee.

Country of origin: Country where the goods were manufactured or produced.

Commodity Harmonized System (HS) number: Code describing the type of commodity.


The 2 additional data are:

Stowage plan: Details on how the goods were loaded on the vessel.

Container status: Information on the status and movement of the container.


Importance of each piece of data in the security context

Each of these data plays a crucial role in risk assessment.

For example, the place of origin and manufacturer can help identify shipments coming from areas considered high risk .

The identification number of the importer and the consignee of the goods allows CBP to verify the legitimacy of the parties involved in the transaction.

The stowage plan and container status provide information on how the goods were handled and stored, which can be crucial in identifying tampering or interference with the shipment.

Together, this data provides CBP with a complete picture of each shipment, allowing them to make informed decisions about which shipments to inspect and which to allow entry without delay.


ISF Submission Procedure

The ISF filing process is essential to ensure that goods imported into the United States comply with all customs and safety regulations.

The procedure, the tools available and the crucial role of customs brokers in this process are detailed below.


How and when to file the ISF

The ISF must be filed electronically through the Automated System for Customs and Trade (ACE).

It is imperative that importers submit this information at least 24 hours before the merchandise is loaded onto a vessel bound for the United States. This advance notice allows CBP to review and evaluate the information provided, identifying potential risks and determining whether additional inspections are necessary once the merchandise arrives in the country.


Electronic presentation tools and platforms

Automated Customs and Trade System (ACE): This is the primary platform used for ISF filing. ACE allows importers and their agents to submit information directly to CBP, receive notifications and access reports on the status of their shipments.

Customs Broker Portals: Many customs brokers offer specific online portals for their clients, where they can upload and submit the information required for the ISF. These portals are often integrated with ACE, ensuring smooth and secure data transmission.


The role of customs brokers in the presentation

Customs brokers play a key role in the ISF filing process. Although the ultimate responsibility rests with the importer, in practice, many importers rely on customs brokers to handle this process due to their experience and knowledge in the field.

These professionals are familiar with CBP regulations, specific ISF requirements and best practices to ensure timely and accurate filing.

In addition, they can advise importers on possible problems or inconsistencies in the information provided, minimizing the risk of fines or delays in the import process.

At Across Logistics we are Customs Brokers. More information is available at:

Customs Management Service for imports and exports


In summary, while filing the ISF is an importer’s responsibility, having the expertise and support of a trusted customs broker can make this process much more manageable and less error-prone.


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Consequences of Noncompliance

ISF compliance is essential not only to ensure the security of U.S. borders, but also to avoid significant financial and operational consequences for importers.

The following are the possible sanctions and consequences of non-compliance with ISF regulations.


Fines and penalties for late, inaccurate or incomplete submissions

Late filing penalties: If an importer fails to file the ISF within 24 hours prior to vessel loading, he may face penalties starting at $5,000 per violation. These fines can add up quickly if multiple shipments are involved.

Fines for inaccurate or incomplete information: Submitting incorrect information or failing to provide all required data may result in fines of up to $10,000 per shipment.

Detention of goods: In addition to monetary penalties, CBP may detain the goods at the port until the noncompliance is resolved. This can lead to additional costs for the importer in terms of storage and delivery delays.

Revocation of Import Privilege: In extreme cases, if an importer incurs multiple violations or shows a pattern of noncompliance, CBP may revoke its privilege to import goods into the United States.


Tips for a Successful Import Process

Navigating the complex world of imports can be challenging, especially when it comes to complying with regulations such as the ISF. However, with proper preparation and by following certain best practices, importers can ensure a smooth import process and avoid unnecessary penalties.

The following are some key tips for a successful import process.


The importance of punctuality in presentation

Anticipation is key: Make sure you have all the necessary data ready and verified well in advance. This will give you time to review and correct any errors before the submission deadline.

Set reminders: Use task management tools or calendars to set reminders about ISF submission dates. This will help you keep track of important deadlines.


How to choose a reliable customs broker

Verify credentials: Make sure the broker is licensed and reputable in the industry. You can check their status through the National Customs Brokers Association or CBP.

Ask for references: Talk to other importers or business partners about their experiences with customs brokers and ask for recommendations.

Clear communication: Choose an agent that offers transparent and regular communication. They should be willing to answer your questions and keep you informed about the status of your shipments.


Across Logistics: A Strategic Partner in Customs Management

As mentioned earlier, it is essential to have a trusted and experienced partner to ensure that shipments are handled smoothly and in full compliance with customs regulations.

At Across Logistics we are proud to be that strategic ally, providing integral logistic solutions and a deep knowledge in customs management.


Our Commitment

Tailored Logistics Solutions: At Across Logistics, we strive to provide solutions that meet the highest demands for time, cost and sustainability. Our commitment lies in the excellence of each project, always with the objective of satisfying the expectations and needs of our clients.

Wide Range of Services: From air, ocean and land transportation, to special cargo, temperature controlled cargo and customs services, we provide a diversity of services to suit each specific requirement.

Recognitions and Credentials: Our excellence is backed by several certifications and recognitions, such as the European Union Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status, ISO 9001 certification in quality management, and IATA accreditation, among others.

Our Sustainable Approach: We have integrated ecological and sustainable thinking into our corporate DNA. We actively seek alternative driving technologies and multimodal logistics solutions. In addition, we give our customers the option of offsetting their CO2 emissions, reaffirming our commitment to the environment and the fight against climate change.