Regulatory Alert: Customs’ Import Filing Program

Jack Garvey |

January 26 is the deadline for compliance with the Customs Border Protection Importer Security Filing (ISF) program.  The following Regulatory Alert provides more details on this new program.  If your company imports products or materials into the United States, it is important that you are aware of the provisions of this program.   Penalties for non-compliance can be stiff, and can mount on a per occurrence basis.

Executive Summary:

Your company’s international import trade activities may at risk from an upcoming US Customs’ program enforcement deadline.   Though your company may have experienced minimal or no customs inspections in the past, the Customs’ Importer Security Filing program will now result in all import shipments being scrutinized more closely than ever before.  This intensified scrutiny is expected to result in increased inspections for your shipments.

Penalties for non-compliance can be greater than $5,000 per occurrence.

Suggested Actions:

Secure knowledgeable, experienced assistance to aid in the development of your company’s Importer Security Filing (ISF) program.  Compliance Architects®  can help you develop the ISF program that will minimize risk to your import trade activities and minimize opportunities for enforcement action.

Additional Information:

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), Your Safety Net Against 10+2

Significant benefits are expected for C-TPAT certified importers with the advent of enforcement under Importer Security Filing (ISF) / 10+2 program.     Customs Border Protection (CBP) assigns a “risk-value score” to each shipment, based on the ISF/10+2 filing.
In general, CBP will decrease the number of inspections for:
1. C-TPAT members
2. Foreign Suppliers (if eligible) that are C-TPAT members
3. Foreign Suppliers that have been inspected (validated) by CBP
Since the ISF number must be issued in order for the container to be loaded on the steamship, CBP is made aware of the importer’s C-TPAT status in advance of the container’s arrival in the U.S.  Therefore, there is no confusion as to whether or not the importer is a C-TPAT member, and the importer receives C-TPAT benefits well before the container arrives in a domestic port.
Additional benefits to C-TPAT members include:• C-TPAT entities will be reliably identified prior to lading
• Tangible C-TPAT benefits will be applied far upstream
• Validation of Supply-Chain Security Reviews
  Up to 50% Off Penalty Associated with ISF (10+2)On January 26, 2010, enforcement begins with regards to the Importer Security Filing (ISF) Program and the Additional Carrier Requirements, also known as “10+2”. Penalties associated with this program are now front and center. CBP has issued guidelines that the agency will follow in determining penalties for importers who violate the ISF.  Listed below are four violations subject to penalties.

  • Failure to file.  This is the most serious violation, subject to the most severe level of potential penalties.
  • Late filing.  The Interim Final Rule requires the importer to file the ISF no later than 24 hours prior to lading at foreign origin.
  • Inaccurate filing.  Providing incorrect data, both in an initial filing, but may also apply in subsequent filings (e.g., amended ISF).
  • Failure to withdraw a filing.  Withdrawal of an ISF that is known to be invalid is required.  An invalid ISF includes an order that has been cancelled, discovery of significant change in information necessitating a new ISF, a complete change in routing, or other substantive change.

Each one of the above-listed violations is potentially subject to $5,000.00 in liquidated damages.  A single ISF could have more than one violation, and therefore, more than one penalty applied.  For instance, an importer can violate both the late-filing rule and the inaccurate-information rule.  This importer would be subject to a $10,000.00 penalty for the incorrect ISF.

CBP has announced that C-TPAT members will be eligible for additional mitigation (up to 50%) of the normal mitigation amount. Based upon the projected penalty fee structure, this benefit can result in significant savings to your company.
Though your company may have experienced minimal or no customs inspections in the past, the ISF/10+2 program will now result in all import shipments being scrutinized more closely than ever before.  This intensified scrutiny is expected to result in increased inspections for your shipments.

Contact Compliance Architects® for further information: 

888-REG-XPRT (888-734-9778) or, email at 


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