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ISF 10+2 Frequently Asked Questions

As you might know, US Customs Importer Security Filing (ISF) program, also known as 10+2, went into effect on January 26, 2009. What follows is a summary of answers to some basic questions about the program

What is it?

The Importer Security Filing (ISF) program is a new security program which is being implemented by US Customs in its efforts to protect the US from weapons being transported to the US on an ocean container.

Effective date

The ISF program is effective for ocean shipments made on or after January 26, 2009. US Customs is allowing a 12 month delayed enforcement period to allow time for the trade community to adjust.

What is required?

A security filing containing certain data elements for merchandise shipped by ocean to the US must be transmitted to Customs at least 24 hours (with some exceptions for certain of the data elements) before the cargo is laden on board an ocean carrier.

Who is required to do what?

The importer or a designated agent must file 10 data elements and the ocean carrier must file other 2 data elements. Hence the acronym 10+2.

Who files the ISF?

The importer has the primary responsibility for filing the ISF, but the importer can authorize the customs house broker (or another party that has ABI filing capability) to make the filing on its behalf. Mid-America Overseas, Inc. (MAO) has the software to make ISF filings on behalf of our clients.

Who is the ISF importer?

This is defined under 19 CFR 149 as the party causing goods to arrive within the limits of a port in the United States. This party can be the owner, purchaser, consignee or their agent.

What types of carriers are involved?

10+2 applies only to merchandise imported by ocean carrier. It does not apply to air, truck, or rail shipments.

Exceptions: Even if imported via ocean carrier, 10+2 does not apply to bulk shipments (bulk cargo, oil, grain, coal, brick, etc.).

What elements must be included by an importer in the ISF filing?

For 3461 entries (regular entries), IT (in-bond), and Foreign Trade Zone entries, the following are required to be filed by the ISF importer:

  1. Seller name and address: This is defined as the last known entity by whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold.
  2. Buyer name and address: The last known entity to whom the goods are sold or agreed to be sold. If there is no sale, report the owner of the goods.
  3. Importer of Record number: This is defined as the importer identification as listed on the entry summary. If the shipment is destined for a foreign trade zone, the identification number of the party filing the zone entry must be provided.
  4. Consignee number: This is defined as the importer identification number that is currently reported as the ultimate consignee on the entry summary.
  5. Manufacturer (or supplier name): This is currently defined as the entity that last manufactures, assembles, produces, or grows the commodity OR the supplier of the finished goods in the country from which they are leaving OR the manufacturer or supplier that is currently reported in the entry process as the manufacturer identification number (MID).
  6. Ship to name and address: This is the first deliver-to-party scheduled to physically receive the goods after the goods have been released from customs custody.
  7. Country of origin: This is defined as the same country of origin as reported on the entry summary.
  8. Commodity / HTS Number: This is defined as the current HTS number, provided to at least 6 digits but no more than 10 digits, for each commodity contained in the shipment.
  9. Container Stuffing Location: This is defined as the name and address of the physical location where the goods were loaded into a container for shipping.
  10. Consolidator name and address: This is defined as the name and address of the party that loaded the container or arranged for the loading of the container.


  • The manufacturer (supplier), country of origin, and Commodity HTS (at the 6 digit level) must be linked together as a line-item at the shipment level.
  • For the container stuffing location and consolidator name/address, the information must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours prior to arrival.
  • For break-bulk cargo, the ISF must be filed no later than 24 hours prior to arrival

What data elements are carriers required to file?

The ocean carriers must report the following:

  • Vessel stow plan (container location) of the actual carrier. This will include the vessel name and operator; voyage number; container operator; container number; size and type; stow position; hazmat code; and load/discharge ports
  • Container event messages supplied by the carrier, to include terminal container movements; change in container status; focused on container status messaging set; container number; event description; date; time and location; vessel name

Is a bond required?

Yes, a bond is required for an ISF filing. If the importer already has a continuous bond, this is sufficient. Otherwise, the importer can obtain an importer security filing bond thru MAO when made available by US Customs.

Will there be penalties or other enforcement action by Customs on the ISF program?

  • US Customs advises they will be flexible for the first year of the program.
  • No liquidated damages will be assessed for the first year.
  • Customs will not issue any Do Not Load holds for compliance issues.

What action is required by importers?

  • Importers need to determine who at the company will be responsible for gathering and sending the required information.
  • Importers should consider including some of the data elements on their commercial invoices or packing slips (6 digit HTS number, Container Stuffing Location, Consolidator name and address, etc.) to facilitate the ISF process.

Will there be a fee associated with the ISF filings?

Yes, the fee will either be part of existing clearance rates or separate depending on our client requirements. The fee will be based on the complexity of the transaction and the level of validation required. MAO will determine the pricing for the ISF filing once the final rule is published by US Customs and MAO has completed our system applications.

Unresolved regulatory issues with the ISF filings

  • Power of Attorney format for standalone ISF filings
  • ISF Surety Bonds

Web links

Customs & Border Protection 10 + 2 Security Filing