Shipping to USA: ISF 10+2 Data Elements, Template, Q&A
It’s called Importer Security Filing, ISF for short.
Importer Security Filing, which is required prior to vessels being loaded, is mandatory for all ocean imports to the United States, no matter whether importing from China or any other countries.
10+2 data elements
Importer Security Filing consists of two separate transmissions to U.S. Customs:
- 10 pieces of information referred to as the Importer
- 2 data sets to be supplied by the carrier
Importers (or their freight broker) are responsible for the 10 additional data elements while carriers will need to submit 2 of the remaining data elements. These together constitute the so-called ISF10+2.
Both importers and carriers must complete the submission of the required data in an accurate and timely manner. Failure to do so may result in severe penalty.
10 required data elements from importer
1. Seller Info
The name and address of the last known entity that sold the products or that agreed to sell the products.
The name and address of the entity that last manufactured, assembled, produced, or grew the commodity, or, the name and address of the supplier of the finished goods in the country from which the goods are leaving.
3. Consolidator Info
The name and address of the party who stuffed the container or arranged for the stuffing of the container. If the manufacturer is the party that stuffed the container or arranged for stuffing, then the manufacturer is considered to be the consolidator (stuffer).
4. Stuffing Location
The name and address(es) of the physical location(s) where the products were stuffed into the container. For break bulk shipments, the name and address(es) of the physical location(s) where the goods were made “ship ready” must be provided.
When a container is stuffed at more than one location, all of the stuffing locations listed on the bill of lading must be provided.
5. Country of origin
The country where the products were manufactured, produced or grown. This element is the same as the “country of origin” element on the CBP form 3461.
6. Importer of Record
The Internal Revenue Service number, Employer Identification number, Social Security number or CBP-assigned number for the entity is responsible for the goods entering the limits of a U.S. port. The importer may or may not be the importer of record for the Customs entry, and may also be the owner, purchaser, consignee or agent.
The Internal Revenue Service number, Employer Identification number, Social Security number or CBP-assigned number of the individual(s) or firm(s) in the United States on whose account the merchandise is being shipped. This element is the same as the “consignee number” element on the CBP form 3461.
8. Buyer Info
The name and address of the last known entity to buy the products or who agreed to buy the products.
9. “Ship to” Party Info
The name and address of the first “deliver-to” party scheduled to physically receive the goods after they have been released from Customs custody. The party physically receiving the goods must be provided and not an entity that merely owns the facility.
10. Harmonized tariff schedule at minimum
6-digit level – The duty/statistical reporting number under which the article is classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The HTSUS number is required to be provided to the 6 digit level, however, it may be provided up to the 10 digit level.
2 required data elements from carrier
There are two data sets that are required from carriers.
1. Vessel stow plan (includes vessel name, operator, container position, stow position, etc.).
2. Container status messages for all the events of that shipment.
5 facts about ISF 10+2 you should know
1. The 10+2 information is loaded into the U.S. Customs Automated Targeting System. The system analyzes the shipment information and flags the containers that require further examination.
2. 10+2 information is required by Customs for all ocean shipments at least 24 hours prior to the vessel loading at the foreign port of lading. Both container stuffing location and consolidator name and address can be submitted when the vessel is on the water, but no later than 24 hours prior to arrival.
3. It is the importer’s responsibility to ensure that the ISF is filed and accurately. As of July 2013, failure to transmit the 10 data elements on time will result in a $5,000 liquidated damages penalty per violation.
4. Importers can file the ISF on their own or through a service provider with a valid power of attorney.
5. The B/L is required as part of the ISF transmission. If your ISF is not matched to your B/L, it will look like your ISF was not filed at all. Such cargo shipments will be marked with a failure to file ISF status and treated as though they were in complete non-compliance to ISF.
Always keep that in mind that ultimate responsibility for ISF and correctness of the data rests with importer. Therefore always make sure it’s filed timely and properly.
Below are just a few FAQs from our daily work experiences. You can download the help doc from CBP to learn more.
Q: What types of carriers are involved?
A: 10+2 applies only to merchandise imported by ocean carrier. It does not apply to air, truck, or rail shipments.
Q: Is a bond required?
A: Yes, a bond is required for a filing. If the importer already has a continuous bond, this is sufficient. Otherwise, the importer have to obtain one.
The signed POA – Power of Attorney is needed for the broker/agent to get the single bond or annual bond for you.You’d better purchase continuous bond to save time and money especially If you are planning to import more than 4 times a year via sea.
Q: Who is the ISF Importer?
A: 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.
Q: What if I don’t file ISF or later than requested?
A: You “subject” to get penalty from Customs.
$5,000 penalty if it’s not filed at least 24 hours prior to lading aboard a vessel destined to the USA, and up to $10,000 per shipment. Inaccurate ISF, or amendments can result in penalty too. Not complying with the rule has not just cost thousands of dollars in penalties, but also increased inspections and cargo delays.
If already late, then a late ISF is always better than no ISF.
Q: What if the manufacturer and end buyer a business secret?
A: You don’t have a choice. You have to disclose the above 10 elements to Customs, and there is no other option.
Q: Do I have to do amendment after my shipment arrived at my warehouse?
A: Customs requires the most accurate information. However, you do not need to update the data after your shipment has been cleared from Customs.
Free download our ISF 10+2 blank form for reference
Click here for the Excel file
Before you import into United States, know what you are importing and identify the proper HTS numbers earlier in the process. Also decide who will transmit the ISF and send necessary documents to related party in order authorize them timely.
Just keep communicating with your suppliers in China (or any other countries) and ISF filing service providers, you’ll find the process is easy & simple.
If you choose to-door service from us, we will handle everything including the filing. Besides, you can request the single filing service from us.
We hope we were able to make things clear for you from the point of view of a China freight forwarding company. If you are looking for more information please let us know, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
CFC News - Oct. 10, 2023
Ocean rates are sinking despite high levels of blank sailings and record-slow sailing speeds, which are expected to persist into next year.
The ultimate step-by-step ebook about sourcing from China, especially for U.S. importers 
Check your potential suppliers in China – get the verification report in 24 hours. Protect your business, avoid scams and frauds.
My machine arrived in good order and I am happy with CFC's shipping arrangements. I received quotes from other forwarding companies but they kept changing the amounts. Your quote was exact and there were no hidden charges. I would be happy to recommend CFC to other importers of goods from China.
--- Chris G., Canada
Click for more reviews