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Why is ISF Filing so expensive?

As an importer, you know all too well that filing your ISF 10+2 form is unavoidable if you want to clear your merchandise from customs. If you’re a regular importer, you also know that the fees can mount up. What are the costs? Why are they so expensive? Is there a cheaper alternative?

The ISF Filing Fee

The ISF filing fee is a regular part of freight costs and charges. The fee is charged early on in the import process by the freight forwarder or customs broker. What does it encompass? The Customs Clearance charge, which covers the ’10+2′ advance cargo reporting requirements of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), sometimes includes the fee. The 10+2 form applies to ocean freight only and must be filed at least 24 hours before the vessel leaves the last port of origin. A forwarder or an ISF Customs Broker working on your behalf prepares the information from the Shipper’s Letter of Intent or Commercial Invoice.

The CBP uses the information to identify high- or low-risk shipments for release. A broker or a self-filing importer prepares the Entry  Summary before arrival in port. Customs Entry reporting includes the same information as the 10+2 as well as more details. The data stems from the Ocean manifest (House B/L) and Commercial Invoice.

How Much Is The Fee?

The ISF Filing fee is usually between $30-50. If you are using a customs broker or forwarder, you will be charged a small fee for their services. Brokers combine the filing fee with the cost of an ISF Bond, which together amounts to $80-120. Importers, primarily those new to the business, employ a broker’s services rather than miss the filing deadline, which can reach astounding proportions.

ISF Enforcement

This is where ISF Filing can get extremely expensive. CBP enforcement includes penalties for late filing and filing errors. Moreover, enforcement has become markedly more stringent due to an increase in violations. For example, the CBP is no longer obligated to issue a “Three strikes” warning for breaches. Also, while the CBP may not issue fines in all cases, it has the right to give and determine them at the port level.

The number crunch

Customs can calculate damages up to a maximum of $10,000 per shipment for violations such as late, inaccurate, or incomplete ISF filing. This includes:

  • Failure to file ($5,000 per shipment)
  • Late filing ($5,000 per shipment)
  • Incomplete filing ($5,000 per shipment)
  • Failure to withdraw ISF ($5,000 per shipment)
  • Failure to ensure ISF filing matches Bill of Lading ($5,000 per shipment)

If that isn’t bad enough, you could also face cargo holds until CBP receives the required information and has had the chance to review and examine the documentation.

Mitigating penalties

The good news is that a first ISF violation may be mitigated to $1,000-$2,000 contingent on the extenuating circumstances and other aspects of the offense. For example, if there is evidence of progress for timely ISF processing. Another example for mitigation will be if inaccurate filings are not the importer’s fault, such as having received wrong information from another person along the supply chain. Importers should consider becoming voluntary C-TPAT members as they can receive reduced ISF penalties.

Cost-saving alternative

Is there a way to navigate ISF Filing more cost-efficiently? Yes! Do It Yourself! eezyimport enables importers to do ISF Filing themselves through its innovative, user-friendly platform. Importantly, since you are filing the information yourself and handling most of the process, the price is low. Also, since you can file anytime, anywhere, you won’t miss your deadlines and incur penalties. Whether you’re filing the ISF form or the Entry Summary, eezyimport simplifies the processes to accelerate your success!


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