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The ISF Honeymoon Comes to an End January 26th

The honeymoon phase of Importer Security Filing (ISF) will be over in less than one month. On January 26th, 2010, U.S. importers of ocean cargo will be faced with a harsh reality. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin issuing fines and penalties for importers who fail to file their ISFs, file late, fail to update, or fail to delete their ISFs. Penalty amounts will be $5,000 per Importer Security Filing transmission and can be as much as $10,000 per ISF.

Was your honeymoon successful? Are you ISF ready?

At this time, importers need to be very familiar with their progress reports. Customs issues these monthly progress reports to whoever is filing the ISFs in order to let them know how they are doing. The reports inform the filer about how often their ISFs are accepted or rejected as well as how timely they are filing. If you haven’t seen your progress report, you need to ask whoever is filing immediately. Remember: it is not the filer that has to pay the fine; the importer is liable for their ISFs.

In order to avoid paying these stiff fines, many importers have brought their policies and procedures in house to ensure they know that they are filing timely and accurately. The ISF consists of 10 very easily attainable data elements. Once the importer begins receiving the information, the filing is easy.

It's time to create a successful ISF program.

TRG Direct, an ISF and customs entry self filing provider, allows importers to file online in seconds using templates and excel uploads. Also, since the ISF is not considered customs business, many importers allow their vendors to access the ISFs under their own user names and input information, which means the information never has to go through a third party.

If you haven’t started filing, don’t stress: you still have a month to practice filing penalty-free. However, you need to start filing now. CBP has stated that the most important thing importers can do before compliance begins is to create a history with CBP by filing their ISFs. By doing so, importers may be able to mitigate any fines and penalties assessed at the beginning of compliance. Importers who have not been filing will be the first ones paying these fines.

If you have been filing, you need to make sure your policies and procedures are in place and that all filings are timely and accurate. Check your progress report to see how well you’re doing. And remember, by filing yourself, you have complete control over filing timely and accurately.

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Trade Risk Guaranty (TRG) Brokerage Services LLC is a licensed insurance agency, having agency agreements with Hanover Insurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts and Hudson Insurance Company of New York, New York, both of which are insurance companies approved by the Department of the U.S. Treasury to issue U.S. Customs bonds.

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