Late ISF Filings Can Have Expensive Consequences

Posted on Nov 1

Article by: Rick Walker, Vice President, TradeInsights, LCB, CCS


We have seen an uptick lately in the issuance of ISF penalties and wanted to take this opportunity to remind importers that failing to file timely ISF (Importer Security Filing) can be expensive when CBP chooses to issue a liquidated damages penalty. As a reminder, the required ISF data must be submitted to CBP 24 hours before vessel loading. We recommend having the required ISF data submitted 72 hours before vessel loading.

CBP can assess liquidated damages up to a maximum of $10,000 per shipment for violations such as failure to submit ISF timely, accurately, or completely. These penalties can result from:

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

In addition to the actual penalty, an importer may also face cargo holds until CBP receives the required information and has had the opportunity to review and examine the documentation. Those delays create additional costs as well.

It’s worth noting that according to CBP’s Mitigation Guidelines, first violations of ISF can be mitigated to between $1,000 and $2,000, and subsequent violations can be mitigated to an amount not less than $2,500, depending on any mitigating factors such as a small number of violations overall, factors outside of the importers control, and demonstrated remedial action to prevent future violations. Additionally, CTPAT members may receive an additional 50% of the normal mitigation amount. No relief will be granted if CBP determines that law enforcement goals were compromised by the violation.

We encourage all importers to review their internal controls to ensure the complete, accurate, and timely transmission of ISF data to CBP in order to prevent these expensive penalties. Discuss with each trade partner their function in the ISF process and reconfirm their understanding of their obligation.

Please contact your V. Alexander account team, or you may also contact our Trade Compliance team at with any questions, and you can always follow us on our website for updates on this and other topics.