U.S. Customs Proposes Expanded Definition of ‘Importer Security Filing Importer’

The Journal of Commerce reported that earlier this month U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a notice of proposed rulemaking [USCBP-2016-0040] to amend the CBP regulations to expand- for certain types of shipments- the definition of the party required to electronically submit the Importer Security Filing (ISF) 24 hours prior to vessel loading at an overseas port.

The ISF rule was implemented in 2009 to gather advance data about ocean cargo so it can be screened by CBP’s computers for potential security risks, such as nuclear smuggling, before the vessel reaches U.S. shores.The ISF consists of 10 data elements that provide details about the contents, origin, destination, shipper and receiver of the cargo. It is supposed to be filed by importers – the party causing the goods to be imported – or their customs brokers.

Shipments that remain on board the vessel at port, or are directly transported to another U.S. location under bond before goods are released for pick up or are re-exported, only require five data elements.  CBP stating that the existing definition of an importer doesn’t work well for those types of shipments, as well as shipments to Foreign Trade Zones. The ocean carrier is technically the importer for Freight Remaining on Board (FROB), and in many cases, a third party with no commercial interest in the shipment and limited access to the ISF data is the ISF filer for in-bond and FTZ entries.

The proposed change would give NVOs and import buyers the ability to directly transmit the Importer Security Filing, which is expected to improve security and eliminate confusion over who should file.

Third parties, such as a Foreign Trade Zone operator, may not have access to the required ISF data and inbond export and transportation entries are frequently not filed until after the cargo has arrived at a port of entry, which means there is not yet a party that files the bond documentation 24 hours prior to lading. In these cases, the party filing the entries with CBP didn’t cause the goods to be shipped to the United States and may not have direct knowledge of the required info. Instead, the purchaser or broker often will simply file the ISF with 10 data elements.

To address these issues, CBP is proposing to expand the definition of an ISF Importer for IE and T&E in-bond shipments, and for goods to be delivered to an FTZ, to also include the goods’ owner, purchaser, consignee or agent. The proposal would significantly reduce confidentiality concerns that may be caused by the current requirements. This rule would ensure the party with the best access to the information is the party who files the information, which will improve the accuracy of the information CBP uses for targeting. Finally, eliminating a step in the transmission process (sending the ISF information from the third party to the current ISF importer) will result in CBP getting the information sooner.

The agency is receiving public comments on the ISF proposal through September  6th.

RCL Agencies will provide more update once available