Importer Security Filings (ISF) Enforcement Update

Starting July 9, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) instituted a policy that every liquidated damages enforcement action for Importer Security Filings (ISF) would be reviewed by CBP headquarters for a period of at least one year. On May 13, 2014, Customs reset the twelve month review period. The current enforcement review period will expire on May 13, 2015. As of this writing, we have not heard of any intention by Customs to extend this period again. This means that enforcement action for violative ISFs can now be issued from the ports directly to importers.

ISF enforcement will focus on the truly severe violations such as “significantly” late ISF’s, failure to file an ISF, and repeated ISF violations that continue to impact CBP’s ability to target cargo prior to arrival in the U.S. How Customs determines whether an ISF is significantly late will depend on the length of the voyage. Cargo that arrives without an ISF filed will be considered significantly late and will likely be subject to a hold or exam.

Liquidated damages claims for ISF violations should be issued within six months of the violation. Customs still retains the statutory right to issue claims up to 6 years after the violation, but this would be unlikely except in the event of fraud or criminal intent.

Customs intends to use a “measured and common sense” approach to ISF enforcement. CBP’s goal is to ensure the violation and subsequent liquidated damages align with the intent of the enforcement strategy.