In a Public Bulletin dated July 12, 2013 US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) announced plans to begin enforcement of the requirement for the Importer Security Filing (ISF) on ocean freight imports through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Enforcement will start on July 15, 2013.

There are many shipments every day for which the ISF has not been filed. CBP has placed cargo holds on many of these and subjected them to non-intrusive (x-ray) or other examinations. However, there were no codes in the Automated Commercial System to indicate the reason for the cargo holds. Cargo hold codes have now been added to the Automated Commercial Environment manifest system allowing cargo holds for ISF non-filing to take place.  

Commencing July 15, if an ISF has not been filed 24 hours prior to arrival at the port, CBP will place a cargo hold on the shipment. The cargo will be held until the importer files a complete ISF. Once the ISF is filed CBP may elect to perform a non-intrusive or intensive exam. If the ISF is not filed in 15 days the shipment is subject to being sent to General Order.

Due to the anticipated effectiveness of this approach, CBP has no immediate plans to assess liquidated damages for non-compliant shipments; however CBP reserves the right to do this for egregious situations.

Once ISF compliance has been brought to an acceptable level for shipments within 24 hours of arrival, CBP will extend ISF enforcement to 48 hours prior to arrival, then 72 hours prior to arrival, etc. until they work back to enforcing the complete requirement to file 24 hours prior to departure from the foreign port.

CBP commented that if shipments for C-TPAT participants were being placed on hold for ISF non-compliance, they would review the importer's C-TPAT status. Occasional shipments slipping through without an ISF filing are expected, but a consistent pattern of ISF non-compliance would indicate a serious problem with the importer's supply chain security program.

Other CBP ports will establish their own ISF enforcement plans, depending on the level of ISF compliance in those ports. It is expected that most ports will establish an enforcement plan similar to that of Los Angeles/Long Beach.