The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) began enforcing penalties for failure to register Importer Security Filings (ISF) on time on May 14. This ends the previous informed compliance period, which allowed port officials some discretion in enforcement, and importers up to “three strike” warnings.
The typical course of action in the informed compliance period was to hold freight rather than issue a liquidated damage penalty (fine). Beginning May 14, CBP now can issue liquidated damage claims against the importer’s Bond, a minimum fine of $5,000.
“We are reminding our customers that they cannot be late in filing under this new policy,” said Julie Hartenfels, Vice President and Compliance Officer of WB Skinner. “The ISF is due no later than 24 hours before the vessel leaves the port for the U.S.” She also pointed out a common area of confusion: “It’s critical to note that the filing is valid for shipments only when they leave for the U.S. in the vessel of origin on that filing date, no matter how many stops they make in between the departure city and the U.S.”
The period in which an importer is at risk of penalties can be extensive. CBP violation claim letters may be forwarded to the importer within six months of the violation. However, this policy does not preclude CBP’s six year statute of limitations for liquidated damage claims. In other words, a claim may be made by CBP up to six years from the violation date. CBP port personnel have been advised to focus enforcement activities on the most severe violations (i.e., late, or missing ISFs). CBP will assess a penalty where the violation has impacted CBP’s ability to effectively assess risk and hold cargo. ISF filings after arrival are always considered late and are subject to both liquidated damage claims and ISF holds.
You can contact Julie Hartenfels at WB Skinner by calling 201-644-7214.