March 2009 | How-To | Ten Tips

Understanding 10+2 Requirements

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The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency's Importer Security Filing (ISF) regulation has become commonly known as the 10+2 initiative because it requires importers and vessel-operating carriers to provide trade data (10 elements and two elements each, respectively) for non-bulk cargo shipments arriving into the United States via ocean. Melissa Irmen, vice president, products and strategy, at Charlotte, N.C.-based trade solutions provider Integration Point, offers these tips for complying with the new regulations.

1. Remember that 10+2 pertains to goods transiting through the United States, not just imports. Carriers must file data for goods moving through the country for export and for freight remaining on board the vessel.

2. Be aware of the "flexible enforcement" loophole. CBP will not assess liquidated damages for failure to meet the new requirements until Jan. 26, 2010. In the interim, the agency expects importers to make a good faith effort to comply.

3. Understand who is responsible for filing the data. The ISF importer bears responsibility for ensuring all 10 data elements are filed correctly, even if the information originates from another trading partner.

4. Engage your carriers. Carriers must file the container's status message and stow plan. You do not have to tie these elements to the importer data; CBP will make that correlation.

5. Don't wait until the last minute. Filings must be submitted 24 hours prior to the shipment's arrival in a U.S. port, or upon lading at a foreign port that is less than a 24-hour voyage to the closest U.S. port. To prevent delays, you can send ISFs in advance, even without the two most difficult to obtain data elements—container stuffing location and consolidator—as long as you provide these two remaining elements 24 hours prior to arrival.

6. Know what data can be amended. "Flexibility in interpretation" was introduced for data elements that cause the most concern for compliance, such as country of origin, ship-to party, and manufacturer. You can submit an initial response based on the best available data 24 hours prior to lading, but you must ensure that CBP receives the final data on time.

7. Learn how to file electronically, or engage a partner to do it for you. All ISF filings must be submitted via the Automated Manifest System (AMS) or the Automated Broker Interface (ABI). You may be a self-filer or you can choose to use an agent. If you don't have electronic submission capability, you'll need to engage a partner to handle it.

8. Transition now toward electronic filing. Some importers are meeting the 10+2 requirements with manual data entry using commercially available documents. This allows you to test each channel in the supply chain while the electronic data integration is being built.

9. Know the penalties for compliance failure. The fine for failure to meet ISF requirements was reduced from the value of the shipment to $5,000 per shipment. However, the statement of what constitutes a violation—such as a misreported shipment or incorrectly stated line items on a filing—has not been issued yet.

10. Get help. Consult the CBP Web site (www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/cargo_security/carriers/security_filing/) for the most current information on the 10+2 regulations.

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