If you are late filing your ISF, the question of whether or not you will be fined by U.S. Customs is a big question and concern when importing your goods. For all late ISF Filings, Customs does have a right to issue fines and penalites at the port level by the Port Director, but in reality, penalties are not issued for every late ISF. Each shipment is noted and tracked by Customs for each Importer, and it would be safe to say that serious repeat offenders are at a higher risk to incurr penalties, than first time Importers for their first or even second shipments.
ISF Mitigation Guidelines set forth by US Customs, gives Importers a chance to present their case to Customs in order to lower the penalty amounts if fined. US Customs may issue penalties at time of clearance when your goods arrive, or months after your shipment is in hand.
If you have received a penalty notice from US Customs, please give us a call about our ISF Mitigation Services in which we can help you lower the fines set forth by CBP.
Below is an excerpt of CBP Guidance 09-26:
I. Cancellation of Liquidated Damages Claims for ISF Violations
1. First violation. If an ISF Importer incurs a liquidated damages claim for filing a late or inaccurate ISF or an inaccurate ISF update, the liquidated damages claim may be cancelled upon payment of an amount between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the presence of mitigating or aggravating factors, if CBP determines that law enforcement goals were not compromised by the violation.
2. Subsequent Violations. If an ISF Importer incurs a subsequent liquidated damages claim for filing a late or inaccurate ISF or an inaccurate ISF update, the liquidated damages claim may be cancelled upon payment of an amount not less U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION 39 than $2,500 if CBP determines that law enforcement goals were not compromised by the violation. 3. No relief will be granted if CBP determines that law enforcement goals were compromised by the violation.
Mitigating and Aggravating Factors CBP will consider all available information in a petition, taking into account any mitigating, aggravating, and extraordinary factors, in determining the final assessed claim for liquidated damages or penalties.
1. Mitigating Factors (these are not exhaustive): a. Evidence of progress in the implementation of the ISF requirement during the flexible enforcement period (i.e., January 26, 2009 through January 26, 2010). b. Small number of violations compared to the number of shipments for which ISFs were required. c. An ISF Importer which is a certified Tier 2 or Tier 3 C-TPAT member may receive additional mitigation of up to 50% of the normal mitigation amount, depending upon tier of C-TPAT participation. d. Demonstrated remedial action has been taken to prevent future violations. e. ISF information was filed late because of vessel diversion due to factors outside of the ISF Importer’s control (e.g., due to weather). f. Regarding an inaccurate filing, the presenting party acquired the information from another party in accordance with ordinary commercial practices, and can demonstrate that it reasonably believed the information to be true, and it was not reasonably able to verify the information. This is an extraordinary mitigating factor that may warrant cancellation of a claim without payment.
2. Aggravating factors: a. Lack of cooperation with CBP or CBP activity is impeded with regard to the case. b. Evidence of smuggling or attempt to introduce or introduction of merchandise contrary to law. This may be considered an extraordinary aggravating factor. c. Multiple errors on the ISF. d. There is a rising error rate which is indicative of deteriorating performance in the transmission of ISF information.