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How to use the Bill of Lading for your ISF Filing

For Importers who have received a Bill of Lading from their seller. Many would like to know if this can be used for their ISF Filing, instead of the ISF Info Sheet. The answer to this question is yes and no. While the Bill of Lading does show alot of detail regarding the shipment, including the Bill of Lading numbers, it does not provide the full information a ISF Info Sheet contains, and also the Bill of Lading numbers may not be the AMS manifested numbers which was submitted to CBP from the steamship line or forwarder. Other key information missing from the Bill of Lading would be the Consolidator and Container Stuffing location. This information is provided by the overseas shipper and would not be indicated on the bill.

If you have only received a Bill of Lading, and or Invoice from your seller, but no ISF Info Sheet, check and inquire with your seller as soon as possible to provide this to you. If you have received the final bill of lading, this means that the goods have already shipped and you are late for the ISF Filing.

The Bill of Lading would serve as a helpful document to confirm some of the information on the ISF Info sheet if missing or partial. Some key data elements in which the Bill of Lading can assist in your ISF Filing is:

1. Consignee Name and Address : The Consignee is listed on the Bill of Lading would be the information to be inputted for the ISF Filing. Many times there would be situations in which the seller or overseas shipper have used either the Importer's company name and address, or personal name address (vice versa) which is different on the ISF sheet.


ISF Sheet lists Consignee as: John Smith, 123 Apple Street, Oakland, CA 94577

Bill of Lading lists Consignee as: Cool Widgets LLC, 123 Apple Street, Oakland, CA 94577

(The correct information to input for your ISF Filing is Cool Widgets LLC, as Bill of Lading is a official record of the data presented to US Customs)

2. HTS Code: If your seller did not indicate the HTS Code on the Invoice or ISF Info Sheet, sometimes this may be located on the Bill of Lading, next to the manifest product description. Importers will need to double check if the code provided is correct.

3. Bill of Lading Number confirmation: If the Bill of Lading numbers are missing from the ISF Info Sheet, the Bill of Lading number listed on the document most often times is the correct ones to use for the ISF Filing, and is best to contact our ISF Specialist to help you determine if the numbers are the actual AMS Bill Numbers.

Bill of Lading Example

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