Why should US importers use 10+2 software?

Importers bringing goods into the US via ocean cargo are required to submit a declaration to the country's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before items are shipped.

These requirements are called Import Security Filing (ISF), but the rules are also commonly referred to as 10+2 due to the number of elements each submission must include.

While companies are able to turn to third-party brokers to complete these processes, it is ultimately the responsibility of the importer to ensure the declarations are filed on time, in full and accurately reflect the contents of the shipment.

Therefore, in order to ensure you retain complete control over the process, self-filing customs declarations is often a good idea. However, in order to do this properly, it pays to have specialized 10+2 software that can automate the process and make sure you remain compliant.

What are the requirements under 10+2 rules?

ISF submissions were introduced in 2009 in order to improve border security for goods arriving in the US by ocean freight, and the rules do not apply to items shipped via air or road. CBP uses the customs declarations filed by importers to assess shipments for potential threats and enables it to act accordingly to items that set off red flags.

The system sets out ten items that must be provided by importers prior to goods' arrival in the country, in addition to two that are the responsibility of the cargo carrier - hence the 10+2 nickname.

Elements that are the responsibility of the importer are:

  • Seller name and address
  • Buyer name and address
  • Importer of record number or FTZ applicant identification number
  • Consignee number(s)
  • Manufacturer (or supplier)
  • Ship to party name and address
  • Country of origin
  • Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule
  • Container stuffing location
  • Consolidator name and address

Of these, all but the last two (container stuffing location and consolidator name and address) must be submitted to CBP at least 24 hours prior to goods being loaded at the port of departure. The final items can be sent later, but no less than 24 hours before arrival in the US.

In addition, the two pieces of information that are the responsibility of the carrier are:

  • Vessel stow plan
  • Container status messages

All declarations, whether self-filed or performed by brokers, are required to be submitted digitally using CBP's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), making the use of 10+2 filing software a highly beneficial solution.

Who is responsible for 10+2 filing?

As noted above, even if you are relying on a broker to manage the actual process of making an 10+2 resp. ISF filing, it remains the ultimate responsibility of the importer or their authorized agency to ensure the ten pieces of data provided under their remit are complete, accurate and timely.

What are the penalties for noncompliance with ISF?

Failure to meet 10+2 requirements can open up importers to a range of consequences. In terms of financial penalties, CBP is able to levy fines of up to $5,000 for every instance of noncompliance, and can also prohibit goods from being unloaded until it has the necessary information - or even seize items should its orders be ignored. Such issues can prove very costly for businesses, disrupting supply chains and leading to major delays in bringing goods to market.

The advantages of using 10+2 software

If importers do choose to self-file their ISF declarations, there are several ways they can do this. CBP allows companies to submit their documentation directly via its ACE Secure Data Portal. However, firms can also choose from a range of approved third-party proprietary 10+2 software that can integrate with ACE.

Benefits of using self-filing 10+2 software

Gathering and submitting the necessary information to CBP via the ACE portal can be a complex process. Using dedicated 10+2 software, on the other hand, can take much of the hassle out of these activities. By deploying automation tools, these solutions are able to easily collate the necessary details from across the supply chain, package them into the appropriate format and ensure they are provided to CBP in a timely manner.

As well as saving businesses money directly though not having to pay brokerage fees, these tools help boost efficiency and provide improved transparency by creating a full audit trail. Employees will no longer have to spend time hunting for information or reformatting documentation, while the risk of any inaccurate data being sent to CBP is also greatly reduced.

What will importers need to self-file 10+2 information?

If importers choose to use third-party software rather than CBP's portal, they must select from a list of approved providers that are permitted to interface with the ACE system.

Once an importer has chosen their solution, they are required to submit a letter of intent to the US authorities notifying them of the decision. The company will then be assigned a CBP Client Representative to serve as a technical advisor during development, testing, and implementation of the 10+2 software.

There are dozens of options available for businesses looking to make ISF declarations to the US authorities. However, many of these are designed solely for this purpose and offer limited other functionality.

Therefore, it pays to seek out a solution that can incorporate all a businesses' customs needs. For example, MIC-CUST®'s customs filing solutions are one of only a few choices that are approved by CBP for ACE Entry, In-bond, Document Image System, drawback and Foreign Trade Zone in addition to ISF filings.

What's more, the customs software isn't limited to only the US, so importers can manage documentation and clearance processes for more than 50 countries all from the same solution.

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