As you may have heard, the devil is in the details, and this old adage definitely applies to filling out an Importer Security Filing (ISF) form. To avoid fines and other penalties, you must complete the form correctly in its entirety and there are quite a few details that are required that you may not understand or know where to get the information. This quick guide will explain the ISF form details to help you file your ISFs correctly and on time.

ISF 10 + 2 – Initial 10 Data Points

Most importers will need to complete what is referred to as an ISF 10 + 2 form, which includes 10 data points that the importer will provide and two data points that the ocean liner carrier will provide. The 10 pieces of information that you’ll need to worry about are as follows.

  1. Seller’s Name and Address – this is the name and address of the person or entity that is selling the goods that you’re importing. This information can be found on a commercial invoice.
  2. Buyer’s Name and Address – this is the name and address of the person or entity that is buying the goods you’re importing. If the goods are sold during transit, you are required to update the ISF filing with the new buyer information. This data can be found on a commercial invoice.
  3. Importer of Record EIN/IRS Number – as the importer, this is most likely your information, which includes the Employee Identification Number (EIN), Social Security Number, or other IRS number of the person or entity that is importing the goods. For Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) shipments, the filer must provide their IRS number. Note that the Importer of Record (IOR) must match the importer who files the ISF or the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency will administer a penalty.
  4. Ultimate Consignee EIN/IRS Number – this is the EIN, SSN, or IRS number of the company or individual that is importing the goods.
  5. Manufacturer/Supplier Name and Address – this is the name and address of the final manufacturer, assembler, producer, or grower of the imported goods. It may also be the name and address of the company that supplies the final product.
  6. Ship To Name and Address – this is the name and address of the person or entity that is receiving the goods once they are released from customs. 
  7. Country of Origin – this is the country in which the imported goods were manufactured or produced.
  8. Harmonized Tariff Schedule Number (HTSN) – this is the number that the CBP has assigned to goods based on classification. This number allows the CBP to identify which class the products belong to and is usually an eight- or ten-digit number.
  9. Container Stuffing Location – this is the name, address, and contact information for the location where the goods were loaded into the shipping container. 
  10. Consolidator Name and Address – this is the name and address of the entity responsible for loading the container. 

Additional Two Data Points

The additional two data points required on an ISF form (for most importers) are the responsibility of the ocean liner. These two points are the following.

  1. Vessel Stow Plan – this is the plan the ocean liner has for stowing the containers on its ship during transit. It allows the CBP to better identify high-risk shipments and those that could be illegal.
  2. Container Status Messages – these are notes about any events surrounding the container, including its position on the ship and its contents. 


As you can see, the ISF form is fairly straightforward, but the required information must be present and correct. Learning how to complete this form correctly will make your job as an importer much easier.