ISF Form and CBP

Have you ever heard of an ISF Form? It stands for Importer Security Filing. Pat yourself on the back if you knew what that was. I sure didn’t, but I know all too well what it stands for now! This is in regards to placing an international order directly from the manufacturer in China for PVC table tennis flooring. I signed up on Alibaba to do business with companies directly in China, and yes you do save a lot of money, but they don’t tell you about having to fill out an ISF form until after you’ve paid and it’s ready to ship.

This form is required by the CBP. Another acronym…Uh Oh! It turns out that CBP stands for U.S. Customs and Border Protection! Woa…that sounds pretty serious. Well basically the ISF filing is a rule that went into effect back in January of 2009. Whenever cargo is shipped by sea to the U.S. this filing is required to help protect our borders from high-risk shipments. The filing includes data such as the supplier, country of origin, description of the cargo, etc., and it can cost hundreds of dollars ($$$) to hire a shipping brokerage company to file it for you. If you don’t file this form it can cost you thousands of dollars in fees, and long delays in delivery of your cargo, so let me just say that you’re better off paying to have this done ahead of time to avoid any problems down the road. It turns out the Chinese company I purchased the material from offered to do this for the sample roll of flooring for just $50, so that was a win in my book. If I really like the flooring and purchase a much larger quantity then I will probably have to pay $600 or more to a shipping brokerage company to file this for me. That said I will still save money as purchasing it directly from the manufacturer is much cheaper than purchasing it here from a U.S. company. Anyway it’s another lesson learned in doing business for yourself.