Everything appears to be going smoothly at first, your cargo arrives at the target port, and then your customs broker receives notification that your consignment has been placed on ISF hold / Customs Hold.

So what happens next, and what does it mean?

With thousands of tons of cargo entering the country every day, US Customs and Border Protection must stay on top of regulating restricted, illegal, or even filing late ISF, misleading information and many more. As a result, many import shipments are flagged, halting the process and potentially subjecting to put on hold or they call it customs hold / ISF Jail or ISF Hold.

ISF Hold is mainly for late ISF filing, not filing ISF, deleting ISF for non-payment, giving false or missing information to file your ISF(importer Security Filing), ISF was filed erroneously by ISF Customs Broker or we could say an ISF filer.

Note: All ISF filer/filing/notify-corrections, all fees, US/International Laws, and so on are solely the responsibility of the consignee.

mistake to avoid when filing ISF


  1. To avoid cancellation, termination, or deletion of your ISF file, all payments must be paid within 72 hours (3 days). After the invoice has been sent out.
  2. If your ISF filing was canceled due to non-payment or for any other reason, US Customs may impose a penalty, lien, or fine of up to $5,000.00 per shipment.
  3. ISF re-filing may take an additional 2-5 days, with a $45 re-filing cost.
  4. If you are updating ISF information, please contact us as soon as possible.
  5. If your ISF filing shows "NO BILL MATCH," please contact your supplier/shipping firm and inform them that they must file an AMS 48 hours before your shipment can depart a foreign port; otherwise, US Customs may place an ISF hold on your shipment.

US Customs has the authority to impose ISF Penalties and Delays.

  • When your shipment arrives in the United States, ISF Hold may cause a delay of up to three weeks.
  • All ISF Holds will be subject to a US Customs inspection.
  • Until ISF is filed and ISF hold is lifted by US Customs, shipment will not be sent to final destination as specified on your arrival notification.
  • You will be responsible for paying storage, diem, and demurrage fees until the ISF Hold is lifted by US Customs, a Customs Clearing Entry is filed, and your shipment is picked up by you/trucker.
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ISF Hold sample from previous case file

isf hold sample

NOTE: For ISF Filing, the final ruling by US Customs/agencies is 6 years, and for Customs Entry Filing, the final ruling is 5 years.

  • The ISF Customs Broker acts as a liaison between US Customs and the importer. To communicate importer information/documents like importer number and etc. to US customs in the manner in which they were received from you and your vendors.
  • ISF Customs Broker = is NOT a middleman between you and your vendors (factory, supplier, forwarder, warehouse, shipping firm, CET-Exam-Site, US Agencies, and so on).
  • All importers are obligated to comply with Incoterms (PRE-Arranged BEFORE departing a foreign port, such as: Bill-of-Lading /BL (Sale) / MFG Contract Agreement / OBL / Arrival Notice).
  • Review Incoterms and contact the ISSUER of the Bill-of-Lading to clarify why/who the importer must pay BEFORE/AFTER/DURING shipping (TITLE to shipment)
  • Please review US Customs' import process, Incoterms, and other import requirements.
  • All fees/US Laws/Liability/Exam/Permit(s)retroactive(backdate) Documents are the responsibility of the importer (BL, Arrival Notice & etc.) US Attorney's Office, federal court
  • LCL arrival notice, Full Container arrival notice, exam notice from freight forwarder Fumigation, Emergency Action Notifications, and ADD/CVD might cost thousands of dollars.
  • If an examination (VACIS, NII, X-Ray, IBET, MET, CET, and so on) is required, your Freight Forwarder will notify you with an arrival notification and an invoice (pay your Freight Forwarder) (99 percent of the time).
  • If a test is required (such as the CET Exam, A-TCET Exam, Intensive Exam/Stop Sign, IPR, Tailgate, Emergency Action Notifications, and so on), the importer must pay the exam site directly. (A hundred percent)
  • If the Importer/id=(SSN# or Tax-id/EIN/IRS# or CAN#) or ANY other information is incorrect by one digit or letter, US Customs may confiscate/seize your shipment and fine you.
  • Detention(Hold)/Hold/Confiscate/Penalize/Fines/Recall/Exam/Penalty/Re-ISF-Filing/issue Destroy/re-export/add-DPL & other options are available to US Customs/Agencies.
  • You/Importer/Consignee are solely liable for all payment activities.
  • Before paying us, the consignee must double-check the payment method and amount, such as our bank account number, Western Union account number, check payable to, and so on.