Basics of direct filing customs entries and ISFs, part 2

Are you a US importer who is interested in direct filing your customs entries (and ISFs) but don’t know where to start?  Here’s the second installment of helpful FAQs that provide general guidance on self-filing with an approved ABI software provider such as CustomsNow.  (Part 1 of our FAQs can be found here).

How do I roll out a direct filing program?

Each importer should thoroughly assess their import supply chain in order to develop a simple, logical and smooth roll out program.  Determining factors can include, for example, the number of paperless entries, the origin of the goods, the relationship with the vendor, and the mode of transportation or shipping terms.  You can do this in-house or hire a consultant conduct a complete business review and develop a plan that best suits your needs.

Do I have to direct file all my entries?

No.  You can direct file as few or as many as you’d like.  It’s best to select one import lane segment to begin with and grow from there.

What is remote location filing (RLF)?

RLF is the ability to electronically file entries with CBP from a location within the United States other than the port of arrival or location of examination.  Importers use CBP’s Automated Invoice Interface (AII) to transmit and electronic commercial invoice to CBP only when requested.

I already have a filer code for drawback; can I use it to file entries?

Yes, the same filer code for drawback purposes can also be used for filing import entries.  If so, only a letter to CBP’s Office of Information Technology, requesting participation in the ABI program and the assignment of a CBP ABI Representative is required.  This process usually takes no more than a week.

What kind of Customs bond is required?

A continuous US Customs bond must be on file with CBP in order to direct file your entries.  Single entry bonds are not acceptable.

What if my shipment does not clear “paperless”?

On most entries types (formal, informal), an electronic invoice can be sent via ABI and AII (CBP’s Automated Invoice Interface).  The invoice is automatically formatted in the ABI system when the entry is created, so the user simply transmits it directly to CBP, in any port, for processing and eventual release.  Some special entry types require that physical documents be submitted to the port of entry.

My broker has a relationship with Customs at the local ports and I don’t. I don’t want to lose that connection.

Although your broker has a relationship within the ports, it important that you, as the importer of record, establish one as well, if you haven’t done so already.  Direct contact with the respective agencies can ensure understanding that your company takes the responsibility of compliance very seriously and that you are experienced and in control of your process.  When issues arise, you know who to call directly to get answers or to resolve problems.  Only positive things can happen when direct relationships are built.

For even more answers to common questions, please visit CustomNow’s FAQ page.  And if you would like to schedule a demo of our ABI solution, please contact us.


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