Passing through the U.S. customs clearance process can be complex for any importer – look at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office’s 211-page import document. However, a general understanding of the essential CPB  requirements can make a difference in how quickly your goods reach their final destination. So what are the most critical documents to sail through customs?


What is the CBP Customs Clearance?

What is the CBP Customs Clearance?

The CBP safeguards U.S. revenue by collecting fees and taxes on all trade entering and leaving the country. It also strives to detect illegal arms trafficking, fraud, and more.

Importers can hire a customs broker to prepare and file CBP documents, pay duties and meet deadlines to ensure that goods are released. 

While the CBP requires several documents, importers are probably most familiar with the ISF 10+2 Form (Import Security Filing) and CBP form 7501.

ISF 10+2 Form – What You Need To Know

ISF 10+2 Form - What You Need To Know

As with all filings, importers file the ISF with the CBP. The ISF form only applies to ocean cargo imports. The document helps monitor high-risk consignments before entering the U.S. to prevent terrorism, illegal activities and identify individuals in the supply chain. 

The form clearly describes merchandise being shipped and is filed with the CBP 24 hours before the vessel leaves the last port of origin.

The 10+2 ISF form increases the importer’s responsibility yet reduces examination for low-risk consignments. The CBP also compares ISF data with Entry Summary (CBP form 7501/ broker entry 7501) data to evaluate risk and verify the information.

Entry Summary

Another key in the U.S. customs clearance process is the CBP form 7501. This document is required for all goods entering the U.S. regardless of import method.

The data enables the CBP to determine information about the import, such as calculating duties, gathering statistics, deciding on origin and classification, and whether additional legal requirements have been met.

Importers, or their customs brokers, apply for Entry Summary and Customs Release Form (CBP Form 3461) applications with the port director at the entry point. Once accepted, their documents are generated. 

The Customs Broker or an importer with Self-Filer status can only file the Entry Summary five days before the arrival of their goods. They can file later, however it is recommended to do so at the earliest possible time to avoid extra storage fees.

Late Filing and Penalties

If importers miss the ISF deadline, they can be fined, or their goods can be confiscated. However, under certain circumstances, such as forgetting to file the ISF, it may be possible first to file the Entry Summary and then the ISF or file them together.

Missing filing dates and not paying the required taxes, etc., can result in steep penalties. The amount of the liability is in proportion to the volume of the shipment.

The CBP has a designated Penalty Program to discourage non-compliance by importers. The program, available on the CBP’s website, also aims to simplify meeting compliance and avoid fines. The program covers 326 ports of entry and 42 field offices.

The CBP doles out fines and can even take legal action if merchandise entering the country violates the law. The CBP tolerance is clear-cut regarding unfair, unsafe, or illicit trade – including in U.S. supply chains. 

A wide variety of laws and government regulations apply when people or objects enter or leave the U.S. For example, numerous federal agencies create food or agricultural products regulations, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. 

These agencies can limit what can enter or leave the country, and all regulations are considered customs restrictions. Though customs laws and regulations can change often, common violations occur in several areas.

Import compliance regulations cover Federal violations, Criminal penalties, and loss of government revenue.  

When an importer is penalized, the CBP notes this in their compliance database. The record may cause the importer to face more regular customs inspections and longer processing times with future imports.  

Digital self-filing

Going digital is beneficial for importers. Using online information and digital platforms can speed up the clearance process and avoid penalties for unintentional mistakes, such as late filing.

Eezyimport offers an advanced, user-friendly platform to help importers through customs clearance and avoid penalties along the way. Moreover, the solution’s features enable importers to become self-filers by independently submitting the ISF 10+2 form and the Entry Summary in minutes with complete visibility and 24/7 control from a tablet, phone, or desktop. 

As a result, the process saves time and money by easing the import process and letting importers cut out the middleman (e.g., broker or brokerage company).


Notably, a broker examines clients’ documents to ensure importers have met all criteria. The platform also offers a DIY Broker Entry (7501) service with the added benefit of a broker at your side. Nevertheless, importers are still encouraged to stay up-to-date on regulations and requirements by reviewing the latest trade processes and conditions should they change – and sometimes they do. 

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Ariana Smith
Ariana Smith is the girl behind Big Jar News. She is a passionate content writer by professional. If you are a digital content consumer, or simply an info-holic, then this site is for you. Online Marketing Tools, Smart Business Daily, and Emblem Wealth, RSL Online.

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