U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a general notice making the Importer Self-Assessment program (ISA) available to more participants.
Effective immediately, a company that has successfully undergone a CBP Focused Assessment (FA) audit may be eligible to transition into ISA without further CBP review within 12 months from the date of the FA report wherein CBP has determined that the company represents an acceptable risk. Under this policy any interested company that has successfully completed an FA in the last 12 months (i.e., since October 2011) may apply to transition into ISA.
To qualify for ISA the company must be a U.S. or Canadian resident importer (CBP sources confirmed that Canadian resident companies that import into the U.S. are included in this description), obtain membership in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, develop a risk-based self-testing plan, and agree to meet all ISA requirements. The application review meeting normally conducted for ISA applicants will not be required.
ISA is a joint government-business initiative designed to build cooperative relationships that strengthen trade compliance. It is based on the premise that companies with strong internal controls achieve the highest level of compliance with customs laws and regulations. CBP states that benefits of participation in this program include removal from the audit pool established for Focused Assessment, expanded opportunity to file prior disclosures of certain violations, mitigation of civil penalties and liquidated damages, expedited cargo release, and priority consideration for applications to participate in the Centers of Excellence and Expertise tests.
CBP is proposing the change outlined in this notice because the FA is a more rigorous and thorough method of examining a company’s internal systems for compliance with customs laws and regulations than the ISA review process. The notice sets forth the process that companies that have successfully completed an FA can use to apply to transition into ISA, the requirements they will have to meet after making that transition, and the reasons a company may be removed from ISA.
Note: Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services will be conducting a webinar on ISA Oct. 23 to review the requirements and benefits of this program, including the newly expanded eligibility.