top of page

Using the CBP Importer Number for your ISF Filing

importer number for usa importing

The Importer Number serves as a distinctive identifier assigned by Customs to the Importer of Record. It is frequently utilized throughout the importation process, and every importer is required to have it on record.

The CBP Importer Number, a Customs-assigned identification, must be on record for the Importer of Record for any goods entering the United States. Throughout various stages of the importing process, this number is crucial, serving as the primary means by which U.S. Customs and Border Protection identifies your entries.

What is the typical format for an Importer Number?

For U.S. based business and individuals, the importer number will either be your EIN or Social Security Number. If you are an importer based in a country other than the United States, a customs assigned importer number (CAIN) issued by US Customs wil allow you to import. This number can take the following standard formats depending on where your company is located:

EIN U.S. Importers: 12-123456789

SSN U.S. Importers: 123-45-6789

CAIN Foreign Importers: 123456-12345

Who is required to have an Importer Number?

An Importer Number must be recorded for the ultimate recipient of any imported goods in the United States. Usually, this pertains to the importer of record conducting business within the U.S. Yet, foreign companies may also possess a number if they receive goods via the U.S.

Additionally, it is a standard practice for Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers to clear goods using their own identification number before transferring them to the importer. However, this is permissible only for goods valued under $2,500.

How can I locate my Importer Number?

Discovering your Importer Number is a straightforward procedure, typically determined through two primary methods. The most prevalent approach involves utilizing your Tax ID Number (also known as your EIN). This number is readily available on any W-2 form your company has submitted and can be found through various publicly accessible sources. Transforming your EIN into an Importer Number is a simple process—just append two zeros to the end of your Tax ID.

However, if your company lacks a Tax ID, what steps should you take?

If your company doesn't possess a Tax ID or EIN, an alternative method is available for identification. This approach entails utilizing the Social Security Number of the company's founder, particularly applicable to Sole Proprietorships. In such cases, Customs allows the founder's Social Security Number to substitute for the conventional Importer Number format.

How do I utilize the 5106 Form to obtain an Importer Number?

The submission of a 5106 Form to Customs is necessary and can be employed to obtain this identification number in the following scenarios:

  • In the event of your number being voided

  • If you require an extra Importer Number

  • If you currently do not have one on record

What is the duration for which Customs retains an Importer Number on record?

Customs retains this number on record for one year following its last utilization for importing goods into the U.S. Therefore, if your company has not engaged in imports to the United States for over a year, it's essential to verify with Customs to confirm that the number remains valid. In the event of its expiration, filing a 5106 Form with Customs, as mentioned earlier, becomes necessary.


bottom of page