Maintaining a paper trail of documentation as an importer or exporter is a must. If you are audited, clear and complete records need to be at your fingertips. But, which documents need to be kept? For how long? This week, we offer you a clear guide to keeping great records.
In a broad sense, you need to keep documentation of all activities related to the import and/or export process.
This includes documentation related to:
Records can include:
In general, records must be kept and maintained if you are:
Border agencies may also allow an agent to maintain and keep your records on your behalf, such as a customs broker or consultant, provided the proper requests have been made to CBP and CBSA.
The United States’ border agency (CBP) requires documentation to be kept for five years from the date of entry.
The Canadian agency (CBSA) requires it kept for six years, plus the current year from the date of importation (customs release).
There are lots of great resources to guide you to keeping accurate and up-to-date records.
In addition to comprehensive guides on importing and exporting, CBSA has published recent memoranda:
The CBP has published a comprehensive PDF document:
If you’re looking for support on maintaining your records, we can help.
Our customs professionals on both sides of the border are ready to make your recordkeeping hassle-free.
Maintaining records. It's what we do.
Information provided by: Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International