Customs Record Keeping Requirements

When it comes to record keeping requirements, the following can differ between country to country:

  1. Which records to keep
  2. How long to keep
  3. In what format to keep

The penalties for not meeting record keeping requirements vary from country to country. It is generally a good idea for traders to keep all documents archived for at least 10 years in all countries (unless retention standards are longer).

Record keeping requirements between Tax and Customs authorities may overlap. Within companies, these departments will have to work together to streamline resources.

When it comes to record keeping requirements of Customs authorities, the legal requirements usually stipulates that all documents related to the imported or exported goods must be archived.

Even insignificant documents such as quotes by the courier of freight charges and volumetric weight calculation should be retained.

Hence, it could include the following:

    1. Import or Export declaration or entry – can be known as cargo clearance permit, import permit, bill of entry, administrative document etc.
    2. Transport Documents: Bills of Lading or Air Waybill
    3. Pre-import approval
    4. Quotations
    5. Sales contracts
    6. Purchase orders
    7. Pro Forma invoices
    8. Commercial invoices
    9. Tax invoices
    10. Packing lists
    11. Certificate of Analysis
    12. Certificates of Origin
    13. Material Safety Data Sheet
    14. Freight invoice
    15. Customs invoice
    16. Physio-sanitary certificate
    17. Dangerous Goods declaration
    18. Manufacturer’s declarations
    19. Other Governmental Agency (OGA) import/export approval documentation
    20. Any documents submitted to OGA in order to get approval documentation
    21. ATA Carnets (if used)
    22. End-use declaration
    23. Shipper’s letter of instruction
    24. All proof of payments made
    25. All proof of payments received
    26. Letters of credit
    27. Email communication related to each shipment
    28. Free Sale Certificates
    29. Insurance certification
    30. Surveyor reports (if applicable)


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