These policy changes were proposed by CBP as early as March of 2010, prompting discussion and commentary on the issue. After assessing that the response to the proposed changes was largely positive, and correcting a few minor errors noticed by the commentators, Customs has finally set a date by when the changes will be implemented. The altered language of 19 CFR parts 111 and 163 will read as follows:
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§ 111.23 Retention of records.
(a) Place of retention. A licensed customs broker may retain records relating to its customs transactions at any location within the customs territory of the United States in accordance with the provisions of this part and part 163 of this chapter. Upon request by CBP to examine records, the designated recordkeeping contact identified in the broker’s applicable permit application, in accordance with § 111.19(b)(6) of this chapter, must make all records available to CBP within 30 calendar days, or such longer time as specified by CBP, at the broker district that covers the CBP port to which the records relate.
(b) Period of retention. The records described in this section, other than powers of attorney, must be retained for at least 5 years after the date of entry. Powers of attorney must be retained until revoked, and revoked powers of attorney and letters of revocation must be retained for 5 years after the date of revocation or for 5 years after the date the client ceases to be an “active client” as defined in § 111.29(b)(2)(ii), whichever period is later. When merchandise is withdrawn from a bonded warehouse, records relating to the withdrawal must be retained for 5 years from the date of withdrawal of the last merchandise withdrawn under the entry.
The revisions read as follows:
§ 163.5 Methods for storage of records.
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(iii) Except in the case of packing lists (see § 163.4(b)(2)), entry records must be maintained by the importer in their original formats for a period of 120 calendar days from the end of the release or conditional release period, whichever is later, or, if a demand for return to CBP custody has been issued, for a period of 120 calendar days either from the date the goods are redelivered or from the date specified in the demand as the latest redelivery date if redelivery has not taken place. Customs brokers who are not serving as the importer of record and who maintain separate electronic records are exempted from this requirement. This exemption does not apply to any document that is required by law to be maintained as a paper record.
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(5) Failure to comply with alternative storage requirements. If a person listed in § 163.2 uses an alternative storage method for records that is not in compliance with the conditions and requirements of this section, CBP may issue a written notice informing the person of the facts giving rise to the notice and directing that the alternative storage method must be discontinued in 30 calendar days unless the person provides written notice to the issuing CBP office within that time period that explains, to CBP’s satisfaction, how compliance has been achieved. Failure to timely respond to CBP will result in CBP requiring discontinuance of the alternative storage method until a written statement explaining how compliance has been achieved has been received and accepted by CBP.