Maintenance of Records in Canada by Importers

Memorandum D17-1-21

Ottawa, October 15, 2014

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In Brief

  1. This memorandum has been revised to update the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) policy concerning the requirements regarding the maintenance of records, in and outside of Canada.
  2. References to electronic imaged or microfilmed format have been updated to include the changes to the National Standards of Canada reflected in the document CAN/CGSB-72.34-2005, Electronic Records as Documentary Evidence.
  3. A new paragraph regarding the impact of the eManifest Portal on an importer's record-keeping obligations was added.
  4. An example of an agreement to maintain records outside of Canada has also been added in an appendix to this memorandum.

This memorandum provides information concerning the requirements regarding the maintenance of records by importers at their place of business in Canada, or at any other place designated by the Minister.


Sections 40, 41, 43 and 109 of the Customs Act

Imported Goods Records Regulations

Guidelines and General Information

Importer Record Maintained Within Canada

1. Record-keeping requirements for imported commercial goods apply to resident and non-resident importers, including exporters abroad who ship commercial goods to themselves in Canada.

2. Generally, an importer is required to maintain imported goods records at its place of business in Canada. However, an importer may submit an application to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requesting authorization to maintain records at a location in Canada other than its place of business. The letter must identify the business address where the records will be maintained and how the location relates to the importer (e.g., accountant's office, customs broker office).

Non-resident Importers

3. Non-resident importers usually do not maintain a place of business in Canada but may forward invoices, shipping records, and other related documents to a licensed customs broker who prepares accounting documents on their behalf, pays duties, takes delivery of the goods, and arranges delivery based on their instructions.

4. A customs broker, accountant, or other authorized agent may be designated by a non-resident importer to maintain its records in Canada. The CBSA will only authorize this designation when the importer submits a request in writing for review and approval indicating the business address where the records will be maintained as well as the agent's relationship to the importer. It should be noted that when the CBSA authorizes such requests for an agent to maintain records, the importer continues to be responsible for all of the legislative requirements of subsections 40(1) and 43(1) of the Customs Act (the Act) and related regulations.

Records Maintained Outside of Canada

5. Importers may also submit a request to the CBSA for an authorization to maintain records at their place of business outside of Canada, at a specific location authorized by the CBSA, or designate an agent to keep records on their behalf. An example of the information required on an agreement to maintain records outside of Canada can be found in the Appendix to this memorandum. The agreement must be signed and forwarded to the following address:

Non-resident Importer Program
Trade Operations Division
Canada Border Services Agency

Courier/street address
1980 Matheson Blvd East
Mississauga ON  L4W 5R7

Mailing address
PO Box 7000 Stn A
Mississauga ON  L5A 3A4

Imaged and Microfilmed Records

6. Where records are maintained in an electronic imaged or microfilmed format, the imaging or microfilming program must adhere to the National Standards of Canada, CAN/CGSB-72.34-2005, Electronic Records as Documentary Evidence, and CAN/CGSB-72.11-93, Microfilm and Electronic Imaging as Documentary Evidence. These Standards are available from the Canadian General Standards Board.

Electronic Data Processed Records

7. Records maintained in electronic imaged or microfilmed format are recognized as records of account, provided the medium can be related back to the supporting source documents or hard copy documents and is supported by a system capable of producing an accessible and readable copy.

8. All records of account (including source documents) available in paper format must be kept, except where an acceptable electronic imaging or microfilming program identified in paragraph 6 is in place.

9. The CBSA eManifest Portal users are required to retain separate records in respect of imported goods in accordance with the information provided in this memorandum. The eManifest Portal is not to be used for record-keeping.

10. Records kept outside of Canada and accessed electronically are not considered to be records in Canada. However, where records are maintained electronically at a location outside of Canada, a copy of the records may be accepted, provided these are made available to the CBSA in Canada or at a location designated by the Minister in an electronically readable and useable format.

Availability for Inspection and Delivery

11. The records referred to in sections 2 and 3 of the Imported Goods Records Regulations (the Regulations) shall be kept in such a manner as to enable a CBSA officer to perform detailed audits and verifications to obtain, or verify the information upon which a determination of the amount of the duties paid or payable was made.

12. In accordance with subsection 43(1) of the Act, the Minister may, for any purpose related to the administration or enforcement of the Act, require from any person the production of any record, book, letter, account, invoice, statement (financial or otherwise), or other document at a place, and within the time specified therein.

13. In addition to granting access to the records, the importer must provide access to key personnel who can deliver explanations on the information provided.


14. Where it is determined that an importer has failed to comply with any of the requirements for the maintenance of records, the importer will be requested to fulfill these requirements within a reasonable period of time. If an importer fails to comply with the requirements of record maintenance under subsection 40(1) of the Act, the CBSA may:

  • (a)  assess Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalties in accordance with subsection 109.1(1) of the Act;
  • (b)  detain under the authority of section 41 of the Act, any goods imported by the importer until the importer has complied with the requirements.

15. Where a person who is required by subsection 40(1) of the Act to keep records, other than a person referred to in section 3.1 of the Regulations, has not kept records or has been requested to provide records in accordance with subsection 43(1) of the Act and fails to do so, preferential tariff treatment may be denied or withdrawn for the commercial goods that are the subject of those records.

Additional Information

16. For more information, within Canada call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999. From outside Canada call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064. Long distance charges will apply. Agents are available Monday to Friday (08:00 – 16:00 local time except holidays). TTY is also available within Canada at: 1-866-335-3237.


Example of Agreement to maitrain records outside of Canada


Issuing office :
Trade and Anti-dumping Programs Directorate
Headquarters file :
Legislative references :
Other references :
CAN/CGSB-72.34-2005, Electronic Records as Documentary Evidence
CAN/CGSB-72.11-93 Microfilm and Electronic Imaging as Documentary Evidence
Superseded memorandum D :
D17-1-21 dated September 4, 2008
Date modified: