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Record keeping requirements for exporters

As an exporter of commercial goods, you must keep complete and accurate records in Canada for a minimum period after you have exported the goods.

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Keep all export records for 6 years

You must keep all of your export records (paper or electronic format) for 6 years after you export commercial goods. The CBSA may need to access these records to obtain or verify the export information they contain or to perform audits.

Export records to keep

You must keep all records that relate to the origin, purchase, importation, costs and value of the commercial goods and to payment for these goods. This list is not complete. Please refer to Exporters' and Producers' Records Regulations (Regulations) for a complete list of records to keep. The Regulations also provide information on records that must be kept for goods that are exported to a free trade partner.

Accepted formats

Records in electronic format are acceptable, only if:

  • they relate to the supporting source documents or paper documents, and
  • the system that supports the electronic formats can produce an accessible and readable copy on demand.

Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) portal users are required to keep separate records (paper or electronic format) from the portal. The CERS portal is not to be used for record-keeping.

Where to keep your export records

You must keep your records in Canada at:

  • your place of business, or
  • a pre-authorized location (you must apply for permission)

If the records are kept at more than one location in Canada, a complete set must be available at one of the locations at a minimum. If your records are digitized or in an electronic format, a system must be in place to access the records electronically.

Records kept outside Canada and accessed electronically from Canada are not considered to be records in Canada.

Permission to keep export records off business premises

You must apply to the CBSA for authorization permitting you to keep your export records at a location in Canada other than your place of business.

Likewise, if you are a non-resident exporter who does not have a place of business in Canada, you can apply for authorization to designate an agent to keep your records in Canada on your behalf.

You can apply by submitting a written request by email stating:

  • the business address where the records will be kept
  • how the location relates to you (for example, your accountant's office)
  • if applicable, the designated agent's name and relationship to you (for example, your accountant)

Even if your request is approved, you must provide any records to the place specified and within the time specified by the CBSA, when the latter asks for them.

Note: The CBSA will not accept PO boxes and mail forwarding services. Please submit your application to:


If you fail to follow any of the record-keeping requirements, you will be requested to fulfill them within a reasonable period of time. Failure to keep the records or to make them available to a CBSA officer within the time specified by an officer, or failure to answer any questions asked by the officer with regard to the records, may result in an Administrative monetary penalty.

Related links

Certificate of Origin of goods exported to a free trade partner

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