Record Retention

Australian Customs and quarantine are legally authorized to request you produce weather in hard copy or electronic form all commercial documents relation to imported goods for a period of five years from date of entry, or five years from the date of the activity that required the maintenance of the records, severe penalties can apply for failure to produce those documents or have incomplete or illegible or altered documents.   Atlas Customs & Logistics Pty Ltd will retain all legally required documentation and communications relating to imported and exported. All commercial files are secured in electronic form in an offsite dedicate storage server with multiple redundancies. We are fully compliant with all compliance and retention measures as stipulated in the customs act.

Who must retain documents?

 The owner of goods imported into Australia (subsections 240(1) and (1AA)) or exported from Australia (section 240(1A)) and a person who causes goods to be imported or exported or a person who receives such goods (subsection 240(1B)) must retain commercial documents relating to the goods for a period of five years from the time the goods were imported or exported.  

What documents must be kept?

 Commercial document ‘Commercial document’ is defined in subsection 4(1) of the Customs Act to mean documents prepared in the ordinary course of business for the purposes of a commercial transaction involving the goods or their carriage but does not include electronic communications to or from Customs. An example of commercial documents  
  • Commercial invoice
  • Proof of price paid (bank transfer etc)
  • Packing list
  • Packing declarations
  • Any import permits or treatment certificates
   Owners of imported goods For owners of imported goods, the documents that must be kept are those that come into the person’s possession before, on, or after the making of the entry or return and are necessary to enable a Collector to be satisfied of the correctness of the particulars of the entry or return (subsections 240(1) and (1AA)).  

How must records be kept?

Records may be kept at any place, including a place outside Australia, and may be kept in any form or stored in any manner (subsection 240AB(4)). Some of the forms people could use are:
  • good quality photocopies of commercial documents returned to clients
  • good quality scanned, electronically stored copies of documents and invoices
  • a database of information received
  • sufficiently detailed notes of instructions received by telephone.
No matter how the records are stored, they must:
  • be able to be readily translated to English, and
  • be kept in a manner that a document setting out the information can readily be produced (subsection 240AB(5)).