(a)General. The Recordkeeping Compliance Program is a voluntary CBP program under which certified recordkeepers may be eligible for alternatives to penalties (see paragraph (d) of this section) that might be assessed under § 163.6 for failure to produce a demanded entry record. However, even where a certified recordkeeper is eligible for an alternative to a penalty, participation in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program has no limiting effect on the authority of CBP to use a summons, court order or other legal process to compel the production of records by that certified recordkeeper.
(1)Who may apply. Any person described in § 163.2(a) who is required to maintain and produce entry records under this part may apply to participate in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program.
(2)Where to apply. An application for certification to participate in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program must be submitted to the Regulatory Audit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 2001 Cross Beam Dr., Charlotte, North Carolina 28217. The application must be submitted in accordance with the guidelines contained in the CBP Recordkeeping Compliance Handbook which may be obtained by downloading it from CBP's Regulatory Audit Web site located at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/import/regulatory_audit_program/archive/compliance_assessment/ or by writing to the Recordkeeping Compliance Program, Executive Director, Regulatory Audit, Office of International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20229.
(3)Certification requirements. A recordkeeper may be certified as a participant in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program after meeting the general recordkeeping requirements established under this section or after negotiating an alternative program suited to the needs of the recordkeeper and CBP. To be certified, a recordkeeper must be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. CBP will take into account the size and nature of the importing business and the volume of imports and CBP workload constraints prior to granting certification. In order to be certified, a recordkeeper must meet the applicable requirements set forth in the CBP Recordkeeping Compliance Handbook and must be able to demonstrate that it:
(i) Understands the legal requirements for recordkeeping, including the nature of the records required to be maintained and produced and the time periods relating thereto;
(ii) Has in place procedures to explain the recordkeeping requirements to those employees who are involved in the preparation, maintenance and production of required records;
(iii) Has in place procedures regarding the preparation and maintenance of required records, and the production of such records to CBP;
(iv) Has designated a dependable individual or individuals to be responsible for recordkeeping compliance under the program and whose duties include maintaining familiarity with the recordkeeping requirements of CBP;
(v) Has a record maintenance procedure acceptable to CBP for original records or has an alternative records maintenance procedure adopted in accordance with § 163.5(b); and
(vi) Has procedures for notifying CBP of any occurrence of a variance from, or violation of, the requirements of the Recordkeeping Compliance Program or negotiated alternative program, as well as procedures for taking corrective action when notified by CBP of violations or problems regarding such program. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “variance” means a deviation from the Recordkeeping Compliance Program that does not involve a failure to maintain or produce records or a failure to meet the requirements set forth in this section. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “violation” means a deviation from the Recordkeeping Compliance Program that involves a failure to maintain or produce records or a failure to meet the requirements set forth in this section.
(c)Application review and approval and certification process—
(1)Review of applications. The Charlotte regulatory audit field office will process the application and will coordinate and consult, as may be necessary, with the appropriate CBP Headquarters and field officials. The Charlotte regulatory audit field office will review and verify the information contained in the application and may initiate an on-site verification prior to approval and certification. If an on-site visit is warranted, the Charlotte regulatory audit field office will inform the applicant. If additional information is necessary to process the application, the applicant will be notified. CBP requests for information not submitted with the application or for additional explanation of details will cause a delay in the application approval and certification of applicants and may result in the suspension of the application approval and certification process until the requested information is received by CBP.
(2)Approval and certification. If, upon review, CBP determines that the application should be approved and that certification should be granted, the Director of the Charlotte regulatory audit field office will issue the certification with all the applicable conditions stated therein.
(d)Alternatives to penalties—
(1)General. If a certified participant in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program does not produce a demanded entry record for a specific release or provide the information contained in the demanded entry record by acceptable alternate means, CBP will, in lieu of a monetary penalty provided for in § 163.6(b), issue a written notice of violation to the person as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, provided that the certified participant is generally in compliance with the procedures and requirements of the program and provided that the violation was not a willful violation and was not a repeat violation. A willful failure to produce demanded entry records or repeated failures to produce demanded entry records may result in the issuance of penalties under § 163.6(b) and removal of certification under the program (see § 163.13) until corrective action satisfactory to CBP is taken.
(2)Contents of notice. A notice of violation issued to a participant in the Recordkeeping Compliance Program for failure to produce a demanded entry record or information contained therein must:
(i) State that the recordkeeper has violated the recordkeeping requirements;
(ii) Identify the record or information which was demanded and not produced;
(iii) Warn the recordkeeper that future failures to produce demanded entry records or information contained therein may result in the imposition of monetary penalties and could result in the removal of the recordkeeper from the Recordkeeping Compliance Program.
(3)Response to notice. Within a reasonable time after receiving written notice under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the recordkeeper must notify CBP of the steps it has taken to prevent a recurrence of the violation.