(a)Original records. All persons listed in § 163.2 must maintain all records required by law and regulation for the required retention periods and as original records, whether paper or electronic, unless alternative storage methods have been adopted in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section. The records, whether in their original format or under an alternative storage method, must be capable of being retrieved upon lawful request or demand by CBP.
(b)Alternative method of storage—
(1)General. Any of the persons listed in § 163.2 may maintain any records, other than records required to be maintained as original records under laws and regulations administered by other Federal government agencies, in an alternative format, provided that the person gives advance written notification of such alternative storage method to the Regulatory Audit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 2001 Cross Beam Dr., Charlotte, North Carolina 28217, and provided further that the Director of Regulatory Audit, Charlotte office does not instruct the person in writing as provided herein that certain described records may not be maintained in an alternative format. The written notice to the Director of Regulatory Audit, Charlotte office must be provided at least 30 calendar days before implementation of the alternative storage method, must identify the type of alternative storage method to be used, and must state that the alternative storage method complies with the standards set forth in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. If an alternative storage method covers records that pertain to goods under CBP seizure or detention or that relate to a matter that is currently the subject of an inquiry or investigation or administrative or court proceeding, the appropriate CBP office may instruct the person in writing that those records must be maintained as original records and therefore may not be converted to an alternative format until specific written authorization is received from that CBP office. A written instruction to a person under this paragraph may be issued during the 30-day advance notice period prescribed in this section or at any time thereafter, must describe the records in question with reasonable specificity but need not identify the underlying basis for the instruction, and shall not preclude application of the planned alternative storage method to other records not described therein.
(2)Standards for alternative storage methods. Methods commonly used in standard business practice for storage of records include, but are not limited to, machine readable data, CD ROM, and microfiche. Methods that are in compliance with generally accepted business standards will generally satisfy CBP requirements, provided that the method used allows for retrieval of records requested within a reasonable time after the request and provided that adequate provisions exist to prevent alteration, destruction, or deterioration of the records. The following standards must be applied by recordkeepers when using alternative storage methods:
(i) Operational and written procedures are in place to ensure that the imaging and/or other media storage process preserves the integrity, readability, and security of the information contained in the original records. The procedures must include a standardized retrieval process for such records. Vendor specifications/documentation and benchmark data must be available for CBP review;
(ii) There is an effective labeling, naming, filing, and indexing system;
(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.
(iv) An internal testing of the system must be performed on a yearly basis;
(v) The recordkeeper must have the capability to make, and must bear the cost of, hard-copy reproductions of alternatively stored records that are required by CBP for audit, inquiry, investigation, or inspection of such records; and
(vi) The recordkeeper must retain and keep available one working copy and one back-up copy of the records stored in a secure location for the required periods as provided in § 163.4.
(3)Changes to alternative storage procedures. No changes to alternative recordkeeping procedures may be made without first notifying the Director of Regulatory Audit, Office of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, 2001 Cross Beam Drive, Charlotte, North Carolina 28217. The notification must be in writing and must be provided to the director at least 30 calendar days before implementation of the change.
(4)Penalties. All persons listed in § 163.2 who use alternative storage methods for records and who fail to maintain or produce the records in accordance with this part are subject to penalties pursuant to § 163.6 for entry records or sanctions pursuant to §§ 163.9 and 163.10 for other records.
(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.