Anything that is imported must be properly recorded – maintaining accuracy and validity of all the entry records you create. The government can always pop in unannounced and ask questions on your importations. The questions that arise are usually based on “Red Flags” they find via a database filled with information about factories, goods, people from across the globe.
How long are you required to maintain records? 5 years after importation (drawback claims, 3 years after payment of drawback claim).
What is Customs looking for? Could be anything but the most common areas Customs looks at are classification, valuation of merchandise, compliance with the law, and the importer’s right to import or export merchandise. THE FAILURE TO KEEP RECORDS RESULTS IN PENALTIES UPWARDS OF $100,000.00.
Who can maintain the records? The law does not force the importer itself to maintain the records. The importer may hire an agent to do so however, importer maintains full liability for any errors resulting from the maintenance of the records.
In addition, a system of certification for recordkeepers has been established by the government. It is a voluntary program available to those importers and their agents who take steps to assure that records are properly kept. You may read more about it in detail here http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=1ceedfd75e9813b3f6d88b3fc7e9e8a0&rgn=div8&view=text&node=19:126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52&idno=19