International shipping is a challenging and complex environment. Tariffs, unique trade regulations per country, complicated routes and longer-than-average shipping times all should be considered when moving cargo on an international scale.

Then there’s the paperwork.

Depending on the countries involved in the shipment, paperwork can quickly get overwhelming and difficult to manage. On top of that, according to Customs’ regulations, any important records – defined as “any information required by law or regulation for the entry of merchandise” – must be maintained for a period of five years from the date of entry or five years from the date of the activity, which required the creation of the record.

Customs can and will demand shipping records at any time, and failure to produce the proper documentation can result in fines up to $100,000.

So what to do with all those important shipping records? In an increasingly predominant digital age, the tried and true, throw them in a file box and store them somewhere out of the way isn’t really an effective method, if it ever was.

AFS offers a Customs Records Management solution that keeps all of your shipping records saved in an electronic, secure and easily searchable environment that is always up-to-date on the latest customs regulations. It’s common for importers to utilize multiple carriers, which means multiple sources, formats and delivery methods of important documentation. For a single import, it’s common for three to four carriers to touch your shipment.  This platform manages records from multiple parties, giving you easy and immediate access when you need it the most.

Say you imported multiple containers of textiles four years ago. It was an uneventful shipment, no major delays or mishaps and you’ve moved numerous shipments since then. Now say US Customs contacts you, asking for paperwork for this particular entry, including your customs entry form, bill of lading, commercial invoice, packing list and certificate of origin. Even if you’ve been meticulous in both your records keeping and file storage, fulfilling this demand will be a difficult and time consuming task. With AFS Customs Records Management, you can quickly and easily provide US Customs with all of the required documentation and avoid any potential fines.

On top of records storage functionality, you’re able to create customized reports on your shipments that provides you a greater insight into your supply chain and ensures compliance, reducing your risk from unforeseen fines.

The international shipping environment is guaranteed to evolve in the future, around world economies, leaders, trade disputes and any other events that may affect the world state. Consider partnering with a 3PL, like AFS Logistics, who stays up-to-date with all of these changes and ensures you can easily access documentation customs may need in the event of an audit. Call or email us today to speak with one of our international shipping experts.