Archiving of import clearance documents

When a customs declaration is lodged electronically, importers must see to the archiving of the customs clearance documents. The term ‘Importer’ refers to the trader entered as the declarant in the import declaration. There is no need to deliver any documents to Customs for archiving.

Only import declarations exceptionally provided on paper and their appendices are still archived by Customs.

Who is responsible for archiving?

The importer or the representative is responsible for archiving the import documents. An import company is responsible for archiving in the following cases:

  • The importer submits the declaration himself/herself.
  • The importer uses a direct representative.
  • The importer uses a direct representative with the liability of a guarantor.

A representative is responsible for archiving electronic import clearances in instances where the import declaration was provided on behalf of the importer and the representative acted as an indirect representative.

Even though the import company is responsible for the archiving, the importer can also assign the archiving to a representative.

Private persons have the same responsibility to archive their import customs clearance documents as companies.

Which documents must be archived?

Documents to be archived include any commercial documents related to the customs declaration and the import. Such documents are e.g. trade invoices, freight and transport documents, proofs of origin and documents related to amendment requests. 

The declarant should store and archive the decisions on customs clearances and releases issued by Customs, if the archiving of them is required by the Accounting Act or other legislation. For example, the Value Added Tax Act requires that the decisions on customs clearance be archived as part of the accounting material.    

The documents can be archived either electronically or on paper. However, permits or other documents verified by an authority with a signature, a stamp or otherwise, must always be stored as original paper documents. This requirement applies to the following documents that are presented in order to receive prefrerential tariff treatment for imports:

  • FORM A certificates of origin
  • EUR.1, EUR-MED and A.TR. movement certificates
  • Invoice declarations and declarations of origin that are signed by the exporter in the exporting country, and which do not include the authorisation number of the authorised exporter.

Where are the documents archived?

Paper documents must be archived in Finland, on the premises of the importer or based on an assignment, for example at an accounting company or on the premises of the representative. 

The reliability, originality, integrity and authenticity of the customs clearance documents must be maintained throughout the archiving period.

For how long must the documents be archived?

The documents must be archived for six (6) years. The period starts from the end of the calendar year when the decision on the release of goods for the import procedure was made by Customs.

Customs may ask for documents

Customs has the right to inspect archived documents related to the customs declaration. When necessary, Customs will ask the importer’s contact person, who handles the customs transactions, to present the documents. The documents must be submitted to Customs immediately. 

When necessary, electronically archived documents must be submitted to Customs in a format that is commonly used. 

If the importer goes out of business or goes bankrupt, the archived material must be transferred to Customs for archiving. If a company that was given the assignment of archiving documents goes out of business or goes bankrupt, it must transfer the archived material to the importer who gave the assignment.

The importer is responsible for the cost of delivery or transfer. 

You can request a paid listing of the declarations lodged by the representative

The importer on whose behalf electronic declarations are lodged can receive a monthly listing of customs clearances, which the representative has carried out as a direct representative or as a direct representative with the responsibility of a guarantor. The listing displays the customs decision number, clearance date, declarant, forwarder, reference number and additional reference number.

You can request the listing by contacting arkistoedi(at) The processing time is from 2 to 4 weeks. The service is subject to a charge.

Please note: Unfortunately, it is not possible to receive listings of new import declarations submitted through the Customs Clearance Service or with a message (UTU). We will inform you later when such a service is deployed. However, the company can receive decisions concerning individual declarations by logging in to the Customs Clearance Service and searching for declarations using the MRN. Logging in requires identification and authorisation.

Keywords Archiving