19 U.S.C. § 1509 - Examination of books and witnesses

Cite as:19 U.S.C. § 1509
Currency:Current through P.L. 116-65 (10/09/2019)

(a) Authority

In any investigation or inquiry conducted for the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of any entry, for determining the liability of any person for duty, fees and taxes due or duties, fees and taxes which may be due the United States, for determining liability for fines and penalties, or for insuring compliance with the laws of the United States administered by the United States Customs Service, the Secretary (but no delegate of the Secretary below the rank of district director or special agent in charge) may-

(1) examine, or cause to be examined, upon reasonable notice, any record (which for purposes of this section, includes, but is not limited to, any statement, declaration, document, or electronically generated or machine readable data) described in the notice with reasonable specificity, which may be relevant to such investigation or inquiry, except that-

(A) if such record is required by law or regulation for the entry of the merchandise (whether or not the Customs Service required its presentation at the time of entry) it shall be provided to the Customs Service within a reasonable time after demand for its production is made, taking into consideration the number, type, and age of the item demanded; and

(B) if a person of whom demand is made under subparagraph (A) fails to comply with the demand, the person may be subject to penalty under subsection (g);

(2) summon, upon reasonable notice-

(A) the person who-

(i) imported, or knowingly caused to be imported, merchandise into the customs territory of the United States,

(ii) exported merchandise, or knowingly caused merchandise to be exported, to a NAFTA country (as defined in section 3301(4) of this title) or to Canada during such time as the United States-Canada Free-Trade Agreement is in force with respect to, and the United States applies that Agreement to, Canada,

(iii) transported or stored merchandise that was or is carried or held under customs bond, or knowingly caused such transportation or storage, or

(iv) filed a declaration, entry, or drawback claim with the Customs Service;

(B) any officer, employee, or agent of any person described in subparagraph (A);

(C) any person having possession, custody or care of records relating to the importation or other activity described in subparagraph (A); or

(D) any other person he may deem proper;

to appear before the appropriate customs officer at the time and place within the customs territory of the United States specified in the summons (except that no witness may be required to appear at any place more than one hundred miles distant from the place where he was served with the summons), to produce records, as defined in subsection (d)(1)(A), and to give such testimony, under oath, as may be relevant to such investigation or inquiry; and

(3) take, or cause to be taken, such testimony of the person concerned, under oath, as may be relevant to such investigation or inquiry.

(b) Regulatory audit procedures

(1) In conducting a regulatory audit under this section (which does not include a quantity verification for a customs bonded warehouse or general purpose foreign trade zone), the Customs Service auditor shall provide the person being audited, in advance of the audit, with a reasonable estimate of the time to be required for the audit. If in the course of an audit it becomes apparent that additional time will be required, the Customs Service auditor shall immediately provide a further estimate of such additional time.

(2) Before commencing an audit, the Customs Service auditor shall inform the party to be audited of his right to an entry conference at which time the purpose will be explained and an estimated termination date set. Upon completion of on-site audit activities, the Customs Service auditor shall schedule a closing conference to explain the preliminary results of the audit.

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (5), if the estimated or actual termination date for an audit passes without the Customs Service auditor providing a closing conference to explain the results of the audit, the person being audited may petition in writing for such a conference to the officer designated pursuant to regulations, who, upon receipt of such a request, shall provide for such a conference to be held within 15 days after the date of receipt.

(4) Except as provided in paragraph (5), the Customs Service auditor shall complete the formal written audit report within 90 days following the closing conference unless the officer designated pursuant to regulations provides written notice to the person being audited of the reason for any delay and the anticipated completion date. After application of any exemption contained in section 552 of title 5, a copy of the formal written audit report shall be sent to the person audited no later than 30 days following completion of the report.

(5) Paragraphs (3) and (4) shall not apply after the Customs Service commences a formal investigation with respect to the issue involved.


(A) If during the course of any audit concluded under this subsection, the Customs Service identifies overpayments of duties or fees or over-declarations of quantities or values that are within the time period and scope of the audit that the Customs Service has defined, then in calculating the loss of revenue or monetary penalties under section 1592 of this title, the Customs Service shall treat the overpayments or over-declarations on finally liquidated entries as an offset to any underpayments or underdeclarations also identified on finally liquidated entries, if such overpayments or over-declarations were not made by the person being audited for the purpose of violating any provision of law.

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