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A guide to document retention periods

A question we are asked on a regular basis is "How long should I keep my documents?" It's a very good question and the answer isn't particularly straightforward because it all depends on what the document contains.

We've put together this guide to document retention periods to help customers understand how long to keep their documents. Please note the information below is for guideline purposes only so if you aren't sure it's better to keep the documents.


Document Retention Periods - A Guide



              Type of Document            Statutory Minimum Retention Period Recommended Period of Retention


Incorporated Documents
Certificate of Incorporation and Certificates on Change of Name N/A Permanently
Certificate to Commence Business (Public Company) N/A Permanently
Memorandum and Articles of Association (original and updated copies) Permanently Permanently
Printed copies of resolutions submitted to Companies House Permanently Permanently


Statutory Returns, Records and Registers
Annual Return (copy) N/A Permanently
Return of Allotments (copy) N/A Permanently
Directors' Service Contracts 6 years after cessation 6 years after cessation
Register of Directors and Secretaries (original) Permanently Permanently
Register of Directors' interests in Shares and Debentures Permanently Permanently
Register of interests in voting shares Permanently Permanently
Register of Charges Permanently Permanently
Register of Documents sealed (if applicable) N/A Permanently
Unpaid dividend records N/A 12 years after dividend declared
Dividend and interest mandate forms ceased to be valid N/A 3 years from when the instruction
Notification of address change by member N/A 2 years after notification


Share Registration Documents
Register of Members N/A Permanently
Register of Debentures and Loan Stock Holders N/A Permanently / 7 years after redemption of stock
Letters and forms applying for Shares, Debentures etc. N/A 12 years from issue, with a permanent microfilmed record
Renounceable Letter of Allotment and Acceptances N/A Originals for 12 years from renunciation, with a permanent microfilmed record
Renounced Share Certificates N/A Originals for 12 years from renunciation, with a permanent microfilmed record
Contracts for purchase of own shares by Company N/A Period of retention 10 years from date of contract
Share & Stock Transfer forms and Letter of Request with permanent microfilmed record N/A 12 years after date of transfer
Requests for designating or redesign ting accounts with permanent microfilmed record N/A 12 years after request
Cancelled Share/Stock Certificate N/A 1 year from date of cancellation
Stop Notice and other Court Orders N/A Permanently
Letters of indemnity for lost Certificates N/A Permanently
Powers of Attorney N/A Permanently
Dividend and interest payment lists N/A Until audit of the dividend payment is complete
Paid dividend and interest warrants N/A 6 years after date of payment


Bank Records
Cheques, bills of exchange and other negotiable instruments N/A 6 years
Paying-in Counterfoils N/A 6 years
Statements from and instructions to the bank N/A 6 years after ceasing to be effective
Public Company 6 years 10 years
Limited Company 3 years 10 years
Annual report and accounts (signed) N/A Permanently
Annual report and accounts (unsigned) N/A Permanently (keep sufficient copies to meet requests)
Interim report and accounts N/A Permanently (keep sufficient copies to meet requests)
Budgets, forecasts and periodic internal financial reports N/A 5 years
Taxation records and tax returns Inspection possible up to 6 years after tax/accounting period Permanently
VAT Records and Customs & Excise Returns Inspection may be conducted up to 6 years after tax/accounting period Permanently
Expense Accounts N/A 7 years


Charity Donation Documents
Deeds of Covenant 6 years after last payment 12 years after last payment
Documents supporting entries in accounts for donations 3 or 6 years 6 years


Contracts executed under seal N/A 12 years after expiry
Contracts with customers, suppliers, agents or others N/A 6 years after expiry or contract completion
Rental and hire purchase agreements N/A 6 years after expiry
Licensing agreements N/A 6 years after expiry
Trust deeds and rules (pension schemes) N/A Permanently


Public Liability Policies N/A Permanently
Product Liability Policies N/A Permanently
Employers' Liability Policies 40 years Permanently
Sundry insurance policies and insurance schedules N/A Until claims under policy are barred or 3 years after policy lapses, whichever is longer
Group Health Policies N/A 12 years after final cessation of benefit
Group Personal Accident Policies claims correspondence N/A 3 years after settlement N/A 12 years after final cessation of benefit


Health and Safety
Record of consultations with safety representative and committees N/A Permanently
Health & Safety Policy Documents (old and revised copies) Implied permanently by Health & Safety at Work Act (1974 S2(3) Permanently
Assessment of risks under health and safety regulations (including routine assessment monitoring and maintenance records for aspects in workplace such as air quality, levels of pollution, noise level, use of hazardous substances etc.) Until revised (Management of Health & safety at Work Regulations 1992 S1 1992/2051) Permanently (old and current copies)
Accident report book and relevant records/correspondence 3 years from date of entry (Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 S7) Permanently
Medical records - general N/A 12 years


Employees Records
Job applications and inteview records N/A Up to 1 year
Personnel Records N/A 7 years after employment ceases, with permanent microfilmed record
Senior Executive Records N/A Permanently
Training Records N/A 6 years after employment ceases
Employment Agreements N/A Permanently
Payroll and wage records (including details of overtime, bonuses and expenses) 6 years 12 years
Salary Records N/A 5 years
Time cards and piecework records N/A 2 years
Details of benefits in kind 6 years 12 years
Income Tax Records (P45/P60/P58/P48 etc.) 6 years 12 years
Annual return of taxable pay and tax paid 6 years 12 years
Labour Agreements N/A 10 years after ceasing to be effective
Works Council Minutes N/A Permanently
Employee records from closed units Some 6 years 12 years


Material with Copyright Protection
Literary, dramatic and musical works N/A Life plus 50 years
Artistic works, recordings, films, photos and broadcasts N/A 50 years


Pension Scheme Documents (Unapproved Schemes)
Trust deeds and scheme rules N/A Permanently
Trustees' minute books N/A Permanently
Record of pensioners N/A 12 years after cessation of benefit
Money purchase details N/A 6 years after transfer or value taken
Pension scheme investment policies N/A 12 years after transfer or value taken


Pension Scheme Documents (inland revenue approved and statutory pension schemes)
Pension fund accounts and supporting documents 6 years from date of accounts signed Permanently
Actuarial valuation reports 6 years from date of report signed Permanently
Inland revenue approvals N/A Permanently
Medical records - Radiation accident assessment 50 years Permanently
Medical records - Radiation dosage summary 2 years from end of calendar year Permanently
Under Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1998 (replaced 1980 regulations) 2 years from date of last entry to be effective Permanently
Under Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987 40 years Permanently
Under Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 (COSHH Regulations) 40 years Permanently


Intellectual Property Records
Certificates of registration of trade/service marks (current and lapsed) N/A Permanently or 6 years after cessation of registration
Documents evidencing assignment of trade/service marks N/A 6 years after cessation of registration
Intellectual property agreements and licences N/A 6 years after expiry


Property Documents
Title deeds for property N/A Permanently or until sold or transferred
Leases N/A 12 years after lease and liabilities under the lease have terminated


Medical Records
Admission/Discharge Books 8 years
Audiology, Dietetic and Nutrition, District Nursing, Occupational Therapy 20 years
Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Speech and Language Therapy 20 years
Child Protection Registers 26 years
Clinical Audit Records 5 years
Dental Records 11 years, Adults Children up to their 25th Birthday
Diaries 3 years
Family Planning Records 10 years, Children retain to their 25th Birthday
Health Visitor Records 10 years or for Children retain to their 25th Birthday
Health Records 8 years
Immunisation and Vaccination Children - retain until their 25th Birthday
All others 10 years
Learning Difficulties 10 years after the death of the individual
Oncology 30 years
Operating Theatre Registers 8 years
Out of Hours Records 3 years
Outpatients List 2 years
Parent-Held Records Until the Patients 25th Birthday
Ward Registers 2 years
X-Rays 8 years
X-Ray Registers 30 years
Board Meeting Reports 30 years
Business Plans 20 years
Catering Forms 6 years
Commissioning Decisions 6 years from date of appeal decision
Complaints Correspondence 10 years
Health & Safety Documents 3 years
Incident Forms 8 years
Manuals 10 years
Meetings & Minutes 30 years
Minor Paperwork (reminders, advertising etc) 2 years
Quality Assurance Records 12 years
Reports 30 years
Incident Files 30 years
Time Sheets 3 years
Annual Accounts 30 years
Accounts - Minor Records (cash books etc) 2 years
Financial Contracts 15 years
Medical Payments, BACS Payments, Fraud Investigations, Invoices 6 years
Personnel Records 6 years


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