Document Retention Guidelines

These Document Retention Guidelines do exactly what the title suggests, provide the timeframe for which certain types of documents are required to be kept. For example, as per the first batch below, hire purchase agreements are required to be kept for six years. Why does this matter? Because these are often legal requirements and you could fall foul of the relevant authorities if you do not.

For example, HMRC can investigate your company records for the past 6 years. If you do not retain the records they can fine you £3,000 and / or disqualify you as a Company Director. See Gov.UK company and accounting records.

Please note, these are guidelines only, we recommend that you seek expert advice as rules and regulations are constantly changing. The Secure-store provides quality archive storage and document storage in Leighton Buzzard for the Milton Keynes, Dunstable, Aylesbury triangle. Also in Letchworth for the Stevenage, Hitchin & Letchworth area. We would welcome the opportunity to provide a free quotation for any commercial document storage.

Archive storage Bedfordshire
Archive storage for Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire

AGREEMENTS AND RELATED CORRESPONDENCE:                                                                                       Storage Period Required

Major agreements of historical significance; articles of incorporation; audit reports; bylaws; capital stock & bond records; copyrights; trademarks

Contracts with customers, suppliers or agents Licensing agreements; Rental/hire purchase agreements; Indemnities and guarantees;


Six years after expiry or termination of the contract Six years is generally the time limit within which proceedings founded on a contract may be brought.


Title deeds

Lease / Licence agreements; administration of
property records


15 years after expiry


Finance records; forecasts; loans

Financial statements; detailed accounts; final
estimates; financial strategy; investment
policy, portfolio valuations, ledger

Technically six years from the date they are created for
a public company and three years for a private concern
but almost all sources recommend a minimum of six
years for all companies



VAT and Corporation tax; assessments and
returns; income tax; NIC returns; Tax claims –
dividends, estate duty etc


Unincorporated companies and individuals

Six years from the end of the period


Returns: three years after the end of the period,
But payroll records are six years

Five years from 31 January of the year of assessment


Cheque books, statements, cancelled cheques etc

Three years for limited companies and six years for
public companies


Personnel records

Payroll records; Expenses; Donations; deduction
authorities, performance appraisals; tax code

Three years for limited companies / six years for public
companies but we would always recommend six years
for all

Six years from expiry of contract


Insurance policies; claims correspondence;
Accident reports / correspondence

Employers’ Liability insurance certificate

Three years

Forty years


Orders; Delivery notes; Goods received
notes; tendering documentation; purchase
invoices; credit notes; petty cash receipts;
cheque authorisation reports; BACS reports;
sales invoices; credit notes; receipts; till rolls;

6 Years

Document Retention Guidelines – Legislation

Some of the relevant legislation:

  • Tax Management Act 1970
  • Limitation Act 1980
  • Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982
  • VAT Act 1984
  • Companies Act 1985
  • Finance Act 1998
  • Income Tax (PAYE) Regulations 2003

Please Note These are guidelines only and should not be relied upon. You should seek expert advice as rules and regulations are constantly changing. If you find this page a useful resource, please feel free to ‘link’ to it. Document Retention Guidelines.

Document retention guidelines
Document Retention Guidelines
business storage near Stevenage

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