Document Retention Guidelines

These Document Retention Guidelines do exactly what the title suggests. They 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. Does this matter? Yes 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. Or be disqualified 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. This covers the Milton Keynes, Dunstable, Aylesbury area.

Also archive and file storage in Letchworth. This covers the area around Stevenage and Hitchin. 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 such as articles of incorporation and by laws. As well as audit reports, capital stock & bond records, copyrights and trademarks.

It might also mean Contracts with customers, suppliers or agents. As well as 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  and / or Licence agreements plus administration of
property records.


15 years after expiry.


Finance records (including forecasts and loans).

Financial statements and detailed accounts. As well as final
estimates, financial strategy and investments.
policy, portfolio valuations, ledger

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



VAT and Corporation tax assessments and
returns. This includes income tax, NIC returns, Tax claims,
dividends and estate duty.


Unincorporated companies and individuals.

Six years from the end of the period.


Returns: three years after the end of the period.
Note payroll records are six years.

Five years from 31 January of the year of assessment.


Primarily Cheque books and statements. Possibly even cancelled cheques.

Three years for limited companies and six years for
public companies.


Personnel records

Payroll records and Expenses. As well as donations; deduction
authorities, performance appraisals and tax codes.

Three years for limited companies. Six years for public
companies. However we would always recommend six years
for all companies.

Six years from expiry of contract.


Insurance policies and claims correspondence.
Including accident reports, correspondence and logs.

Employers’ Liability insurance certificates.

Three years

Forty years. (Yes 40 years!!)


This includes Orders, Delivery notes and goods received
notes. Tendering documentation, purchase
invoices, credit notes and petty cash receipts.
Also cheque authorisation reports and BACS records.
sales invoices; credit notes; receipts; till rolls;

All 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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