It can sometimes be confusing as to how long you’re required to keep documents. There’s a variety of different records governed by a range of separate legislation. You’ve got to know how long your organisation needs to retain an individual file in storage. But you also need to understand the reason for keeping it in the first place. For instance, do you need to keep asset registers for as long as personnel records? Is it a legal requirement to keep copies of purchase orders?


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Regardless of format (paper, electronic, or other), the records life cycle identifies the duration for which the information should be maintained or "retained". Hence knowing the retention period associated with an individual document or type of documents is essential for good records and information management. And that’s where CAS comes in. We can give you guidance on document retention.

CAS can help you to understand document retention

You can refer to our document retention schedule in our Knowledge Base ( to get some ideas on the type of documents you need to retain, and the reasons for doing so. Bear in mind that, in many cases, a digital copy of the document will be sufficient. The retention schedule pages are linked, so we provide a handy and comprehensive guide.

Please note that the information provided by CAS in these tables is for guidance purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure that the details provided here are accurate, CAS accepts no liability for any errors or discrepancies.

For each category of document (e.g. Admin, Health & Safety), we’ve outlined the specific type of document to be archived. For each type of document, we’ve provided a minimum retention period and the reason for retaining these documents for this minimum period.

Reasons for document retention

There are three main reasons for keeping documents, and we’ve reflected these in our document retention schedule:

  • Audit – you may need to supply these documents to an external auditor during an annual audit process
  • Corporate – you will need to retain these documents for management purposes within your organisation
  • Legal – you may be called upon to provide these documents, as there is specific legislation which governs the retention of these documents for the specified minimum period (e.g. the General Data Protection Regulation; Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc).

There may also be more overarching requirements. For instance, the UK tax authorities (HMRC) usually expect documents to be kept on a ‘6 plus 1’ basis – that is, 6 previous years, plus the current one.

What’s more, with GDPR, it’s ever more critical for organisations to keep on top of records and information management. For instance, individuals now have the right to request that personal data be erased from an organisation’s records. If you don’t have a clearly defined retention schedule, your staff may waste time looking for documents that have already been disposed of. Similarly, they may be unable to demonstrate clearly that data has been destroyed.

CAS complete records management solves your document retention concerns

With our comprehensive approach to records management, we can help you maintain a working document retention schedule. We’ve got a range of customers – from small- and medium-sized enterprises up to NHS trusts and major financial institutions. They may use secure document storage, scan-on-demand, digital records archive or any of our other services. But they all benefit from our records management expertise and our understanding of the records life cycle. That’s the CAS difference.

If you’ve got questions about document retention, give one of the CAS team a call today.


Call: 0845 50 50 003


About CAS

CAS provides a comprehensive and secure document digitisation, information storage and facilities management service. For more than 20 years CAS have worked with NHS Trusts, Financial Services providers, and corporate and private clients. Our head office is just four miles from the City of London. Supported by our advanced storage centres across the UK. CAS has an impressive array of International certifications (ISOs). These certifications prove our compliance with the strictest national, European and international laws. They also demonstrate our commitment to provide innovative systems on security, confidentiality and quality control. CAS offers archive storage solutions at its secure document storage facilities for companies of all sizes and across every sector.

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