How long to keep business paperwork

We all end up with piles of paperwork but do you know when you can legally get rid of it, and whether it is wise to hold on to it for longer?  The timeframes below are the minimum given legal requirements and considerations, but you may want to keep it longer, or digitise it and store it indefinitely just in case!

Commercial paperwork

  • Contracts and correspondence - minimum 5 years after which your statutory obligations are no longer engaged unless a shorter term has been specifically contracted.
  • Digital contract worth more than €120 - 10 years.  The party with whom the contract has been signed must be guaranteed access to the document if he/she so wishes.

Tax paperwork

  • Corporation tax (impôts sur le revenu et sur les sociétés) - 3 years along with all proofs.
  • BIC, BNC and BA en régime réel (i.e. not micro-entrepreneur) - 2 years
  • Local taxes - 1 year
  • Rates (CFE, CVAE) - 3 years
  • VAT - 3 years

Accounting

From end of the financial year concerned

  • Invoices both sent and received - 10 years
  • Order slips, delivery slips and receipts - 10 years
  • Books and accounts - 10 years

Personnel records

  • Individual personnel records - 10 years after the employee has left
  • Pay slips and other wage related documents - 5 years
  • Individual data (contracts, invitations to interview, redundancy notice etc.) - indefinitely as they could be used for employment tribunals etc.
  • Social charges and PAYE - 3 years along with all proofs.
  • Paperwork relating to work related accidents - 10 years to cover the period during which the victim can take legal action.

Legal files

  • Company statutes - 5 years from its closure counted as when it was removed from the company register (RCS)
  • Minutes of General Meetings - 5 years
  • Attendance registers, powers and invitations to meetings - 3 years from date of meeting
  • Company and auditors reports - the last 3 years' financial reports
  • Annual accounts (balance sheet, profit and loss account and annexes) - 10 years from the end of the financial year.

Property files

  • Purchase or sale of a building or piece of land - 30 years (time limit for all property-related transactions)
  • Lease contract - 5 years from end of lease

Banking files

  • Bank statements - 5 years