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Recommended Guidelines

In determining appropriate retention periods departments need to consider the following:

  • legal and related requirements
  • potential demand within the organisation
  • historical value
  • cost of storage

The guidance below is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the financial documents held in a department and does not imply that all other documentation can be destroyed.

Accounting Document
Length of time to be retained
7 years 6 years 3 years 18 months
Purchase Invoices      
Sales Invoices      
VAT returns - supporting documentation      
External grants - contracts      
External grants - timesheets and other internal documents      
Banking daily balancing sheets      
Paying in counterfoils      
Payments to staff - UFS Payroll information      
Fixed Asset disposal notes      
Credit/Debit Card receipts and details      

Purchase Invoices

All original paid invoices should be retained by departments for seven years (6 years plus the current year). Any photocopies of invoices are only for reference purposes and can be disposed of as appropriate.

Supporting requisitions, purchase orders and goods received notes should be kept for three years or, in the case of research grant contracts for the duration of the award if longer (see below).


Copies of all sales VAT documents, which include sales invoices and daily till rolls from shops, must be held for seven years, i.e. six years plus the current year. If a department has particular difficulty in keeping six years of till rolls, it is possible to apply to HM Revenue & Customs, via the Taxation Section of the Finance Division, to request a shorter period of retention.

VAT Returns

The Finance Division keeps copies of all VAT returns including the Intrastat and EC returns. However, as only the actual returns are held by the Finance Division, all supporting documentation used to compile the return, including invoices, must be retained by departments for a period of seven years, i.e. six years plus the current year.

Outside Grants

The University Research Office (URO) holds the original contracts/agreements, related correspondence and financial documents for at least six years after expiry of the grant. Should a department hold any further relevant original documentation then this should be held for a similar period. Any detailed records supporting charges against the grant, e.g. time sheets, should be also be retained for a period of six years after the expiry of the grant. However, any specific terms within a particular contract relating to the retention of records will take precedence. If in doubt consult URO.


The Finance Division keeps copies of all receipt records and as the daily banking sheets are not prime documents supporting individual sales transactions there is no need to keep these sheets beyond three years. Bank paying-in counterfoils should be kept for six years.

Payments to Staff

All documents relating to payments to staff should be kept for at least seven years, i.e. six years plus the current year. Any supporting documentation held in the departments and not copied to the centre should be retained for a similar period.

Fixed Asset Register

Fixed Asset registers should be kept indefinitely. Copies of asset disposal notes should be kept for three years.

UFS/Payroll Information

The Finance Division retains copies of the general ledger (via UFS) and all payroll records for at least seven years.

Credit/Debit card receipts

Original retailer copies of transactions must be retained in a secure and accessible place for a minimum period of 18 months. Stored documents should be reviewed quarterly and securely destroyed/deleted if no longer required.

The security requirements for card and customer data are mandatory and there is certain information that must NOT be stored at any time.

For further details see Chapter 7, Cash & Banking

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