to keep or not to keep

Retention obligation and retention periods

How long should you keep important papers? This is a question asked frequently. There are legal requirements for this which we will explain here. These are also requirements that have been imposed by various government agencies. Check the table below for more details.

Please note. Obligation to destroy

In addition to a retention obligation, an organisation also has a duty to destroy. This is known to fewer people, but at least as important. If you do not comply, you are punishable. Usually with a fine, but sometimes also as a driver. So pay attention!

Legislation

We are regularly asked how to find out whether the archives in storage can be destroyed. This is also difficult, because it is not described in a special retention law. Dutch legislation deals with the retention and destruction obligations of documents in various sections.

Fiscal

The tax authorities indicate on their website that every entrepreneur is legally obliged to keep his records for 7 years (tax retention obligation). However, the tax authorities strive to minimize the administrative burden and sometimes use shorter retention periods. How long you need to keep your records depends on the interest they have in the different types of data in your records. Certain parts of your administration are classified as basic data. These include:

  • The General Ledger
  • accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • the stock administration
  • the purchasing and sales administration
  • Payroll administration

The basic data must be kept for 7 years.

In connection with the adjustment period of the input tax deduction for immovable property, such as commercial premises, you must keep the data of immovable property for 10 years. You must also keep your records for 10 years if you provide electronic services, radio and television broadcasting services, and telecommunications services.  For the other data, you can make agreements with the Tax and Customs Administration about shorter retention periods than 7 years. For the basic data and the other data, you can make agreements with them about:

  • the form in which you store the data (on paper or electronically)
  • the level of detail (e.g. daily sheets or counting slips of the cash register)

These agreements are recorded in writing. Please note! Agreements with us about shorter retention periods only apply to the Tax and Customs Administration. With other government institutions, you may still have to deal with the statutory retention period of 7 years.

The retention obligation also applies to computer programs and files. So, you also need to make sure that these programs and files can be used in an audit. Keeping a file only in printed form does not satisfy your retention obligation. However, under certain conditions, you can store files and other data in a different form. This is called conversion. The conditions are

  • You transfer all the data.
  • In terms of content, you transfer the data correctly.
  • You ensure that the new data carrier is available for the entire retention period.
  • You can (re)produce the converted data and make it readable within a reasonable amount of time.
  • You ensure that a check of the converted data can be performed within a reasonable amount of time.
  • It is wise to submit your plans to us before you convert.

Do you have (part of) your administration taken care of by a computer or payroll service agency? In that case, the data carriers of those service bureaus that contain data about your company are also subject to the tax retention obligation.

General retention periods per document type

The retention periods below are derived from official laws and regulations. Even though hardly any changes are to be expected, we always advise you to check the current requirements in this area yourself.

Document

Soort

Bewaartermijn (jaar)

Dividendnota’s

Algemeen

5

Jaarrekening, accountantsverklaring e.d.

Winst- en verliesrekening

Algemeen

7

Administratie na ontbinding rechtspersoon

Algemeen

7

Gegevens bedrijfsmatig onroerend goed

Algemeen

10

Ledenadministratie van coöperatie met aansprakelijkheid leden

Algemeen

10

Subsidie administratie

Algemeen

10

Identificatiebewijs (op grond van Wet Identificatieplicht)

Fiscaal

5

Grootboek en administratie (zoals debiteuren, crediteuren en loon)

Fiscaal

5

Facturen i.v.m. de omzetbelasting

Fiscaal

7

Bewaarplicht Vervoersdocumenten

Fiscaal

7

Persoonlijk controleboekje

Vervoer

1

Register van werkboekjes

Vervoer

1

Registratiebladen

Vervoer

1

Correspondentie benoemingen, promotie, demotie en ontslag

Personeel

2

Loonbelastingverklaringen en kopieën identiteitsbewijzen

Personeel

5

Gegevens betreffende etniciteit en herkomst

Personeel

5

Identiteitspapieren van derden met tewerkstellingsvergunning

Personeel

5

Afspraken salaris en arbeidsvoorwaarden

 

Personeel

7

Burgerlijke staat werknemer

 

Personeel

7

Loonbeslagen

 

Personeel

Tot opheffing

 

Sollicitatiebrieven (en correspondentie), getuigschrift e.d.

Personeel

Maximaal 4 weken (met toestemming sollicitant 1 jaar)

Arbeidsovereenkomst en wijzigingen

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

Wijzigingen arbeidsovereenkomst

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

Verslagen van functioneringsgesprekken

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

Verslaglegging Wet Verbetering Poortwachter

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

VUT-regeling

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

Afspraken inzake werk OR

Personeel

Maximaal 2 jaar na uitdiensttreding

Algemeen

 

Medisch/arbo

Minimaal 10 jaar (werknemer kan om vernietiging vragen)

Patiëntendossier

 

Minimaal 20 jaar

Destruction

Once the retention period has expired, the destruction can take place. It is important that it is destroyed so that it is no longer reproducible or repairable. You can do this yourself, or have it done by a specialized destroyer. Always ask for a CA+ certificate. This is the guarantee for you that it has actually been destroyed and is gone. This also avoids any liability in case it should turn up.

Source: https://autoriteitpersoonsgegevens.nl/nl/over-privacy/persoonsgegevens/bewaren-van-persoonsgegevens

Retention of personal data

Since an organization consists of people who work together with other people, there will always be an archive in which personal data is stored. That's why it's important to know how to deal with this.

In order to keep proper records, an organization must retain certain personal data for a certain period of time. But organizations are not allowed to keep this data longer than necessary. So there is also an obligation to destroy.

According to the Dutch Data Protection Authority, there is no specific retention period for personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Organisations decide for themselves how long they keep personal data. In doing so, they look at how long the data is needed for the purpose for which it was collected or is used. As an organisation, you must therefore determine a retention period, which is appropriate in the situation in question.

However, there are legal retention periods in other laws that organizations must adhere to. Read more about this here.

When to destroy or archive?

If the retention period of personal data has expired or the data is no longer necessary, organizations must destroy the data. Organisations may only store this personal data in an archive if the personal data is intended for historical, statistical or scientific purposes.

How do I determine the retention period of personal data?

In principle, there is no retention period for personal data in an archive, unless there are legal requirements for this from, among other things, the Public Records Act. So check these retention periods yourself. And if there are no legal requirements, determine the retention period for your organization yourself. Lay down the retention periods and the substantiation in order to be able to justify yourself in the event of complaints. For example, do this in your privacy policy.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority indicates that you will ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long do you need the data for the purpose for which you process it? Also look at your company policy. For example, you may still need certain data to check outstanding invoices.
  • The basic principle of the law is that you keep personal data for as short a time as possible. Can you tighten the deadline?
  • Tip: Are you a member of a trade association? If so, they may have more information about which retention periods are common in your sector. This is stated in a code of conduct, for example.

Complaints

Anyone can file a complaint about your organisation and the retention of their personal data with the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA), for example if people feel that you are storing their personal data for an unnecessarily long time. The DPA assesses, among other things, whether your substantiation is reasonable. And whether you indeed keep the retention period as short as possible in view of the purpose of the processing.

Tip  Periodically check the personal data that you process in your administration. Delete or anonymize those personal data whose retention period has expired. Or sooner if you don't need them anymore.

Focus on digitisation

Do you want to make your paper files digital as an organization? In that case, you may only destroy the original paper files if you, as an organisation, ensure proper security of the digital file. And, of course, also ensures that these digital files are also managed in compliance with the retention and destruction periods.

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