ARMA International


Paper Tiger
Records Management Services
4201 Lowell Circle,
Lincoln, NE 68502

Toll Free 888-873-5633

Records Retention Guidelines
Every confidential record has a life cycle. Some can be safely destroyed almost immediately. Other documents must be kept for period of time to satisfy legal requirements or simply because they still have useful value to the organization.

How Long To Keep Confidential Documents
How long should you retain a confidential record? There’s no one answer. Record retention laws vary by document type, by industry and by state. We have provided a records retention schedule (see below) as a general guideline only. It is NOT intended to be a retention schedule that satisfies all legal requirements for your organization. You absolutely must check with your organization’s attorney for legal advice as to how long to keep specific records.

General Records Retention Guidelines*

Records To Retain For 1 Year

  • Receiving reports
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographers notebooks
  • Stockroom withdrawal forms

Records To Retain For 3 Years

  • Bank deposit slips
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Budgets
  • Correspondence (general)
  • Delivery receipts
  • Deposit slip copies
  • Equipment repair records
  • Interim financial reports
  • Insurance policies (after expiration)
  • Internal audit reports
  • Internal reports (misc.)
  • Physical inventory tags
  • Petty cash records
  • Purchase order copies
  • Remittance statements
  • Travel records (employees)

Records To Retain For 5 Years

  • Bills of lading
  • Correspondence (accounting)
  • Cost accounting records
  • Freight drafts, bills, claims
  • Employee daily time reports
  • Time cards, tickets and clock records
  • Machinery maintenance records
  • Shipping tickets

Records To Retain For 6 Years

  • Commission reports
  • Equipment leases (after expiration)
  • Fire damage reports
  • Salesmen’s commission reports

Records To Retain For 7 Years

  • Accident reports (settled)
  • Accounts payable and receivable ledgers
  • Bank statements
  • Contracts and leases (expired)
  • Vendor contracts
  • Correspondence (credit and collection)
  • Expense analysis and expense distribution schedules
  • Invoices (issued or received)
  • Inventories of products, materials & supplies
  • Employee earnings records
  • Employee paychecks
  • Customer ledger
  • Building maintenance records
  • Manufactured stock records
  • Notes (cancelled)
  • Option records
  • Payroll records and summaries including payments to pensioners
  • Property damage reports
  • Purchase invoices
  • Sales invoices
  • Sales slips (cash & charge)
  • Stock and bond certificates (cancelled)
  • Tax returns (payroll)
  • Tax returns (social security)
  • Time books
  • Uncollectible accounts records
  • Vouchers (copies)
  • W-2 Forms

Records To Retain For 10 Years

  • Check register
  • Worker’s Compensation reports
  • Cash journal
  • General journal
  • Payroll journal
  • Purchases journal
  • Sales journal
  • Voucher journal
  • Property tax records
  • Sales and use tax returns
  • Voucher register

Records To Retain Permanently

  • Account ledgers
  • All independent contractor 1099s
  • Annual Financial Reports
  • Applications for authorization and issuance
  • Appraisals
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Audit reports
  • Bonds (Records of Issuance)
  • Cash books
  • Charts of Accounts
  • Capital Stock:
  • Certificates (cancelled)
  • Checks (cancelled for important payments)
  • Contracts and leases still in effect
  • Correspondence (legal and important matters)
  • Deeds, mortgages and bills of sale
  • Depreciation schedules
  • Dividend register
  • Financial reports (audited: annual)
  • General and Private ledgers (also end of year trial balances)
  • Insurance records, current claims, policies
  • Journal entries (year end)
  • Plant ledger
  • Stock ledger
  • Minute books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Note register
  • Patent records
  • Pension records
  • Plans and specifications
  • Property records
  • Purchases
  • Sales
  • Stockholder reports
  • Tax returns
  • Title papers
  • Trademark records
  • Union (Labor) Contracts
  • Warrants
*Warning! It’s so important, we’re going to state it twice. The above Records Retention Schedule is NOT intended to be a retention schedule that satisfies all legal requirements for your organization. You absolutely must check with your organization’s attorney for legal advice as to how long to keep specific records.

The Lifecycle of Your Stored Documents
One of the advantages of choosing Paper Tiger to store your records is that we have a system to notify you when it’s time to destroy your confidential documents. Here’s how it works:

When you submit a new box of documents for us to store, you’ll have the option of supplying a destruction date for that box on the intake form. Our computerized system will then keep track of this box (as well as every other box in our storeroom) to determine how long they have to be retained. When the scheduled destruction date for that box arrives, we’ll send you a notification to let you know that it’s ready for destruction. When you receive this notification you’ll have three options:

  1. Provide written authorization for us to shred these documents
  2. Extend the retention period
  3. Do nothing and we’ll continue to store the box for you.

If we don’t hear from you, we’ll continue to notify you that you have boxes of documents that should be scheduled for destruction. But remember, we cannot destroy any of your documents without your written authorization.