Document Shredding

With our paper shredding service, we can take care of your document shredding needs, and help you shred your sensitive materials and documents, and then dispose of the resulting paper.

These days, most businesses are required by law to retain confidential client information, along with employee or company data, for a minimal amount of time. Similarly, individuals are required to retain certain personal and/or financial data and records. However, many documents may eventually outlive their useful purpose. Holding onto them for an extended period beyond the legal requirements can also be a security risk and put you in danger of noncompliance with current privacy legislation.

The length of time you store business (or personal) records should be determined by a retention schedule and policy that keeps balance between the usefulness of each item with the legal requirements for that item. Each case is different, so this will depend on the type of business, and the types of items being retained. You’ll want to determine the appropriate retention schedule for each document type, and then create a schedule for secure destruction of these documents.

Once you have determined the amount of time to retain each type of document, the only acceptable way to dispose of these documents is to make sure they are irreversibly destroyed. Shredding is a safe, easy and sure-fire way to completely destroy documents, within legal requirements. Depending on your needs, you may require a Certificate of Destruction that specifies the exact date and method used to destroy your documents.

Document Retention Guidelines

Here is a list of documents that may contain confidential information, along with the recommended retention period for each type. Note that these recommendations on document retention are general guidelines only. They are not intended to represent legal advice. You may wish to contact your legal expert(s) or federal, state or provincial government to ensure you are following current legal requirements for your area.**

Business Documents

  • Contracts – 6 years*
  • Correspondence, general – 6 years*
  • Deeds – Permanent
  • License, traffic and purchase (correspondence) – 6 years
  • Mortgages and note agreements – 6 years*
  • Patents – permanent
  • Production (correspondence) – 8 years

Financial Documents

  • Auditors’ reports – Permanent
  • Bank debt deduction – 7 years
  • Bank deposit slips, reconciliations, statements – 4 years
  • Bills of lading – 4 years
  • Budgets – 2 years
  • Checks – cancelled – 4 years
  • Contracts – purchase and sales – 4 years*
  • Credit memos – 4 years
  • Depreciation records – 4 years*
  • Employee expense reports – 4 years
  • Employee payroll records (W2, W-4, annual earnings records, etc.) – 6 years*
  • Financial statements – annual – permanent
  • Financial statements – interim – 4 years
  • Freight bills – 4 years
  • Internal reports (work orders, sales reports, production reports) – 4 years
  • Invoices – sales and cash register receipts, merchandise purchases – 4 years
  • Invoices – purchases (permanent assets) – 4 years*
  • General ledger – permanent
  • General, cash receipts, cash disbursement, and purchase journals – permanent
  • Payroll journal – 4 years
  • Subsidiary ledgers (accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.) – 6 years
  • Time cards – 4 years
  • Worthless securities – 7 years

Insurance Documents

  • Accident reports – 6 years
  • Claims – after settlement – 10 years
  • Fire inspection reports – 6 years
  • Group disability reports – 8 years
  • Policies – all types – expired – 4 years
  • Insurance policies – 6 years*
  • Safety reports – 8 years
  • Settled insurance claims – 4 years*

Personnel

  • Attendance records – 7 years
  • COBRA records – 4 years
  • Contracts – expired – 6 years
  • Dental benefits – 5 years
  • Daily time reports – 6 years
  • Disability and sick benefit records – 6 years
  • Employment applications – not hired – 3 years
  • Employee benefit plans – 2 years *
  • Employee medical history – 7 years
  • Medical benefits – 7 years
  • OSHA logs – 6 years
  • Performance record – after termination – 7 years
  • Personnel files – terminated – 7 years *
  • Withholding tax statements – 6 years

Purchasing and Sales

  • Purchase orders – 7 years
  • Requisitions – 3 years
  • Sales contracts – 3 years
  • Sales invoices  – 3 years

Tax Documents

  • Payroll tax returns – 4 years
  • Pension/profit-sharing informational returns – Permanent
  • Sales and use tax returns – Permanent
  • Tax returns and cancelled checks (federal, state, and local) – Permanent

Traffic – Shipping and Receiving

  • Export declarations – 4 years
  • Freight bills – 4 years
  • Manifests – 4 years
  • Shipping and receiving reports – 4 years
  • Waybills and bills of lading – 4 years

* Retention periods begin after the termination, expiration, disposal, etc. of the item.

**This information has been sourced from the links below:

  1. http://www.businessarchives.com/document-retention-requirements.asp
  2. http://www.cpa.net/resources/retengde.pdf
  3. http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-2400.html
  4. http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98575,00.html