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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Record Keeping: How long must records be retained for: VAT: Minimum retention periods for manual records

Type of manual record Minimum period to keep the record for
Sales or service dockets (mainly used by large organisations especially those involved mainly in retail trading e.g. mail order houses). No minimum period. May be destroyed when no longer needed.
Copies of orders, delivery notes, dispatch notes, goods returned notes, invoices for expenses incurred by employees. 1 year
Production records, stock records (except those for second hand schemes), job cards, appointment books, diaries, business letters.  
Import, export and delivery from warehouse documents. 3 years
Daybooks, ledgers, cashbooks, second hand scheme stock books.  
Purchase invoices, copy sales invoices, credit notes, debit notes, authenticated receipts. 4 years
Daily gross takings records, records related to retail scheme calculations, catering estimates.  
Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) and Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) records, see CH15600.  
Bank statements and paying-in books, management accounts, annual accounts. 5 years
Any record containing the VAT account. 6 years (No reduction)

If a record falls within more than one of the categories above, apply the longer retention period.

Any record that serves more than one purpose must be kept for the longest period required by those purposes, see CH14100.

This guidance is subject to any different requirements set out in a special scheme, see CH12400.