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Legal retention period

How many years should you retain your invoices, financial account statements, payroll, etc.? In our three tables, you will find the retention period for your accounting, tax and social contribution and insurance archives.

Accounting documents

Type of documentRETENTION PERIODSTART OF THE RETENTION PERIOD
Original accounting records: day book, general ledger and inventory ledger7 yearsFrom 1 January of the year following closing
Supporting documents (originals or copies): documents serving as a basis for all bookkeeping that can serve as proof for third parties7 yearsFrom 1 January of the year following closing
Documents which are not used as proof for third parties: these are documents which do not show the existence of direct relations with third parties7 yearsFrom 1 January of the year following closing

Tax documents

Type of documentRETENTION PERIODSTART OF THE RETENTION PERIOD
Income tax: all the books and documents required to determine the taxable income. Examples: supporting documents for the bookkeeping, documents created for professional reasons (salary documents, social security documents, contracts, order forms and delivery forms, all types of supporting documents)7 yearsFrom the taxable period (tax year) to which the documents refer
For VAT: the purchases and sales book, cash receipts journal, the book of returns, the register of contract work, the invoice book and the “registre des garagistes” (VAT register for works carried out on motor vehicles)7 yearsFrom 1 January of the year following closing
Original documents which must be drafted or issued according to VAT legislation: invoices, transport documents, accounts and acknowledgements of receipt, import and export documents7 yearsFrom 1 January following the date the documents were drafted or issued
Invoices or original documents which replace them, relating to intra-Community acquisitions of goods or purchases carried out abroad7 yearsFrom 1 January following the date the documents were drafted or issued
Originals of account statements from financial institutions, tax break down and tax receipts, quotes, the inventory, detailed invoices and the purchase orders to which the invoices refer7 yearsFrom 1 January following the date the documents were drafted or issued

Social contribution and insurance documents

Type of documentRETENTION PERIODSTART OF THE RETENTION PERIOD
The payroll and special staff registers5 yearsFrom the last day the member of staff was registered in the payroll.
Student contracts5 yearsFrom the day following the end of the performance of the contract
Copy of the accounting framework for each quarterly declaration sent to the NSSO (Belgian National Social Security Office)5 yearsFrom the deadline for submitting the declaration
Medical files5 yearsFrom the day following the end of the performance of the contract
Supporting documents for days of absence (annual leave, personal leave, paid leave for training, leave to follow adult education programmes)5 yearsFrom 1 January of the year following the year in which the absences took place
Accident record15 yearsFrom the day when the ‘victim’ stopped working at the company

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