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Retention period accounting documents

Retention period accounting documents

Summary dated April 15th, 2018 of the essential legal provisions regarding the retention periods of your archives.

Documents Minimum retention period (2) Format Start date of retention period Act
Accounting books
ledger, general ledger, inventory ledger. Of these three ledgers the original must be retained (1)
10 years Original (paper or electronic copy)(3) As from January 1st of the year following the end of the financial year Article III.88 of the Code of Economic Law and article 9 of the Royal Decree of September 12th, 1983 implementing the Act of July 17th, 1975 regarding the accounts of companies
Supporting documents
these are the documents serving as evidence towards third parties. It concerns the documents on which the entries are based (1)
7 years original or copy As from January 1st of the year following the end of the financial year Article III.86 of the Code of Economic Law
Documents not serving as evidence towards third parties
these are documents not demonstrating a direct relationship with third parties (1)
3 years original or copy As from January 1st of the year following the end of the financial year Article III.86 of the Code of Economic Law

Although we have composed this list with much care, Merak N.V. cannot be held responsible for any errors or any changes made to legislation.

(1) Since 01/01/2004 NPOs must also fulfil this obligation (Royal Decree 19/12/2003, Belgian Official Gazette 30/12/2003).

(2) The Committee for Accounting Standards set out in its advice no. 6/1 (Bulletin CBN April 1981, no. 8) that all companies must adhere to a suitable archiving policy and that some situations, such as a pending legal procedure, the importance of the documents, etc., may mean that documents must be retained longer.

(3) The Royal Decree of January 25th, 2005 sets out that as from January 1st, 2005 Belgian companies and independent entrepreneurs are no longer obliged to retain these paper ledgers (Art. 2 Royal Decree January th, 2005). This Royal Decree sums up the conditions for (solely) electronic accounts, which must adhere to the same conditions with regard to completeness, timeliness, continuity, regularity and invariance as paper accounts. For the storage of electronic accounts it is required that the programs and systems with which these files are read must also be kept for the minimum retention period. Companies not keeping accounts electronically are still allowed to use paper accounts.

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