Overview of the most relevant retention periods in 2024

Are you unsure of how long your business records need to be kept and do not know the differences between the deadlines for different documents?
The retention periods for documents in Germany are regulated by law. Therefore, keeping a close eye on them is particularly important when planning their destruction.
At Rhenus Archiv Services, we provide you with a general overview of the legal retention periods and provide you with a PDF file with the current retention periods for 2024!

The retention period of documents can vary depending on the purpose. The basic principle is therefore: documents and records must be stored for as long as is necessary for the respective purpose.
If you are unsure about the retention period for your documents, our contacts in your region will be happy to help. 
We will be happy to clarify the individual retention periods for your documents in a non-binding consultation.

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Please note that, despite careful compilation, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

How long do i generally have to keep businesss documents?

  • The common retention period runs between 6 to 10 years. In exceptional cases, this period can even be 30 years or longer. Therefore, find out about the deadlines that apply to you
  • The retention period always begins after the end of the current calendar year, according to the last entry in the document

How long do i have to keep business records in a company?

  • If the document serves you for booking decisions, it must be kept for 10 years
  • All other business documents are subject to a retention period of 6 years
  • In case of uncertainty, documents should be kept for 10 years or a tax advisor should be consulted

Which documents must be kept and may not be destroyed directly?

In general, all tax-relevant documents must be kept. They must be readable and available throughout the retention period.

  • Annual financial statements (including opening balance sheets or interim financial statements) must be kept in paper form
  • Management reports
  • Inventories
  • Records/books (e.g., cash, fixed assets)
  • Accounting documents
  • Invoices (if applicable also delivery notes)
  • Account statements
  • Logbooks

What are the consequences of a violation of the statutory retention periods?

  • A breach of the retention obligation constitutes a breach of the accounting or retention obligation
  • A violation will be prosecuted

What to do after the retention period expires?

  • At the end of the retention period, your files may be destroyed. To ensure that you do not miss the end of your retention period and waste space and create unecessary expenses, we will inform you in due time about the date of destruction. You can then have your sensitive business documents destroyed directly by Rhenus Office Systems in a professional manner and in compliance with data protection regulations. Put your trust in the expert in document management

Corporate documents and their historical significance

It is estimated that 5% of all company documents are of historical significance and should therefore be permanently archived and stored securely.
Our experts will be happy to assist you in classifying these documents.

We are certified according to DIN ISO 11799, a standard for information and documentation requirements for the storage of archival and library material, so that we can be your competent partner for the archiving of historical documents.

Overview of the relevant retention period

  • Please note that retention periods abroad may differ
  • This overview is only valid for Germany
  • In other countries, country-specific retention periods apply
  • Retention periods may vary depending on the industry