How long should you keep the documents of your Spanish company?
Company books, invoices, contracts, deeds … are just some of the documents that flood pretty much every company. But the Archives are limited and are also expensive.
Often enough we ask ourselves what our legal obligation is when it comes to preserving those documents.
Well, we try to answer this question in the following brief article, as well as some general guidelines in accordance to the law.
Keeping the Documents: Rule of Thumb.
According to the regulating Article 30 of the Commercial Code, which dictates that employers have a duty to keep documents for 6 years.
Although not specifically stated, the obligation to preserve documents affects company general ledgers and journals (of all types and nature), correspondence, all documentation and supporting documents concerning the business.
The 6-year term begins from the last tax term made in the general ledgers, as long as there is no general or special provision that extends this term.
Therefore, we can say that the accounting, tax, labor, or corporate documentation must be kept for at least 6 years generally.
Keeping the Documents: Limited periods.
Many companies associate the length to preserve documentations with the general obligated preservation period as said above.
Nonetheless, such assumption is incorrect.
That is to say, for example, although the expiry term for labor infractions is 3 years, the corresponding supporting documents must be kept for at least 6 years; as indicated by the Commercial Code.
In this table the most typical prescription terms are listed:
|Subject||How long should it be kept?||Applicable Law|
|Social and Labor Docs. concerning fines and sanctions||3 years||Art. 4.1 RD 5/2000|
|Social Security Docs. concerning fines and sanctions||4 years||Art. 4.2 RD 5/2000|
|Prevention of Industrial Hazards (fines and sanctions)||5 years||Art. 4.3 RD 5/2000|
|Tax (Docs. containing proof of debt)||4 years||Art. 66 Ley 58/2003|
|Tax (Docs. containing proof of compensations and deductions)||10 years||Art. 66 bis Ley 58/2003|
|Accounting and Corporate Docs.||6 years||Art. 30 del CC|
|Crimes of Treasury and Social Security||10 years||Art. 131 LO 10/1995|
Keeping the Documents: Other Deadlines
There are other documents that have no specified period of preservation. In any case it is recommended to preserve the documentations of:
- Loans: until the loans are returned or canceled
- Guarantees: until they have been canceled
- Property Investment: until the period of VAT regulations has been completed (may reach up to 9 years)
- Documents of negative tax basis of the fiscal year: up to 4 years after the compensation of loss
Keeping the Documents: Money Laundering
Law 10/2010 of April 28, establishes in its article 25 a minimum period of preservation of the following documents:
- 10 years for documents that proves the fulfillment of the legal obligations in this matter.
- Copy of required documents showing the application of the due diligence.
- Original or copy of the documents or records that adequately certify the operations and the interveners.
Keeping the Documents: General Data Protection Rules (GDPR)
The protection of personal data must also be taken into account into the preservation of documents.
The GDPR obligates companies to establish a date of documentation destruction containing personal data, such as: customers, workers or suppliers.