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Records management and archiving

One of the common uses of a Storage Unit Cambridgeshire is for records management and archiving, where business and organisations store information to meet legal responsibilities.

In this article we cover information that will hopefully help if Her Majesties Revenue & Customs (HMRC) comes to pay you a visit. The following elements are covered

  • By law, what business records you should keep
  • How you should keep them
  • How to ensure you are archiving your business records securely
  • How General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects the way in which you archive customer and employee personal data
Storage Unit Cambridgeshire archiving documents the storage hub huntingdon

What records are you legally obliged to archive?

You should keep business accounts and records for at least:

  • for self-employed individuals, sole traders or partners in a business – five years
  • for limited businesses – six years

Although this isn’t a legal requirement, not keeping accurate, up-to-date records will make tax returns difficult and time-consuming to complete. If HMRC asks to see your records and you can’t show them, this could prolong the auditing process, create additional stresses and increase levels of disruption.

How long do you need to keep business documents for?

The length of time you need to keep records depends on the kind of business you operate.

  • Businesses involved in import and export of goods
  • Businesses dealing with excise goods
    • Business and financial, records must be kept for 6 years
  • VAT-registered (self-employed or limited company)
    • Business and financial, including all VAT records with records kept for 6 years
  • Limited company
    • Business & financial for 6 years
  • Self employed
    • Business & financial for 5 years

If your company was to be investigated for criminal activity, then records from the previous 10 years could be used as evidence.

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Do you have to archive records in a particular way?

Legally, business records don’t have to be archived in any particular way. However, it’s best practice to archive them so they are securely stored but can be accessed quickly and securely when needed.

Keeping records correctly means that if your business is audited, HMRC can easily find the information they need, even if they have to access this information from archived documents.

For this to happen, your archives should be:

  • Accurate
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to access for updating and inspection
  • Regularly updated
  • Set up to include an audit trail that records any amendments to the documents

Do documents need to be kept in their original format?

Legal documents and contracts have to be kept in their original format. However, it might be worth scanning them and storing them digitally as well so you have an electronic back-up.

What can you do to make the auditing process as easy as possible for HMRC?

Having well-organised, up-to-date records will not only help your business run smoothly, it will ensure an HMRC audit is straightforward.

If HMRC is auditing your business, putting the following guidelines in place will help make the process as painless as possible:

  • Have a facility to download data for any off-site checks or audit work that HMRC officers might need to carry out
  • Maintain proper back-up and disaster recovery systems
  • Include the computer system in your annual audit
  • Give HMRC advance notice of any proposed changes to your records management operating system
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GDPR and how it affects how you archive customers’ or employees’ personal data?

If your business stores or processes personal data, the introduction of the new GDPR law means there are limitations to how long you can keep that data. According to GDPR, you should not keep personal data “for longer than is necessary for the purposes for which it is being processed”.

Although this sounds vague, it basically means that you shouldn’t keep any personal information for longer than needed. So in many cases, this data won’t reach the archiving stage.

You are allowed to keep personal data for longer if you are using it for the following reasons:

  • Public interest archiving
  • Scientific or historical research
  • Statistical purposes

If you do have to archive personal data digitally, or at an off-site facility, choose a company that provides a secure service that guards against unauthorised processing or accidental loss.

How can you ensure that business records are securely archived?

The archiving and records management sector isn’t regulated and doesn’t need to comply with any standards. Therefore, if you choose to store your records off-site, it’s important to look for a reputable company you can trust, which has the facilities to store documents in a secure environment. The Storage Hub Huntingdon offers a secure and safe environment.

The following certifications are associated with information security

  • ISO 9001:2008—Quality Management Systems
  • ISO 14001:2004—Environmental Management Systems
  • ISO 27001:2013—Information Security Management Systems
  • British Standard BS OHSAS 18001:2007—Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

For more information on storage unit Cambridgeshire click here. For more information on packing tips, preparing for self storage , storing documents , self storage frequently asked questions the following articles may be of use