Basic documents

Documentation •
In this article

Optimal organisation of one's documents is a fundamental element of any business. You will find important tips on the page Different kinds of documents. In the following, we focus on the basic company documents that continue to be valid and should therefore be retained for an unlimited period of time.

Here are a few examples:

  • Contracts for the leasing or leasing of an object or real estate property.
  • Leasing contracts.
  • Documents for opening a bank account.
  • Insurance contracts.
  • Contract with telephone, gas, electricity companies.
  • Marketing agreements.
  • Subscription to an internet service.
  • Contract for hiring an employee.
  • Contract for the purchase of an fixed (land) or movable (car) property

Rules for keeping

In principle, basic documents must be kept for ten years following the end of the contract, unless the law provides for a different deadline.

A rental contract must therefore be kept for the entire period of validity of the contract. When the contract has expired, because the object is no longer rented or because it has been replaced by another contract, the document must be filed for the storage time set by law.

The terms set by law or contract

The filing of documents serves to prove the existence or non-existence of an obligation or is required by law:

  • Obligation to keep books and accounting documents. Usually 10 years.
  • Warranty term. Deadline within which it is necessary to report and request the settlement of defects. To request the assertion of defects.
  • Prescription period. The maximum time that the law provides for a legal action. For example, the deadline for requesting payment of an unrecovered invoice from the court.
  • Obligations arising from special regulations. Specific provisions are applicable in the banking or notary sector, for instance.

Keeping of documents with unlimited retention

The documents must be filed and kept with care in rooms suitable for the purpose.

  • They must not be in premises that can not guarantee conservation.
  • For important documents it is useful to keep copies, perhaps in digital format.

"Basic documents" filing folder

  • Use a filing folder for "Basic Documents".
    It is also possible to use special boxes for filing. It is important that the documents are easily available.
    • If you have many basic documents it is useful to separate them according to the counterparty (name of the tenant, insurance company) or by type (insurance, banking contracts).
    • Insert the original contract in the appropriate section.
  • More folders
    • Contracts and other rental documents. For real estate.
    • Contracts or documents relating to the hiring of staff.
    • You can also start with just one classifier and then you can add more.

Replacement of documents

If a contract is replaced it is still necessary to keep the previous contract. The document is indispensable in case there is a subsequent dispute, there is a revision or you need to prove the expense to the tax authorities.

For archived basic documents it is useful to keep a filing cabinet (or archive box).

  • These documents will rarely be consulted.

Indicate on the label documents archived from the year 20XX, or rental contracts or archived personnel files

  • Place documents in order of archiving date.
  • When the vault is full, write up to the year 20XX on the label.
  • Create a new label.

Documents with historical value

It can be interesting to keep track of some historical elements for the company, or which are useful for getting ideas.
Create a folder of historical documents from the outset.

  • The first lease
  • The first invoice you made
  • The photos of the opening of the store
  • The DVD with the first promotional video
  • The photo of the first prototype
  • A copy of the sales flyers

Document storage in safety deposit boxes

Important documents, which are of great value for the company and are indispensable for proving a credit, should be kept in safety deposit boxes.
Access to the safety deposit box takes time, so it is helpful to keep a copy of the documents near you, so that you can easily consult the contents.
Proceed as follows:

  • Make a copy before storing the document in the safety deposit box.
  • Place the copy in the Base Documents, with a note stating that the original document is in the safe.
  • Keep a list with important documents in the safe.

Digital preservation

Digitization of paper documents

It is also useful to keep copies of the Basic Documents in digital format.

You can easily make copies and store them in multiple places.

You have to check on a case-by-case basis whether it is possible to replace a paper document with a digital copy. Before throwing away the paper original you must check that the scanned document has the same validity and what procedures are to be followed.

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