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Document Management

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Retention of documents &
legal retention periods

There are different retention periods for each type of document. As a rule of thumb, the Federal Public Service Economy (Belgium), which follows the European legislator in this, recommends that all documents be kept for 10 years. In this way, you will more than satisfy the specific retention periods (see below for details). The exception to this rule is all documents relating to immovable property. For these, a retention period of at least 15 years applies.

However, the European GDPR/AVG regulations imposed a limitation on this period when it comes to the retention of personal data. For example, the GDPR/AVG regulations state that: "data may not be retained for longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data is processed".


Type examples

Retention periods

Effective date

Tax documents /
accounting documents

Invoices, certificates,
bank documents …

At least 7 years

To be counted from January 1 of the year following the specific fiscal year.

Internal accounting records

Documents not in evidence against third parties

3 years

To be counted from January 1 of the year following the specific fiscal year.

Personal and family documents

Medical records, diplomas, deeds, life insurance ...


As of issuance

Documents related to real estate

Mortgage loan, claims files ...

15 years


Personal data


No longer than necessary


*FIT Group is not liable for any errors or change in legislation.

Rules of evidence

Digital documents have become an integral part of our society. However, the basis of the retention and evidence rules is still largely formed by those of paper documents. The starting point for documents (both paper and digital) and the establishment of a digital archive are always threefold:

The digital document is also sufficient for control or audit purposes, provided that the above conditions are met and that the data can be easily consulted.