Retention & Filing of Source Documents

Retention & Filing of Source Documents

The university is required to comply with federal and provincial statutory requirements relating to the retention of records. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires that all records be retained until the expiration of six years after the end of the year to which they relate. Therefore, the University has developed a financial retention schedule outlining the specific retention timeline for records. Units that process transactions in the financial system must ensure they have an effective system for filing to accommodate ease of review for internal requirements, external audit requirements, retention, archiving, and permanent destruction of source documents.

What are records?

As per Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), records are "books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other things on which information is record or stored by any means whether graphic, electronic, mechanical or otherwise."

What are not University Records?

  1. Research Records, these are subject to University of Alberta Research Policy and its associated procedures
  2. Personal Communications of individual faculty, staff and students; or
  3. Records places in the University Archives by or on behalf of a person or organization other than the University

Official or Transitory Records

In deciding whether you should retain records, one should determine if they are official or transitory records.

Official Records

Transitory Records

  • Contain information that has ongoing business value,
  • Are required to support business operations
  • Document and provide evidence of business transactions,
  • Are required by legislation,
  • Provide evidence of compliance with accountability or other business requirements, and
  • Have future business, financial, legal, research or archival value.
  • Have no further value beyond immediate and minor transaction,
  • Are produced or received in the preparation of other records which supersede them or for convenient reference
  • Are no needed as evidence of a business activity and, as such, can normally be routinely disposed of
  • Are not filed in official records systems, and
  • Are not required to meet legislative or regulatory obligations

Examples include:

  • Policies, directives, briefing notes,
  • Final reports and recommendations
  • Business deliverables
  • Accounting working papers
  • Work plans, schedules, performance results
  • Materials of historical and/or future research importance
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings, or
  • Legal agreements of any kind

Examples include:

  • Duplicate copies used for convenience,
  • Advertising materials and junk mail,
  • Blank information media such as obsolete stationery and blank forms
  • Notices of social events such as retirements or office parties
  • "FYI" email notices on meetings, holidays, boardroom reservations etc.
  • Photocopies of departmental publications, or
  • Draft documents, working or research materials used in preparation for the final version.

How and where do we store records?

This is up to the discretion of the Faculties and Offices. Records can be stored electronically or in paper format, and filed for easy retrieval and destruction. A recommendation to have records filed with other similar records or by categories such as Finance or HR.

How long do we retain records?

The Financial Management Records Retention Schedule will provide details of when and under what conditions Official Records can be destroyed.

The Financial Management Records Retention Schedule empowers University Employees to destroy Official Records in line with the Records Disposition Guideline.

Transitory Records are not required to follow the Records Retention Schedule nor are they required to follow the Records Disposition Guidelines.

Please note: in the event of a FOIP request or litigation pertaining to official or transitory records, destruction MUST CEASE. Please contact your FOIP liaison Officer or Supervisor for more information.

Financial Management Records Retention Schedule

For any records categorized as Financial Records, please refer to the Financial Management (FI) Records Retention Schedule.

How do we destroy records?

Destruction process must follow the guidelines and documentation as indicated in Records Disposition Guidelines.


For any questions or clarification, please contact your Records Management Coordinator or visit the University Records Office website for contact details and tools to assist you in managing University records.

Last Updated: September 2019