Keeping business records

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you have a business in the Netherlands? You are legally obliged to keep records and to retain them (retention obligation). All data on your business that you record on paper or digitally are part of your business records. The obligation to keep these records also applies when your business ceases trading within the specified period.

Obligation to keep records

Your business records (in Dutch) form the basis for your tax returns. You must retain the basic details of your records. These are:

  • general ledger (accounting)
  • stock records
  • payroll accounts
  • purchase and sales records
  • credit and debit accounts
  • data that are relevant to the taxation of third parties

How long do you need to keep records

You must keep your business records for at least 7 years. This is the mandatory retention period. You must keep data related to immovable property for at least 10 years. You must also keep your records for 10 years if you make use of the Union scheme, housed in the One Stop Shop (in Dutch).

You can make an arrangement with the Netherlands Tax Administration about:

  • keeping other records than the basic details for shorter periods
  • how you keep your records (on paper or digitally)
  • how detailed your administration needs to be

Arrangements made with the Tax Administration to keep records for a shorter period than 7 years, do not apply to other governmental institutions.

Please note that if you stop running your company, you are still required to keep your basic details for the set length of time.

If you want to digitise your records and use this as sufficient proof of your business activities, contact your local Tax Office (in Dutch).

Keeping programmes and files

If you only keep a printed copy of your digital files, you do not comply with the retention requirement. For computer programmes and files, the retention period also applies. You must make sure your digital files are accessible and in working order upon inspection. This also applies to the associated programmes.

Customer identification

You may ask your customers for identification, but you may not copy their personal data and keep it in your administration. You may only do so if it is compulsory, such as when you recruit personnel. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) can provide you with more specific information.

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