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If you have a business in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to keep records and to retain them. All data on your business that you record on paper or digitally are part of your business records. The obligation to retain these records also applies when your business ceases trading within the specified period.
Obligation to keep records
The records form the basis for your tax returns. Some documents are mandatory, such as:
- stock records
- general accounts
- payroll accounts
- purchase and sales records
- credit and debit accounts
How long to keep records
You must keep your business records for at least 7 years. This is the retention period. You must keep data related to immovable property for at least 10 years. If you supply electronic services, broadcasting or telecommunications services and you have opted for the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme (in Dutch), you must also keep the data for 10 years. The MOSS scheme has expired as of 1 July 2021 and is now the Union scheme, housed in the One Stop Shop (in Dutch). It enables companies that provide broadcasting or telecommunication services in several EU countries to declare VAT in only one country: the country where they are registered. This applies to companies based both within and outside of the EU.
- keeping other records for shorter periods
- how you keep your records (on paper or digitally)
- how detailed your administration needs to be
Arrangements made with the Tax and Customs 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 records 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 retain 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.
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.