Record keeping requirements in BC: How long do you really need to keep them?

Keeping reliable, accurate and complete records for your business is essential. Knowing when it is okay to destroy documents helps reduce clutter, and saves you valuable time. Save space by regularly purging older records according to the rules. 

What are the record-keeping time rules in BC?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): For GST/HST, income taxes, source deductions (EI, CPP), business income and expenses, property and motor vehicle use, you must keep all records and supporting documents 6 years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.

BC's Ministry of Finance: Books, records and any documentation relating to your business must be retained 5 years. You may destroy records older than 5 years at your discretion, unless there is an outstanding appeal. If you wish to destroy any of these records before 5 years, you need written permission.

WorkSafeBC: WorkSafeBC does not have clear standards on record retention; however CFIB is seeking clarification for specific timelines.

BC Employment Standards: Employers must keep records for 4 years after each record was created. 

Canada Labour Code: In workplaces under the jurisdiction of federal labour standards, employment and payroll records for each employee must be kept for at least 36 months. When employment ends, you must keep the employee’s records for another 36 months.

Tips to improve your record retention:

  • You must store records at your principal place of business.
  • Paper documents can often be converted to electronic images and stored on microfilm.
  • Backup copies of electronic files should be stored in another location free from hazards that may affect the storage device, such as magnetic fields, direct light and excessive moisture. Be sure your chosen storage format is usable by the government agencies.

Have more questions?

CFIB's Business Advisors are available to answer your questions. Contact us at 1-833-568-2342 or