Retention periods

How long must receipts / invoices be kept?

According to §238 and §257 of the German Commercial Code (HGB), small entrepreneurs or self-employed persons must keep business records for certain periods of time. The HGB §257 para. 1 differentiates between a six- or ten-year period. In tax law (German Fiscal Code [AO]), the retention obligations are regulated in more detail.

The following periods are prescribed per document type (excerpt):

  • Weighing vouchers / delivery bills – 6 years.
  • Receipts / cash invoices – 10 years.
  • Credit notes / invoices – 10 years.
  • The retention period begins at the end of the calendar year in which the document was created or corrected.
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