What is Record Retention? | Guidelines, Policy & Procedure

Welcome to our easy to learn guide on record retention procedure. It is an essential practice that every organization should follow. It will make organization compliant, and efficient.

If you are going to implement or want to improve a QMS system, then this guide will help you to understand complete procedure.

We’re here to break it down into easy-to-understand steps. Think like this process will keep your documents and records safe and accessible to everyone when needed.

Know everything from why record retention is important and how to set up your own record retention procedure. 

By the end of this guide, you’ll be the expert in the documentation and record retention process.

Let’s get started!

Document control procedure feature image

Record Retention | IATF 16949:2016 Clause requirement

IATF standard states the record retention requirement in clause

Every organization must have a document of record retention policy. And it controls all records such as statutory, regulatory, customer specific and organization specific records.

Many records for example PPAP approls, Tooling and maintenance records, Design records, Purchase orders and many more. All these records should be keep or retained till the product is active in addition to one year. 

Unless and until customer or government body informs us separately.

What is Record Retention?

When we do anything in organization are recorded for traceability purpose, or due to legal, standard or customer requirement.

Those all records we need to maintain at specific time interval. Therefore the Record retention is the term of how and where we are going to retain our records until when. This all details are well documented as a record retention procedure.

Why is Record Retention Important?

Now Record retention is important for every organizations because of following reasons:

Following the Rules or standards: There are laws and rules that say we have to keep some records for a specific amount of time. If we don’t follow rules or standards then we may not be compliant to.

Staying Safe: Keeping records can protect us if something goes wrong. They can prove in the way that we did things in right way leads to defend with problems.

Making Smart Choices: Past data and records helps to take important decisions. For that also record retention is important.

Also keeping records related to money such as invoices and receipts, helps to manage finances better.

Some records like patents or trademarks protect our from being stolen or copied by others.

In short, keeping records is like keeping organization safe, smart, and efficient. It’s not just following the rules but contribute to the organization success in documentation part.

How to set-up a Record Retention Policy or Procedure?

Refer below policy / procedure.

Record Retention Procedure Example


Establish a policy/procedure for maintain and retention of records as per specific requirements to comply with quality management system.


All Quality management system Records in the form of hard copy or electronic data, which are maintained to show that organization meet QMS standards by retaining records.


QMS coordinator to coordinate control of quality records in each function / department.




Each department representative is responsible to identify, collect, store and maintain all quality records.

All quality records should be legible (easy to read), readily identifiable & retrievable and stored in a safe place to prevent from loss or damage.

Quality records are sufficient enough to provide evidence that quality system elements have been implemented and corrective action taken to correct the situation, if needed.

Retention period / time for all records in each function. A list of Quality Records with their identification, location, retention time and responsibility is maintained in Quality Records – by QMS coordinator.

After retention period is over, the quality records are disposed off by tearing or by retaining further as per needs or requirements, by respective dept. representative / QMS coordinator.

If it has been agreed in the contract, the quality records are provided for evaluation to the customer & Regulatory agencies.

Many records related to production, tooling, design, purchases, and contracts. All these records should be kept or retained till the product is active in addition to one year. 

User will fill all quality records properly in document with unique id and filed.


  • IATF 16949:2016 Standard
  • ISO 9001:2015
  • Change Management Procedure
  • Training Procedure


F-SYS-01MASTER LIST OF DOCUMENTS       201-02-2018

8.0 Change History

Rev. No.Rev. DateDescriptionDone ByApproved by
00XX.XX.XXXXRecord Retention Procedure releasedMr. JohnMr. Michael

Record Retention Procedure Template Download

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