Storing documents duration

I’m making some order on all my folders and saw some old stuff here and there so I wondered if I can move some stuff elsewhere or destroy already.
I have bank statements that looks like they were printed with a matrix printer, for example (ooh memories…)

Someone knows the real obligation for all kind of documents? I’m sure there is a difference between bank statements, taxes or contracts.
I’d love to know what can be thrown away (after scanning it…).

I scan everything and don’t keep originals.


According to the swiss Code of Obligations (art 127), 10 years is the default rule. There are many exceptions:

  • Non expired contracts should of course be kept
  • Private insurance statements : 2 years
  • Social insurance statements : 5 years
  • Tax : 5 years
  • Salary : 5 years
  • Generic bills : 5 years
  • Bank statements : 10 years
  • Debt/ loss certificates : 20 years
  • Receipts : 2 years except if extended warranties can justify conservation

I don’t think it concerns private people. General conditions you can always find on the website. Most of documents you can request if you really need them. I would say keep everything tax and mortgage related, through away the rest after 2 years.

“The tax authorities can open a special tax procedure up to ten years after the tax period has elapsed, if they identify that a previously assessed tax return has been faulty (or that no assessment was issued at all) if new facts or evidence is brought forward that was previously not known to the tax authorities.”

More than 10 years seems prohibitive for me. Special considerations may apply for married people on something else than the community of assets regime, who may have to face a divorce. I’d keep documents relative to the building of my house for 10 years (the deadline for action for willfully hidden defects is 10 years, and you never know what you’ll find later on).

1 Like

Let’s say 10 years for everything and we should be fine.
Anyway the problem is usually not the age imho. I can surely live with 20 years of home insurance papers. The most annoying part are General Conditions, especially those printed in weird format that are difficult to scan and also might be folded in a weird way, taking a lot of space. I can find general conditions online and on my pdf, but I’m scared that they might change them without warning.
Luckily the bank statements are now all pdf, so I have only to worry that pdf will still exists in the future :slight_smile:


I am keeping the originals but every time I open a file, I end up wondering if that actually makes any sense.

Seems like I have always been somehow convinced that the original document would be legally accepted as a proof, while a copy or scan would not. Probably the result of having watched too many movies in the 90s. After all, what makes a document different from its copy if it doesn’t contain watermarks, vector images or handwritten signatures?

No (imho), probably because in some cases it’s still like that.

In what cases would that be? Except very special documents like a passport?

1 Like

Certificate from the government(s). For example when a Canton is asking an official statement from another Canton. Last time it happened to me, they asked for originals only.
Also if it’s a notary-approved document, they want the original.

1 Like

Notary approved is what I’d call a very special document. The very few documents I’d consider worth keeping the original, like educational/school certificates, I don’t give away the originals, but only copies. What kind of certificate of the government? I don’t think I have anything like this.

I think if you should keep the original of a document, it’s generally obvious. I don’t see a reason to keep originals of contracts, a scan should be as good.

This could be interesting: Verträge Quittungen & Co: Wie lange muss man sie aufbewahren? - Ratgeber - SRF

But they don’t say if you should keep the originals.

Of course for businesses there could be different rules.

This is also interesting: Aufbewahrungsfristen für Dokumente von Privatpersonen - Consultive Treuhand und Wirtschaftsprüfung

Privatpersonen sind in der Schweiz nicht verpflichtet, Aufbewahrungsfristen für Dokumente einzuhalten. Bei Rechtsstreitigkeiten lohnt es sich aber, wenn man Unterlagen vorweisen kann.

Also interesting: So sorgen Sie papierlos für Ordnung | Beobachter


When deciding how long to store documents as a private person, I wouldn’t look at it so much from the point of legal obligations - but more from how long they may be useful.

Salary and social statements can be useful even after 5 years to prove your contributions (or the amount that should have been contributed).

But would you keep the original or just a scan/pdf? For salary for instance I only get a pdf. Which so far I didn’t archive either.