How long should you keep paperwork?

We're all awash with paperwork, some of it important and some of it extraneous.

In France the normal limitation period (délai de prescription) in legal matters is 5 years so any documents relative to court cases should be kept at least that long

Here's a list of how long you should conserve some other important documents.


Policies and receipts: 2 years

Household and car insurance : length of the contract plus 2 years

Civil responsibility insurance documents: 10 years

Life insurance and death insurance: length of the contract plus 10 years


Tickets (PVs): 3 years from the date of the ticket

Invoices for purchase and repair: for as long as you still own the vehicle.

Sales documents: 2 years


Cheques for deposit: 1 years + 8 days from the date on the cheque. Beyond this, the cheque is no longer valid.

Loan documents for consumer items: 2 years from the final payment date.

Mortgage documents: 2 years from the final payment date

Bank statements, transfer documents, cheque deposit slips, chequebook stubs: 5 years


Birth certificates, marriage certificates, livret de famille: forever

Declarations of marital acquisitions (acquis lors du mariage): forever

Benefits papers (allocations familiales): 3 years

Divorce papers: forever

Child adoption or admission of parenthood (reconnaisance): forever

Wills and testaments: forever


Gas and electricity bills: 2 years

Water bills: 4 years

Telephone bills: 1 year

Chimney sweep certificate: 1 year

Heating maintenance certificate: 2 years

Deeds: forever

Correspondence with property management (syndic): 10 years

Lease: Length of the leas plus 5 years

Inventory for furnished accommodation;: the length of the rental

Rent receipts (quittances de loyer) 5 years


Income tax declaration: 3 years from the year following the declaration period

Local tax documents (habitation & fonciere): 1 year or until the next declaration arrives


Salary slips: at least until retirement

Other payment documents (and unemployment documents) : 5 years

Unemployment insurance declarations: 3 years

Pension receipts: until death


Assurance Maladie reimbursement slips: 2 years

Top-up insurance documents (mutuelle): the length of the maximum payment delays (usually 2 years)

Medical prescriptions: 1 year from the prescription date (take with you when travelling to prove need of drugs)

Medical leave documents (indemnités journalières): at least until retirement

Work accident declarations and affiliated documents: for as long as any repercussions are likely

Vaccination certificates: forever

Xrays, MRI scans, diagnoses : forever, for patient history requirements

Papers of a deceased relative

As above in most cases except for medical history.