There are three types of information that need to be identified as part of the 'What to keep' process:

1. Information that needs to be kept by law

Certain pieces of legislation set out types of information that should be kept and how long they should be kept for, for example, the Health and Safety at Work Act. Business units are likely to have knowledge of legislative record keeping requirements but you can also access the following for further advice:

The Genuine Group legal retention database

Model retention and disposal schedules

2. Information that has ongoing business value

It is essential to work with business units in deciding what should be kept for business purposes as they have real expertise in this area and should know what information they need to go about their daily work and how long they need it for. It also helps to have a thorough understanding of your organisation's business functions as this can help to determine which information is of most importance to the organisation.

3. Information that is of archival value

Information of historical value is that which reflects the 'what, why and how' of government and should be selected for permanent preservation at The National Archives. This will include significant policy documents, records of significant decisions, documents about notable events, persons or public issues broadly encompassing:

  • the principal policies and actions of the UK central government
  • the decision making process in government
  • the state's interaction with its citizens and the physical environment
  • the Crown's rights and obligations

Further information on how to decide what is of historical value

This can be can be found in the guidance listed below:

Appraisal Policy (see in particular Appendix 2) (PDF, 0.11Mb)

The Acquisition and Disposition Strategy (see in particular Appendix 1) (, Mb)

Operational Selection Policies

Further advice

For further information on managing records, see our Records Management Code implementation guides.

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