Email retention policy

FOI request reference: CAS-67138-X2Y3B4
Publication date: March 2021

Outcome
Information provided.

Request and response
How long are emails with the .gov.uk suffix kept for, as in duration?
Regarding the corporate business data of The National Archives, our retention schedules are format neutral. This means there is no single schedule for .gov.uk emails; how long these are kept depends on their subject matter and the schedule to which they are assigned. Our retention schedules are below.

Schedule Name Disposal Description
01 Advice & Guidance – Standard level Destroy 2 years after superseded date
02 Advice & Guidance – High level Destroy 7 years after superseded date
03 Appraisal Administration Destroy 20 years after appraisal completion date
04 Appraisal Decisions Permanent Preservation 20 years after appraisal completion date
05 Business Planning & Performance – Departmental and low level corporate Destroy 5 years after superseded date
06 Business Planning & Performance – High level corporate Permanent Preservation 20 years after superseded date
07 Communications Destroy 5 years after end of year
08 Complaints Destroy 10 years after end of year
09 Contacts & Stakeholder Management Destroy 0 years after when business need ends or out of date.
10 Departmental Administration – Annual Destroy 2 years after end of year
11 Departmental Administration – Ongoing Destroy 2 years after superseded date
12 Enquiries – General archive and research Destroy 1 years after end of year
13 Equipment & Maintenance Destroy 1 years after end of equipment use
14 Finance & Budgets Destroy 6 years after end of financial year
15a Corporate Information Requests under FOI, DPA and EIR Destroy 10 years after when request complete
15b Archival Information Requests under FOI, DPA and EIR Permanent Preservation 20 years after when request complete
16 Licences Destroy 7 years after license expiry date
17 Ministerial Papers Transfer 20 years after end of year
18 Personnel Administrative Transactions Destroy 7 years after end of year
19 Personnel Records Destroy 100 years after when staff leave
20 Policy – Supporting documentation and non-key Destroy 5 years after superseded date
21 Policy – Key final Permanent Preservation 20 years after superseded date
22 Procurement & Contracts Destroy 6 years after end of financial year or end of contract
23 Projects – Informal internal Destroy 2 years after end of project
24 Projects – Full Review 0 years after end of project
25 Research and Academic Liaison – Administration Destroy 3 years after end of year
26 Research and Academic Liaison – High level Destroy 20 years after end of year
27 Systems – ICT Destroy 5 years after end of system use
28 Training Destroy 3 years after end of year
29 Time category 0 Destroy 0 years after no longer current
30 Time category 2 Destroy 2 years after no longer current
31 Time category 5 Destroy 5 years after no longer current
32 Time category 10 Destroy 10 years after no longer current
33 Time category Permanent Permanent Preservation 20 years after no longer current
34 Site Documentation & Major Health and Safety Reports Destroy 7 years after end of building use or occupation
35 Environmental Impact Assessments Destroy 7 years after end of building use or occupation
36 Asbestos Destroy 50 years after end of building use or occupation
37 Recruitment Destroy 2 years after appointment of person

Additionally, our corporate information management policy includes this section on email:

Do not use MS Outlook as a private archive. There is a standard 300MB quota for all user accounts; a larger quota may be granted by the KIM Team if there is business need. All ‘sent’ emails over 12 months old, and all calendar items over 24 months old, will be automatically deleted from the system: this is to ensure overall data volume is kept manageable. So store any emails which need to be kept for long term business use or for accountability purposes in the relevant part of SharePoint — but do not import emails wholesale and without structure e.g. ‘January’s emails’. Delete any emails not needed for long term retention, or not required in Outlook for short term business use.

And, if I were to request any data concerning emails with the .gov.uk suffix, who or where should I put any FOI request or SAR to? As in a government department or an address etc.

A request should be based on whichever government department prefaces the gov.uk suffix. For instance, if it was cabinetoffice.gov.uk requests should go to the Cabinet Office and if it was mod.gov.uk requests should go to Ministry of Defence. There is guidance at https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-information-request. To request such data held by The National Archives, please submit a request through our form at https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/contact-us/make-a-freedom-of-information-enquiry/.