Archiving Documents

Archiving Documents

Can a business use a self-storage facility as a Single Alternative Inspection (SAIL) address?

Space availability for the storage of documents can be a problem for small businesses.
There are certain documents on which Companies House imposes a legal requirement for a company to keep and to have available for inspection on request.
Equally, Limited companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) must keep accounting and trade records for a number of years.

Keeping Paperwork

The paperwork that must be kept for defined time periods includes:
• VAT papers need to be kept for 6 years
• PAYE records need to be kept for 3 years following the year to which they refer
• Inland Revenue and taxation documents need to be kept for 6 years after the chargeable period
• Company Records, corporation tax self-assessment, accounting records must be retained for 6 years after the end of the accounting period
• Any entries that refer to a former company member must be kept for 20 years
• The register of Directors and Secretary must record details of past directorships for the past 5 years


Space availability for the storage of documents can be a problem for small businesses

Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL)

The Companies Act 2006 introduced the idea of a Single Alternative Inspection Location, also known as a SAIL address, that a business can use for the safe keeping of records as an alternative to keeping them at its registered address.
The conditions for using a SAIL are that a company is allowed only one Single Alternative Inspection Location at any one time and it must be in the same part of the United Kingdom as the registered office, i.e. England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
The records must be available for inspection on request, for at least two hours between 9 am and 5 pm on a working day. However, in most instances, anyone requesting to see them must give at least two working days in the circumstances set out in the regulations; or at least ten working days in all other cases.
Some small businesses may choose to keep their documents with either a solicitor or their accountant, who are likely to charge a fee per visit.

Another Alternative

There is another alternative, and this is to use a secure self-storage facility. As companies have to keep these records up to date, the advantage of using self-store is not only is archiving secure but the renter will have their own key or access code 24 hours a day.
Equally if an inspection request is made, the business will be able to comply easily.
We have checked with Companies House and they have confirmed that their only requirement for a SAIL is that it must have a physical address, not a PO Box, so self-storage archiving could be a flexible and affordable solution as a business SAIL.