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How long should documents be retained in the UAE?

We’re often asked what the statutory requirements are for the length of time that documents must be retained in the UAE. There can be differing requirements for many countries in the UAE depending on which law one refers to. There may be provisions within labour laws that state one rule, then laws on property ownership, tax or insurance that could state another.

How long should documents be retained in the UAE?

We also have various free zones within the UAE which have their own legal requirements for companies based there. As an example, the free zones of Jebel Ali and Ras Al Khaimah, together with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), each require that accounting records be kept for a minimum of ten years. In the Abu Dhabi Media Zone, the requirements are for the information be retained for as long as the company is in existence, and then for five years after that.

Added to the mix are both how the interpretation of laws changes over time together with a certain affinity in government offices for original documentation.

So the answer to the question of how long companies need to keep documents in the UAE is often that, like the proverbial length of a piece of string, you’ll only really find out when it’s not long enough.

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