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Records Management at UNC-Chapel Hill: The Records Retention Schedule

This guide contains information and tips for UNC-Chapel Hill employees about records management requirements and procedures.

The General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule

As of Spring 2021, UNC at Chapel Hill and the UNC System Office will use the General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule for the University of North Carolina system. This retention schedule is administered by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and Records. 

The General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule provides instructions on how long records need to be retained for legal, fiscal, and historical purposes. The current Retention Schedule supersedes all previous records retention and disposition schedules that may have been created for individual units; and serves all administrative, academic, and health affairs units of the University. 

If you think a record type is missing from the schedule or if you've found an error in the schedule, please contact University Archives. 

Tips for Using the Schedule

Use the table of contents to find a series on a broad area like facilities or information technology. The table of contents titles are links and will take you to that section of the PDF.

Search the PDF document for keywords by using the Ctrl F function. For example, search for "search committee" or "accounts payable" to find information on that specific record type. 

How the Schedule is Organized

The Schedule is organized by business functions carried out by the University into eighteen broad groups. The groups refer to the purpose of the records, not the name of the unit they are created or used by. Within the eighteen broad groups, the schedule is broken down into more specific record types.

Key Concepts

  • Destruction: appropriate disposal of records after retention ends, method can vary by record type (e.g. confidential recycling, secure delete, etc.)
  • Record Series: a group of related records; the sections of the General Records Retention Schedule
  • Retention and disposition: how long you must keep a record and what to do with it after that period ends
  • Record Copy: original or official copy of a record that is retained for legal, operational, or historical purposes
  • Office of Record: the office responsible for the record copy
  • Permanent: the disposition specified for records of enduring value that must be actively maintained in an accessible and readable format and preserved indefinitely (in many cases, records marked for permanent retention will eventually be transferred to the University Archives)
  • Reference Copy: an unofficial copy of a record that is maintained for ease of access and reference
  • Transitory records: records that are transactional or for temporary use (e.g. emails about meeting room changes or appointment confirmations).