What’s the Difference Between Documents and Records?

Comparing differences between documents and records

While it may not seem obvious at first glance, there is more than semantics that separate records from documents.

Each must be treated differently to comply with legal retention requirements. These types of files are both defined in ISO 15489-1.

What Is a Record?

Records are historical files that provide “proof of existence.” They are used to prove a state of existence of the business.

It is either created or received by an organization in connection with business transactions or it can be used for compliance with legal requirements. The type physical media does not impact the classification of a record. It can be on paper, microfilm, or even digital.

Records are not editable and cannot be recreated. In short it is a historical document. Some examples of records are drivers licenses, legal filings, and tax returns. Records have strict retention schedules that are defined by a businesses, industry and location.

What Is a Document?

egal-document-scanning-services-record-nationsA document is a content file that has information in a structured or unstructured format. It is an editable file and can be stored as paper or digitally. Documents can be changed and revised as needed.

These are “live” files currently being used in transactions. Some examples of documents are customer lists, purchase orders, and phone lists. There are no required retention schedule for documents beyond their business needs.

All records are documents but not all documents are records. Many records start out as documents and then become records when they are finalized.

For example, an empty form is a document and then after it is filled in becomes a record.

Records are covered by retention requirements and you should keep and updated retention scheduled based on your location and industry.

Looking for Document or Record Management? Record Nations Can Help

Record Nations has experts in your area to help you with all your document management needs, regardless of whether you have records or documents that you need to scan or store. We also offer custom document management services to help you organize your office files more efficiently.

If you have any questions, fill out the form, give us a call at (866) 385-3706, or contact us directly using our live chat. Within minutes of receiving your request, you’ll receive free quotes from experts in your area that can help you.

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