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General Questions

Unfortunately 501(c)(3)s are out of the jurisdiction of our office.  You are welcome to use the University of Washington's General Records Retention Schedule as your guide to determine how long to keep your records, however we highly recommend that your Board approves its use before you destroy any records.

Retention periods are based on state, federal, and private sponsor requirements. These requirements are identified by UW Records Management Services and approved as required by WA State Statute by the State Records Committee.

Consult the University General Records Retention Schedule and check to see if your department has a supplemental Departmental Records Retention Schedule.

For more information, refer to University of Washington Retention Schedules.

These retention periods apply to all electronic records regardless of format including, but not limited to, spreadsheets, Zoom recordings, email, and word documents. For more information, refer to our resources on electronic records.

If you can’t find a record series on the General Schedule it is because

  1. the record is no longer being created;
  2. it needs to be added to the schedule;
  3. you might use a different name for this type of record.

Contact us at or 543-0573 and we will help you find the appropriate record series and determine how long to keep it.

Yes, we have responsibility for keeping records for their full retention period regardless of whether they are still being created or used.

Although no longer being created, Form 220s are still a very important record that needs to be maintained by the University. Please send any Form 220 you find to Human Resources, Box 354963.

Yes, if you are being audited or have received notice of an audit, if there is litigation regarding the records (or even pending litigation), or if there is a public records request—the responsive records should not be destroyed until the matter is resolved and their retention period has ended. We consider that a “Destruction Hold” has been placed on the relevant records. Records of any format can be subject to Destruction Holds, including webpages, emails, voicemails, texts, video, and handwritten notes. For best practices and guidance on how to organize digital records on a destruction hold, please refer to our Destruction Holds Resource.

Not exactly. The retention clock keeps ticking through the “Destruction Hold”. If a retention period ends while the records are still on hold, do not destroy the records. The records should not be destroyed until both the “Destruction Hold” has been lifted and the retention period has ended. For best practices and guidance on how to organize digital records on a destruction hold, please refer to our Destruction Holds Resource.

There are a variety of regulations regarding the privacy of records, and there are a number of offices at the university responsible for policies that oversee confidentiality. Regardless, while assuring the privacy requirements of your records are met, you must still observe the proper retention period outlined in the General Records Retention Schedule. The records must be accessible and readable by individuals with appropriate security clearance until they reach the end of the retention period.

For more information about implementing proper security for your files, please contact the UW Privacy Office.

Records will either be designated “Transfer to Archives for Review” or “Archival” on a Records Retention Schedule. Records that fall into these categories will be reviewed by the University Archivist who will determine whether to bring them into the archival collection of the UW. If the Archivist does not decide to accept specific records, regardless of their designation, the records can be either shredded or recycled at the end of their retention period.

Yes, any policies or procedures with which we expect our employees to comply are considered historical or “Archival” records. These records are considered permanent. A copy should be captured and transferred to the University Archives before the policy or procedure is revised. Refer to the series on Policies and Procedures in the General Office Administration Records section of the University General Records Retention Schedule.

Please contact the the University Archivist, John Bolcer at or via the UW Library Special Collections website.

Our office offers training on a variety of records management topics. Our most recent training materials can be viewed on our website. Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when we roll out new trainings.

If you cannot find the training you are interested in, please contact us at or 543-0573. We also provide customized consultations for individual offices and 1-on-1 meetings via Zoom or video conference platform of your choice.