Retention of electronic financial documents and approvals

The following information describes how to properly archive electronic financial documents for regulatory, contractual, and audit purposes while complying with University policies and procedures.

Documents in electronic format are considered originals

Electronic documents are considered originals; consequently, there is no need to keep a paper copy of them.

However, we strongly recommend that you keep any paper documents you may have scanned until the relevant financial request has been fully processed[1].

How to save and archive financial documents in electronic format

When saving documents electronically, you must ensure all the relevant documentation, including the approval, justification, invoice, derogation/transgression form (if applicable), analysis, etc., is kept in one electronic location, in accordance with the rules in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electronic documents must be retained for the periods specified in current archiving standards (see Policy 23 – Policy on Information Management and Procedure 20-4 – Records Retention Period). In the event of an audit, you must be able to quickly provide to Financial Resources Accounting section a PDF document that contains all the relevant information that allowed you to process the original transaction.

Archiving of electronic documents is also subject to privacy regulations (Policy 90 – Access to Information and Protection of Privacy). Electronic documents must be protected and their access limited to a need-to-know basis. Social insurance numbers (SIN), T4A and T5 are examples of documents with confidential information.

Record retention periods

All financial transactions must be saved for a period of seven years following the transaction date, regardless of the source of revenue.

What to include in an approval document

To be considered acceptable, your documents must include the fund manager’s approval. This approval can be in the form of:

  • An electronic approval on the invoice (we encourage the use of DocuSign).
  • An email from the fund manager.
  • A hand signature on a paper document, which is then scanned.

Regardless of its format, the approval document must clearly indicate the supplier, the FOAP, and the amount.

If it does not have all the documents it needs to verify the transaction, Accounting cannot process a WebReq invoice payment or wire transfer payment, nor will it be able to approve an invoice of more than $5,000.[2]


Remember: if the goods and services on the invoice are subject to Policy 36 – Procurement, an invoice over $1,000 without a PO will not be approved if you do not submit to us a previously approved request for derogation/transgression. The same requirement applies to refunds made to individuals for amounts over $1,000.

* Please note that documents submitted using Concur and SciQuest are not subject to these approval and archiving requirements.

[1] For payables, the payment, issued by cheque or direct deposit, is considered to be the final posting of the request. For any other transaction, the posting of the transaction in FAST constitutes the final step of the request.

[2] Be sure to provide the Accounting section with all documents necessary (in electronic format) to process your request (i.e., all those you would have previously provided in paper format).

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