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Preservation and disposal of documents

The basic idea of archiving is to preserve information. Disposal should be undertaken in a manner that minimises the loss of information. Disposal should never take place without regulatory support.

What does disposal of documents mean?

Disposal means the destruction of information in its entirety and forever (discarding, shredding, burning, deleting electronically etc.). You must ensure that disposal does not occur involuntarily through the transfer to another medium, for example when converting from Word format to PDF-A. The loss of possible compilations of information, the loss of search capabilities or the loss of the ability to determine the authenticity of the information is also a form of disposal.

Which records may be disposed of?

Public authorities may only delete public documents that are specified in regulations laid out by the Swedish National Archives. Records that may be destroyed at Lund University are laid out in our Records Management Plan and in specific decisions governing the destruction of documents. The Records Management Plan can be seen as a compilation of the University’s decisions governing the disposal of records. Never destroy anything before you are sure it is permitted and only after the deadline for preservation has passed.

Open the Records Management Plan, in Swedish (PDF, 4,4 MB, new tab).

Documents of temporary or minor importance to the public authority’s activities may be destroyed even if they are not specifically mentioned in the Records Management Plan. Examples of such documents are advertisements, information notifications, routine inquiries and copies/duplicates. Documents that are purely working materials may also be deleted once the final document has been drawn up. But keep in mind that even working materials can be worth preserving in certain contexts, such as research.

The retention rules say that the public authority may dispose of documents, not that we must. Sometimes documents that may be disposed of should instead be saved in order to preserve cultural heritage or for historical reasons. If you are unsure if it is appropriate to dispose of a document, contact the University Archives at universitetsarkivet [at] legal [dot] lu [dot] se.

Disposing of research documents

There is a specific plan for the destruction and preservation of research documents at Lund University, and some faculties (Humanities and Theology, Medicine and Social Sciences) have their own plans.

Read more about the archiving of research documents.

Disposal of EU projects

Documents related to projects financed in whole or in part by the European Union may need to be kept longer than other documents that may be destroyed. This is due to the EU’s audit requirements. In order to simplify administration and at the same time ensure that disposal takes place only after all audit periods have expired, such documents should only be destroyed after 17 years.

Disposing of electronic documents

The same rules for disposal apply to electronic documents and physical documents. Read the Records Management Plan for instructions about which types of records should be preserved and which should be destroyed.

Electronic documents that contain information that could encroach on an individual’s privacy and/or is subject to confidentiality must be stored securely. These records should be registered in the W3D3 system or another system according to the Records Management Plan, and then be deleted from any temporary storage location such as a telephone, email program, social media or computer. For security-classified information, it is important to ensure that all information is also deleted from the computer’s recycle bin and that backup copies are deleted.

Read more about the processing of personal data on the page General principles for the processing of personal data.

Disposing of information on social media

The Records Management and Archives Office has developed guidelines for preservation and disposal of information published on social media. The guidelines was produced since information published on social media is considered to be public documents and therefore must be treated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. 

Open the guidelines (PDF, 2 MB, new tab).

Where to store documents to be disposed of

Each organisation manages its own documents for disposal, as the University Archives only accepts documents for preservation. Place the disposable documents in the same archive premises as the documents to be preserved.

Read more about approved archive premises on the page Physical archiving.



University Archives
universitetsarkivet [at] legal [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 16 70
Monday–Friday 09.00-11.30

Mailing address
Lund University
Records Management and Archives
Box 117
221 00 Lund

Internal mailing code: 62

Visiting address
Porfyrvägen 20
224 78 Lund