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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Records and Transitory Records

The TRU Records Retention/Destruction Policy, Section II (16)(a) defines a Transitory Record as “… Records which are only required for a limited period of time for the completion of a routine action or the preparation of an ongoing Record. It is a Record’s content and context that determines whether a Record is transitory, rather than its form.”

Following are some examples of University records and transitory records:

— a few examples

To be retained as outlined in the TRU Records Retention Schedule

  • Policies, procedures, guidelines, briefing notes
  • Final reports and recommendations
  • Business deliverables
  • Accounting records (may include working papers)
  • Work plans, schedules, assignments and performance results
  • Material of historical or research importance to the university
  • Agendas and minutes of meetings
  • Legal agreements
  • Records used to make a decision that directly affects an individual

Transitory records
— a few examples

Can be purged when no longer needed (Note: many email communications are official records)

  • Duplicate copies of records used for convenience
  • FYI communications i.e. general notices regarding meetings, holidays, room bookings, etc.
  • Draft documents used in preparation of a final version (see exceptions below)
  • Duplicate portions of email strings that become copies (only the final copy of the email string that contains all content of the email discussion is the official record)

To decide which records are transitory records, consider the following questions:

  • Will the information in the record have some future business, legal or archival (historical) value to the university?
  • Does the information in the record explain, justify or document an official action or decision?
  • Was the record created in the course of your official duty as a university employee?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, the record is not a transitory record and should be retained as outlined in the TRU Records Retention Schedule. The Transitory Records Decision Diagram may also be of assistance.


The rules to determine if a record is a transitory record are not absolute….there are always exceptions to the general guidelines. A record may appear to meet the criteria of a transitory record, but may in fact be official. For example:

  • A post-it note that is used to document an approval or recommendation that guides a decision would not be a transitory record.
  • Not all drafts are automatically transitory. Some drafts may be needed to document the evolution of a final work product, and may be required to record the changes that were made and why.
  • Documents are only considered duplicates when they are exact copies where nothing has been added, changed or deleted.

TRU’s Information Classification Standard outlines the appropriate method of handling various types of records including the appropriate method of disposal.

Questions regarding the implementation requirements of the Records Retention/Destruction Policy should be directed by email to the Privacy and Access Officer, or by calling 250-828-5012.

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