Record keeping requirements for financial entities


March 2021

This guidance comes into effect on June 1, 2021.

Financial entities (FEs) have record keeping requirements under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and associated Regulations.

This guidance outlines certain record keeping requirements for FEs. You have additional record keeping requirements that are detailed in the following guidance:

This guidance answers the following questions:

  1. What records must I keep and what must they contain?
  2. What are my responsibilities when maintaining records?
  3. What are the exceptions to the record keeping requirements?

**Note: Throughout this guidance, all references to dollar amounts (such as $10,000) are in Canadian dollars.

1. What records must I keep and what must they contain?

You must keep the following records:

  1. Reports – a copy of every report sent to FINTRAC
    • Suspicious Transaction Reports
    • Terrorist Property Reports
    • Large Cash Transaction Reports
    • Large Virtual Currency Transaction Reports
    • Electronic Funds Transfer Reports
  2. Large cash transaction records
  3. Large virtual currency transaction records
  4. Records of transactions of $3,000 or more
  5. Records of electronic funds transfers of $1,000 or more
  6. Records of virtual currency transfers in amounts equivalent to $1,000 or more
  7. Foreign currency exchange transaction tickets
  8. Virtual currency exchange transaction tickets
  9. Account records
    • Records for account holders and persons authorized to give instructions
    • Signature cards
    • Intended use of an account
    • Applications
    • Account operating agreements
    • Debit and credit memos
    • Deposit slips
    • Account statements
    • Cleared cheque records
    • Credit arrangement records
  10. Credit card account and transaction records
  11. Prepaid payment product account and transaction records
  12. Trust records

**Note: When you are required to keep records about clients, you should be as descriptive as possible. Being descriptive when recording the nature of the principal business or occupation of a client will help determine whether a transaction or activity is consistent with what would be expected for that client. For example, when the client's occupation is "manager", the record should reflect the area of management, such as "hotel reservations manager" or "retail clothing store manager". When an entity's principal business area is "sales", the record should specify the type of sales, such as "pharmaceutical sales" or "retail sales".

a. Reports – a copy of every report sent to FINTRAC

You must keep a copy of every report that you submit to FINTRAC as a record.

Suspicious Transaction Reports

When you submit a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 1

Retention: At least five years after the day the STR was submitted.Footnote 2

Terrorist Property Reports

When you submit a Terrorist Property Report (TPR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 3

Retention: At least five years after the day the TPR was submitted.Footnote 4

Large Cash Transaction Reports

When you submit a Large Cash Transaction Report (LCTR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 5

Retention: At least five years from the date the LCTR was created.Footnote 6

Large Virtual Currency Transaction Reports

When you submit a Large Virtual Currency Transaction Report (LVCTR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 7

Retention: At least five years from the date the LVCTR was created.Footnote 8

Electronic Funds Transfer Reports

When you submit an Electronic Funds Transfer Report (EFTR) to FINTRAC, you must keep a copy of it.Footnote 9

Retention: At least five years from the date the EFTR was created.Footnote 10

b. Large cash transaction records

You must keep a large cash transaction record when you receive $10,000 or more in cash.Footnote 11

If you authorize a person or an entity to receive funds on your behalf, and that person or entity receives $10,000 or more in cash in accordance with the authorization, you are deemed to have received the amount when it is received by the person or entity, and you must keep a large cash transaction record.Footnote 12

**Note: This requirement is subject to the 24-hour rule.Footnote 13

A large cash transaction record must include:Footnote 14

Retention: At least five years from the date the large cash transaction record was created.Footnote 15

c. Large virtual currency transaction records

You must keep a large virtual currency (VC) transaction record when you receive VC in an amount equivalent to $10,000 or more.Footnote 16

If you authorize a person or an entity to receive VC on your behalf, and that person or entity receives VC in an amount equivalent to $10,000 or more in accordance with the authorization, you are deemed to have received the VC when it is received by the person or entity, and you must keep a large VC transaction record.Footnote 17

**Note: This requirement is subject to the 24-hour rule.Footnote 18

A large VC transaction record must include:Footnote 19

Retention: At least five years from the date the large virtual currency transaction record was created.Footnote 20

d. Records of transactions of $3,000 or more

Issuance of traveller's cheques, money orders or similar negotiable instruments

When you receive $3,000 or more in funds or an equivalent amount in VC, from a person or entity, for the issuance of traveller's cheques, money orders or other similar negotiable instruments you must record:Footnote 21

Redemption of money orders

When you redeem one or more money orders, for a total value of $3,000 or more, in funds or in an equivalent amount of VC you must record:Footnote 22

Retention: At least five years from the date the record for a transaction of $3,000 or more was created.Footnote 23

e. Records of electronic fund transfers of $1,000 or more

Initiating an international EFT of $1,000 or more

When you initiate, at the request of a person or an entity, an international electronic funds transfer or any other electronic funds transfer (EFT) that is a SWIFT MT-103 message or equivalent valued at $1,000 or more you must record:Footnote 24

Sending an international EFT of $1,000 or more

When you send, as an intermediary, an international EFT of $1,000 or more that was initiated by another reporting entity, you must record:Footnote 25

Final receipt of an international EFT of $1,000 or more

When you are the final recipient of an international EFT of $1,000 or more, you must record:Footnote 26

**Note: When you initiate, send as an intermediary, or finally receive an EFT, you must include with the transfer the prescribed information in accordance with the travel rule. Please see FINTRAC's travel rule guidance for more information.

Retention: At least five years from the date the EFT record was created.Footnote 27

f. Records of virtual currency transfers in amounts equivalent to $1,000 or more

VC transfer in an amount equivalent to $1,000 or more

When you transfer VC in an amount equivalent to $1,000 or more at the request of a person or entity, you must record:Footnote 28

Receipt of VC in an amount equivalent to $1,000 or more for remittance to a beneficiary

When you receive VC in an amount equivalent to $1,000 or more for remittance to a beneficiary, you must record: Footnote 29

**Note: When you transfer VC, you must include with the transfer the prescribed information in accordance with the travel rule. When you receive VC, you must take reasonable measures to ensure that the transfer includes the prescribed information. Please see FINTRAC's travel rule guidance for more information.

Retention: At least five years from the date the VC transfer or VC receipt record was created.Footnote 30

g. Foreign currency exchange transaction tickets

You must keep a transaction ticket, which may take the form of an entry in a transaction register, for every foreign currency exchange transaction you conduct, regardless of the amount.Footnote 31 Each transaction ticket must include:Footnote 32

Retention: At least five years from the date the foreign exchange transaction record was created.Footnote 33

h. VC exchange transaction tickets

You must keep a VC exchange transaction ticket, which may take the form of an entry in a transaction register, for every VC exchange transaction you conduct, regardless of the amount.Footnote 34 Each transaction ticket must include:Footnote 35

Retention: At least five years from the date the VC exchange transaction record was created.Footnote 36

i. Account records

For every account opened for a client, you must keep the following records:

Records for account holders and persons authorized to give instructions

You must keep a record for every account holder (person, corporation, or other entity) and for every other person (up to three, in the case of a business account) who is authorized to give instructions in respect of the account.Footnote 37

For a person, the record must include their name, address, date of birth and their occupation, or in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business.Footnote 38

For an account holder that is a corporation or an entity other than a corporation, the record must include its name, address and the nature of its principal business.Footnote 39

For a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of its official corporate records that contains any provision relating to the power to bind the corporation regarding the account.Footnote 40 This could be found in, for example:

Retention: At least five years from the date the record was created. However, if this information is kept in one of the other account records, then the retention of that other record applies – at least five years from the date the account is closed.Footnote 41

Signature cards

You must keep a signature card for every person authorized to give instructions on an account you open.Footnote 42 It can include the person's handwritten signature or an electronic signature that was created or adopted by the person.

An electronic signature can be numeric, character-based, or biometric, so long as it is unique to the person and a record can be kept. An electronic signature may also be encrypted. For example, a client's personal identification number (PIN) can be used as an electronic signature. FINTRAC's expectation is that it will be possible to review a signature card record during an examination, but the electronic signature does not need to be unencrypted.

You can keep a single signature card for a client that holds multiple accounts; you do not need to create a new signature card every time a client opens a subsequent account.

Retention: At least five years from the date the account was closed.Footnote 43

Intended use of an account

You must keep a record of the intended use of an account.Footnote 44

Examples of the intended use of personal accounts include, but are not limited to:

Examples of the intended use of business accounts include, but are not limited to:

Retention: At least five years from the date the account was closed.Footnote 45

Applications

You must also keep a record of every application in respect of an account.Footnote 46

Retention: At least five years from the date the account was closed.Footnote 47

Account operating agreements

You must keep every account operating agreement that you create or receive. An account operating agreement is a document that outlines the agreement between you and your client about the account's operation. For example, an application for a deposit account or a mortgage can include a reference to a separate document setting out the terms and conditions of the account's operation. The account operating agreement record in that case would include both the application and the separate document.Footnote 48

Retention: At least five years from the date the account was closed.Footnote 49

Debit and credit memos

You must keep every debit and credit memo that you create or receive regarding an account. However, you do not need to keep a debit memo that relates to another account held at the same branch.Footnote 50 That is, you do not have to keep duplicate debit memos. If you have kept a debit memo in relation to two accounts at a given branch, you are only required to keep one memo on record.

Retention: At least five years from the date the debit or credit memo was created.Footnote 51

Deposit slips

You must keep a deposit slip for every deposit to an account.Footnote 52 A deposit slip means a record that includes: Footnote 53

Retention: At least five years from the date the deposit slips were created.Footnote 54

Account statements

You must keep a copy of every account statement you send to an account holder.Footnote 55

Retention: At least five years from the date the account statements were created.Footnote 56

Cleared cheque records

You must keep a record of every cleared cheque drawn on an account, and a copy of every cleared cheque that is deposited to an account.Footnote 57

This does not apply to cheques drawn from an account and deposited to an account at the same branch.

It also does not apply if an image of the cheque has been recorded electronically or on microfilm, which can be readily reproduced, and it can be readily ascertained where the image is recorded.

Retention: At least five years from the date the cleared cheques records were created and at least five years from the date the image was recorded in the case of a microfilm or electronic medium.Footnote 58

Credit arrangement records

You are required to keep the following information with respect to a credit arrangement that you have entered into with a client: Footnote 59

Retention: At least five years from the date the account was closed.Footnote 60

j. Credit card account and related transaction records

Records for account holders and persons authorized to give instructions

You must keep a record for every credit card account holder (person, corporation, or other entity) and for every other person (up to three, in the case of a business account) that is authorized to give instructions in respect of the account.Footnote 61

For a person, the record must include their name, address, date of birth and occupation or, in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business.Footnote 62

For an account holder that is a corporation or an entity other than a corporation, the record must include its name, address and the nature of its principal business.Footnote 63

For a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of its official corporate records that contains provisions relating to the power to bind the corporation in respect of the credit card account or credit card transactions.Footnote 64 This could be found in, for example:

Retention: At least five years from the date the record was created. However, if this information is kept in one of the other credit card account records, then the retention of that other record applies – at least five years from the date the account is closed. Footnote 65

Other account records

You must keep the following records for every credit card account:

Retention: You must keep a credit card application for at least five years from the date the account was closed and credit card statements for at least five years from the day they were created.Footnote 68

Transaction records

You must keep the following records when transactions are related to a credit card account:

Retention: At least five years from the date the transaction records were created.Footnote 73

k. Prepaid payment product account and transaction records

Records for account holders and authorized users

You must keep a record for every prepaid payment product (PPP) account holder (person, corporation, or other entity) and for every authorized user.Footnote 74

For a person, the record must include their name, address, date of birth, occupation and in the case of a sole proprietor, the nature of their principal business.Footnote 75

For each PPP account holder that is a corporation or an entity other than a corporation, the record must include its name, address and the nature of its principal business.Footnote 76

When you open a PPP account for a corporation, you must also keep a copy of the part of its official corporate records that contains any provision relating to the power to bind the corporation in respect of the PPP account or PPP account transactions.Footnote 77

Retention:  At least five years from the date the record was created. However, if this information is kept in one of the other account records, then the retention of that other record applies – at least five years from the date the account is closed.Footnote 78

Other account records

You must keep the following records for every PPP account:

Retention: You must keep PPP account applications for at least five years from the date the account was closed and the other records listed above for at least five years from the date they were created.Footnote 84

PPP account transaction records

You must keep the following records when transactions are related to a PPP account:

Retention: At least five years from the date the transaction records were created.Footnote 91

**Note: Please see FINTRAC's Prepaid payment products and prepaid payment product accounts guidance for more information.

l. Trust records

A trust company is an FE that is regulated by the Trust and Loan Companies Act or by an equivalent provincial Act. Trust companies have record keeping obligations related to the trusts for which they are the trustee.

A trust is a legal agreement by which financial assets are held by a person or an entity (a trustee) in trust for the benefit of another person, group of persons or entity (beneficiaries). The settlor of a trust is the person or entity that creates a trust with a written trust declaration.

You must keep the following records for every trust for which you are trustee, in addition to the transaction and account records listed previously in this guidance:Footnote 92

You may also have record keeping obligations for certain institutional and inter vivos trusts. Institutional trusts are established by a corporation, partnership or other entity for a particular business purpose. Whereas, inter vivos trusts are established by a living person for the benefit of another person, such as a trust created by a parent for a child so that the trust's assets can be distributed to the child (beneficiary) during or after the parent's (settlor) lifetime.

If the trust is an institutional trust and the settlor is a corporation, you have to keep a copy of the part of the official corporate records that contains provisions relating to the power to bind the settlor/corporation in respect of the trust.

If the trust is an inter vivos trust (personal trust other than a trust created by a will), you have to keep a record about each of the beneficiaries that are known to you which must include:Footnote 93

This information needs to be recorded for each beneficiary known to you at the time you become trustee of the trust.

2. What are my responsibilities when maintaining records?

In order to comply with your record keeping requirements, you must keep records in such a manner that they can be provided to FINTRAC within 30 days of a request.Footnote 94 The records may also be requested through a judicial order by law enforcement to support an investigation of money laundering or terrorist activity financing. A record (or a copy) may be kept in a machine-readable or electronic form, so long as a paper copy can easily be produced.Footnote 95

Employees who keep records for you are not required to keep them after their employment ends. The same is true for persons in a contractual relationship with you, when the contractual relationship ends, they no longer have to keep records for you.Footnote 96 You have to obtain and keep the records that were kept for you by an employee or a contractor before the end of the person's employment or contract.

There may be situations where you are required to keep records for purposes other than complying with your obligations under the PCMLTFA. For example, a federal or provincial regulator may require you to keep records in addition to those described in this guidance. If this is the case, you must still meet the requirements described in this guidance. For example, the retention period for your records can be longer than what is described, but it cannot be shorter.

3. What are the exceptions to the record keeping requirements?

If you are required to keep a record with information that is readily available in other records, you do not have to record the information again.Footnote 97

For example, when you keep a copy of a large cash transaction report (LCTR) you may choose to use this as your large cash transaction record for the same transaction, so long as all of the information that would otherwise be kept in the large cash transaction record is captured within the report. Any requirement related to keeping the large cash transaction record would still apply, such as verifying identity.

Payment card processing activities

If you are processing credit card or PPP payments on behalf of a merchant (for example, credit card acquiring), the record keeping requirements described in this guidance do not apply to those activities.Footnote 98

A credit card acquiring business is an FE that has an agreement with a merchant to provide the following services:

Financial entities, public bodies, and very large corporations or trusts

You do not have to keep a large cash transaction record or a large VC transaction record if the cash or VC was received from another FE, a public body, or a person who is acting on behalf of a client that is an FE or public body.Footnote 99

If you receive $3,000 or more from a client that is an FE, or a person who is acting on behalf of a client that is an FE, for the issuance of traveller's cheques, money orders or other similar negotiable instruments, you are not required to keep a record of the transaction.Footnote 100

If you open an account, a credit card account, a PPP account, or conduct a transaction for a public body, a very large corporation or trust, or a subsidiary of those entities if the financial statements of the subsidiary are consolidated with those of the public body, very large corporation or trust, you are not required to keep the following records:Footnote 101

Virtual currency

When you transfer or receive VC as compensation for the validation of a transaction that is recorded in a distributed ledger, or when you exchange, transfer, or receive a nominal amount of VC for the sole purpose of validating a different transaction or a transfer of information, you do not need to keep a record of: Footnote 102

Other record keeping exempted activities

You do not have to keep the transaction and account records identified in this guidance for the following activities:Footnote 103

These exceptions do not apply to large cash transactions, large VC transactions, or suspicious transactions.

Group Plans

If you open a group plan account (other than those for which exceptions already apply) you do not have to keep a signature card for a person who is a member of the plan if:

Date Modified: