Transitory Information (schedule 102901)


The purpose of this schedule is to enable the efficient disposal of transitory information as part of normal administrative processes.

Transitory information is information of temporary usefulness that is needed only to complete a routine action or prepare a subsequent record (e.g. a new version).

A record’s content and context determine whether it is transitory, not its form or format.  Information that is essential for understanding government business is not transitory.  Transitory information is:

  • not required to meet legal, policy or financial obligations;
  • not needed to control, support or sustain government operations, program delivery, or administration;
  • not integral to case management (i.e. not needed to provide context for related records);
  • not evidence required to account for government actions or decisions; and
  • not specifically addressed in another information schedule.

There are six categories of transitory information, as described below. Examples of each category can be found in the Transitory Information Guide and Transitory Information Quick Tips.


Transitory messages are casual or non-substantive messages, in any format, including attachments, that are of only passing value and not needed to document an action or decision.


Transitory drafts are preliminary or incomplete drafts that do not contain significant annotations, comments, approvals, or substantial changes providing insight into the evolution of the final version.

This category excludes drafts that are specifically addressed in another information schedule, or in legislation or policy.


Rough notes and working materials consist of preliminary, incomplete, or unused information recorded or gathered for the purposes of creating other documents, aiding memory, facilitating a routine action, or recording exploratory thoughts. 

This category excludes notes and working materials that document decisions or actions of government and are not superseded by subsequent documentation of those decisions or actions.


Transitory copies are duplicates of existing records made for purposes of convenience or reference.

This category excludes authoritative copies that:


Transitory systems information consists of information of temporary usefulness generated for, or resulting from, computer systems operations, including:

  • system-generated files and reports generated for reference that are not needed for the system’s operations or another purpose;
  • data that is gathered automatically by a system, including from connected devices, and is either not used or used for automatically generated reports;
  • empty folders and empty (zero-byte) files that have no further use; and
  • documents used only to input information into a computer system.

This category excludes systems information that is covered by another information schedule (i.e. needed for operational or administrative purposes).


Transitory external information includes solicited and unsolicited information from external sources that has been used solely for short-term reference purposes or not at all, including extracts or copies of publications, promotional material, and other material from external sources.

This category also includes unsolicited information that is not used by the receiving office but may be redirected to the appropriate government body.

It is important to securely destroy or return any transitory information from external sources that is defined as personal or confidential in legislation or policy.

This category excludes published items used as part of a procurement process or other transaction.


Phase A SA FD
Retention SO nil DE

SO:         Transitory information is superseded or obsolete when no longer needed.

DE:         Transitory information must be securely destroyed when no longer needed, unless it is relevant to a search for legal purposes, or to an access request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA).  Formal authorization is not required for an individual employee to destroy transitory information. Transitory information is destroyed as part of routine practice without review or authorization by the records officer.

NOTE:   If applicable, transitory information from external sources may be securely returned to sender instead of being destroyed.

NOTE:   For additional information  and guidance, see the Transitory Information Guide and Transitory Information Quick Tips as well as other RM Guides available on the Records Management website.


102902 - Transitory Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Records

102903 - Electronic Mail

102904 - Word Processing Records

112913 - Unsolicited Records

112914 - Voice Mail Records

Approval Date: 1987-06-26 (Amended 2021-06-09)