Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity

Legal obligations to keep archival materials and documentary material

The provisions of the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 6/2020) regulate the system of protection of archival material and documentary material, conditions and manner of use of archival material, organization, competence and activity of archives in the Republic of Serbia.

The Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 6/2020) entered into force on February 01, 2020, and began to apply on February 02, 2021.

For non-compliance with legal obligations, the Law on Archival Materials and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 6/2020) prescribes misdemeanour liability with the envisaged fines in the amount of 50,000 to 2,000,000 dinars for a legal entity, or in the amount of 5,000 up to 150,000 dinars for the responsible person in the legal entity.

Legal obligations of creators and holders of archival material and documentary material refer to duties of preservation and destruction of documentary material, which has expired, storage of archival material to the competent public archive, implementation of appropriate protection measures, etc.

Obligations of creators and holders of archival material and documentary material

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to conscientiously keep it in an orderly and safe condition in the form they were created.

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material, in addition to natural persons, is also obliged to:

  1. provide adequate space and equipment for the storage and protection of archival material and documentary material
  2. appoint a responsible expert for the protection of archival material and documentary material and the handling of archival material and documentary material
  3. records, marks, classifies, dates and archives archival material and documentary material
  4. hand over archival material to the competent archive under the conditions and within the deadlines provided by the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 6/2020)
  5. ensure the permanent storage of archival material in electronic form, its maintenance, migration, i.e. transfer to new media in the prescribed formats until the surrender of archival material in the electronic form to the competent public archive
  6. keep the archive book on the prescribed form
  7. submit to the competent archive a transcript of the archive book no later than April 30 of the current year, for documentary material created in the previous year
  8. obtain the opinion of the competent archive before taking measures related to archives and documentary material (status changes, physical relocation, the adaptation of premises, the opening of bankruptcy or liquidation, microfilming, digitization, etc.)
  9. selects archival material and separates for destruction worthless documentary material whose storage period has expired, one year from the date of expiration of the established period
  10. enable the authorized person of the competent public archive professional supervision over the recording, classification, selection, archiving, storage, professional maintenance and protection of archival material, i.e. over its selection from documentary material
  11. act following the measures and deadlines imposed by the competent archive by a decision and based on a previously made record of the determined state of protection of archival material and documentary material
  12. inform the competent public archive about all essential changes for the archive material no later than 30 days from the day of their occurrence.

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to provide professional training and development and verification of the professional qualifications of employees who manage documents.

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to inform the competent archive within 30 days of its establishment and all status changes (change of status and/or name, change of organization, change of address and termination).

Indivisibility of the archive fund

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material is obliged to keep the archival material as a whole – the archival fund.

Obligations of creators and holders of archive material and documentary material in electronic form

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material in electronic form is obliged to carry out procedures and procedures related to document management and use the information system, which guarantees protection, authenticity, credibility, integrity, and usability of electronic documents.

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material prepare archival material and documentary material for reliable electronic storage of archival material and documentary material following regulations governing reliable electronic storage and following rules adopted according to the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 6/2020).

The Government of the Republic of Serbia regulates unique technical-technological requirements and procedures for storing and protecting archival material and documentary material in electronic form.

The State Archives of Serbia is obliged to establish and maintain an electronic archive in the State Center for Data Storage and Management.

Public archives are obliged to use the electronic archive through a single information and communication network of electronic government.

Document management

The creator and the holder, except for natural persons, are obliged to bring:

  1. general act on the manner of recording, classifying, archiving and storing archival material and documentary material
  2. a list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods
  3. general act on the manner of recording, protection, and use of electronic documents.

The competent public archive gives consent to the list of categories of archival material and documentary material with retention periods.

Selection of archival material and destruction of expired documentary material

After selecting archival material and documentary material, the creator and holder of archival material must separate for destruction documentary material whose storage period has expired. When destroying documentary material, the creator and holder are obliged to take the necessary data protection measures that could violate the rights and legal interests of the person to whom the documentary material relates.

Documentary material created by the work and activities of state bodies and organizations, bodies of territorial autonomy and local self-government units, institutions, public companies and holders of public authority, whose storage period has expired, shall be destroyed upon written approval of the competent public archive, only for the destruction of documentary material recorded in the archive book.

Surrender of archival material to the competent public archive

The creator, i.e. the holder of the archive material, shall hand over the arranged and listed archive material for safekeeping to the competent public archive after the expiration of 30 years from the day of its creation. The competent public archives may decide to extend the period of 30 years in some cases. Exceptionally, the period of 30 years may be shortened by an agreement between the competent public archive and the creator, i.e. the holder of the archive material.

The administrative body in charge of internal affairs shall take care of the preservation of archival material created in its work in a specially trained archival department and may, under the conditions determined by it, hand it over in its entirety to the competent public archive.

Obligations when handing over archival material to the competent public archive

The creator and holder of the archive material are obliged to hand over the archive material in the original, arranged, marked, listed, undamaged or repaired, technically equipped, and the archive material in electronic form together with the corresponding metadata and decoded, in the manner determined by the competent public archive.

The Minister of Culture shall prescribe more detailed conditions and the method of handing over archival material to public archives.

The costs incurred in connection with the handover of archives, including arranging and compiling an inventory and repairing the damage that the competent public archive may perform, shall be borne by the creator or holder of the archives.

The creator, i.e. the holder who hands over the archive material, recommends the competent archive on the conditions of its use and on the deadlines for availability, which is an integral part of the minutes on the transfer of archive material.

Surrender of archival material and documentary material created in the work of the creator and the holder who ceased to work

The archival material and documentary material of the creator and the owner who has ceased to work is obliged to take over and keep his legal successor following the provisions of the Law on Archival Material and Archival Activity (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 6/2020).

Selected, arranged and listed, undamaged or repaired, archival material and documentary material, created in the creator’s work and the owner who ceased to work and has no legal successor, are considered to be taken over by the competent public archive unless otherwise provided by law.

The Bankruptcy Trustee is obliged to hand over the selected, arranged and listed archive materials, undamaged or with repaired damages to the competent public archive no later than one year from the day of opening the bankruptcy procedure.

Measures for the protection of archives and documentary material in case of risk of disasters and emergencies

The creator and holder of archival material and documentary material shall adopt a plan of measures to protect archival material and documentary material in case of risk of disasters and emergencies following the law. They shall implement all protection measures determined by the plan of steps. The competent archive controls the execution of measures.

If an emergency occurs, the creator and holder of the archive material are obliged to state in the minutes the day, hour and circumstances that occurred without delay inform the competent archive in writing.

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