Bank CSV Files: Download Restrictions

You would think that banks would allow you to download any of your transactions whenever you require … unfortunately this is not the case.

Some banks and building societies impose restrictions on the dates and transaction numbers of the CSV files that you can download. Here are some examples:-

Limited History

Many banks limit how far back you can go to retrieve your transactions records. 15 months is very typical for personal accounts and even business accounts with some banks. Although 15 months may sound like plenty of time, HMRC self assessment means that you do not need to file your tax return until almost 22 months after the start of your tax year. i.e. self assessment for the period 6th April 2022 to 5th of April 2023, can be filed as late as the 31st of January 2024.

This means that if you wait until January 2024 to do your tax return for 2022-23, you may only be able to access your bank transactions from October 2022 onwards. Basically, you will have missed the first six months of your tax year.

You will still be able to get PDF statements, but there is no way to import these records into any accounting software, meaning that six months of your records will need to be MANUALLY input into your accounts. Any accountant (me included) is going to take a serious amount of time to do this, and will charge you accordingly.

Even greater historic limitations apply to Credit Card transactions. Typically you can only download the last 3 months of your credit card transactions. If you use a credit card for your business transactions, you need to download your credit card CSV file at least every 3 months, or you may lose some important transactions.

If we use the example of a VAT return for the quarter 1st of January to 31st of March; HMRC allow you until the 7th of May to file your VAT return. So if you leave it until the 1st of May to get your credit card CSV file, you will have missed the entire month of January. Your only option is to get your card statements and MANUALLY input the missing January transactions. Again; more effort, more time and more accountancy fees.

Limited Dates Range

Some banks (TSB, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Lloyd’s) restrict the longest period you can download to ‘three months’. This means that (in theory) you will need 4 CSV files to make up a year: 6th April to 5th July, 6th July to 5th October, etc.

However there are further restrictions that are not stated and are generally unknown:-

The period that these banks refer to as 3 Months is actually limited to 90 Days. So when you do a search between two dates as “6th April to 5th July”, transactions on the date of the 5th of July will be omitted because the limitation of 90 days limits the CSV file to the 4th of July. Some ‘3 month’ periods such as “6th October to 5th of January” will have two days missing.

Limited Number of Transactions

Again for TSB, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Lloyd’s, there is an additional restriction of 150 transactions in any CSV file download. So if your bank statements are very busy (typically more than 50 transactions per month), your 3 month (90 days) CSV file will be curtailed to 150 records and it is likely that a large number of days at the end of your search period will be missing.

Our Advice

Open the CSV file in a spreadsheet program and make sure that everything you expect to see is included and that there are no dates cut off at the end.

If your tax year starts on the 6th of April 2022, make sure that you have all your bank CSV files before the 5th of July 2023.

For Credit Cards, make sure that you download your CSV file at least every two months. i.e. Download 5th April to 5th of June BEFORE the 5th of July. Download 6th of June to 5th August BEFORE the 5th of September, etc. You will end up with 6 CSV files covering the tax year.

For bank transactions, given limitations of 90 days and 150 records, we recommend that you do exactly the same for your bank transactions as you do for credit cards (above). You will end up with 6 CSV files covering the tax year.