Please note the forthcoming change to our online registration process.
Currently we encourage all accompanying documents (governing documents, trustee declaration, bank statement and other supporting documents) to be attached at the time the online application is submitted. From 1 March 2012 it will become compulsory to attach these documents at the point of submission. So it is essential that you and your clients will have prepared all these documents in advance of completing the online form. This is particularly relevant if there is an urgent deadline for consideration of the application.
We have updated our website to explain our changes and have provided some helpful guidance on how customers should use the system to best effect as well as how to generate PDF files.
Our user-friendly online application system will guide you through the process of applying to register - Once you have completed the first six screens, depending on your type of governing document, you will receive an application reference number. When you have received this number you can save the form at any time and come back to it another time.
To help you complete your online application you can view guidance notes.
What do I need before I start?
Please make sure you've read our guidance Things to think about before setting up a charity before starting your application. This will help you decide whether setting up a new charity is the right thing to do, and whether or not you need to register.
You should read our core guidance on registering a new charity. This gives a comprehensive overview of the entire registration process.
You should then read our other guidance in this section which explains some of the other things you'll need to think about before applying.
- Finding trustees - the information you'll need to provide about the people who will run your charity
- Demonstrating public benefit - explains how your charity's aims must be for the public benefit
- Choosing your charity's name, purposes and governing document - you'll need a name for your charity as well as choosing its purposes and the rules by which it'll operate
- You'll need to ensure you have copies of your governing document, bank statement and other supporting documents as PDF files as they must be attached at the time you submit your application. When you complete your online application a Trustee Declaration will be generated automatically for the trustees to sign, however if you would like to have a declaration completed prior to starting the application please download our manual Declaration
Frequently asked questions
Will I get a registration number as soon as I submit an application?
No - this is an online application system, not an online registration system. You will be given a charity reference number which you should quote when submitting any additional documentation. Applications received need to be considered before registration is confirmed.
How long will it take to register a charity?
The consideration of an application for charitable status is a complex legal process. The time we take to determine whether an organisation is charitable will depend on various factors:
- whether you have submitted all the required documentation - please note that the governing document and signed trustee declaration must be attached as PDF files at the time of submission
- whether you have provided sufficient information in your application form
- whether your structure is complex
- whether your objects further recognised charitable purposes
The average time to register a successful application with the Commission is 30 working days, however, if your organisation has any of the issues listed above, the registration process may take considerably longer. If you require your organisation to be registered by a particular date, please submit your application well in advance to ensure that we have sufficient time to complete our assessment.
The registration process is significantly quicker if you are using an approved governing document with permission from the umbrella body (see list of bodies with approved governing documents), you have supplied all the required documentation and you have completed all sections of the application in full. Please allow our case officers the time they need to give your application the appropriate level of consideration. Only contact us if you have not heard from us within four weeks of submitting your governing document and trustee declaration.
Do I have to apply to register a new charity online?
Yes - charity applications are now made online. There is no fee for applying to register as a charity. Even if you don't have a computer yourself, you can access the internet at libraries and internet cafes - your form can be saved and you can return to it at another session. The online service is easy to use and your online application will be processed much more quickly than a paper form. If you are unable to apply, contact us.
What do I do if my annual income is under £5,000?
It's not our policy to register charities with an income of less than £5,000. This doesn't mean it can't be a charity though. A small charitable organisation with an income that does not exceed £5,000 can enjoy the benefits of charitable status without having to meet the regulatory requirements of registered charities.
You can apply directly to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for tax relief. Like a registered charity number, an HMRC charity number should be accepted by banks and grant funders as evidence of your charitable status. You should also read our resources and information for small charities.