The process of establishing the Register of Charities in Northern Ireland is underway. The Commission is calling forward charities on the ‘registration list’ in tranches. It is anticipated that it may take up to four years to register every charitable organisation in Northern Ireland.
Charitable organisations which are currently recognised as charities by HMRC should be listed on the registration list. If an organisation has a HMRC letter confirming charitable recognition for tax purposes, and discovers that it is not on the ‘list’, then it needs to get in touch with the Commission to let them know. If your organisation is not on the list then a process is in place to let the Commission know that your organisation exists and would like to register.
For more details on charitable status please see here.
The Process of Registration
An organisation must apply for registration as a charity in Northern Ireland, regardless of its income, size or whether or not it has received charitable tax status from HMRC, if:
- it has exclusively charitable purposes
- it is governed by the law of Northern Ireland
- it is an institution, that is, it is an organisation that is an independent body, the hallmarks of which include having control and direction over its governance and resources.
The registration process is online and it is advisable to read the step by step guide. If you have been invited by the Commission to apply for registration, the Commission recommends you prepare the required documentation in advance. This includes:
- an up to date governing document
- bank details
- your most recent annual report
- financial accounts
- details of each of your trustees including current and previous names, contact details and date of birth
- trustee declaration
- a list of any policies to identify those relevant for registration, for example, working with children or vulnerable people
- completed registration information form. The completed form, is for support only and does not need to be returned to the Commission.
- Public Benefit Statement
A useful tool to ensure you have the required documentation in advance of completing your application is the document and information checklist which you can print and tick off as you gather documents or information.
A number of organisations have agreed to provide support to organisations registering with the Commission, these are called helper groups.