All organisations, no matter how large or small, constituted in Northern Ireland for a charitable aim or purpose will need to register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
Charity registration in Northern ireland is yet to start. It was originally planned that registration would begin at the end of June 2010.
However, as a result of legal advice on the robustness of the definition of 'public benefit', the Commission referred the legislation back to the Department for Social Development. The Department accepted the Commission's assertion that a legislative amendment was necessary to allow us to begin to register charities.
In July 2012 the Charities Bill was introduced into the Assembly. Once passed, the Bill will amend the Charities Act and permit the Commission to consult publically on our public benefit guidance, eventually leading to charity registration. This consultation is likely to happen in Spring 2013.
View the progress of the Bill on the NI Assembly website (External - opens new window)
This means that we should be able to register charities in a phased way from late 2013.
Initially the Commission will ask 20 organisations to ‘test drive’ the new on-line registration process and seek feedback from them to address any areas of difficulty they encounter with the registration process before contacting the remaining organisations.
From this time onwards any organisation wishing to be recognised as a charity in Northern Ireland will have to register with CCNI.
Newly established organisations, and those not previously registered with HM Revenue and Customs, can come forward for registration on an ongoing basis once testing of the register is completed.
If your organisation is currently registered with HM Revenue and Customs and you have a charity number, you do not need to take any further action until you hear from the Commission.
If a newly registered charity wishes to benefit from charitable tax exemptions it must register with HMRC for tax purposes. If CCNI refuses registration then HMRC will not accept an application from that organisation.
All organisations can apply for registration with CCNI by completing the online application.
If for any reason you can not complete the application online, a paper form is available by contacting CCNI directly.