skip to main content
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
Text size:

Expression of intent form and the deemed list

The Commission uses information provided through ‘expression of intent’ forms and the ‘deemed list’ to contact organisations and let them know they may now apply for registration as a Northern Ireland charity. Further details on this process is below.

What is an expression of intent?

Any organisation which may be a charity in Northern Ireland must apply to the Commission for registration; this is regardless of whether or not the organisation is a "deemed charity" (scroll down for information on a what a deemed charity is) .

This means that any organisation which:

  • has exclusively charitable purposes,
  • is governed by the law of Northern Ireland and,
  • is an institution, that is, an organisation that is an independent body, the hallmarks of which include having control and direction over its governance and resources

must make the Commission aware of its existence so that it can be called forward to apply for registration. They can do this by completing an expression of intent form (or sometimes via an umbrella body or other reliable source which has informed the Commission of potential charities).

When they submit a registration application, the Commission will then determine if the organisation meets the legal definition of a charity, as set out in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. If an organisation’s registration application is successful, it will become a registered charity and its details will be entered on the public register of charities.

What are “deemed charities”?

Charity registration began in Northern Ireland on Monday 16 December 2013. Before this, the law in Northern Ireland recognised charities as organisations which had been granted charitable tax exemptions through His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Organisations which had been granted charitable tax status by HMRC as at 18 August 2013 were called “deemed charities”

Since December 2013, the Commission has been assessing deemed charities to confirm whether or not they meet the legal definition of charity as set out in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

The deemed list background

An initial list of Northern Ireland charities was created on 18 February 2011 under the Charities Act 2008 (Transitional Provision) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011. Under that Order, the Commission gained jurisdiction over charities which had been granted charitable tax exemptions. A list of these charities was provided to the Commission by HMRC. This became known as the “deemed list”.

On 19 August 2013, a new Transitional Provision Order, the Charities Act 2008 (Transitional Provision) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 was made, further increasing the number of organisations to which the Commission’s powers apply. These organisations are also ‘deemed’ to be charities.

In practice, deemed organisations are treated as charities in law until the Commission has decided whether they meet the legal definition of charity set out in the Charities Act 2008.

It is important to note that the deemed list presented only part of the charity landscape in Northern Ireland; many charities had not applied for charitable tax exemptions and therefore did not appear on the deemed list, while some charities which appeared on the list may have merged or closed but not informed HMRC at the time the list was created.

The Commission continues to build its public register of charities which will provide a comprehensive list of all charities registered in Northern Ireland. Each listed charity will have been confirmed by the Commission to have met the requirements of the legislation. You can search the register using the green charity register button at the bottom of this page. The Commission has also produced guidance to assist the public to use the register of charities which is available here.