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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Have you missed your registration deadline?

One of the functions of the Commission, the charity regulator, is to assure the public that charities operating in Northern Ireland can demonstrate their contribution to society and are operating within the law. 

As part of this requirement, the Commission began compulsory registration of all charities in Northern Ireland for the first time on Monday 16 December 2013.  This means an organisation must apply to register as a charity in Northern Ireland 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 Commission manages the process of registration by calling organisations forward to register in tranches drawn primarily from those organisations that have made us aware they exist by submitting an ‘Expression of Intent’ to register form.

If you have missed your deadline or are concerned that you will not meet your deadline, you should contact the Commission as soon as possible via

Commission Chief Executive, Frances McCandless, commented: “Charity trustees are legally obliged to apply to register with the Commission and it is essential that trustees take that requirement seriously, taking the steps they need to successfully register. 

 “It is also the responsibility of trustees to take action now to prepare for registration, including ensuring the Commission has their details for registration by submitting an ‘Expression of Intent’ if they have not already done so. 

 “It is also vital that charities applying to register use the free registration support available on our website and/or the support of a Helper Group details of which can be found on our website here.’’  To find out more about registration – and what your charity should do to prepare for registration now click here.

Failure to apply for registration

An organisation has 30 days to submit its registration application from the date it is called forward to apply, with all applicants urged to use the Commission’s free registration support to assist them. 

Under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008, charity trustees have a statutory duty to apply to register their charity with the Commission. If the trustees fail to apply to register or fail to supply the Commission with the required documents and information, they will be in breach of the law.  

Refuse registration

If an application for registration is unsuccessful, the Commission will write to the organisation explaining why this decision has been reached. 

This should inform the organisation’s next steps and they may be able to reapply in the future. The Commission will also explain the process the organisation can use if it disagrees with a decision or wishes to challenge the decision by requesting an internal review or by applying to the Charity Tribunal.

If an organisation is unsuccessful in the registration process, the Commission will also notify HMRC if applicable. HMRC provide charitable tax benefits under the Finance Act 2010 and any decision to remove charitable benefits (for example Gift Aid) will be reassessed by them.