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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Registration support

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.

To apply for charity registration submit an Expression of Intent (EOI) to the Commission, which will provide us with your contact details. We will then issue you with a password for our Online Registration Application Form. You will normally be called forward to apply for registration within six weeks of submitting the EOI.

The registration tutorial video, available here, is a useful tool in preparing to make your application.

Please note: Because different organisations will take different routes through the online application form depending on responses, the videos below do not show all the questions on the updated application. The screenshots do show the questions that most organisations will be asked on the application and has tips on how to answer these. The meaning of terms used in the Commission’s guidance is listed in the glossary below. 

Download Centralised glossary PDF (1.4 MB)

1. Ensure the Commission has your details for registration 

2. Use the registration support tools and guidance:

3. Expression of intent form and applications in progress

4. Prepare your documentation in advance

5. Contact a helper group for practical help and support

6. Watch the online registration tutorial (subtitled)

7. Watch online registration workshop

Registration support tools

The Commission's registration guidance documents, listed below, are available from The public benefit requirement section of our website by clicking on the links below:

The Commission has also produced a wide range of support tools to help charities prepare for the online registration process:

  • Five steps to charity registration, providing a step by step guide on what you should do to prepare for applying to register as a charity.

Download Five steps to charity registration PDF (161.6 KB)

  • Completing an application for charity registration

Download Completing an application for charity registration PDF (955.3 KB)

  • The trustee declaration, which must be signed and dated by each trustee before being submitted with your online registration application.

Download 20161019 Trustee declaration DOCX (28.7 KB)

  • purposes and public benefit toolkit to support charities in identifying and reviewing their organisation's charitable purposes and public benefit.

Download CCNI EG067 Purposes and public benefit toolkit PDF (615.4 KB)

  • Screenshots of online registration application

Download Screenshots of online registration application PDF (4.2 MB)

  • A registration information form to support charities in gathering the required contact information for registration.

Download Registration main contact and charity trustee details form DOCX (653.9 KB)

  • Creating a pdf guidance for practical help on how to convert documents into pdf format to upload to your online registration application.

Download 20140909 Creating a PDF guidance DOC (47.5 KB)


Registration workshops

The Commission has created a wide range of online support aimed at helping organisations to prepare for registration. This includes an online registration workshop, which will guide you through key parts of the application process.

The online registration workshop podcast is in four parts. We strongly recommend that you watch all four podcasts. Each one provides practical tips and checklists to ensure you can access and are ready to complete your online registration application. When you have watched all four podcasts we would be extremely grateful if you fill in the short survey below so we can improve them for future applicants.

The podcasts are available by clicking on the links below. Please note they are external (YouTube) links. 

Parts of workshop

What does this section cover?

Part 1

Preparing for registration – charitable purposes.

Part 2

Understanding the public benefit requirement and providing a public benefit statement.

Part 3

Using the online application system and what happens after charity registration.

Part 4

Frequently asked questions

You can provide your feedback on the registration workshops survey here (external link).

You can view the presentation which is delivered across the podcasts using the link below.

Download Registration workshop presentation PPTX (4.2 MB)

You may also wish to consider approaching one of the number of groups and umbrella organisations that have volunteered to be helper groups, providing practical support to individual organisations going through the registration process. 

This support will vary depending on the ability and remit of each helper group and can range from providing access to a scanner or the internet to providing guidance where training, resources and time permit.

Prepare your documentation in advance

If you have been invited to attend a registration workshop, the Commission strongly recommends you begin to prepare the documentation required for registration at this stage, if you have not already done so. 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 (available above)
  • a list of any policies to identify those relevant for registration, for example, working with children or vulnerable people

A useful tool to ensure you have the required documentation in advance of completing your application is our document and information checklist (available below) which you can print and tick off as you gather documents or information.

Download 20231006 Document and information checklist DOCX (16.6 KB)

Charity registration - A guide for smaller organisations

Charity registration is now compulsory in Northern Ireland and applies to all charities no matter what size they are. You may think, or have been told, you do not need to apply to register as a charity. However, the law has now defined what a charity is and even if you do not think of your organisation as a charity, you may find that it meets the legal definition. If an organisation meets the definition, it must apply to us to be registered as a charity. Not to do so may be breaking the law. If you are in any doubt why not contact one of our helper groups to talk through your situation and make sure you are doing the right thing? Many small charities have already registered, you can find them on the register of charities. Some of them used the support and guidance available on our website. The summary document below will help you understand what you need to do to prepare for charity registration.

Download Charity registration - a guide for smaller charities PDF (905.1 KB)