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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.

As the Commission is managing registration in stages, only organisations which have been called forward by the Commission, and have received an application password, will be able to apply to register as a charity at present.

However, whether or not you have been called forward, there are a number of steps all organisations must take now to prepare for their registration applications:

1. Ensure the Commission has your details for registration 

2. Use the registration support tools and guidance:

3. Check the combined list on a regular basis

4. Prepare your documentation in advance

5. Contact a helper group for practical help and support

6. Watch the online registration tutorial (subtitled)

7. Attend a 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:

  • An overview of the charity registration process, providing a step by step guide on what you should do to prepare for applying to register as a charity.
Overview of charity registration process – a step by step guide

Download PDF (231.7 KB)

  • The trustee declaration, which must be signed and dated by each trustee before being submitted with your online registration application.
20161019 Trustee declaration

Download DOCX (28.9 KB)

  • purposes and public benefit toolkit to support charities in identifying and reviewing their organisation's charitable purposes and public benefit.
CCNI EG067 Purposes and public benefit toolkit

Download PDF (615.4 KB)

  • Screenshots of online registration application
Screenshots of online registration application

Download PDF (2.2 MB)

  • A registration information form to support charities in gathering the required contact information for registration.
20160920 Registration information main contact details form

Download DOCX (640.8 KB)

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

20140909 Creating a PDF guidance

Download DOC (47.5 KB)

  • Checklist of common errors on registration applications - and how to avoid them.
Common errors made in registration applications

Download PDF (139.4 KB)


Registration workshops

The Commission has created a wide range of online and face to face support aimed at helping organisations to prepare for registration.  This includes registration workshops for charities.

The workshops are currently invitation only and are for organisations which the Commission is intending to call forward to register. Each workshop is approximately two hours long and is intended to provide an overview of the online registration process and the Purposes and public benefit toolkit, available above, to support applicants to complete their registration application.

You can view the presentation which is delivered at the workshop using the link below.

Registration workshop presentation

Download PPTX (4.4 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.

20160616 Document and information checklist

Download DOCX (15.5 KB)

An overview of charity registration for smaller organisations guidance

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.

An overview of charity registration for smaller organisations guidance

Download PDF (632.8 KB)