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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Regulator warns it will pursue charities which fail to apply for registration with it through the courts

If you haven’t taken action to prepare for charity registration, then you must do so immediately, Northern Ireland’s charity regulator is warning charities in Northern Ireland.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is calling on all charities which haven’t checked if they are on one of the Commission’s registration lists by 31 December 2014 to do so immediately – or risk being taken to the High Court.

Frances McCandless, Commission Chief Executive, explained: “It is compulsory for all charities in Northern Ireland to apply to the Commission for registration, regardless of their size or income.

“We are managing registration by calling charities forward to apply in groups of around 200 to 300 but if we don’t have your charity’s details, then we cannot get in touch with you to advise you  to apply.

“That’s why it’s vital that all charities ensure they are on one of our registration lists and, if not, complete an Expression of Intent form immediately to ensure we have the organisation’s contact details.”

Under charity law, an organisation must apply to register if:

  • it has exclusively charitable purposes
  • it is governed by the law of Northern Ireland
  • it has control and direction over its governance and resources. 

This means all charities in Northern Ireland are required to apply for registration, irrespective of their size, income or whether the organisation is registered with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for charitable tax status.

All charities in Northern Ireland should therefore act now to ensure the Commission has their details for registration as the alternative is they remain unregistered in contravention of charity law.

The Commission’s three registration lists (deemed, non-deemed, special circumstances) are available to check online here.

If a charity is not listed they must complete a short, online Expression of Intent form or, if they are listed, they can check the Commission’s “tranche list” to ensure they haven’t already been called forward to apply for registration.

Ms McCandless continued: “In the future, only new charities will be able to apply to the Commission for registration so it’s imperative that charities take action now to ensure the Commission has their details, before it’s too late.

“Registration is a one off process that brings with it a wide range of lasting benefits – in just a few years our register of charities will be complete and considered to be the definitive list of charities in Northern Ireland. 

“The register is live now and we are already seeing funders, including local councils and grant making bodies, checking our website to see if a charity is listed and is a bona fide and transparent charity.

“In addition to the benefits is the fact registration is a legal requirement - one which is here to stay - and we will be pursuing those charities which fail to meet their legal duty to register with us through the courts,” Ms McCandless concluded.

In addition to registration lists, the Commission provides a wide range of free guidance to support organisations in applying to register. This includes a registration guidance booklet, a public benefit and charitable purposes toolkit, an online tutorial, screenshots of the online application system and a registration document checklist.


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 or email: 

Editor’s notes

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland, established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. 

The Commission began the process of registering the thousands of Northern Ireland charities in December 2013. According to estimates, there are over 7,000 charities in Northern Ireland with the Commission managing the registration process by calling charities forward to apply in tranches.

To date, 770 charities have successfully registered with the Commission with more charities added to the new register of charities, available to view on, every week.