Before I Apply
Who has to register?
All charities operating in the Republic of Ireland must be fully registered on the Register of Charities. It is an offence for an unregistered charitable organisation to carry on activities in the State.
However, there are some organisations that should not apply for charitable status, and these include:
- Organisations established solely for the promotion of athletic or amateur games or sports;
- Trade Unions;
- Political Parties;
- Chambers of Commerce;
- Fundraising groups who are set up solely to fundraise for charities that are already registered;
- Fundraising groups who are set up solely to help a particular person (examples include, but are not limited to, medical treatment).
How do I apply for charitable status?
IMPORTANT: Organisations cannot legally fundraise or operate as a charity until they are registered on the Register of Charities.
The application process varies slightly depending on your organisation:
- Organisations established before 16 October 2014, holding a CHY number (charitable tax exemption) from the Revenue Commissioners
These organisations were deemed registered by the Charities Regulator on the date of our establishment. They appear on the Register of Charities, they have been assigned an RCN (Registered Charity Number) by the Charities Regulator, were required to update their details on the Register by 16 April 2016 and to complete an Annual Report.
If your organisation held a CHY number (charitable tax exemption) from the Revenue Commissioners before 16 October 2014 and you have not yet updated your details on the Register or completed an Annual Report you should contact the Charities Regulator immediately.
- New organisations (or organisations that did not hold a CHY number on 16 October 2014)
In order to submit an application for inclusion on the Register of Charities you must follow these steps:
- Review all the questions on our 'Apply for Charitable Status' page.
- Sign up for a new User Account, fill out the information regarding your organisation and submit your application.
Your application will then be assessed for charitable status and a case officer will be in touch if they require any further information from you.
You will receive an official notification from the Charities Regulator once a decision on your application for charitable status has been made.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a timeframe for processing applications but wait times can be longer or shorter depending on the nature of the application and the responsiveness of the applicant to any queries raised by the case officer.
What are my organisation’s ‘Charitable Object(s)'?
The main object of your constitution is your charitable object. In other words, what was your charity set up to do?
The charitable object should make it clear what your organisation aims to achieve, how it will achieve these aims, who will benefit and where the benefits extend.
The charitable object will be visible in the Register of Charities and will inform potential donors and the wider public what your organisation does/plans to do. Therefore, it should be clear and precise.
The following is an example of a Charitable Object: “The advancement of community welfare of older persons living in rural areas of Co. Clare, by providing free transport from their homes to urban centres.”
What is a trustee and what are their duties?
What is a charity trustee?
Charity trustees are the people who ultimately exercise control over, and are legally responsible for, the charity.
- If the charity is a company, these people may also be known as directors or board members.
- In an unincorporated association – an association that has a legal form with a governing document – they may be known as committee members. In the case of a trust it can be more complicated. If the trustees of the trust are the ones who decide policy and control the assets, then they are also charity trustees.
- However, if the trustees merely have their names on the deeds of property but cannot sell or dispose of the property without the permission of the Charities Regulator, and have no other responsibilities, they are not charity trustees.
If you are unsure as to whether you are a charity trustee or not, then it is important that you check the legal structure of your charity to clarify your position and consult your charity’s constitution or deed of trust (‘governing document’).
What are the duties of a charity trustee?
- Comply with your charity’s governing document
- Ensure that your charity’s activities advance its charitable purpose(s) only and for the public benefit
- Act in the best interests of your charity
- Act with reasonable care and skill
- Manage the assets of your charity
- Make appropriate investment decisions
Should my sports club apply to become a charity?
If your sports club was set up for the integration of people with special needs, for example a Special Olympics club, you may be eligible for charitable status and this must be made clear in your application.
Otherwise, organisations established solely for the promotion of athletic or amateur games or sports are not charities as defined by the Charities Act 2009 and should not apply.
My organisation is very small and has little or no income. Do I still need to apply?
Yes, if you operate in the Republic of Ireland, provide public benefit and have a charitable purpose only; then your organisation must register.
Charities can provide public benefit in many different ways and in differing amounts. It doesn’t matter if you have little or no income; if you fulfil the criteria, then you must apply.
There is a 'Simplified' application process for certain small charities. Please refer to our 'Small Charities (Simplified) Application - User Guide'.
Preparing Your Application
Who should sign the Trustee Declaration Form and where can I find it?
In the case of a registered charity (and not a school), when you are updating the Register of Charities, each new trustee is required to sign a declaration form.
In the case of a new application, each of the charity's trustees must sign a declaration form.
Declaration forms are available on the ‘Guidance for Charities’ page.
Which governing document should I upload?
There are different types of governing documents depending on the form of your charitable organisation. These include:
- Charitable Trusts: the deed of trust establishing the charitable trust.
- Companies: the constitution (memorandum and articles of association).
- Corporate bodies other than companies: the charter, statute or other similar instrument by which it is established.
- Unincorporated bodies of persons: the rules of the body.
IMPORTANT: There are standard clauses that must be included in all constitutions. We have a constitution template which we encourage applicants to use.
The standard clauses and model constitutions are available on the ‘Guidance for Charities’ page.
What financial documents should I upload?
This will depend on your organisation.
You will be required to provide details of your finances and upload accounts and bank statements, if available.
IMPORTANT: The Charities Regulator may ask, and expect to receive, any financial documentation relevant to the applicant organisation.
Managing Your Account
What does the 'eye' symbol mean?
What does the eye symbol mean?
Next to some of the information you submit there will be an "eye" symbol.
For organisations that are already registered, it indicates that this information will automatically appear on the Register of Charities.
If you are in the process of applying for registration, this will only appear on the Register of Charities if your registration is approved.
I wish to amend/change the constitution. What is the process?
- Log in to your account and complete the 'Change of Purpose' form ('Change of Purpose and/or objects or other constitution amendments').
- For guidance on how to prepare your constitution to meet the Charities Regulator’s standards, please see the information provided on our ‘Guidance for Charities’ page.
I want to submit the Annual Return/Report. How do I do this?
Did you receive a notification message requesting your annual report? If you did, log in to 'MyAccount' and select the 'Annual Return' form. A User Guide is available via the 'Help' button.
Please ensure you complete the correct form – when you open it, it will state ‘Annual Report’ at the top along with the reporting dates.
The Annual Report will request information about what you did during the last financial year and how you spent your money.
Where can I find more information about charity governance?
The Charities Regulator website has a page dedicated to the Charities Governance Code.
You will also find the Charities Governance Code Toolkit there; this is a set of guidance notes and templates produced to assist and provide practical support to charity trustees.
What should I do if I have forgotten my charity's password?
You can reset your charity's account password by using the ‘Forgot Password’ link on the 'MyAccount' Log In page.
What format and size restrictions are there for uploading documents?
The details are as follows:
- Format: Documents need to be in PDF (Portable Document Format) to be uploaded.
- Size: The maximum size of a file to be uploaded is 10mb.
How secure is the Charities Regulator website?
The Charities Regulator's website operates to the highest available security standards. To verify that the page is secure, please check that there is a padlock icon in your browser.
Closing a Charity
What do I do if my charity is no longer active or has closed?
The process will depend on your organisation:If your charity held a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners before 16 October 2014:
- In the first instance you should inform the Charities Section of the Revenue Commissioners by email at: email@example.com or by phone at: 067-63377.
- They will then advise the Charities Regulator and we will arrange for the removal of the charity from the Register of Charities.
If your charity did not hold a CHY number from the Revenue Commissioners before 16 October 2014:
- In the first instance you should inform the Charities Regulator.
- The Charities Regulator will then inform you of the next steps that need to be taken in order to wind-up the organisation in compliance with the law.