Efficient Charity Registration

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12 April 2011

Speed up your application to register a charity with the Charity Commission.

Charities with annual income of over £5,000 (and which are not exempt) must be registered with the Charity Commission.  The registration process involves an on-line application providing details of the activities (or proposed activities) of the charity and of the trustees.  The trustees also have to sign a declaration that they are willing to act as trustees and a copy of this, along with a copy of the governing document and proof of income (which can be in the form of a pledged donation) must be sent with or shortly after the on-line application.

The process of registration can take two to three months, depending on whether the Commission require further information or ask questions.  The more time spent carefully preparing the application and providing the Commission with as much information as possible to pre-empt their questions, the better.

However, just before submission of the on-line application, there is a button to press which allows you to explain any special circumstances relating to the application.  Here you can ask the Commission to expedite the registration if there is a pressing need for the charity to be registered quickly.  The Commission usually accept that a potential loss of funding is a good reason to speed up registration.

Recently, we applied to register a charitable trust in circumstances where a potential donor wanted to make a large gift aid donation before the end of the tax year.  We explained this in our application and the Commission registered the charity within just a few days.  

It is also important to note that once a charity is registered with the Commission, it must also register with HM Revenue and Customs in order to claim tax reliefs such as gift aid.   Although HMRC will ordinarily accept a charity registered with the Commission as qualifying for charity tax reliefs, it is prudent to ensure that this confirmation is obtained before any substantial donations are made to the charity (particularly after a number of new conditions were introduced in 2010).

Those who are thinking of setting up a new charity should be aware that the registration process can take some time, but that it is possible to speed this up by ensuring all the information is properly presented to the Commission and explaining any particular timing requirements.

For further information, please contact Nicola Manclark on +44(0)117 902 2743 or email nicola.manclark@burges-salmon.com

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