Apply now

Read the information on this page if you are ready to apply for registration. The link to apply online is also on this page. 

On this page:

1. Before you apply checklist

2. Ready to apply checklist

3. Apply now button

4. What happens next?

Before you apply

Have you done research including searching the Charities Register(external link) to find examples of what similar organisations look like?

You can search the Register to find out the activities, charitable purpose and beneficiaries of registered charities.

 

Have you thought about the governance of your organisation and if you have the right management team?

You can assess your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses online at www.nznavigator.org.nz.

Have you carefully researched whether your organisation’s purpose is charitable?

It is important that you understand what we mean by “charitable purpose” and whether your charity’s purpose fits the criteria. There is information on our website that explains charitable purpose and detail and there are also examples.

Are you applying for the right reasons?

There are several benefits to becoming a registered charity, but one of the main reasons entities apply is to qualify for exemptions from income tax on all or some of their income.
There are, however, tax exemptions that are available to some not-for-profit organisations that are not registered charities (e.g. sporting organisations). If your main reason for applying to be a registered charity is for tax exemptions, we suggest you take a look at Inland Revenue’s website(external link) first to find out if your organisation is eligible for any tax exemptions without having to register as a charity.

Have you read and understood your ongoing obligations if your application is successful and you become a registered charity?

Being a registered charity brings with it obligations that include:

  • Reporting annually to Charities Services. This includes completing an Annual Return and providing non financial and financial information through a performance report/financial statements that comply with reporting standards. A fee may apply for submitting your annual return.
  • Carrying out activities that advance exclusively charitable purposes and ensuring your organisation provides only public (and not private) benefit.
  • Operating in accordance with the Charities Act 2005 and your organisation’s rules.
  • Notifying Charities Services of any changes to your organisation, for example, changes to your officers or rules.

Are you aware of the requirements for the Annual Return that your entity will need to submit annually if you become registered as a charity?

As a charity, you will need to submit an Annual Return that includes a Performance Report/Financial Statements where detailed information about your organisation must be included, consistent with reporting standards set by the External Reporting Board.

We suggest you become familiar with the reporting standards before you register, to ensure that your organisation’s governing body has the time, has clear governance processes, and is able to fulfil the requirements to accurately complete the Annual Return.

Please be aware that gathering information for the Performance Report/Financial Statements submitted as part of your Annual Return begins as soon as your charity is registered (and not at the end of the financial year).

Have you reviewed your organisation’s rules and ensured that they meet the requirements of being a charity?

If any changes have been made to your rules in order to apply to become a charity, you will need your governing body (committee, trust board, etc.) to approve these changes.

Rules (also known as trust deed, constitution, charter) are included in the document that sets out your purposes, what you do and how you operate. When you apply for registration, we read your rules and consider your activities to identify whether you have a ‘charitable purpose’.

You can find more information on how and what we look for in your rules on our website

Has your charity’s governing body agreed to apply to become a charity? Has this been recorded in your meeting’s minutes?

Are your officers/trustees aware that they will need to provide contact details including dates of birth?

Before applying, your governing body (committee, trust board, etc.) should consider the benefits/obligations of becoming a charity and if you decide to apply, that this be registered in your meeting’s minutes.

Your officers/trustees will also need to be aware that their names, positions and appointment dates will be made public on the Charities Register. We will also need home address details and dates of birth of your officers for our ongoing regulatory work, but these will not be made public on the register.

If you are a marae on a Māori reservation, have you read the information available on our website about the information we require?

Click here to view information specific to marae on a Māori reservation who are applying for registration.

Ready to apply

Once you have gone through the checklist above, you are ready to apply.

The online application will ask you for the following information:

Your organisation’s legal or most formal name, and any other names it is also known as (including any trading names).

Your organisation’s contact details including postal and street addresses.

Contact details for a primary contact for your organisation. (You can also provide details for a second/alternative contact person).

If your organisation is an incorporated society, registered charitable trust or company, you will need your Companies Office(external link) registration number.

IRD (Inland Revenue)(external link)number if you have one.

NZBN(external link) number if available.

Areas of operation of your charity (regional/national/international).

If you are a Marae on Maori land reservation, we will need a copy or link to the Gazette notice relating to the reservation of your land, or the block number. Click here for more information.

Details on your officers, including position held, date of appointment, home address details and dates of birth, and confirmation that they are not disqualified from being officers under section 16(2) of the Charities Act 2005.

Tip: Certify the correct number of officers. We check to make sure that you have certified all your officers – but if we find some are missing, we need to hold up your application while we ask you for the missing information. If your rules say that you have - for example - five officers, you must certify five officers.  If you’re not sure who to certify as an officer, see our information about Officer Certification.

If you are a marae, click here for additional information.

The registration form asks for the full name, date of birth and home address details of your charity’s officers. The Information Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1993 enable agencies, including Charities Services, to collect personal information for lawful purposes connected with a function or activity of the agency. Previously we have only collected an officer’s first and last name. This is not enough information for us to accurately identify officers when we need to. The date of birth and residential address information will not be publicly available, and will only be used by Charities Services and other agencies where authorised by law.

We have updated the Privacy Statements in our registration form to clearly set out what personal information is collected, what it will be used for, who can access the information, and the consequences of not supplying the information. 

For instance, if the identifying information about officers is not provided as part of the registration process, we will not be able to progress your application.

The charitable purpose of your organisation (i.e. the key difference your organisation is trying to make).

IMPORTANT: Are the charitable purposes set out in your rules clearly explained? Vaguely-worded charitable purposes, or purposes that are too broad will mean we need to ask you for more specific information. Rules that are too vague are likely to lead to the application being declined.  For help with wording, see our information on Charitable purpose and your rules and Charitable purpose.

Structure of your organisation (including governance arrangements and any relationships with other bodies, such as any affiliations with umbrella groups).

Your organisation’s rules (constitution, trust deed or other governing document of your organisation)

If you are a marae, click here for additional information.

IMPORTANT: We can’t register any organisation if there is a possibility that it could be used to create or maintain a private financial profit for anyone. All the money and benefits flowing from a charity must be directed at achieving its charitable purposes.

We will check your rules for clauses that ensure that the payment of money, advantage, or benefit is only directed at achieving your charitable purposes. This includes the payment of salary or wages.

If you are a trust wishing to make a payment to a trustee, your trust deed must clearly allow this payment.

If your organisation is not a trust - for example, if it is a company, incorporated society, or is unincorporated - you must include a winding-up clause in your rules. It must clearly specify that any remaining assets, after you’ve settled any debts and liabilities, must be used for a charitable purpose (or given to another organisation with charitable purposes).  It’s not enough for your rules to simply say that the assets will be given to a “similar” purpose. For more details, see Charitable purpose and your rules.

Activities of your organisation (including a description of each activity, and information about who is involved in the delivery of each activity, where each activity takes place, and who participates in and/or benefits from each activity).

If you are a marae, click here for additional information.

Whether your organisation receives donations/koha.

Estimated percentage of how much of your organisation’s funds will go towards carrying out charitable purposes overseas.

Latest financial statements (if your organisation has these).

IMPORTANT: If you have previously been registered, but were deregistered for failing to file your Annual Return, you must supply us with copies of any missing financial statements, for each of the financial years since you were last registered. Send the financial statements with your application. If we re-register you, we will display the financial statements on the Charities Register. You don’t need to complete an Annual Return form for each missing financial year, just provide the financial statements.

Other supporting documents (e.g. annual report, etc.) 
The more information you provide us about your organisation, the more likely we will be able to process your application faster. You can attach a covering letter, a copy of a brochure you give to the public, a link to your website/social media page, or any other relevant information.

Whether you require information in your application to  be restricted from public view, and the reasons for this.

 

Once you have all the information, click below to begin the online application process.

Apply Now button(external link) 

If you are unable to apply online, please contact us.

What happens after I submit my application?

  • you will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application
  • we will contact you if we require further details to complete your application
  • as we process applications in the order we receive them you may not hear from us until you are registered
  • you will receive an email or letter informing you of the outcome of your application

Can I make changes to my application?

If you have applied for registration, and then amended your rules, or need to certify additional officers, or want to provide updated information about your activities - please contact us with the additional information. 
 
Remember to include your charity Username (sent to you when we acknowledged receipt of your application) in the subject heading of your email, so we can match up the new information with your application.

If you amend your rules, and you are registered with the Companies Office (external link)you will need to advise them of the change before you send a copy of the amendment to us. You don’t need to send us a whole new set of rules.

 

Apply online