Applying to be a registered charity

Here are some helpful tips on how to make sure your application is assessed as quickly as possible.

On this page:

How to apply

We encourage you to apply online. You are likely to find it quicker and simpler, and your online application goes into our queue as soon as you click the 'submit' button.

To find out exactly what you will need to apply and the link to the online application visit: https://charities.govt.nz/ready-to-register/ready-to-apply/apply-now/

Paper applications are available by emailing info@charities.govt.nz.

How long does it take to assess an application?

Once you submit a complete application through our website, we will send you an email with an indication of when you are likely to hear back from us.

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a firm timeframe as each application can have different assessment times.  Some applications will take only a day to assess, while more complex applications may take months.

From time to time, delays may occur. This happens when we receive a large number of applications at once, or a large number that have incorrect, incomplete or unclear information.

What you need to register an organisation

  • A completed application form which will include certifications for all officers and information about your charity’s activities
  • A signed copy of your most recent rules, including all amendments.
  • Your organisation's legal name
  • Other names (if any) that it is known by
  • Postal and street address details.

Information needed to complete your application

Name and address

Identification numbers (if they apply to you)

  • Companies Office registration number and NZBN. This only applies if your organisation is an incorporated society, registered charitable trust or company. Visit the New Zealand Companies Office to find your number
  • Inland Revenue (IRD) number.
  • End of financial year/balance date
  • Sources of your organisation's funds. Choose from the list on the form
  • A reasonable estimate of the percentage of funds sourced in New Zealand but spent overseas in your last financial year, if applicable.

Financial information


Note: If you tick that your organisation receives 'donations/koha', Inland Revenue will see this as your application for donee status.


IMPORTANT: If you have previously been registered within the last two years, 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.

We have made re-registration with Charities Services easier. See our Charity re-registration page for more information.


Your rules

  • A copy of your rules, trust deed or other governing document and all amendments. Don't send the original. Make sure that all pages are included in the copy you send us.
  • If your organisation is a Māori Trust Board, please indicate whether the Commissioner of Inland Revenue has approved your trust deed for charitable purposes.

For more information on marae on a Māori reservation see this resource on the Charities Services website.


Note: Some rules that previously were accepted for registration may no longer meet the requirements of the law.

If we are not able to register you again because of this, we will contact you and explain the reasons.


IMPORTANT: All the money and benefits flowing from a charity must be directed at achieving its charitable purposes.

Your rules need clauses that ensure that the payment of money, advantage, or benefit is only directed to 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 - include a winding-up clause in your rules. It must 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).   For more details, see Charitable purpose and your rules.


Charitable purpose

The form asks for information about:

  • Your activities
  • Who is involved in delivering the activity
  • Where the activity takes place
  • Who participates in and/or benefits from the activity
  • The geographical area your organisation operates in.

IMPORTANT: Check that the charitable purposes set out in your rules are clearly explained.

If your charitable purposes are vaguely-worded or too broad, we will need to ask you for more specific information.


For help with wording, see the information on Charitable purpose and your rules.

See the following for examples of acceptable wording:

Officer details

We check to make sure that you have certified all your officers. If we find some are missing, we will ask for the missing information. This will hold up your application.

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 Officer Certification.

Information that will help us process your application efficiently

  • The name and details of someone we can contact if we have any questions about your organisation
  • The email address you would like us to send correspondence and any formal notices to (these details will not be published on the Charities Register and will not be available to the public)
  • If a marae on a Māori reservation, it will help us if you supply a copy of the Gazette notice relating to the reservation of the land, the legal description of the land and your formal marae name.

What can you do if you have already applied, then realise you have given us incomplete, incorrect or unclear information?

If you have applied for registration and need to make a change (for example if you amended your rules), or you want to provide updated information about your activities - please send an email to info@charities.govt.nz with the additional information.
 
Remember to include your charity reference number (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, you will also need to advise them of the change.


For more information about the Charities Register or registration under the Charities Act, please call our free information line - 0508 242 748.