Process for setting-up an incorporated society

Created: July 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Updated: August 10, 2020 | By Community Resource Kit

The following steps show the process for setting-up an incorporated society. This information supplements Incorporated Societies of the Community Resource Kit.

[For more information on the different types of organisation you can set up see Formal Organisational Structures and Characteristics of different organisational legal structures.]

1. Your group has decided to set up an incorporated society.
2. Meet and:
  • decide on a name of the group
  • decide the overall mission, purpose and values of the organisation (this starts to develop your rules or constitution).

Refer to Getting started, and Strategic planning, for more information on developing your mission and strategic planning.

3. Go to Societies and Trusts Online website ( ) and:
  • check the name is available
  • review rules of other incorporated societies and the sample set of rules
  • download application form or ring 0508 762 438 for forms to be posted out.
4. Draft a set of rules
  • this is usually done by a small group, with the draft taken to the larger group in the next step.
5. Call a meeting of at least 15 people (or equivalent corporate bodies) willing to be the founding members. At this meeting your group needs to:
  • approve the rules
  • complete the application for incorporation documents
  • appoint a chairperson, secretary, treasurer and management committee
  • set a membership fee (or agree not to have one).
6. Send the following completed documents back to the Companies Office:
  • the application for incorporation document
  • a copy of your rules
  • the certification form for the rules
  • $102.22 lodgement fee.
7. The Companies Office informs your group that it is now an incorporated society and sends you a certificate.


8. To maintain your registration you will need to file the following documents with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies:
  • annual financial statement
  • rule changes (including name changes)
  • address changes.

If you are registered with Charities Services, you will need to notify changes and file an annual return (including annual accounts) with Charities Services instead of the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.

Tip: If your organisation has a charitable purpose, registering with Charities Services will entitle you to an exemption from income tax and resident withholding tax. If you want to apply for registration under the Charities Act 2005, you need to meet their requirements for registration:
  1. the name needs to be suitable i.e. not offensive or liable to mislead the public
  2. the purposes need to be charitable
  3. the officers need to be qualified under the terms of the Act.
You will also need to fill out an application form, an Officer Certification Form (one copy for each of your officers), and send in a copy of your rules, including all amendments. For more details visit:

Next page: Charitable trusts

Previous page: Incorporated societies

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