Types of charity that do not have to register

Many people starting a charity assume they need to register with us, or think that a registered charity number is necessary to carry out voluntary work. However, in the UK today there are probably over 500,000 voluntary organisations but fewer than 180,000 of these are registered charities.

Applying to register a charity is a complex process, and we don't want to waste your time if it's not necessary for you to do so. You may not need to register with us if any of the following statements apply to your charity. Click on the links for more information.

My charity's annual income won't exceed £5,000

It's not our policy to register charities with an income of less than £5,000. This doesn't mean it can't be a charity though.

More detail

A small charitable organisation with an income that does not exceed £5,000 can enjoy the benefits of charitable status without having to meet the regulatory requirements of registered charities.

You can apply directly to the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for tax relief. Like a registered charity number, an HMRC charity number should be accepted by banks and grant funders as evidence of your charitable status.

You should also read our resources and information for charities with incomes of less than £5,000.

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My charity's head office won't be based in England or Wales

If your charity won't be based in England and Wales, you should register with the appropriate regulator. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulators.

Unless your organisation is governed by the laws of England and Wales we cannot register you as a charity. We cannot advise you on how to register in a different country. You will need to contact the relevant authority within that country for further advice.

More detail

The Charity Commission is only responsible for registering charities in England in Wales. In Scotland, recognition of charitable status is a function of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR):

OSCR, 2nd Floor, Quadrant House, 9 Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD1 4NY
Telephone 01382 220446
Website www.oscr.org.uk

If your organisation is based in Northern Ireland, you should contact the Department for Social Development, at

Charities Branch, Voluntary and Community Unit, 3rd Floor, Lighthouse Building, 1 Cromac Place, Gasworks Business Park,
Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 2JB
Telephone 028 90829 414

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My charity will be part of a larger organisation or movement

You should check with your parent organisation to see if you need to register. Certain charities are 'exempt' or 'excepted' from the requirement to register with us.

More detail

'Excepted' charities don't need to register but we can still require them to provide us with information about their activities and investigate them if we consider that there is cause for concern. These charities must have an annual income of less than £100,000 and most are either:

  • connected with certain churches and chapels belonging to various Christian denominations;
  • charitable service funds of the armed forces; or
  • Scout and guide groups

'Exempt' charities do not have to register with us and are not supervised by us because they are supervised by another organisation or body.

Our guidance on exempt and excepted charities provides more detail.

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