ACNC registration application guide

This guide has been developed to help you fill out the form to register your organisation with the ACNC and to apply to the ATO for charity tax concessions.

We consider each application carefully, so please provide as much detail as you can so that we process your application as quickly as possible.

 

If you have read the guide and background material, including FAQs, and still need help with the form, please contact us by phoning 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or by emailing advice@acnc.gov.au.

After you have submitted your completed registration form, we will contact you to let you know what happens next.

Please note that if your organisation is registered as a charity, some of the information you provide as part of this application will be published on the ACNC Register. A small R icon appears beside particular questions. This icon shows the information that will be published.

Completing your application

Important things to know

  • As you move through each page of the registration application your answers will be saved automatically for you.
  • Fields marked with an asterisk * are mandatory
  • The form will check that you have answered all questions in the format required on each page before it lets you move to the next page.
  • If there is a problem with an answer an error message will appear to the right of the question. The message will tell you what the problem is and help you to correct it.
  • Use the Next and Previous buttons to navigate through the application.
  • Use the drop-down menu to skip quickly to another page in the application by picking the page you want and selecting the Go button.

Resuming your application

If you cannot finish your application in one session, use the Save button and log out. The Log out button is at the top of every page. To continue your application, select Resume my application from the 'Register my charity' tab. You will need to enter your registration application username and password.

Printing your application

You can save or print a portable document format (PDF) version of your registration application after you have submitted it.

Page 1 – Organisation details

This section asks for information about your organisation's details.

Australian Business Number (ABN) details

You will be asked to re-enter your ABN, with no spaces.

If you don't have an ABN, you can apply online at the Australian Business Register (ABR).

If applying for an ABN make sure that the ABN entity type you select is appropriate for your organisation (for example, sole traders and partnerships cannot be registered as charities). Read more about legal structure and ABNs below.

Registration with ASIC or ORIC

If you provide us with this information, this will help us know who you need to report to.

If your organisation is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), enter your organisation's Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Registrable Body Number (ARBN).

If it is registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC), enter your organisation's Indigenous Corporation Number (ICN).

Organisation name

This is your organisation's formal name as it appears on legal or other official documents (for example, your governing documents, such as your constitution, rules, or trust deed, Act of Parliament or certificate of incorporation). This name will appear on the ACNC Register as its charity name.

Other names

This includes any other different names your organisation is known by, such as trading or business names. You can add as many other names as you need to. These other names will appear on the ACNC Register.

Legal structure in governing documents

You need to select a legal structure for your organisation as stated in its governing documents (such as its constitution, rules or trust deed). You are given several types to choose from. This is also what is known as your organisation's ‘entity type’ – its formal legal structure (such as company limited by guarantee or incorporated association).

We will look at your organisation's governing documents to compare the structure listed there with the entity type listed under the ABN you are using for the registration application. These must match.

The table below sets out the types of organisations that can apply to be registered as charities and the correct ABR entity type for each legal structure. There may be some ABR entity types (such as a sole trader or partnership) that we cannot register, but others that we can. Contact us if you are unsure.

Structure of organisation applying Correct ABR entity type
ACT incorporated association
NSW incorporated association
NT incorporated association
SA incorporated association
QLD incorporated association
TAS incorporated association
VIC incorporated association
WA incorporated association
Organisation incorporated under legislation
Other Incorporated Entity
Trust (including testamentary trust created in a Will) Discretionary Investment Trust OR
Fixed Trust (depending on structure of trust)
Australian Public Company (does not have Pty in its name) Australian Public Company
Australian Private Company (has Pty in its name) Australian Private Company
Unincorporated Association Other Unincorporated Entity
Co-operative Co-operative

If your record on the ABR states that your organisation has an entity type that cannot be registered, and this entity type is incorrect, you will need to apply to change the ABN record. In some cases, this may mean that you need to apply for a new ABN for your organisation. Visit ABR Help and find out how to change your ABN details.

Address for service

The address for service is the primary address the ACNC will use for all communications with your organisation. You must provide the ACNC with an email address and/or a postal address in Australia for your organisation. The email address should be the organisation’s email, not a personal one.

If you provide an email address, we will use this as the main way to contact your organisation.

The address for service details will be published on the ACNC Register.

If your organisation is registered with ASIC, you must provide a physical address (not post office box) so we can provide it to ASIC, so the ASIC Register can be updated.

Primary contact for organisation

Please provide the details of a person associated with your organisation who we may contact should we have any questions about your organisation after it is registered – it might be you.

If you provide primary contact details we ask for a couple of details, so we can do identity checks before discussing your organisation’s details over the phone. For example, the contact’s date of birth, email address, business and mobile phone numbers. This information is not published on the ACNC Register unless the contact details are the same as the address for service.

Business address of your organisation

If your organisation has an address it operates from (business or operating address) that is different from the postal address provided as the address for service you need to provide this information. The business address you provide will be published on the ACNC Register.

You are also asked to provide a phone number for business hours and a website address (if there is one).

Any website details will also be published on the ACNC Register.

In some situations you can ask for contact information to be withheld from the ACNC Register (see below).

Page 2 – Governing documents for your organisation

This section asks you to upload a final copy of your organisation's governing documents.

Governing documents are formal documents that include your organisation's purpose (objects), activities and processes. Examples include trust deeds, memorandums and articles of association, constitutions, rules and charters.

Find out more about governing documents.

You will be asked if you have more than two files to upload – if you have more please select ‘yes’ and we will contact you.

Attention - Important information!Before you submit your governing documents, make sure that they help show that your organisation is a not-for-profit and has a charitable purpose. If they do not, your application may be delayed. You can read more about the legal definition of not-for-profit and suggested clauses.

Before you upload your governing documents please:

  • check that you are using the most current version, and
  • remove (cross or black out) any personal information of your responsible persons (such as contact numbers) if they are in the documents. This will help protect the privacy of these people when the governing documents are published.

If your organisation produces an annual report, you can also attach a copy of your most recent annual report here. You can also attach any other document supporting your application.

Once you provide them to us, your organisation's governing documents and annual report (if any) will be published on the ACNC Register.

Page 3 – Organisation's charitable purpose

Date of establishment

Your organisation's date of establishment is the date its governing documents (such as its constitution, rules or trust deeds) were first signed. If you do not know the exact date, give an estimate.

Your date of establishment is likely to be different from your organisation's date of registration, which is generally the date we make our registration decision.

The date of establishment is published on the ACNC Register.

Charitable purpose and activities

You also need to tell us your organisation's charitable purpose or purposes.

Read more about charitable purpose, and charity subtypes to work out the relevant purpose for your organisation.

You will be asked to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from a list of charitable purposes. Once you select a purpose you will be asked to describe your organisation's activities and how these advance the charitable purpose. Example activities are given in the help text.

You can choose one or more of the following charitable purposes as applying to your organisation:

  • advancing health
  • advancing education
  • advancing social or public welfare
  • advancing religion
  • advancing culture
  • promoting reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance between groups of individuals that are in Australia
  • promoting or protecting human rights
  • advancing the security or safety of Australia or the Australian public
  • preventing or relieving the suffering of animals
  • advancing the natural environment
  • other purposes beneficial to the general public (and similar to another charitable purpose) (If you choose this option, you'll be asked to describe your main purpose in a free text field)
  • promote or oppose a change to law, government policy or practice (this purpose must also advance another charitable purpose, for example advancing education).

Please note that if you choose advancing religion, you may wish to read more about religious charities.

You will also be asked if your organisation is a hospital, as many hospitals are charities and are entitled to specific fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemptions.

If we decide your organisation’s purposes are charitable, and that it is otherwise eligible, we can register your charity. When we register it, we register it as a ‘subtype’ of charity, which reflects its purpose or purposes (for example, as a charity advancing education).

The subtype of charity can affect the tax concessions available to your organisation. You may be required to provide further information later in the form depending on your selection (for example, a public benevolent institution or health promotion charity – see Page 4).

Attention - Important information!If your organisation does not have a charitable purpose, you will not be able to apply to register it as charity. Please save your registration application and contact us on 13 ACNC (13 22 62) to discuss it.

Even if your not-for-profit does not have a charitable purpose it may still be eligible to receive tax concessions. Visit the non-profit section of the ATO website.

Beneficiaries your organisation helps

You will then be asked to identify the beneficiaries of your charity. These are people or groups it helps or will help by its main activities. Select all options that apply.

For example:

  • A charity that helps people with cancer could say its beneficiaries are 'people with chronic or terminal illness'.
  • A charity that provides accommodation for people experiencing homelessness could say its beneficiaries are 'people at risk of homelessness or the homeless'.

Your beneficiaries may include some or more of the following:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
  • Children (up to 15 years)
  • Communities overseas
  • Elderly people
  • Ethnic groups
  • Gay , lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex people
  • General community in Australia
  • Men
  • Migrants, refugees or asylum seekers
  • People at risk of homelessness or the homeless
  • People with chronic or terminal illness
  • People with disabilities
  • Pre/post release offenders and their families
  • Unemployed persons
  • Veterans or their families
  • Victims of crime
  • Victims of disasters
  • Women
  • Young people (15–24 years).

Your organisation's beneficiaries will be published on the ACNC Register.

Page 4 – Charitable purpose: public benevolent institution (PBI) or health promotion charity

Some charities with particular purposes can receive extra tax benefits. These are public benevolent institutions (PBIs) and health promotion charities (HPCs). A public benevolent institution is a charitable institution that provides direct benevolent relief to people in need. A health promotion charity must have the principal activity of promoting the prevention or control of disease in human beings.

These charity types have very specific characteristics, including that they must be institutions (and not merely funds), and you will need to show evidence that your organisation meets these. If you choose one of these options, you will be asked to download and complete the relevant schedule and include it with the application.

If your organisation is registered as one of these, this will be published on the ACNC Register, as its subtype.

Find out more in our factsheets:

Page 5 – Operating locations

You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities. Select ‘All states and territories’ or select each state or territory that it has activities in. You are also asked if your organisation conducts (or intends to conduct) activities overseas, and if it provides funding to another organisation operating overseas. This information is needed by the ATO to assess your entitlement for tax concessions. You must answer these questions if you are applying for tax concessions.

Choose multiple locations in a drop-down list by using the CTRL button on your keyboard and holding it down while making your selection.

Your organisation's operating locations will also be published on the ACNC Register.

You need to work out what percentage of your organisation’s total activities is conducted overseas (as part of all of its activities). If you haven’t done any activities yet, you will need to work out what percentage of your organisation’s total activities will be conducted overseas.

Page 6 – Responsible people in your organisation

This section asks for information about each responsible person in your organisation. These are the people on your governing body (such as members of its board or committee, or trustees). Find out more about responsible people.

You will need to:

  • tell us how many responsible people your organisation has, and
  • create a new record for each of them.

To keep adding additional responsible people, select 'Save and New'; when you have entered all your responsible people select 'Save'.

Attention - Important information!If you do not provide us with a record for each person, we cannot process your application.

Details of responsible person

You will need to include the following information for each responsible person, in each record:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • other names known by
  • residential address
  • business hours phone number
  • mobile number (we will only use if we are unable to contact you on the business hours number)
  • if they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (this is optional and will not be published, but will allow us to continue to improve our services for charities)
  • the main language they speak at home (this is optional and will not be published, but will allow us to continue to improve our services for charities)
  • position in your organisation (for example, committee member, treasurer, director).

Withholding details from the ACNC Register

Only the name and position of each responsible person will be published on the ACNC Register. In limited circumstances, you can ask for these details to be withheld (excluded) from the public ACNC Register.

If you select ‘Yes’, then you must choose a reason (a ‘ground’) from the drop-down list. We can only withhold information for the reasons given in the list, and also (for most of them) if we decide that the harm caused by publishing the information is greater than the public interest in publishing it.

Read more about withholding information from the Register.

Suitability and duties of responsible people

Responsible people have responsibilities towards the organisation, as well as to the ACNC, and must be ‘suitable’. This is set out in the ACNC Act and the governance standards (standards 4 and 5).

One way of checking the suitability of responsible persons is to search the ASIC Register of Banned or Disqualified Persons. You are asked to select whether you have completed this search or not.

Page 7 – Financial information

This section asks about your organisation's financial details and what reporting period your organisation uses. Aside from the information about the reporting period, the ACNC will pass this section of the application on to the ATO for assessment. Enter the relevant amounts for each question. If the amount is nil, (for example, if your charity has not started) insert '0'. Enter dollar amounts (no cents) in the format 10000 – not 10,000 or 10 000. You do not need to include the dollar sign ($).

Information about where your organisation gets its funds and how it spends its money helps us to understand how you are achieving your charitable purpose. The details you provide can be based on the financial year your organisation uses (a substituted accounting period).

Income and expenditure – last financial year

You need to provide financial information for the last financial year (if any) including:

  • financial income and expenditure details – the gross income (total) and gross expenditure (spending) for the last financial year.

Estimated income and expenditure – current financial year

You need to provide expected or estimated financial information for the current financial year (if any) including:

  • the estimated gross income for the current financial year
  • the percentage of your organisation's income that comes from donations – donations can include money and other items given to your organisation
  • the percentage of your organisation’s income that comes from other fundraising – including activities such as raffles or stalls, a bingo competition, a cake stall or social event like a film night
  • the percentage of your organisation’s income that comes from government grants and payments – include only those received from Australian Government and state, territory or local government sources
  • the percentage of your organisation's expenditure that is devoted to pursuing purposes outside Australia - this helps the ATO identify which tax concessions your organisation may be entitled to
  • where your organisation gets funds from now – all your sources of income, such as member subscriptions, fees from service, government grants and so on
  • where your organisation intends to get funds from in the future – all your intended sources of income.

Financial reporting period

If your organisation’s financial year does not end on 30 June, select ‘no’. You will need to request a ‘substituted accounting period’.

Request a ‘substituted accounting period’ by telling us:

  • the date your financial year ends on, and
  • why you wish to use this date as the end of your reporting period.

For example, your organisation may report on a calendar year and have done so since your organisation started. We will consider this, and let you know.

Page 8 – Endorsement for tax concessions

This section is about charity tax concessions you may wish to apply for. The ACNC will pass this section of the application on to the ATO for assessment. You don't need to fill out a separate form to apply for tax concessions from the ATO. If the ATO requires any additional information, they will contact you directly.

You will need to indicate if your organisation is seeking endorsement for:

  • income tax concessions
  • fringe benefits tax exemptions or rebates (capped at $30 000) concessions, and
  • goods and services tax (GST) concessions.

You will also be asked which date you would like your organisation to be endorsed for tax concessions from. The earliest your charity can be registered with the ACNC is 3 December 2012 (when the ACNC started), and only if it was eligible and remained eligible at that time. The ATO is able to endorse your organisation before this, but only from the date your organisation became eligible to claim such concessions.  

Read our information on charity tax concessions, and visit the ATO website for more detail on tax concessions for non profit organisations, including the endorsement requirements.

Page 9 – Endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR)

This section asks whether your organisation wants to be endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) with the ATO. This information is collected for the ATO and will be provided to the ATO and other Registers, if applicable.

There are currently more than 40 categories of DGR. Some DGR categories need charities to have been registered with the ACNC before they can apply for DGR status with the ATO. To find out whether your organisation meets the requirements to be endorsed as a DGR, read the ATO’s GiftPack. You can review the particular requirements for the relevant DGR item you are seeking in the ATO's DGR table (see below).

Attention - Important information!The ACNC will pass on the information you provide under this section for the ATO to decide whether you are eligible for DGR status.

If you are seeking endorsement as a DGR, you will need to indicate:

  • that your organisation (or part) was established and operates in Australia, and pursues its purposes and has its beneficiaries principally in Australia
  • if you are seeking DGR endorsement:
    • for your organisation as a whole ('whole DGR'), or
    • for a fund, authority or institution that your organisation owns or includes ('part DGR')
  • which DGR item or items (and its item number or numbers listed in the ATO DGR table) your organisation (or part of it) is applying for (you may need to attach the relevant schedule later)
  • if you are seeking endorsement for your organisation with a particular DGR Register.

Whole DGR endorsement

If you are seeking DGR endorsement as for your organisation as a whole, you will need to

  • indicate if you have a clause in your governing documents that sets out what happens if your organisation is wound up or stops being endorsed as a DGR (a ‘revocation clause’), and if so
  • copy and paste that clause into the text box, including the clause number.

Read the ATO’s detailed information about winding up and revocation clauses for DGRs.

Part DGR endorsement

If you are seeking part DGR endorsement, you will need to:

  • provide the legal name of your organisation, fund, authority or institution
  • provide the business address of the fund, authority or institution, if it is different to your organisation's address
  • tell us if your fund, authority or institution has its own governing documents (such as a constitution) and, if so, upload the governing documents of your fund or institution
  • tell us if you maintain a gift fund for the principal purpose of the fund, authority or institution your organisation owns or includes. If so:
    • you will also need to tell us if all gifts and deductible contributions and related income are deposited into that fund, and if the fund received any other money or property
    • you will also need to indicate if there is a gift fund revocation clause in the relevant governing documents, and if so, copy and paste the clause into the text box
    • Note, an organisation seeking endorsement for a fund, authority or institution that it owns or includes within it must maintain a gift fund. The rules or governing documents should provide evidence of the gift fund's existence, name, purpose and operations. For further information please refer to the Gift Fund fact sheet on the ATO website.

Requirements for different DGR items

Different DGR items have different requirements. When you choose a particular item type, you will be asked further questions related to eligibility for that type.

For some DGR items you will need to provide the details of a 'responsible person'. This is the ATO's 'responsible person', and has a different meaning from the ACNC's 'responsible person'.

Requirements for DGR Registers

There are also certain government registers that list organisations that have been assessed as being eligible to be DGRs, including:

If you wish to apply for DGR status for your organisation and it fits within one of these categories, we will pass your contact details on to the relevant register and you will be contacted by them.

DGR Item schedules

DGR category Item number Schedule
Animal welfare charity 4.1.6 Animal welfare charity
Australian disaster relief fund 4.1.5 Australian disaster relief fund
Charitable services institution 4.1.7 Charitable services institution
Developed country disaster relief fund 9.1.2 Developed country disaster relief fund
Fire and emergency services fund 12A.1.3 Fire and emergency services fund
Private ancillary fund P.A.F Private ancillary fund
Public ancillary fund AA.A.AA Public ancillary fund
Scholarship fund 2.1.13 Scholarship fund
War memorial repair fund 5.1.3 War memorial repair fund

Save your application. You will need to download, complete and then upload the relevant charity schedule (DGR schedule).

More information on DGR status

Visit the ATO website for more information, including

  • the ATO’s GiftPack, which has the different types of DGR endorsements and the DGR item numbers that apply, and the DGR schedules.

Page 10 – Contact details for this form

Applicant information (only for this form)

This section asks for your information - as the person who is filling in the registration application form. You may be also be the contact person for the organisation. If you are not, you can provide your details here. This section is optional but allows us to verify your identity if you contact us to discuss the application.

We need your:

  • given name/s
  • family name
  • business hours phone number
  • mobile phone number (only used if we cannot contact you on the business hours number).

This information is not published on the ACNC Register unless the contact details are the same as the address for service.

Page 11 – Withholding details from the ACNC Register

You can ask the ACNC to withhold (exclude) details of your organisation or responsible people from the public ACNC Register.

You need to tell us what information you want withheld and choose the reason ('ground') from the drop-down list. We can only withhold certain types of information. We can also only withhold information for the reasons given in the drop-down list, and also (for most of them) if the harm caused by publishing the information is greater than the public interest in publishing it.

See more information on withholding information.

Page 12 – Declaration

This section also asks for a declaration that the information that you have provided on this application is true and correct.

This form must be signed by one of the following:

  • a responsible person (such as a board or committee member or trustee)
  • an authorised person who holds a position in the organisation that gives them authority to sign (such as a CEO or CFO)
  • an agent authorised by the charity to sign this form (such as a lawyer or an accountant), or
  • a charity registered with the ACNC (lodging entity) that can legally change the governing rules of the organisation applying for registration.

Make sure the person who signs this declaration is authorised to do so.

See more information on who can sign, how to sign electronic forms and agent authorisations.

Attention - Important information!Make sure you press the 'Submit' button to lodge your application.

Remember, if you have any questions at all about completing the form, please contact us, by phoning 13 ACNC (13 22 62) on weekdays between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm AEST or by emailing advice@acnc.gov.au.