This checklist outlines the information that you will need to have handy in order to fully complete the charity registration application, and to help avoid your application being delayed due to your organisation not providing all the information required.
For an indication of your organisation's eligibility, see our guidance on who can register as a charity.
When you are ready to start your application, follow our instructions on applying for charity registration via the Charity Portal.
Australian Business Number (ABN)
To register with the ACNC, your organisation must have an Australian Business Number (ABN). The ABN must be:
- your organisation’s ABN (not that of an individual or sole trader)
- registered with the same name as stated in your organisation’s governing document
- registered with the correct entity type (legal structure).
Need more help?
- You can use the Australian Business Register's (ABR) website to check the details of an existing ABN.
- You can update or correct ABN details, or apply for a new ABN.
After you enter your ABN, your organisation's legal name will appear. If that legal name is not correct, check the ABN you provided is accurate.
The name of your organisation in the application must be the same as the name:
- listed on the Australian Business Register (ABR)
- shown in your organisation’s governing document, and
- registered with other regulators (such as ASIC), if applicable.
You also can provide any other names that your organisation is known by (such as a trading name or an acronym). Your organisation’s names will be published on the ACNC Charity Register.
Need more help?
- You can look up organisation names on the ABR's ABN Lookup.
We ask the following details of your organisation:
- an Address For Service (email and physical address)
- a business address
- a contact person and their contact details.
You should know:
- Some of these details will be published on the Charity Register. Charities can request that certain information be withheld from the Charity Register in limited circumstances.
- In the application, a computer icon will appear next to information that will be published on the Charity Register. You can also view our guidance about information published on the Charity Register.
You will need to confirm your organisation's legal structure. If it is not correct, you will need to work with the ABR to correct your organisation's entity type.
The most common legal structures for charities are incorporated associations and companies limited by guarantee. Depending on your legal structure, you may need to provide other details, such as your Australian Company Number (ACN).
Individuals, sole traders, government entities and partnerships are ineligible to register as a charity.
Need more help?
- Read more about legal structures.
- To confirm your organisation's legal structure, check its governing document and its details on the Australian Business Register.
You need to provide your organisation's governing document. This is the formal document that sets out the organisation’s name, its charitable purposes and the rules and processes with which it operates.
This document is more commonly known as an organisation's constitution, rules, articles of association or trust deed. Your governing document must include:
- your organisation’s legal name
- your organisation’s charitable purposes
- that your organisation operates on a not-for-profit basis
- the rules and processes that outline the way your organisation makes decisions, the way it is governed, and how it is to be wound up.
The governing document you upload as part of your application should be the final copy and not have any drafting notes or amendments.
Organisations set up by an Act of Parliament, canon law, Letters Patent or Royal Charter may not have a separate governing document. These organisations should provide a copy of their governing act instead.
Date of establishment
You need to provide the date your organisation was established.
- For an incorporated association or a company, the date of establishment is the date of incorporation or registration as a company.
- For an unincorporated association or a trust, the date of establishment is the date the organisation's governing document came into effect.
- For organisations established under legislation, the date of establishment is the date the legislation was enacted.
Requested date of registration
You will need to indicate from which date your organisation is seeking charity registration.
We can only register an organisation on or after the latest of these dates:
- the organisation’s establishment date
- the date on which the organisation’s ABN was made active
- the date on which it meets the requirements to be registered as a charity
- 3 December 2012 (the date that the ACNC was established).
You can request to backdate your registration with the ACNC, but you will need to provide evidence that your organisation was eligible for registration from the date you request.
The date of registration with the ACNC will determine the date from which your organisation is entitled to receive Commonwealth tax concessions. If your organisation wants Commonwealth tax concessions for before 3 December 2012, enter 3 December 2012 in the application. You will have the chance to specify the earlier date for Commonwealth tax concessions later in the application.
You need to indicate every location where your organisation intends to:
- undertake activities (including administrative activities, fundraising, and activities in collaboration with third parties)
- send funds or other resources (including to third parties).
This covers each state and territory in Australia, as well as overseas locations.
It is important you correctly list your charity's intended operating locations, as this information will be displayed on the ACNC Charity Register and may be used to identify your organisation's regulatory requirements.
It is important to know that operating overseas is not restricted to activities on the ground in another country – it can include:
- sending funds or other resources overseas
- activities that are only a minor part of your charity's overall work, or involve only a small amount of money (such as sponsoring a child overseas or supporting missionary work)
- working with, or helping, another organisation located overseas.
See our guidance about operating overseas for more information.
Fundraising in South Australia
Some charities that raise funds in South Australia may be required to advise Consumer and Business Services. If you select ‘South Australia’ as an operating location, we can help your charity through this process if required.
A charity’s purpose is the reason it has been set up, or what the charity’s activities work towards achieving. To be eligible for registration, all of your organisation's purposes must be charitable (or ancillary to a charitable purpose).
The ACNC Act sets out the 14 subtypes with which a charity can be registered. These include the 12 charitable purposes in the Charities Act 2013 (Cth), as well as Public Benevolent Institutions and Health Promotion Charities.
You can select one subtype or multiple subtypes.
An organisation's purposes are usually set out in its governing document. We have charitable purpose example clauses your charity can use.
Your organisation should only apply for subtypes that reflect its purposes, and must not apply for subtypes that it does not actively pursue or that are not included as objects or purposes in its governing document. Choosing subtypes that do not reflect your organisation's purposes will delay your application.
Applications for registration as a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) or a Health Promotion Charity (HPC) will ask for a few more details about the planned activities of the organisation. Applications for these subtypes include a table that asks you to estimate the time and money spent on the charity's activities.
You need to describe how the organisation’s activities work towards the charity subtypes that you selected.
Do not simply restate the organisation’s purposes or objects as written in its governing document. You should provide details about the types of activities that your organisation undertakes to achieve its charitable purpose.
You need to identify your organisation's main group of beneficiaries – who your organisation aims to help.
You can also select additional beneficiaries if your organisation helps more than one main group.
You need to provide the name and details of all of the organisation's Responsible People. They are the people responsible for governing the organisation (such as board or committee members, directors, or trustees).
You must provide the details of all Responsible People in your organisation. Not doing so will delay your application.
We ask for the following details for all your organisation’s Responsible People:
- full name
- date of birth
- residential address
- phone number
- email address
- the date they became a Responsible Person
- position within the organisation.
You will also need to provide the number of Responsible People required by your organisation's governing document (or incorporating legislation). Ensure you have included information for the number of people required by your governing document.
Ensure your Responsible People are suitable by checking the ASIC and ACNC Registers of Banned or Disqualified Persons.
You need to provide some details about your organisation's finances. This includes:
- estimated revenue for the current financial year
- a description of where your organisation will get its revenue in the current financial year
- a description of where your organisation intends to get its revenue from in the future.
If your organisation's financial year does not end on 30 June, you will need to indicate your financial year end date and explain why your organisation uses a different financial year reporting period.
Charities must meet the ACNC Governance Standards to be, and remain, registered with the ACNC.
The Governance Standards are a set of core, minimum standards that deal with how charities are run (including their processes, activities and relationships) – their governance.
Charities that operate overseas (including those that send funds overseas) must also comply with the ACNC External Conduct Standards. These standards require charities to have appropriate governance processes in place to ensure their overseas operations achieve their intended goals.
The ACNC will require additional information to demonstrate that your organisation is capable of meeting the Governance Standards and, if applicable, the External Conduct Standards.
You will also be asked to confirm your organisation complies with the relevant standards.
Tax concessions from the ATO
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is responsible for administering charity tax concessions.
In the ACNC charity registration application, you can select the tax concessions that your organisation wants to apply for, and the date from which they will apply (if approved by the ATO).
The ACNC will pass this information to the ATO for assessment. If the ATO requires any additional information, someone from the ATO will contact your organisation directly.
Need more help?
- Read our guidance on charity tax concessions.
- Read the ATO’s information on tax concessions for charities and not-for-profits.
Deductible gift recipient (DGR)
Not all charities are eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR).
There are only a select few charity types that are eligible for DGR endorsement.
The ATO is responsible for DGR endorsement. The ACNC will pass on this information to the ATO for assessment.
In the charity application, you can indicate that your charity is seeking DGR endorsement. You will need to provide additional details based on the DGR category you are applying for.
An organisation applying for endorsement as a DGR must have a 'DGR revocation clause' in its governing document.
Example revocation clause
‘If the organisation is wound up, or its endorsement as a deductible gift recipient is revoked (whichever occurs first), any surplus of the following assets shall be transferred to another organisation with similar objects, which is charitable at law, to which income tax deductible gifts can be made:
- gifts of money or property for the principal purpose of the organisation
- contributions made in relation to an eligible fundraising event held for the principal purpose of the organisation
- money received by the organisation because of such gifts and contributions.’
Need more help?
- You can read the ATO’s information about DGR endorsement.
- You can refer to the DGR categories listed in the ATO's DGR table.
Request to have information withheld from the Charity Register
You can request to have certain information withheld so it is not publicly available on the Charity Register. There are only limited circumstances in which a charity can have certain pieces of information withheld.
These requests are subject to assessment and only approved in cases where the prescribed circumstance clearly applies to the charity's situation.
Before making a request we recommend that you read about the circumstances in which the ACNC will approve a request to withhold information from the Charity Register.
Only the name and position of each Responsible Person is published on the Charity Register - for example: 'Judy Smith - Chairperson'.
Other information provided in the application (such as an address and date of birth) is not published on the Charity Register.
Because this other information is not published on the Charity Register, do not apply to have it withheld.
You can provide additional information to support your charity registration application, such as a business plan, annual report, policies and procedures, or brochures for your organisation.
This is optional – you don't have to upload any additional information, but if you have something that you think is essential for us to assess your application, you can upload it.
The ACNC does not charge a fee for organisations to register as a charity.