The ACNC commonly receives enquiries about our charity registration process. This page provides answers to some of the questions we receive about applying to register as a charity, what happens after you submit an application, and what you need to know once your charity is registered.
Applying to register as a charity
Before you start a charity, you should look at our starting a charity checklist to help with your preparations. We also have guidance about the benefits of registration, eligibility criteria, charity types and legal structures.
Once you are ready to start your application, read through our application checklist to ensure you have all the necessary information ready, then follow our instructions for applying for charity registration.
Our registration application checklist can help you decide if your organisation is eligible for charity registration, and to help you prepare the information you will need to complete the application.
You need to complete the application in the Charity Portal – we have instructions for applying for charity registration if you need help.
You don't need to complete the application in one sitting. If you require more information or if you want to get input from other people at your organisation, you can save your progress and resume the application later.
Yes, you can re-apply, although it is a good idea to address the reasons why your first application was unsuccessful before you apply again.
This depends on the details of your application and whether we need to ask you for more information.
If your application is missing information or we need to ask you to provide more information to us so that we can make a decision, it will take longer to process. We will work with you to ensure your application is processed as quickly as possible.
We generally process applications within 15 business days of receiving all the required information.
We recommend using the registration checklist to ensure you provide all the information we need to make a decision.
We assess applications in the order in which we receive them.
We can’t expedite an application to meet any deadlines you may have; if you need to be registered by a certain date we suggest you lodge your application well in advance of that date.
The time it takes for the ACNC to assess an application depends on the specific details of your application, therefore it can be difficult to predict exactly how long it will take.
Your organisation does not need to reapply for any existing tax concessions or deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsement in the ACNC charity application.
If you want to apply for new charity tax concessions, or for DGR endorsement, you can do so within the ACNC application.
We will send your application to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), who will decide if your organisation is entitled to charity tax concessions and notify you of the decision, or contact you if you need to provide more information.
After you've submitted your application
After you submit your charity registration application, our Registration team needs to review it. This is not an instantaneous process.
We will check that your application is complete and includes all the required information. If your application is incomplete, we will contact you and ask you to provide the missing information.
Your application will then be assigned to a Registration team member to be assessed. We may also contact you at this stage if we need to clarify any details about your organisation.
After your application has been assessed, we will decide whether to register your organisation as a charity, and you will be notified of the outcome.
If your application is successful, we will pass on the information about tax concessions and endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ATO will then assess and apply the tax concessions.
Before contacting us about your application, ensure you have your case number handy. Your case number can be found in the confirmation email you received from the ACNC after submitting your application.
Applications cannot be edited after submission – however, you can contact the Registration team member looking after your application to provide further information.
They can also make your application available to you to edit and resubmit at a later date.
If there are concerns about your application, or about the eligibility of the organisation, the team member looking into your application will discuss them with you.
In the majority of cases, most concerns can be resolved.
We assess your organisation's eligibility for charity registration based on the information you provide in the application and, if required, information available on your organisation’s website or through other available sources.
Occasionally, we need to ask you for more information so we can clarify certain details or to fill in any gaps.
Responding to our requests quickly and comprehensively can help us make a quicker decision.
No – only certain information about your organisation is published on the Charity Register. See our guidance about information on the Charity Register for more details.
In limited circumstances you may apply to have information withheld from the Charity Register. This is subject to assessment and must meet certain criteria to be approved.
This will generally be the date the organisation began its charitable activities and was eligible for charity registration with the ACNC.
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.
If you applied for charity tax concessions in your ACNC registration application, we will pass the information to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You don’t need to apply separately.
The ATO will decide if your organisation is entitled to charity tax concessions, and will notify you of its decision or if you need to provide more information.
Yes, we will contact you to let you know of the outcome of your application – whether it is successful or unsuccessful.
If it is successful, we will contact you and send you a confirmation email containing information about being a registered charity, including the obligations your charity has to the ACNC.
If it is unsuccessful, we will let you know of our decision in writing with an explanation for the decision. You can ask to have the decision reviewed if you disagree with it. For more information, see our guidance about reviewing ACNC decisions.
Once your charity is registered
Registered charities need to maintain their eligibility to charity registration, and have ongoing obligations to the ACNC.
No – the ACNC does not issue a specific number to your charity upon registration.
Your charity’s Australian Business Number (ABN) will be the unique identifier for ACNC registration. Once your charity is registered, people can use the charity's name or ABN to search for its entry on the ACNC Charity Register.
You can download and use the Registered Charity Tick to demonstrate to the public that your charity is registered. However, it is important to note that your charity cannot use the ACNC’s logo when promoting its registration.
You can also use the following statement on public documents (such as letterhead, emails and a website):
[Charity name] (ABN: [ABN]) is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
Accessing the Charity Portal
Each Charity Portal account is linked to a specific person's name and email address. If multiple people at your charity want access to the Portal to complete the reporting or update details, they each need to have their own account that is linked to the charity.
Using the Charity Portal
Once you have signed in to the Portal, click on your charity's name, then go to the relevant section of the Portal:
- Complete the Annual Information Statement
- Amend a previous Annual Information Statement
- Upload your charity's annual report
- Request a different reporting period
- Add new Responsible or Authorised People
- Remove Responsible or Authorised People who have left the charity
Manage other charity details
- Change your charity's Address For Service
- Change your charity's legal name or governing document
- Add or remove charity subtypes
- Update your charity programs or activities
- Apply to have information withheld from the Charity Register
- Apply to have your charity's registration revoked
- Update charity details (address, phone, email, website, other names)