In order to work with and regulate charities in Northern Ireland, the Commission first had to categorise which organisations were charities. Until the Commission began charity registration in Northern Ireland in late 2013, this was technically not possible.
In the interim period, the law in Northern Ireland deemed charities to be organisations granted charitable tax exemptions through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The most up to date "deemed list" of Northern Ireland charities, created on 18 August 2013, covers over 7,000 charities.
Charity registration began in Northern Ireland on Monday 16 December 2013. However, given the high number of charitable organisations estimated to be operating in Northern Ireland, registration is expected to take at least three to four years to complete. During this main registration period, the deemed list will continue to be used to categorise charities, until a decision has been made whether to register them.
The Commission will also use the deemed list, along with the non deemed and special circumstances lists, as a database of charitable organisations to call forward to apply for registration.
We would urge all charitable organisations in Northern Ireland to prepare for registration by checking if they are on the deemed list and then following the appropriate steps outlined in Are you on one of the Commission’s registration lists?
It is also important to note that the deemed list presents only a partial picture of the true landscape - many charities do not apply for charitable tax exemption and therefore do not appear on the list, while some charities on the list may have merged or closed, despite remaining registered with HMRC for tax exemptions and Gift Aid.
You can find out more information on how the deemed list was created below.
Other registration lists
In addition to the deemed lists, the Commission has created two further registration lists, each containing a directory of organisations which will be called forward to register. These lists are available to view below:
- Non-deemed list: all other charitable organisations, whether long or newly established, which are not registered with HMRC. Organisations will be added to this list as they come forward.
- Special circumstances list: organisations which have made a case to have their application brought forward or have been placed on this list by the Commission. Organisations may be moved from the deemed list to the special circumstances list. Organisations can only be added to this list by the Commission.
The three registrations lists – deemed, non deemed and special circumstances - have provided the Commission with an initial database of Northern Ireland organisations which might be charities.
The Commission will call forward organisations from each of the three lists in set tranches over coming years, ensuring that registration can be managed in a fair and efficient manner.
You can find out more about the Commission’s registration lists and any next steps you might need to take to prepare for registration online here.
The deemed list background
An initial deemed list of Northern Ireland charities was created on 18 February 2011 under the Charities Act 2008 (Transitional Provision) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 No. 12. Under that Order, the Commission gained jurisdiction over charities on the deemed list, including gaining powers, available for the first time in Northern Ireland, to investigate apparent charity misconduct and mismanagement.
On 19 August 2013 a new Transitional Provision Order, the Charities Act 2008 (Transitional Provision) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 No. 211 was made, further increasing the number of charities to which the Commission’s powers apply. This effectively granted the Commission jurisdiction over all Northern Ireland organisations which had registered with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for charitable tax purposes by 19 August 2013.
Over the past year, the Commission has continued to lay the groundwork for beginning compulsory registration of charities in the autumn of 2013.
Once complete, this register will provide a comprehensive list of all charities operating within Northern Ireland, each listed charity having been confirmed by the Commission to exist for charitable purposes.
Given the estimated number of charitable organisations in Northern Ireland, registration will be a managed process, expected to take a number of years to complete.
Please contact us should you have any further questions on this matter. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 028 3832 0220 or TextPhone: 028 3834 7639.