As long as your organisation/trust/foundation is set up exclusively for charitable purposes and carries out activities to achieve these purposes, your organisation/trust/foundation must register as a charity. Charitable purposes are also known as charitable objects.
When to register a charity
Under Section 5(6)(a) of the Charities Act, it shall be the duty of the charity trustees of any charity which is not registered nor excepted from registration to apply for it to be registered, and to supply the documents and information required by subsection (5), within 3 months after its establishment.
Any person who makes default in carrying out any of the duties imposed by this subsection shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.
Exemption from registration
The following charitable institutions are exempted from registration:
Any university or educational institution, hospital or religious body established by an Act of Parliament; and Any other institution which the Minister by order declares to be an exempt charity.
Click here to view the list of exempt charities.
Conditions for Registration as a Charity
Following positive public feedback on proposals to tighten the registration of charities, the Commissioner of Charities will implement the new regulations specifying the conditions for registration of charities, with effect from 1 May 2007. Under the Charities (Registration) Regulations, charities will have to comply with the following conditions for charity registration:
- the purposes/objects of the institution must be exclusively charitable;
- the institution must have at least 3 trustees, of whom at least two must be Singapore citizens or permanent residents; and
- the purposes/objects of the institution must be beneficial wholly or substantially to the community in Singapore.
Click here for the Charities (Registration of Charities) Regulations.
All charities registered before 1 May 2007 will be given one year, i.e. up to 30 April 2008, to comply with these conditions for registration.
How to register a charity
- A charity may be set up as:
- a society;
- a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital; or
- trust under a trust deed.
The application for registration of a charity can be made on the charity registration application form.--%>
The applicant should get ready the following documents in soft copy to be submitted online using the online application process. Applicants which are registered as companies-limited-by-guarantee (CLGs) or societies may find some of the documents / information below already uploaded on the Charity Portal from ACRA / ROS and hence need not submit the same documents. Applicants which are trusts are likely to have to submit all the following documents:
- Signed copy of the Governing Instrument;
- Certified Statements of Accounts for the last 3 financial years (if applicable); and
- Particulars of all Charity Trustees including the Name, NRIC No.; Address, Date of Appointment and their Position on the Board/Committee; and
- 2-year activities and fund disbursement plan
The application will be processed by the office of the Commissioner of Charities (Charities Unit, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) or the Sector Administrator based on the following categorisation of the applicant organisation's activities:
There is no charge for registering a charity under the Charities Act.
Constitutions for charities set up as societies, Memorandum and Articles of Association for those set up as companies and Trust instrument for charities set up as Trust. --%>
The following are the different forms of Governing Instruments:
- Constitutions (for charities set up as Societies)
- Memorandum and Articles of Association (for charities set up as Companies Limited by Guarantee)
- Trust instrument (for charities set up as Trust).
To meet the requirements for registration under the Charities Act, the governing instrument should include the following provisions:
- Objectives of establishing the charity
The objects must be exclusively charitable and must also be clearly and concisely stated. Any power to carry out activities in support of the main objectives should be provided under an incidental clause.
For a charity which is established as a society, there should be a committee of trustees appointed in accordance with the constitution, responsible for its management. The duties and terms of office of the charity trustees should be specified.
A sufficient number of trustees must be appointed for effective management. Where a charity is set up by trust deed or incorporated as a company, there should be at least three charity trustees.
The number of charity trustees/members present to form a quorum for any meetings should be clearly stated. In cases where the charity is incorporated as a company or set up by trust deeds, the minimum number to form a quorum should be three.
- Amendments to the governing instrument
Any amendments to the governing instrument must be approved by the Commissioner of Charities/ Sector Administrator.
The circumstances under which the charity can be dissolved/wound-up should be clearly stated. Upon dissolution/winding-up, any remaining funds and assets (after settling all debts and liabilities) should be given to other registered charitable organisations or exempt charities with similar objectives.