How to Apply

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Applying for charitable status with OSCR.

To help us make a decision on whether your organisation should be granted charitable status in Scotland, you must send us the following:

1.    A fully completed application form:

  • For all forms of charities except Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs) please complete a Charitable Status application form which features guidance notes on how to complete your application. 

  • For SCIOs please complete a SCIO application form which also contains guidance notes.  Read our guidance on the SCIO legal form here.

2.    Fully completed Charity Trustee Declaration form - please print as many of these as you need (please note, a SCIO must have a minimum of 3 charity trustees).  The forms allow charity trustees the people who run the charity, to assure OSCR that they are aware of their responsibilities and are not disqualified from acting as trustees.

3.    A copy of your organisation's constitution or governing document - this sets out the purposes for which your organisation was set up, the form it will take, and what it can do.  If possible we prefer a draft version so that any changes can be made easily.

4.    A description of your organisation's existing or proposed activities, for example a business plan or funding application - this allows us to decide if your organisation will provide public benefit.

5.    A recent statement of accounts, if you have one.

All completed applications should be sent to:
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)
2nd Floor
Quadrant House
9 Riverside Drive

We will acknowledge your application within 10 days of receipt. We aim to assess applications within 90 days. Some applications can take longer if they are complex or we need to come back to you for more information.

How we decide

We will use your completed forms and supporting documents to assess your application against the charity test which forms part of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005  (the 2005 Act).  Our Meeting the Charity Test full guidance and the Charity Test - a brief guide will provide further information on the charity test.

In summary, to pass the charity test your organisation must meet the following requirements:

1.    It must have only charitable purposes.  The purposes are found in your constitution or governing document and state what your organisation has been set up to achieve.   When assessing your application, we will look to see that  your purposes can be linked to those set out in the 2005 Act.

2.    Its activities must provide, or be intended to provide public benefit in Scotland or elsewhere.  We will look at what your organisation does or plans to do to achieve your purposes.  You must be able to demonstrate that in meeting your activities you will make a positive difference to the public in the ways suggested by your purposes.  Charities can provide public benefit in many different ways and in differing amounts.  It is important that your application clearly tells us what you intend to do to achieve your purposes.  Without this we can't assess whether your organisation will provide public benefit.  

3.    Your constitution or governing document, must meet the requirements of the 2005 Act.  We will check to make sure that:
  • Your organisation's property cannot be used for non-charitable purposes.
  • Ministers are not in control of or are able to direct your activities. Read our Policy Statement on Ministerial Powers for further information.
  • Your organisation is not a political party or that your purpose is not the advancement of a political party.
If you are applying to become a SCIO there are further requirements you must meet in addition to the charity test.  More information on these requirements is available from our publication SCIOs: A Guide.

Our decision

If you meet all of the registration conditions, we will enter your organisation on the Scottish Charity Register and issue you with a Scottish charity number (SC0xxxxx).  Read the Publicising your Charitable Status page for more information on what you need to do to promote your charity registration.

Once you are registered, you have legal responsibilities to provide us, and the public, with certain information, and to contact us to get our permission before making changes to your charity.  Read the Managing your Charity section for more information on your responsibilities.

If your organisation fails the charity test, we will write to you, explaining our reasons.  If you disagree with the decision, you can ask us to review it and we will explain how to do this when we give you our decision.

English and Welsh charities

If you are a charity based in England and Wales and you would like to register or need to register with us please read our English and Welsh charities page.

Customer feedback

OSCR is committed to delivering high quality, effective customer service.  To ensure we are doing so, service delivery surveys are sent out to charities which have applied for charitable status or have been involved in a consents issue.  If you have a comment on customer service in relation to charitable status or consents please complete and return our customer survey.