Information on the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), a new legal form for registered Scottish charities.
The Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) is a
new legal form for registered Scottish charities. The SCIO is
a corporate body which is a legal entity able to enter into
contracts, employ staff, incur debts, own property, sue and be
There are important differences between being a SCIO and being
any other type of body with charitable status in Scotland.
Before applying to become a SCIO, organisations need to be fully
aware of the implications that this form of charitable status
brings. Please read our publication, SCIOs: A Guide and our SCIOs: FAQs for
This new form of charitable status has been available from 1
April 2011 to individuals thinking about applying for charitable
status for a new organisation and, on a phased basis as follows, to
existing charities wishing to change their legal form:
- existing charitable companies and charitable industrial and
provident societies are able to apply to convert to SCIO form as of
1 January 2012
- existing Scottish charities which are any other type of legal
form have been able to apply to change legal form to a SCIO from 1
Managing your SCIO
SCIOs, as with all other types of charitable bodies registered
in Scotland, have certain legal requirements to meet, for example
reporting to OSCR on an annual basis.
It is important for organisations to understand the operating
and reporting requirements for SCIOs. Further information is
available from section 5 of our publication, SCIOs: A Guide, and the Managing
your charity section of the website.
Help in setting up your SCIO
While we can advise you on the application process and
meeting our requirements, we are unable to help you with setting up
your SCIO. Information and guidance about setting up a SCIO
is available from:
Applying for SCIO status
Our How to
Apply page provides advice on the SCIO application
process. If you are an existing charity wishing
to change legal form to a SCIO, please read our Making changes to your
charity page for further information and an application
Can a charity registered with the Charity Commission become a
Charity trustees of unincorporated charities that are registered
with both the Charity Commission and with OSCR (known as
'cross-border charities') may decide that they wish to incorporate
by becoming a SCIO.
While this is possible, the charity trustees must be aware that
changing the charity's legal form to a SCIO will result in the
charity ending its registration with the Charity Commission and
being regulated solely by OSCR. This is because SCIOs are
established under Scottish law, and therefore do not fall within
the Charity Commission's jurisdiction.
Cross-border charities which wish to become SCIOs should firstly
apply to OSCR to incorporate a new SCIO. If that application
is successful and the new SCIO is registered, the charity trustees
should then apply to dissolve the unincorporated cross-border
charity and transfer its assets to the SCIO.
Once the Charity Commission has received confirmation that the
unincorporated charity has been dissolved and the assets have been
transferred to the SCIO, it will remove that unincorporated charity
from its charity register.
It is also now possible for a charity registered in England and
Wales to adopt a similar legal form to that of the SCIO; this is
known as the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). A
CIO can register with both the Charity Commission and with OSCR as
a cross-border charity.
Can a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) become a SCIO?
If your charity is a RSL and you are considering changing legal
form to become a SCIO, we advise you to contact the Scottish
Housing Regulator in the first instance to discuss this
Working with SCIOs
Our Working with SCIOs leaflet gives
anyone who is working with, or planning to work with, SCIOs more
details about this new legal form and how it is regulated. We
explain what is different about SCIOs, the rules they must comply
with, and what you need to know if you are considering working with
Applications to dissolve a SCIO
SCIOs must apply to OSCR if they want to dissolve. You can
complete our application forms to dissolve solvent and insolvent SCIOs. Each form contains
Note that, as part of charity law, OSCR is required to publish
these applications. Current applications can be found