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Your guide to incorporation

24 May 2017

OSCR and sector partners work together to help unincorporated charities that want to become SCIOs or companies.

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has today launched guidance that provides charities with a range of information they might need to know before they start incorporating. 

Incorporation is when an unincorporated charity (an unincorporated association or trust) wants to change their structure to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) or a Company. There are many reasons why a charity might want do this; the charity may want legal personality, employ staff or they may be looking to secure funding streams. A charity seeking to incorporate must apply to OSCR to create a new charity and apply for consent to wind up the existing charity.  Once status and consent is granted, the ‘old charity’ can then transfer the assets and liabilities to the ‘new charity’.

In A Guide to Incorporation, OSCR has expanded its guidance on the incorporation process in an easy-to-digest format and is signposting charities to factsheets containing expert information from a range of organisations covering:

  • Accounting requirements
  • Pension fund considerations
  • Early Years Charities
  • Care Inspectorate requirements
  • Transferring assets and liabilities
  • Banks, Investments, Insurance and Licenses
  • Tax matters

OSCR Head of Casework Martin Tyson said,

“Incorporation is a significant decision for any charity as there are important actions the charity will have to take. It’s not just about applying to OSCR, charity trustees and members need to understand the full implications of the decision, plan ahead and take into account that it will take time for the process to be completed.

“At OSCR, we listen to the sector. We identified the need for more support when charities are looking to incorporate and so we began working with experts across the sector to provide a clear pathway.

“We would like to thank all of the organisations who contributed material to the guidance and we hope that every charity takes the time to understand its content before making any incorporation decisions.”


  1. The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is the independent regulator and registrar of Scotland’s 24,000 charities and publishes the Scottish Charity Register at Our vision is for charities in which the public has confidence and which provide public benefit.
  2. The following organisations provided information for the incorporation guidance: Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC), Charity Law sub-committee of the Law Society of Scotland, Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations (ACVO), Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), Early Years Scotland and the Care Inspectorate.
  3. A Guide to Incorporation can be found here
  4. Any further media queries should be made to Ian Grieve or Judith Pogorzelec, or 01382 220446