Incorporation documents

Applicants wanting to be registered as a charitable organization, a public foundation, or a private foundation may incorporate.

Many organizations choose to incorporate because it provides limited liability to their members. When incorporated, an organization becomes a separate legal entity (a corporation) and the corporation (not the members) is generally liable for the organization's debts and obligations.

Some other advantages to incorporating an organization include:

In Canada, an organization can be incorporated under federal, provincial, or territorial statutes. The incorporation documents of an organization applying for registration as a charity will vary depending on the statute under which it incorporates.

The Charities Directorate will not review applications for charitable registration submitted with draft governing documents. These applications will be treated as incomplete and returned to the applicant. To submit a complete application, you must include certified governing documents.

For incorporated organizations (examples include organizations established by letters patent, a memorandum of association, an application to form a society), certified means that the documents have an effective date and are stamped or signed by the appropriate incorporating authority. For more information, go to Application review process.

Since charities must operate on a not-for-profit basis, incorporation under statutes designed for businesses that intend to earn profits (such as business corporation acts, companies acts, and co-operative acts) is generally inappropriate.

An applicant that wants to register as a charity should ensure that the act, or section of the act, under which it chooses to incorporate is suitable for a non-profit organization.

Federal incorporation

For federal incorporation under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, go to Not-for-profit corporations.

A registered charity incorporated as a federal non-profit corporation can operate under its registered corporate name within any Canadian province or territory, subject to any provincial or territorial requirements.

Provincial or territorial incorporation

For provincial or territorial incorporation, see Provincial and territorial government information for charities

A registered charity incorporated as a provincial or territorial non-profit corporation can operate under its registered name within a province or territory.

An applicant should be aware that some provinces have incorporation provisions or incorporation guidelines that may be problematic for an organization applying for registration as a charity with the CRA. Examples are given below.


While provincial statutes discussed below refer to an organization's objects, others refer to an organization's purposes. The Charities Directorate views these terms as having the same meaning.


British Columbia


Newfoundland and Labrador




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