Applying for status as a registered national arts service organization

Arts organizations may apply to the Department of Canadian Heritage to be designated as a National arts service organization (NASO), and then to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to become registered. This will allow the registered national arts service organization (RNASO) to issue tax receipts for donations it receives.

Application process

If the organization qualifies as a NASO, the Minister of Canadian Heritage will inform the organization and forward the necessary documentation to the CRA for consideration as a registered national arts service organization.

The CRA will notify the organization if it meets the criteria for registration.

To qualify for registration with the CRA, the national arts service organization must:  

  • be created and be resident in Canada
  • be formed and operated exclusively to promote the arts on a nation-wide basis
  • meet the criteria similar to that of a registered charity

To be registered by the CRA, the organization must also:  

  • make no part of its income payable to, or available for the personal benefit of, any owner, member, shareholder, trustee, or settler (exceptions include payments for an amount in respect of a scholarship, bursaries, or services rendered)
  • devote all of its resources to the purposes (objects) and activities described in its application for registration
  • have more than 50% of its directors, trustees, officers, or other officials deal with each other at arm's length
  • have no more than 50% of its property, at any time, contributed or paid by one person or members of a group of persons who do not deal with each other at arm's length. Exceptions include:
    • Her Majesty in right of Canada, a province, or a territory
    • a municipality
    • a registered charity that is not a private foundation
    • any non-profit organization   

In addition to the above, a registered national arts service organization must also limit its activities to the following which are described in more detail in Regulation 8700 of the Income Tax Act:

  • promoting one or more art forms
  • conducting research into one or more art forms
  • sponsoring arts exhibitions or performances
  • representing interests of the arts community or a sector of it (but not of individuals)
  • conducting workshops, seminars, training programs, and similar development programs for members of the organization
  • educating the public about the arts community
  • organizing and sponsoring conventions, conferences, competitions, and special events
  • conducting arts studies and surveys of interest to members of the organization
  • acting as an information centre by maintaining resource libraries and data bases
  • disseminating information
  • providing scholarships, bursaries, and awards

Once the organization has been granted registration by the CRA, it is allowed to issue official donation receipts. A registered national arts service organization is considered a registered charity for operating purposes under the Income Tax Act. For more information, go to Operating a registered charity.

For a list of registered national arts service organizations, go to the Charities Listings - advanced search and select "Registered national arts service organization (RNASO)" from the dropdown Category list.  

Please note that a registered national arts service organization is not a charity or public institution under the Excise Tax Act. For more information, go to Registered national arts service organizations and GST/HST.

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