Qualified Donee: Becoming a Prescribed University Outside Canada

From: Canada Revenue Agency


This information sheet explains the process for requesting prescribed university status. It also explains the criteria the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses to determine whether a foreign educational institution can be prescribed as a university outside Canada under section 3503 of the Canadian Income Tax Regulations.

Prescribed universities are included in Schedule VIII of the Regulations and on the CRA’s publicly available list of qualified donees. Only the prescribed universities that have registered status on the CRA’s list are qualified donees. 

As a qualified donee, a prescribed university can issue official donation receipts for gifts it receives. These receipts allow donors with taxable income in Canada to claim a credit on their Canadian income tax and benefit return or a deduction on their Canadian corporation income tax return. Qualified donees are also the only entities that Canadian registered charities are allowed to make gifts to. To find the prescribed universities that are registered as qualified donees, go to List of prescribed universities outside Canada.


The foreign educational institutions prescribed to be universities outside Canada are named in Schedule VIII of the Regulations. To be eligible for prescribed university status and registration as a qualified donee, a foreign educational institution must do all of the following:

  • maintain an academic entrance requirement of at least secondary school matriculation standing
  • be organized for teaching, study, and research in the higher branches of learning
  • ordinarily include Canadian students in its student body
  • have the authority itself to confer degrees of at least the baccalaureate level (bachelor or equivalent) according to the academic standards and statutory definitions of the country the institution is located in. This means that an institution will not qualify if either of the following apply:
    • it confers only associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, or other degrees at a level lower than a bachelor degree or equivalent
    • it is affiliated to a university but does not have the authority itself to confer degrees at the baccalaureate level or higher

Asking for prescribed university status

To request prescribed university status, an official or authorized representative of the foreign educational institution should send a letter to the CRA’s Charities Directorate. The letter should state that the institution is asking for prescribed university status and include, or be accompanied by, all of the following information and supporting documents:

  • the institution’s identifying information, such as its legal name, mailing address, physical address, and phone number(s)
  • the institution’s fiscal period-end
  • a list of all the institution’s current officials, for example, its directors, trustees, and like officials
  • a copy of the institution’s complete governing documents, for example, incorporating documents and any amendments, as well as current bylaws
  • the institution’s general admission requirements
  • a copy of documents issued by the appropriate educational authority in the institution’s country of residence that confirm that the institution is one of higher learning and has the authority itself to confer degrees of at least the bachelor level
  • a list of the Canadian students who have attended the institution during the last five years and identification information for each student. The list should include each student’s full name (first, last, and middle initial (if available)), Canadian address, date of birth, and Canadian social insurance number (if available), as well as each year or semester they attended. The institution may need to contact the Canadian students to get their approval to release this information
  • the institution’s website address, if available

The CRA cannot recommend an institution for prescribed status without a complete submission. All the information above is needed for the institution’s request to be considered complete and must be in English or French. Any documents in other languages must be accompanied by a certified English or French translation.

Under the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act, the CRA can only communicate with the institution’s officials (director, trustee, or like official) or individuals that the institution has authorized the CRA to deal with. If a representative is handling the request for prescribed status, make sure the CRA has written authorization to communicate with that individual or provide a letter that allows it to do so. The letter of authorization must include the printed name and signature of a current official.

Send the request for prescribed university status to:

Assessment, Determinations, and Monitoring Division
Charities Directorate
Canada Revenue Agency
Ottawa ON  K1A 0L5

After the CRA reviews the request, it will provide the institution with a written response. If the institution does not meet the criteria, it will receive a letter explaining why the CRA is not recommending it for prescribed university status.

If the institution meets the criteria, it will receive a letter stating that the CRA is recommending to the Governor in Council that the institution be granted prescribed university status. However, this status is not official until it is granted by an enactment of the Canadian Parliament amending the Regulations to include the name and location of the institution in Schedule VIII. A notice will be published in the Canada Gazette. The CRA will then send the institution a final letter confirming that it is named as a prescribed university in Schedule VIII and that it is registered as a qualified donee.

The effective date of each status will be the date the CRA received the prescribed university’s complete submission. The prescribed university’s name, location, and effective date of registration will also be included on the CRA’s list of qualified donees. While it is registered as a qualified donee, the prescribed university can issue official donation receipts for gifts it receives and registered charities can make gifts to it.

Requirements for maintaining qualified donee status

To maintain its qualified donee status, a prescribed university must meet certain requirements under the Act. These include keeping books and records supporting any official donation receipts it issues and making sure it issues official donation receipts properly. For more information, go to Prescribed universities outside Canada.

Name or address changes after applying

A prescribed university should inform the CRA of any changes to its legal name or address so that the information in Schedule VIII and on the list of qualified donees is correct. To provide this information, the institution should write to the above address. The letter should include the name and signature of a current official or authorized representative. For the CRA to process the change, the institution must also send in the legal document effecting the name change, such as an amended incorporation document.

Certifying amounts for Canadian students

Students from Canada may need the university to certify information to support their eligibility for a tax credit for qualifying education. For more information For more information, go to Information Sheet RC190, Educational Institutions Outside Canada.

Contact the CRA

If you need more information about becoming a prescribed university, you can call:

from Canada and the U.S.: 1-800-959-8281
from outside Canada and the U.S.: 1-613-940-8495
Fax: 1-613-954-8037

Regular hours of service
Monday to Friday (except holidays)
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern time

The CRA accepts collect calls by automated response. Note that you may hear a beep and experience a normal connection delay.

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