How To Register A Charity In Jamaica

In Jamaica, you can register your non-profit organisation through either the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS) (dcfs.gov.jm) or The Companies Office of Jamaica (www.orcjamaica.com).

Do a name search

Before you can register your charitable organisation, you need to ensure that the name you are thinking of is available. To do so, you need to sign up on the Companies Office of Jamaica website, then do a name check on their website. Here’s how:

  • Go to the Companies Office of Jamaica website: www.orcjamaica.com
  • Select Login (at top left corner of page).
  • Select Sign up
  • Return to home page by clicking Home
  • Select Online Services tab (at bottom of picture)
  • Select Requests
  • Select Name Reservation and select Go To Service
  • Fill out the form and do your name check. If the name is available, it will be reserved for two days, no charge. If you want to reserve it for 90 days, you can pay JMD$3,000.

OR

Download and complete Form 6 (Request for Name Search and Name Reservation) from the Companies Office of Jamaica website. You can download the form from this link and submit the completed form to the Companies Office of Jamaica.

To register through the Companies Office of Jamaica:

To register a Charity in Jamaica, one has to take into consideration the Charity’s Act. This Act provides a comprehensive regime for registration, monitoring, and tax treatment of charities. For an organisation to be registered as a charity it will need to fulfil certain requirements including, it must be either

  • A charitable trust, or
  • An incorporated or unincorporated institution that
  1. a) It is established exclusively for a charitable purpose,
  2. b) It intends to and does operate for the public benefit; and
  3. c) No part of its net income or assets ensures to the personal benefit of any governing   board member or settler of the charity, or of any other private individual

Registration Requirements for Charitable Status:

Applications for registration are to be made to the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS) located at: 2 Musgrave Avenue, Kingston 10, Telephone: 927-4912/927-6572 or 978-1946. A certificate is issued which is valid for 2 years. This must be renewed when expired.

You will need an application form which can be located on their website www.dcfs.gov.jm. Each of the governing board members (i.e. the directors or trustees and the secretary) of a charity will be required to complete a Fit and Proper Form which will be signed in front of a Justice of the Peace confirming them to be a fit and proper person.

This means that:

  • Such persons must not have been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or be an undercharged bankrupt,
  • And must be, in the Authority’s assessment, a person of sound probity, able to exercise competence, diligence and sound judgment in fulfilling his or her responsibilities.

Benefit of Charitable Status: There is no requirement to make separate applications for tax waivers/exemptions in respect of: Customs duty, General Consumption Tax (GCT) and Special Consumption Tax(SCT), Income Tax, Property Tax, Stamp Duty, And Transfer Tax etc. These exemptions will now be automatic.

If one chooses to incorporate a non-profit company to obtain Charitable Status, they will be required to do so through the Companies Office of Jamaica.

WHAT IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION?

A non-profit organization is an association or corporation whose primary objective is to operate a business for the benefit of the general public, without shareholders, and without a motive for making profit. A primary difference between a non-profit organization and a profit making company is that a non-profit organization does not issue stock or pay dividends nor does it enrich its directors.

TYPES OF NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Non-profit organizations are active in a wide range of areas, including the environment, the arts, social issues & charities, early childhood education, health care, politics, religion, research, associations, sports or other endeavours.

THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR INCORPORATION

  1. The Articles of Incorporation (Company limited by guarantee without a Share Capital) (Form 1B): This document basically sets out the name of the company, articles, the guarantee, number of directors and any restriction on the activities the company may carry on. This also outlines the objects and powers of the organization and the rules governing the non-profit entity.
  • Stamp duty must be paid on the Articles, and this service is offered at the Companies Office of Jamaica.
  1. The Business Registration Form (BRF1)/ Superform: This document sets out the name of the company, registered office, name of directors and the principal director, the company secretary and completes the application for the company’s NIS, TRN, NHT, HEART and TCC registrations.

The cost to register same is $24,500 which will have a processing time of 4 working days. The Companies Office of Jamaica also provides a Next day express which attracts an additional  $3,000 (available from 8:30am to 1pm) and a same day express processing which is an additional $6,000 (Available 8:30am to 9:30am).

When your non profit company is incorporated you will take the

  • Certificate of Incorporation and
  • A certified Copy of your Articles of Incorporation and the charitable status application form

to the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Society to request your charity status.

 

Registration through the DCFS:

The DCFS provides registration for benevolent societies under the Friendly Societies Act.

The application form for registration of a charitable organisation with the DCFS can be downloaded from their website (click here to go to download page and look for “Charitable Organisation – Application Form”). This must be filled out, as well as the “Fit and Proper Questionnaire”, which can both be taken to the DCFS office, located at 2 Musgrave Avenue, Kingston 10, Jamaica. The questionnaire is to be completed by each individual on the board and the secretary and submitted along with a passport-size photograph.

The steps to remember are:

1. Application Form or Renewal of Charity Status (Application Form)

2. Certificate of Registration / Certificate of Incorporation

3. Entity’s Tax Registration Number  (TRN)

4. Articles of Association and memorandum of Association (entities registers with COJ before 2005); Form 1B – Articles of Incorporation to include Schedule 1; Rules; Vested Act; or any other applicable Constitution

5. Fit and Proper Questionnaire along with Certified Passport Size Pictures to be submitted by all Directors including Secretary

6. Prior year Audited Financial Statement or current unaudited financials

 

Other forms of registration

Depending on the kind of status being sought, an organisation can be either registered (as detailed above) or unregistered. There are different kinds of unregistered charities. This can be in the form of a trust, or other unincorporated entities.

To register as a trust, take constitution of your organisation to the Stamp Office (part of Tax Administration Jamaica) to get it stamped, and then take that to DCFS.

Other types of unincorporated entities can register by taking their constitution to the Registrar’s General Department to get it lodged, then take that to the DCFS to get it approved and complete the form, after which they get letter to get TRN.

 

See our article: What Qualifies As a Charity, According to Jamaican Laws?

See a list of registered charities in Jamaica: Tax Administration Jamaica’s List of Registered Charities OR Companies Office of Jamaica listing

Source: THE STAR, Jamaica’s Charities Act, Tax Administration Jamaica

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