How to Register Our Church in Ontario

registering your church

Original Post Date: Aug 24, 2018

If you are looking at registering a church or religious organization in Ontario, here is an overview of what is required to incorporate and register as a charitable organization.  Incorporating a church planting in Ontario supports the gathering of individuals who wish to worship together holding the same beliefs. Churches have provided support to those in need for centuries.  The availability to incorporate and gain charitable tax status in Canada gives religious organizations access to gain donations from church attendees and to issue official donation receipts or issue tax receipts to those who contribute once the incorporation has been completed and the church becomes a registered charity through the Canada Revenue Agency.  When charitable status has been approved, funding from donees can be used to assist people in distress by providing support such as food banks, help for substance abuse and relief of poverty within the community.

To Complete the Incorporation

There are a number of items required to incorporate a church or religious organization within Ontario.  They are as follows:

  1.  Name of Church
  2.  Address of Church (registered office address)
  3.  Minimum of 3 Directors to start and maintain the organization
  4. NUANS Report
  5. Charitable purposes (pre approved wording available)
  6. Charitable Special Provisions (pre approved template available
  7. Registering for Charitable status with Revenue Canada
  8. Initial Notice

Name of Church

When preparing to apply for registration of a religious organization in Ontario, it is mandatory to include an Ontario biased NUANS report.   The NUANS report can be obtained as part of the incorporation package or you can select to order the NUANS report separately prior to incorporation.  The NUANS is valid for 90 days and provides lots of time to prepare and file the Not For Profit Articles of Incorporation, previously known as Letters Patent. It is important to provide a unique name to your church, unless you are affiliated and can gain consent from the governing church organization. 

The Provincial examiners will review your proposed church corporate name against existing church organizations in Canada through what is called the NUANS report. This report provides a listing of similar named businesses, corporations and trademarks to the name you would like to use. A pre-search or preliminary search can be completed to see if the Church name is available prior to ordering the NUANS report or as part of the Nuans order request. Typically, a pre-search will be completed to see if there are confusing or similarly named businesses prior to the six page report being ordered.

How to Choose the Name of Our Church?

The name of the church or religious organization should have a few key elements as part of the business name.  The name must include wording such as church, mission, or other religious wording to clarify that this is a religious organization and reflect the charitable purposes included in the documents.  This is considered the descriptive part of the name and provides an indication as to what type of religious organization the entity is. The other element needed is a distinctive component, which differentiates the organization from other existing entities.  Many choose to include the religious denominations such as Christian, Jewish, as identifiers and often provide a location such as Toronto, Whitby to support where the church is located.

not for profit / charitable incorporation

Address of Church

When preparing the Not For Profit/Charitable Articles of Incorporation, you are required to provide a physical address for the Church.  If the church has a physical address as a place or worship, this address may be provided, if not, often businesses will use one of the directors home addresses as a contact address for the organization. The address for an Ontario church must be listed within the province.


The requirement under the Ontario Not for Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) is for a minimum of 3 directors for incorporation purposes. Each individual must provide their legal name and address and either provide their original signature on the incorporation documents for filing or scanned copy of their original signatures. If you have directors in different locations, it is much easier to obtain scanned signatures of the documents instead of obtaining original signatures for each person signing. 

Previously, it was not required to list a minimum/maximum number of directors for a not for profit. Under the new ONCA, this is now a requirement. If you are planning on adding more directors down the road, you may want to leave space to add these new directors by listing a higher number of maximum directors, although this can always be changed at a later time through filing Articles of Amendment.

Object Clauses

Object and purposes clauses provide the purpose of the corporation.  The Ontario government has provided pre approved religious organization charitable purposes wording that they will accept within your filing.

You are able to include any or all of these that apply to your specific religious organization, and all are considered charitable purposes by the Canada Revenue Agency.

These are noted below:

  • To advance religion by teaching the religious tenets, doctrines, and observances associated with [specify religion or faith].
  • To advance religion by preaching the teachings, and religious tenets, doctrines and observances, associated with [specify faith or religion].
  • To advance religion by establishing and maintaining a house of worship with services conducted (or held) in accordance with the tenets and doctrines of [specify faith or religion].
  • To advance religion by establishing and maintaining a religious school of instruction on the subject of [specify faith or religion] for [specify children, youths, and/or adults].
  • To advance religion by establishing a facility to be used for religious programs, workshops, music, and [specify for example Bible, Qur’anic, Talmudic or other] studies.

Charitable Clauses

There are standard charitable clauses as well submitted within the incorporation document. These clauses would set out the special provisions for a charitable organization and must be included in order to be approved as a charity and gain charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Timeframe to Incorporate

The Province of Ontario now provides electronic filing for Ontario Charitable registrations. The standard timeframe is 7 business days for most registrations. There are some instances where additional approvals may be required. This is typically the case if you are using your own wording for the charitable purposes or you are including the word ‘Charity’ or ‘Foundation’ within the name. In these instances, the purposes and/or name would first need approval from the Public Guardian and Trustee. This can add several days to the approval process.

The government fees are $155.00 for Ontario charity registrations.

Initial Notice

The Initial Notice is mandatory with the Province of Ontario to be completed, whether the incorporation is profit, non profit or charitable.  The Initial Notice is required within 60 days after completion of the Not For Profit/Charitable incorporation and is available as a part of our Not For Profit/Charitable incorporation process.  The Initial Notice requires confirmation of the continued details for the corporation including the address of the business, names and addresses of the directors and any officer positions created to operate the organization.  The requirement for a not for profit or charitable organization is to list a ‘Chair’ position. This can be listed as either Chair, Chairperson, Chairman or Chairwoman.

Obtaining a Charitable Tax number

When the incorporation has been completed, the secondary step is to gain the charitable status from Revenue Canada to gain the ability to provide donation receipts. The completed Charitable articles have to be provided, along with an application to Revenue Canada for review and approval. The application’s timeframe is typically 6 to 8 months to become a registered charity. Once the application has been reviewed and approved from Revenue Canada, this will provide the corporation the ability to issue tax receipts for donations. Many supporters prefer when there are official donation receipts, as they may also be able to claim this on their taxes.

We have been assisting those wishing to incorporate a church for over 25 years.

Ontario Business Central offers step by step assistance through our easy online application, where you provide the details as listed above of your set up and we do the paperwork and filing with the Province on your behalf.

Here is the link to begin processing your church organization.

Ontario Church Incorporation

If you would like further information, please contact our office or have a look at our online application.
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-1913
Local: 1-416-599-9009
Fax: 1-866-294-4363
Office Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Friday E.S.T.

Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.