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 Not for Profit/Charitable religious organization 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 the 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. Object Clauses (2 preapproved templates available)
  6. Charitable Clauses (pre approved template available)
  7. Gaining Charitable status with Revenue Canada
  8. Initial Notice

Name of Church

When preparing to incorporate 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, also 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.  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 type of religious organization such as Christian, Jewish, as identifiers and often provide a location such as Toronto, Whitby to support where the church is located.

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.

Directors

The requirement 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. When you have more than 3 individuals who are going to be directors of the corporation, it is easier to add the additional directors to the corporation after the incorporation has been completed with the completion of the Initial Notice.

Object Clauses

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

One template has a place of worship and the other does not. Either of these existing templates are considered charitable and are available and usually chosen by the directors of a new corporation.

They include either:

  1. To advance and teach the religious tenets, doctrines, observances and culture associated with the (specify faith or religion) faith.

OR

  1. a. To preach and advance the teachings of the (specify faith or religion) faith and the religious tenets, doctrines, observances and culture associated with that faith.
  1. To establish, maintain and support a house of worship with services conducted in accordance with the tenets and doctrines of the (specify faith or religion) faith.
  2. To support and maintain missions and missionaries in order to propagate the (specify faith or religion) faith.
  3. To establish and maintain a religious school of instruction for children, youths and adults.

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 CRA.

Timeframe to incorporate

The Province of Ontario provides 2 tiers of time available for the incorporation process. The standard timeframe is 8 to 12 weeks. To expedite the timeframe, alternatively, you can pay additionally to have the timeframe reduced to 7 business days. If you are completing a Charitable incorporation and wish to use your own wording for the objects, rather than a pre-approved clause, you must first gain approval from the Public Trustee’s Office. This additional approval can take up to 4 weeks, and adds an additional government fee of $150 to the total incorporation fees. Since Covid, there have been some delays with the Ontario government.  The completed Not For Profit/Charitable Articles of Incorporation and NUANS report can either be mailed to the Province of Ontario or hand delivered.

Fees
The government fees are $155.00 for the standard submission and $255.00 for the expedited. To approve custom charitable object wording, there is an additional government fee of $150.

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 two officer designations that are mandatory for all Ontario Not for Profit/Charitable organizations include President and Secretary.

Obtaining Charitable Tax number

When the incorporation has been completed, the secondary step is to gain the charitable tax number from Revenue Canada to gain the ability to provide receipts to donors. 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.

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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.