Charities in Northern Ireland are being warned by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland that they must check whether they are due to register with the commission – or face court action.
The CCNI began registering Northern Irish charities in December 2013; it has so far entered 770 onto its register and expects to register between 7,000 and 12,000 in total.
The regulator has three lists of charities it knows it will register.
Charities should have checked by the end of last year whether they were on one of these lists; if not, they should have let the commission know. After the initial registration process, which is likely to take at least three years, only newly formed charities will be allowed to register.
Frances McCandless, chief executive of the CCNI, said: "We are managing registration by calling charities forward to apply in groups of about 200 to 300, but if we don’t have your charity’s details, we cannot get in touch with you to advise you to apply.
"In addition to the benefits is the fact that registration is a legal requirement – one that is here to stay – and we will be pursuing those charities that fail to meet their legal duty to register with us through the courts."
An organisation must apply to register if it has exclusively charitable purposes, is governed by the law of Northern Ireland and has control and direction over its own governance and resources.
Unlike in England and Wales, where some organisations such as universities are exempt and charities with incomes of less than £5,000 do not have to register, in Northern Ireland there are no such exemptions.
Last month, it emerged that 10 per cent of Northern Irish charities thus far called forward to register had missed their deadline.
- The story originally said that charities had until the end of 2015 to check whether they were due to register.