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cooperatives_and_associations
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Standard fact sheet.
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Large print fact sheet.

Incorporating an association 

Incorporated associations 

Generally, organisations that may incorporate are small non-commercial community groups. The types of associations that may consider incorporation include:

  • sporting groups
  • arts and crafts groups
  • social groups
  • ethnic and cultural groups
  • pensioner associations
  • musical societies
  • environmental groups.

The steps to incorporate vary, depending on whether your group is just starting out or is already an unincorporated body, a co-operative or a company.

You cannot incorporate if you are planning to operate as a business or to provide monetary gains to members.

An incorporated association must have a minimum of 5 members.

Incorporating a new association 

If the association does not already exist, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a name

    The proposed name should reflect the purpose of the association. NSW Fair Trading will determine if the proposed name is acceptable.

    In most cases, a name will be unacceptable if it is identical or similar to one that is already registered. Applicants can check if a name is similar to one already registered by searching the Organisation and Business Names search facility on the Australian Security and Investments Commission website at connectonline.asic.gov.au

    You can also find out if the proposed name is registered by an incorporated association by doing a free online search through the NSW incorporated associations online register. This provides key information about incorporated associations registered in NSW, including an entity's incorporation name and number, date of incorporation and registration status.

    If you intend to reserve a name prior to applying for registration, the Application for reservation of name form is available from the Associations forms page on the Fair Trading website. Additional information on naming an incorporated association is available on the Naming your incorporated association page on the Fair Trading website.

  2. Establish objects and constitution

    For information on the constitution, visit the About the constitution page on the Fair Trading website.

  3. Authorise an application for registration of the incorporated association

    An application for registration includes:
    • the proposed name of the association
    • a statement of the association's objects
    • a copy of the association's proposed constitution, or a statement that the association's proposed constitution adopts the model constitution without modification, and
    • the association's first public officer.

      In the case of 5 or more individuals proposing to register an association, they are each required to authorise the first public officer to apply for incorporation of the association.

      In the case of an existing unincorporated body, the application must be authorised by a special resolution passed by members of the unincorporated body. A copy of the special resolution must be included with the application for registration.

  4. Apply for registration of the incorporated association

    The association's first public officer must lodge with Fair Trading an Application for registration of an incorporated association (form A2), together with the prescribed fee.

    The application can be lodged:
    • by mail to Registry Services, PO Box 22, Bathurst NSW 2795
    • by email to registrylodgements@finance.nsw.gov.au, together with completed credit card details
    • in person at any Service NSW Centre.

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Transferring an existing co-operative or company 

An existing co-operative registered in NSW, a corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 of the Commonwealth or a company (registrable corporations) can apply to transfer its registration to become an incorporated association. If an organisation is applying to transfer its incorporation, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a name

    Follow Step 1 above (Incorporating a new association).

  2. Establish objects and constitution

    For information on the constitution, visit the About the constitution page on the Fair Trading website.

  3. Authorise an application for registration of the incorporated association

    The Application for registration of an incorporated association by a registrable corporation (form A4) must be authorised by a special resolution passed by members of the corporation. The registerable corporation must also follow the procedures in the Act under which it is currently registered, before applying for registration as an incorporated association.

  4. Apply for registration of the incorporated association

    The association's first public officer must lodge with Fair Trading an Application for registration of an incorporated association by a registrable corporation (form A4).

    The application:
    • must specify the proposed name of the association
    • include a statement of the association's objects
    • include a copy of the association's proposed constitution or a statement that the association adopts the Model constitution without modification
    • identify the association's first public officer
    • include a copy of the special resolution authorising the application
    • attach a document from the regulatory authority that the organisation is currently registered with, declaring that the organisation has complied with the relevant transfer provisions
    • include an estimate of the registerable corporation's income and expenditure for the financial year in which the application is made
    • include a copy of the registerable corporation's financial statement for the financial year before the application is made
    • include the prescribed fee

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Can an association be refused incorporation? 

Fair Trading may refuse to register an association and may direct an association to apply for cancellation. Fair Trading will consider whether an association should not be registered by taking into account the objects of the Act and the following:

  • if the provisions of the association's constitution is contrary to law
  • the association's objects
  • where the nature or extent of the association's activities is likely to exceed $2 million or more in income, assets or expenditure
  • the likely nature or extent of the association's dealings with the public, or
  • for any other reason that appears sufficient.

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Other things to consider 

Tax exemptions

If the association intends to seek exemption from income tax and other tax concessions, its constitution may need to include specific clauses to meet Australian Taxation Office requirements. For more information on tax exemptions, visit the Australian Taxation Office website at www.ato.gov.au

Australia business number (ABN)

The Act does not require incorporated association to have an ABN. However, the association may need one for taxation purposes. For more information on ABNs, visit the Australian Business Register website at abr.gov.au

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How much does it cost to incorporate an association? 

Information on current fees is available by visiting the Associations fees page on the Fair Trading website, or by calling Registry Services on 1800 502 042 or 02 6333 1400.

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Need more information? 

Contact Registry Services
PO Box 22
Bathurst NSW 2795
Tel: 02 6333 1400
Free Call: 1800 502 042
Email: registryinquiries@finance.nsw.gov.au

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