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Register a NGO In Nigeria: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

By Business Advisory Team
Updated November 11, 2022

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a vital role in Nigerian society. They are specifically set up to achieve a goal in society or to be formed as a group to actualize their objectives. They are mostly tax-exempt and derive profits from donations, contributions, or community outreach which is channeled back to their objectives to make a greater impact in terms of their public purpose.

Although most operate simply as charity organizations without registering, they will however lack the benefits it confers on registering with the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C) as it confers: credibility, corporate legal identity and access to Government and International fundings/ grants.

Registering an NGO in Nigeria with the CAC might seem challenging as to; how to get it done properly, the documents involved, the duration it will take, and the general requirements for registering one.

In this article, we will share a practical approach to how you can achieve this and guide you on this big step.

What are NGOs in Nigeria?

NGOs or simply put non-profit organizations are set up by business operators or individuals to carry out acts of charity, social clubs, associations, or for religious purposes.

In Nigeria, an NGO is a body or association of persons, registered under Section 823 Part F of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (C.A.M.A) 2020 known as Incorporated Trustees (I.T) and its best suited for:

  • philanthropic works
  • ‌charitable purposes
  • educational development
  • ‌human rights activities
  • membership for association
  • religious associations, etc.

Below are the steps you will take on how to register your NGO through an accredited solicitor of the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C)

  • Step 1: Name Search And Availability
  • Step 2: Application For Consent Of The Registrar General To Register The Proposed Name
  • Step 3: Name Publication In The National Newspaper
  • Step 4: The Registration Process After The Name Publication
  • Step 5: Uploading Of All Relevant Documents

Step 1: Name Search and Availability.

In order to register any business entity or non-business entity, a public search is to be done on the Corporate Affairs Commission (C.A.C) pre-incorporation site: https://search.cac.gov.ng/ the link will appear with the site as pictured below:

The purpose of having the name search and availability is to enable you to pick out a unique name to rule out any similarity in pronunciation or spelling to any already in existence.

As a non-governmental organization registering under incorporated trustees, the name should reflect the object which it stands to do. 

Example: “Music Elder’s forum”,

“Global Resolve For Peace”, 

“Harvest Field Foundation’, 

"Youths For Democracy And Positive Change", 

"Brilliant Minds Educational Foundation", 

"Network Of Nigerian Women In Politics", 

"Mega Champions Football Club", 

"Jesus Christ Apostolic Ministries", 

"Money-Givers Trust Foundation", 

"Amalgamated Union Of Market Leaders And Traders", 

"Business Ceos Roundtable", 

"All United Sports Club", 

"Foundation Against Trafficking In Persons And Slavery", 

"Scientific Scholars And Inventors Forum", 

"Climate-Change Advocacy Roundtable", 

"International Motor-Bikers Club".

The above listed are examples of NGOs in Nigeria. Just like their name implies, they captured their objects and what they do in the name choice or style.

Step 2: Application for Consent of the Registrar General (R. G.) To Register the Proposed Name.

After the name search has been done and suitable names picked out with no similarity to any registered, proceed to apply for the availability and consent code of the R.G.on the CAC website (also noting that the R.G. has the exclusive right to approve or disapprove the names subject to his discretion). 

The Incorporated Trustee (I.T.) form is self-explanatory and asks for information like:

  • Three (3) Proposed names of the NGO
  • Address and LGA of the NGO
  • ‌Brief description of the aims and objectives of the NGO
  • Details of the trustees: full names, address, L.G.A, occupation, phone numbers and valid means of identifications.

As a mandatory requirement, In Section 826 Of The Companies And Allied Matters Act (C.A.M.A) 2020 kindly note:

  • You should fill a minimum of two trustees in.
  • The trustees to be registered must not be less than18 years of age; or of unsound mind; or undischarged bankrupt; convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty within 5 years of his proposed appointment.

After filling out the above details, make payments for the filing fees through the remitta portal on the CAC website.

Step 3: Name Publication in The National Daily Newspapers.

Following a successful application, a notice of availability report and consent code of the R.G sent with the approved name, its approved board of trustees, aims and objectives. The next step, as part of its requirements in the Section 828 of C.A.M.A 2020, is to publish a public notice of an intention to register an NGO in two National dailies. The publication should highlight:

  • Name of the NGO
  • Full names of the trustees
  • Main aim and objective of the NGO

We see an example of a newspaper publication in the image below:

Step 4: The Registration Process after the Name Publication.

After the publication of the names in the newspapers, fill in other details on the form, namely;

  • Quorum of the trustees at the required types of meetings,
  • The constitution,
  • Governing body,
  • Sources of funds and its application (as a Proposed NGO, its major sources of funds will be from grants, donations and its application is to fulfill the objectives and not to enrich its members).

Step 5: Uploading of All Relevant Documents and Downloading of the Certificate and Registration Documents.

Finally, after filling all the necessary details, upload other accompanying documents for the registration, which are:

  • The minutes of the meeting appointing the first trustees, 
  • The newspaper publication, 
  • Passport-sized photographs of the Trustees, 
  • Trustee declaration forms, 
  • Means of I.D and signatures of the trustees, etc.

Below, we see a sample of the upload portal for all necessary documents 

After the upload is complete and all fees paid, approval of the registration takes 1-2 weeks, subsequently, a notice sent to the accredited mail approving the registration of the NGO, thereafter, its certificate, Status report, and constitution made available for download on the portal. 

We see a sample of the CAC certificate below:

Step 6: Getting a SCUMML (A Special Control Unit against Money Laundry) Certificate.

A SCUMML certificate is proof that the bank account for the NGO is not being used for money laundering activities and it is monitored closely for money trails to assist criminal investigations. It’s a requirement under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 for all NGO to have when opening a bank account. 

Following a successful registration, we apply for a SCUMML Certificate to the scumml portal with the following documents:

  • NGO’s Certificate Of Incorporation
  • Status Report And Constitution
  • Agreement signed by the national planning commission (for international NGOs only)
  • Tax Identification Number (T.I.N) From the Federal Inland Revenue Service (F.I.R.S); for clarification, you won’t incur tax as this serves as a mere requirement to be fulfilled in the SCUMML application form.      

Step 7: Bank Account Opening in The Name Of the NGO. 

This is most important because opening a bank account in the NGO's name shows credibility to the society and the organization is ready to get financial support from the public and receive donations. 

To open a bank account, you will need:

  •  NGO's Certificate of Incorporation Issued By Corporate Affairs Commission.
  • Status Report AND Constitution
  • Official Iron Seal Of The NGO
  • Tax Identification Number
  • SCUMML Certificate

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO NEXT?

Registering your NGO is the right step as this confers many benefits, e.g., corporate legal identity, tax exemption being a non-profit organization, and funding from international and governmental bodies.

It is, however, strongly advised that the above guide serves as a general guide on how to register an NGO in Nigeria and it is not intended to substitute for proper client counseling. For further steps and an apt consultation, kindly consult an accredited solicitor of the CAC to formulate and address key issues related to the governance structure and internal affairs of your NGO.

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