Charitable incorporated organisation

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is a corporate form of business designed for (and only available to) charitable organisations in the United Kingdom. CIO status is conferred by the Charity Commission on application by a charity, whether new or existing.

The main benefits of the form are that the charity has legal personality (the ability to enter contracts, sue and be sued, and to hold property in its own name - rather than in the name of its trustees), and its members have limited liability (their liability in the event the charity becomes insolvent is limited or nil).

Historically these benefits were only available to limited companies, and many charities chose to incorporate as charitable companies limited by guarantee. However, this requires registration and filings with both Companies House and the Charity Commission, each of which has its own regulations and requirements. In contrast a CIO only needs to register and file accounts and returns with the Charity Commission. This aims to reduce bureaucracy for the charity.[1]

Uniquely among limited liability corporations in the UK, smaller CIOs can opt to file receipts and payments accounts, rather than the accruals accounts usually required. But one disadvantage of the form for larger charities is that, unlike for charitable companies, there is no public register of lenders' charges over the corporation's assets, and this can make it harder to arrange finance.

Almost any existing charity, including charitable companies, can convert to a CIO. Once a CIO there is currently no means of converting to any other legal form.