A church is a religious organization comprising a group of people who together share the same belief. To operate and function as a legally recognized institution, a church must be registered. To register a church in Nigeria, it is hereby advised to get registered as an “Incorporated Trustee” because it falls under a non-profit organization.
BENEFITS OF REGISTERING A CHURCH IN NIGERIA
It is necessary to register a church because of the privileges that come with it, some of which are:
1. Legal Personality: When a church is registered it becomes a corporate body and a person in law separate from its founding members. It also can acquire property in its name and can sue and be sued.
2. Exemption from taxes: When a church is registered as a non-profit organization, it is exempted from paying income and property tax.
3. Eligible to receive grants and donations: A registered church is eligible for grants not just from the Government but from international bodies such as NGOs (non-government organizations) in instances of collaboration with community building projects of the church.
4. Shows Compliance: Registering a church shows adherence to the governing laws of the particular country where the church resides. It also shows that there exists effective and responsible leadership.
5. Fosters Confidence in the congregants and the community at large.
6. Perpetual Succession: Registering your church allows for continuity, even after the death of its founders or senior pastors, it still lives on. Its lifespan is continuous even if the founder leaves.
7. Ability to open and operate a bank account in the name of the church
WHAT ARE THE LAWS GOVERNING THE REGISTRATION OF CHURCHES IN NIGERIA?
The Companies and Allied Matters Act is the framework for the registration and operation of business entities and non-profit organizations in Nigeria. It is the law that guides the registration and administration of companies, businesses, and associations. The process and method of application for registration of non-governmental organizations is provided for in the CAMA 2020 under part F, Section 825.
WHICH BODY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE REGISTRATION OF CHURCHES IN NIGERIA?
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the body responsible for the registration, regulation, and supervision of all businesses, companies, or associations of persons in Nigeria.
By the CAMA (2020) as amended, the powers of the Commission have been expanded to include conducting investigations into the affairs of churches, obtaining a court-ordered suspension of trustees, the appointment of interim managers, and restriction of their financial transactions. See section 8 (1) (c) & section 839(1).
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTERING A CHURCH IN NIGERIA?
The documents required to register a church in Nigeria are:
i. A minimum of three proposed names for registration
ii. Particulars of trustees consisting of the Chairman and secretary such as name, residential address, date of birth, email, phone number, e.t.c
iii. Copies of passport photographs of trustees
iv. Copies of valid Government issued ID cards of trustees (e.g Driver’s license, International passport, National ID card, or Permanent Voter’s card)
v. Extract of the minutes of the general meeting appointing the trustees and where the special clause rule was adopted into the constitution of the organization, signed by the chairman and the secretary.
vi. Trustee declaration form duly deposed to by each trustee in any high court in Nigeria
vii. Original newspaper publication in two National dailies
viii. Evidence of payment of prescribed fee.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO REGISTER A CHURCH IN NIGERIA?
There is no fixed or general amount for registering a church. While there is no exact cost/amount required for registration, the amount to be paid differs and depends to a large extent on whoever is assisting you with the process. It is advisable to secure the help of a lawyer who is an accredited agent and understands the registration procedures as church registration or registration of non-profits in general, can be complicated if you don’t understand the legal technicalities involved in the process.
WHO CAN BE APPOINTED A TRUSTEE OF A CHURCH?
In Nigeria’s context, anybody can be appointed a trustee provided they are not;
- Persons of unsound mind
- Un-discharged bankrupt
- A person who has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria of an offense involving fraud or dishonesty within five years of his proposed appointment. Section 826 (1) of CAMA 2020.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR REGISTERING A CHURCH IN NIGERIA?
The following are the steps to register a church with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
1. Choose the church name. When choosing a name, make sure the name has a connection/matches the goals and objectives of the organization. Three names or more are needed in case the first one is rejected.
2. Appointment of trustees. The trustees to be appointed must not be persons disqualified for any reason under the law.
3. Seek Professional help. To avoid meeting problems you may not be able to handle in the course of registration, you must engage the services of a professional lawyer who would assist with the registration processes. The solicitor will carry out the pre and post-registration activities.
A professional will to a large extent assist with every other aspect that comes with the process such as; applying for consent to register a church with the available names, preparation of the constitution a minutes of the meeting, etc
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER A CHURCH?
It may take up to 1-2 months to process the entire registration. This is largely due to the 28-day requirement for newspaper publication. Once your application has been received, such application will be considered, and thereafter, the certificate will be issued provided the application meets the requirements.
CAN I RUN A CHURCH IN NIGERIA WITHOUT REGISTRATION?
Yes, it is possible to run a church without registration. However, some specific activities can be carried out if the church is registered under the laws of the clime where it is being operated. Moreso, people may not trust an unregistered church to release their funds.
HOW MANY NUMBERS OF TRUSTEES ARE REQUIRED TO REGISTER A CHURCH IN NIGERIA?
Under section 823 (1), a minimum of two trustees are required to register a church. By the extant CAMA, the application must clearly state who is appointed as the Chairman of the organization and the Secretary among the trustees.
Do you have a passion for promoting the gospel of Christ or to generally improve the wellbeing of others through Ministry? Then having your church registered is the best option and step to take.
Although it is possible to operate a church without registration, you should have it registered to be able to maximize all the benefits attached to registration which will give it growth and stability.
Need assistance with and clarification on setting up a church or religious organization in Nigeria? Feel free to reach out to us through the Whatsapp icon on the lower right part of this page or HERE, and we would be happy to help you.