Onyango & Company advocates’ non-profit practise is one of the best and most vibrant in Uganda. Some of our partners worked in the non-profit sector before joining private legal practise. We represent some of the most impactful International non-governmental organisations and local NGOs in the country. In this article, we break down the requirements needed to register an NGO in Uganda, the process of registration and requirements for renewal of registration certificates.
What law are NGOs governed by?
In Uganda the Non-Governmental Organisations are regulated by the NGO Act 2016. The Act governs the registration, management and governance of Non-Governmental Organisations.
What is an NGO?
An NGO is a legally constituted organization under the Act, which may be a private voluntary grouping of individuals or associations established to provide voluntary services to the community or any part, but not-for-profit or commercial purposes.
What are the different types of NGOs recognized in Uganda?https://chapterfouruganda.org/sites/default/files/downloads/Simplified-Guide-to-the-NGO-Act-2016.pdf
Indigenous NGOs: These are organizations founded and controlled by Ugandan citizens.
Foreign organizations: These are organizations incorporated outside Uganda and are controlled by people who are not citizens of Uganda or citizens of the East African Community and operating in Uganda under a permit issued by the Bureau.
International Organization: This means an organization that was incorporated outside the East African Community and is wholly or partially controlled by citizens of countries other than citizens of member states of the East African Community.
Regional organization: This means an organization incorporated in one or more of the Partner States of the East African Community, and which is partially or wholly controlled by citizens of one or more of the Partner States of the East African Community, and which is operating in Uganda under the authority of a permit issued by the Bureau.
What is the difference between registration and incorporation of an NGO?
Incorporation is a process through which an NGO comes into being. It is a process through which a group of persons start an NGO, which is issued a certificate of incorporation at the end of the process. Once incorporation is complete the NGO becomes a legal person, it can sue, be sued, own property, employ people etc.
Registration on the other hand is a process of ensuring the NGO is known by a government entity. The NGO Bureau creates a register in which all NGOs operating in Uganda are registered. Every NGO must be entered in this register.
How does a person start an NGO?
Any person or group of persons intending to start an NGO must develop a constitution for that NGO. The constitution is registered with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). All new NGOs will have to be incorporated at URSB.
Where do I register an NGO? What are the requirements to register an NGO?
All NGOs have to be registered with the Bureau. New NGOs will have to apply for registration at the Bureau. An NGO must fill the application form as provided in the NGO Regulations, pay application fees and apply to the bureau with the following:
- Application for registration by completing Form A as prescribed in the Schedule;
- A certified copy of the certificate of incorporation;
- A copy of the organization’s constitution or governing documents;
- A chart showing the governance structure of the organization;
- Proof of payment of the prescribed fee (In Uganda shillings, 100,000/= for indigenous or regional organization; 520,000/= for foreign organizations; 260,000/= for continental organization; and 800,000/= for an international organization);
- Proof of source of funding of the activities of the organization;
- A copy of a valid identification document for at least two founder members;
- Minutes of a meeting of members or the governing body authoring the organization to register with the Bureau;
- A resolution of members (or governing body) authorizing the organization to register with the Bureau;
- A statement complying with section 45 of the Act (statement showing the organogram of the organization, the requirements for employment of non-Ugandans and how non-Ugandans will be replaced with Ugandan counterparts in cases where the organization employs non-Ugandans;
- Recommendations from DNMC where organization’s headquarters are located and from the responsible ministry or government department; and
- Any statements that the minister may require through a regulation.
After fulfilling the above, the NGO Bureau shall register the NGO. A registered NGO will be given a certificate of registration. Once registered, the NGO will remain registered unless the registration has been cancelled by the Bureau (for one of the reasons provided for by the law) or if the organization voluntarily applies for deregistration or if it is wound up and dissolved.
How can an organization incorporated outside Uganda be registered? What are the requirements to register an organization incorporated outside Uganda?
An organization incorporated outside Uganda, which intends to operate in Uganda, must apply to the Bureau to be registered and issued with a permit. The organization shall fill the application form accompanied by:
A reservation of name from URSB, a certified copy of certificate of incorporation from the country of incorporation, a certified copy of its constitution, or charter or documents governing the organization, a resolution authorizing registration in Uganda, a certificate of good conduct of at least two members, a curriculum vitae of at least two members, a recommendation from their government or missions accredited to Uganda from their home country, a recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda; and proof of payment of prescribed fees. (Registration fees of a foreign organization is Uganda shillings 520,000).
The organization incorporated outside Uganda may be required to fulfill other conditions such as those relating to registration of Ugandan organizations.
How can an organization incorporated outside Uganda apply for a permit?
An organization incorporated outside Uganda shall apply for a permit and pay prescribed fees. The conditions for a permit for an organization incorporated outside Uganda are similar to those for Ugandan organizations discussed above.
What are the staffing requirements for organizations incorporated outside Uganda?
Staffing requirements for foreign organizations are similar for Ugandan organizations. It is important to note that if an organization is employing foreign staff it must meet the following:
Specify to the Bureau the foreign staff it is going to employ or areas where they might be required, show a plan how it will replace the foreign staff with Ugandans (over time), ensure there is equality in remuneration and benefits between foreign and local staff doing similar work, comply with labour laws in Uganda, comply with immigration laws in Uganda; and ensure all foreign staff have work permits and are legally authorized to stay and to work in Uganda.
What happens when the Bureau refuses to register an organization?
The Bureau may refuse to register an organization where in its opinion the organization’s constitution violates any law in Uganda or where the persons applying for registration of the organization give false or misleading information.
Where the Bureau refuses to register an organization, an aggrieved party can challenge the decision not to be registered by filing a case with the NGO Adjudication Committee or to Court to challenge the decision of the Bureau.
How can I apply for a permit?
Every organization operating in Uganda shall on top of being registered by the bureau apply for a permit to allow them to work. A permit can be issued for a maximum of 5 years and is renewable. The person applying must show the time for which the permit needs to operate. The person shall apply by filing application form (Form D of the regulations) and shall specify the following in the application:
- The operations or objectives of the organization, the areas where the organization may carry out its activities, staffing of the organization, geographical area of coverage of the organization, location of the organization’s headquarters, evidence of payment of the prescribed fees (Fees for a permit for an indigenous or regional organizations is Uganda Shillings 60,000 per year; and 400,000/= per year for continental, foreign, or international organizations) and intended period of operation not exceeding five years.
A permit will be issued for a specific period of time but not more than 5 years. It should be noted that the Bureau can put conditions in the permit. The conditions normally relate to what the organization can do and where it can do it. They are normally specific to the subject and geographical area of focus within Uganda. An organization can also apply to the Bureau to have the conditions in the permit reviewed or changed.
How can I renew my permit once it expires?
The permit will be renewed upon its expiry. An organization is not allowed to operate in Uganda without a valid permit. For this reason, an organization must apply to renew its permit six (6) months before the expiry of the permit.
An Organization applying for a permit shall;
- Fill the application form (Form H of the regulations), pay prescribed fees (UGX 60,000 for indigenous organization per year, 400,000 per year for continental, foreign or international organization) and accompany the application with a copy of the audit report of the previous year, minutes of general assembly or governing body, an annual report and a work plan and budget or strategic plan.
Can a permit be revoked?
Yes, the Bureau can revoke a permit once it is issued. The permit will be revoked if the organization does not operate in accordance with its constitution and, or if the organization contravenes the conditions specified in the permit. Before the Bureau revokes a permit, it shall within 30 days from the date of notice in writing request an organization to show cause why the permit should not be revoked.
What remedies are there when a permit has been revoked?
Where a permit has been revoked, a person concerned can appeal to the adjudication committee or to courts of law for redress.
In conclusion, the above are the requirements needed when registering a local or foreign NGO, the process of acquiring a permit as well as its renewal and the remedies one can take if their registration and permit applications have been denied.