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Charities in Scotland

Charities in Scotland are regulated by the Scottish charity regulator, which is called the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). OSCR also awards charitable status in Scotland. There are currently just over 23,500 charities in Scotland, ranging from small local charities to large international charities.

OSCR is an independent body, and you can find out more information about it by visiting its website.

Scottish Charity Law

The Scottish Government is responsible for the legal framework surrounding charities in Scotland. The Scottish Government recognises and values the important role that charities play in Scotland and is committed to supporting and encouraging charitable activity in Scotland, while reassuring the public that their money is being well used and that support is being properly provided. This approach is underpinned by the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 which modernises Scottish charity law, and sets out the framework within which charities and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) must operate. The Act improves and strengthens the regulation of charities operating in Scotland in a way that builds on the value that charities bring to Scottish society.

The Scottish Government's Third Sector Unit is in charge of the work surrounding charity law in Scotland. The focus of our work is the continuing implementation of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and the remaining regulations under it. We also deal with policy issues relating to charity law and regulation in Scotland, provide liaison with OSCR and sponsor the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel (SCAP).

Find out more about the 2005 Act and secondary legislation

Find answers to FAQs and other useful links

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)

A Scottish charitable incorporated organisation (SCIO) is a new legal form established under chapter 7 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, which allows Scottish charities to incorporate without having to become companies or industrial and provident societies. SCIOs became available to new and unincorporated Scottish charities on 1 April 2011. Provisions allowing charitable companies and industrial and provident (or friendly) societies to be converted to SCIOs came into force on 1 January 2012.

The Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations Regulations 2011 and the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Removal from Register and Dissolution) Regulations 2011 came into force on 1 April 2011.

Find out more about SCIOs