A religious society is the incorporated congregation of a religious group. An incorporated congregation or religious group acts as a legal 'person' that exists separate and apart from its members.
As a ‘person,’ a religious society can:
- buy, sell and own assets, including land
- make contracts
- be sued
If your religious society plans to register as a charity under the Income Tax Act, please review the Canada Revenue Agency requirements.
For more information, see the Religious Societies’ Land Act.
When to incorporate your religious society
You will need to incorporate your religious group if it wants to own land in its own name. The land has to be used for the religious society’s house of worship or burial ground. Your religious society can own up to 320 acres for these purposes.
Incorporation also ensures that any decisions about the land can be made according to the needs of the religious society.
There is a $50 incorporation fee. Make your cheque payable to “Government of Alberta.” Do not send a credit card number in the mail.
How to apply
Step 1. Choose a name
A religious society’s name consists of 3 elements:
- local description
- religious designation
- religious society element
‘Sunset Rocks United Fellowship’ is an example of a religious society name that contains all 3 elements.
A local description makes the religious society’s name different from others.
In the example above, ‘Sunset Rocks’ is the local description.
A religious designation indicates the religious denomination associated with the group, if applicable.
In the example above, ‘United’ is the religious designation.
The religious society element must imply the group is a religious society and not some other type of group.
In the example above, ‘Fellowship’ is the legal element.
Step 2. Get an Alberta NUANS report
You need to get an Alberta NUANS report and review it to make sure there is no other religious society with an identical name. Identically named societies are not allowed. You will also need to decide if your proposed name is too similar to other incorporated names.
The NUANS report reserves the proposed name for 90 days. The original report must be submitted with the incorporation details and must be less than 91 days old.
If another religious society feels your corporation’s name is too similar to theirs, they can file an objection with the Registrar of Corporations. If the Registrar agrees with the objection, your religious society can be forced to change its name
Step 3. Fill out the forms
PDF form issues
Fillable PDF forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save the form:
- Save the PDF form to your computer – click or right-click the link and download the form.
- Open the PDF form with Adobe Reader. Fill it in and save it.
- Declaration of Incorporation/Affidavit of a Religious Society (PDF, 218 KB)
- Notice of Directors for a Religious Society (PDF, 102 KB)
- Service Request (PDF, 178 KB)
Step 4. Submit the forms and information
Submit the following to Corporate Registry:
- signed duplicates of your completed forms
- NUANS report
- the $50 incorporation fee, payable to ‘Government of Alberta’
- do not send a credit card number in the mail
Box 1007 Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4W6
After you apply
If your information meets requirements, Corporate Registry will enter it into the computer system and mail you a certificate of incorporation. You will receive an email when your federal business number is issued.
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