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Changing your structure

You might be reassessing whether an incorporated association is the right structure for you. We take you through what you need to consider.

Content last updated 23/03/2022

Changing structure from an incorporated association

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Changing your structure from incorporated association

The information on this page is relevant to incorporated associations considering changing their legal structure.

Sometimes incorporated associations reassess whether the incorporated association legal structure is still the most appropriate structure for their needs and future plans.  An organisation may reconsider its structure when it faces: 

  • changes in size 
  • changes in membership 
  • changes in assets 
  • changes in location of operation, or 
  • registration as a charity 

The relevance of registration as a charity: A Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) structure was previously not considered an option by many small or volunteer run charities because CLGs used to be regulated by ASIC.  

A CLG is now a more attractive option because CLGs that are registered charities are now largely regulated by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The ACNC is a dedicated charities regulator, is committed to reducing red tape for charities, and takes an educative approach to the regulation of CLGs registered as charities. 

Don’t know your legal structure? 

To find out your organisation’s legal structure: 

  • If your organisation is a charity, search the ACNC register. Once you have found your organisation’s entry, you can check your rules or constitution which should state the type of legal structure. You can search by name and by ABN or ACN. 
  • If your organisation is not a charity, search  the Australian Business Register search. You will need the name and ideally the ABN or ACN of your organisation. If your group is a company limited by guarantee (a federal not-for-profit structure) this will be indicated in the entry as an ‘Australian public company’. If your group is a state-based not-for-profit structure such as an incorporated association or a co-operative, it is likely that the ABR will list it as 'other incorporated entity'. You will then need to search your state or territory regulator of not-for-profits to confirm your structure. 

Our fact sheets are designed to help incorporated associations consider options for changing legal structure, and weighing up whether the legal costs and administrative burden of changing structure is worthwhile.

The fact sheets cover: 

  • why an incorporated association would want to change structure 
  • how a transfer of structure can be achieved, what a transfer does, and how membership changes when transferring structures, and 
  • what documents must be lodged (and other requirements) 

More information 

For more information on the differences between incorporated associations and companies limited by guarantee, go to our resources on Choosing a legal structure. 


The content on this webpage was last updated in March 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.


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