Independent examination of charity accounts: guidance for trustees (CC31)

Guidance explains what independent examination involves, how to select an independent examiner for your charity and what you need to do to prepare for an independent examination.

Applies to England and Wales


Appendix: independent examination of charity accounts CC31

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Where a charity’s annual income is over £25,000, the trustees must arrange for an independent person or accountancy firm to carry out either an audit or an independent examination of their charity’s accounts. The purpose of this is to give the trustees, and those who support or fund the charity, some independent assurance that the charity’s money has been properly accounted for and accounting records kept. The trustees of most charities are able to choose to have an independent examination instead of an audit. Independent examination is a ‘light touch’ scrutiny involving the examiner checking for specific matters only. Because it is narrowly defined and does not involve forming an opinion as to whether the accounts are ‘true and fair’, it usually costs less than an audit.

It is the trustees’ responsibility to select a competent person who has the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake a successful independent examination. For those charities with an income of more than £250,000, the trustees must check that the person is qualified and eligible to act as their examiner.

This guidance gives trustees the information they need to:

  • check whether their charity can have its accounts independently examined instead of audited
  • appoint a suitable person to carry out the independent examination, and
  • prepare for the independent examination
Published 1 March 2012
Last updated 14 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. The guidance has been updated to include the use of electronic signatures on the balance sheet, trustees' annual report and independent examination.

  2. In 2017 we updated our guidance to independent examiners (CC32). We have now updated our parallel guidance to trustees on independent examination (CC31). The updated guidance is much shorter than the previous version and focusses on the key things that trustees need to know about independent examination.

  3. First published.