When and how you can get special dispensation to hide addresses and trustee names from the public in your charity’s registered details.
Charity public details: the law
By law, your charity’s public details show:
- a named contact for the charity - post, telephone, email and website
- names of trustees in post in the financial year
Your trustees’ annual report may also contain names and addresses, for example any person or organisation who can appoint trustees for the charity.
In special circumstances, the Charity Commission will agree to remove names and/or addresses from the public register if displaying this would put people in personal danger. This is known as a ‘dispensation’.
Who can apply for a dispensation
The Commission will accept a request for a dispensation from either:
- a charity
- an individual trustee, acting on his or her own behalf
If you’re applying for a dispensation on your own behalf, make sure the other trustees know about this.
How to apply for a dispensation
You can apply for dispensation at any time, or when you apply to register your charity. You’ll need to say why you don’t want your address and/or trustee names made public.
- a domestic violence refuge could ask to hide its main working address to protect the people it helps
- trustees who are current or ex-special forces might be at risk if their names are made public
A dispensation doesn’t automatically cover all your charity’s trustees forever. This means any new trustees you recruit won’t be covered - you’ll need to apply for a new dispensation for them.
The Commission considers each case on its own merits.
Once a dispensation is granted
The Commission will let you know by email if it agrees to give you a dispensation.
Charity trustees’ addresses aren’t publicly displayed so you don’t need to apply for a dispensation for them - see below if you are a company.
You may be asked to give an alternative contact address for your charity, such as:
- another trustee or individual (c/o address)
- the charity’s solicitors (if it has solicitors and they agree to accept service of documents)
- a PO box number
Completing annual returns
Make sure you apply for a dispensation at least 8 weeks before you’re due to complete your annual return. Otherwise you may have to submit your documents again.
When you complete your annual return, you still need to include the information that you’ve been given a dispensation for, even though it won’t be publicly displayed.
Accounts and trustees’ annual reports
Your charity’s accounts and trustees’ annual report will be available to the public online.
If your charity or any trustees have been granted a dispensation from the Commission the information to which the dispensation applies does not need to be disclosed in your annual report and accounts. When you submit your annual report and accounts you should show that there is information you have permission to withhold. For example, a trustee with a dispensation should be shown as follows:
Jane Jones - Chair
Tom Smith - Trustee
XX - Trustee with dispensation
It is your responsibility to do this. The Commission will not remove information from your charity’s annual report and accounts before it is made available to the public online.
When you submit your governing document during the registration process, or if it is subsequently changed, it must be sent to us completed in full showing all relevant trustee data, even if a dispensation is in place which allows you to withhold this information from public display. You should confirm to us who has a valid dispensation at your charity and we will then ensure that the names do not appear on our records available to the public online. If you do not let us know then the governing document and all trustee names will be available to the public.
Charitable companies and the Companies House register
The Commission can agree to remove a charitable company director’s name from the public register of charities. But directors’ names and addresses will still be displayed on the Companies House website. Companies House provides further information on a director’s requirements.