Friendly societies: an introduction

Find out about friendly societies: the services they offer, how to register, yearly fees, reporting requirements and how to change a society’s details.

Friendly societies are registered under either the Friendly Societies Act 1974 or the Friendly Societies Act 1992.

There are the following types of society registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1974:

  • friendly societies
  • working men’s clubs
  • benevolent societies
  • cattle insurance societies
  • specially authorised societies

The activities of these societies varies, but includes:

  • running a social club
  • providing discretionary benefits to members – for instance during sickness or unemployment
  • running sports clubs
  • managing allotments
  • insuring cattle

It is no longer possible to register a new society under the 1974 Act.

Friendly societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1992 are incorporated entities and are registered for effecting and carrying out contracts of insurance.

Some friendly societies carry out unregulated activity – such as running a working men’s club, or providing discretionary benefits.

Other friendly societies carry out regulated activity, such as those carrying out contacts of insurance or paying non-discretionary benefits.

We are the registration authority for all friendly societies.

Friendly societies offering ‘regulated activities’ are dual-regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Register a friendly society

For your friendly society to offer financial services it must be:

If your society wishes to carry out a regulated activity, such as insurance, then you must:

Fees

There is a one-off fee to register your society.

We also charge a yearly fee, which is based on your society’s total assets.

This fee keeps your registration up to date and covers the cost of:

  • filing your annual return
  • registering changes
  • other services (for example, maintaining your public record file)

Find out about annual fees and how we calculate them. 

Report to us

Unregulated societies

You must send us an annual return and accounts

You may also have to report on other matters during the year. 

Public documents will be published in the Mutuals Public Register.

Regulated societies

If your society is regulated, you must send:

  • your annual return to the FCA and the PRA
  • two copies of your accounts to the FCA
  • one copy of your accounts to the PRA

Change details

You must tell us of any changes to your society’s:

  • registered address
  • name
  • rules
  • trustees

We may also need information about other changes, for example changing a branch’s rules.

Cancel your registration or dissolve a friendly society

If your society no longer wishes to be registered, or if you wish to dissolve the society, you must:

Find out how to cancel your society’s registration or stop trading.

More information

Read more about mutual societies: