Find out about co-operative and community benefit societies, credit unions, building societies and friendly societies. Check if your society should be registered, needs authorisation and fees to pay.
Registered societies include:
- Co-operative societies – businesses that are run for the economic, social and cultural benefit of their members.
- Community benefit societies – businesses that are run for the benefit of the wider community, re-investing profits in the community.
- Pre-commencement societies – businesses that are run for the benefit of either their members or the wider community and which were registered before 1 August 2014 (or pre 6 April 2018 for societies in Northern Ireland). They were previously known as industrial and provident societies.
Register your society
To become a registered society, you must:
There is a one-off fee to register your society. Read about our fees.
If your society wants to carry out an activity regulated under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), you must also:
- apply for authorisation for that activity
A credit union is a financial co-operative owned by its members. The services credit unions can offer include:
Credit unions are dual-regulated, which means that they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
Read the PRA's webpages for credit unions.
Register and get authorised
Before your credit union can offer financial services, it must be:
Find out more about our online reporting system Connect for applications and notifications.
If your credit union also wants to carry out regulated consumer credit activities, you may need to get authorisation from us.
Read more about credit unions and consumer credit.
Building societies provide many services, including:
- money transmission
Building societies are dual-regulated, which means that they are regulated by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
Register and get authorised
Before your building society can offer financial services, it must be:
Societies registered under friendly societies legislation include:
- friendly societies
- working men’s clubs
- benevolent societies
- specially authorised societies
The activities of these societies vary, but include:
- running a social club
- providing discretionary payments (the society is not legally obliged to pay) to members – for instance during sickness or unemployment
- running sports clubs
- managing allotments
- providing insurance
Register your friendly society
Friendly societies are registered under either the Friendly Societies Act 1974 or the Friendly Societies Act 1992. You can no longer register a new society under the 1974 Act.
Friendly societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1992 are incorporated entities (have separate legal identities) and are registered to offer and administer insurance contracts.
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 offering insurance or paying non-discretionary benefits.
Friendly societies offering regulated activities are dual-regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
If your society wishes to carry out a regulated activity, such as insurance, you must also: