Many foreign charities are interested in operating in Canada for numerous reasons including the ability to fundraise and obtain grants for work in Canada and/or abroad, to make use of Canadian expertise, or to carry on charitable activities in Canada.

At Blumberg Segal LLP we assist foreign charities understand the Canadian legal requirements and environment.   There are many foreign charities operating in Canada who are interested in international development, religious activities, education, arts, or health care.

We are frequently asked by foreign charities to assist them in considering the options in Canada including what structure may be most appropriate.  Some of the options include:

  1. No presence in Canada
  2. Work with a Canadian charity that has similar objectives
  3. Special status for certain listed foreign prescribed universities
  4. Special Status for foreign charities that have recently received Gifts from the Canadian Government
  5. Tax treaty exemptions
  6. Representative Office
  7. Non-profit corporation
  8. Non-profit corporation with registered Canadian charitable status

For most foreign charities interested in having a real and substantial presence in Canada after reviewing the various options the preferred route is to establish a new Canadian charity that is affiliated with the foreign charity.  It has the same benefits as a non-profit without charitable status namely: limited liability, permanent presence, and being exempt from paying income tax. It also provides the most flexibility in terms of fundraising and obtaining grants because the organization will have the status of being a Canadian registered charity and can issue donation receipts. The ability to issue tax receipts is the most important difference.

For more information on foreign charities operating in Canada see

If you are considering establishing a Canadian registered charity and would like legal assistance then please contact us.