Filing a transition application under the new Societies Act

All existing societies in British Columbia are required to "transition" within a two-year period from when the new Societies Act came into effect on November 28, 2016. Transitioning involves filing an application in a new electronic system called Societies Online.

Steps to file

First, are you sure you're ready to file?

To file the transition application for a society, you must first complete the four steps in preparing for transition. Here is a checklist of what you must have done in advance:

✅ You decided whether the society wishes to designate itself as a member-funded society. (And if the answer is yes, your members have approved this by special resolution.)

✅ You brought the society up-to-date in its Corporate Registry filings: its latest annual report is filed and you checked that the registered office and director information is up-to-date.

✅ You have in hand the society’s constitution, rearranged as required, in an electronic format that can be copied and pasted, such as a word processing document.

✅ You have in hand the society’s bylaws, consolidated as required or duly adopted by the members, in an electronic format that can be uploaded, such as a word processing document or a PDF.

Step 1. Get your society's Registry Key

In November 2016, every society in BC should have received by regular mail an onboarding letter from the Corporate Registry. This letter included a Registry Key (similar to a password) that is unique for your society. If your society did not receive an onboarding letter, contact the Corporate Registry at 1-877-526-1526 to receive your Registry Key.

You need to input this one-time Registry Key to access your society's information in the Societies Online system. Once you input the one-time Key, you will be prompted to change your society's Registry Key. (You will need to provide the updated Registry Key to anyone else who is responsible for completing filings on behalf of the society.)

The Registry Key connects you to the society in the online system

Once you input the Registry Key for your society in the Societies Online system, you become affiliated with that society. When you next login to Societies Online, you will go directly to your society's "dashboard" in the system.

Step 2. Get yourself a Basic BCeID

The BC government has an online service called BCeID that allows you to use one user ID and password to sign in securely to various government services. To file a transition application, you need your own BCeID account. A BCeID is different from the Registry Key. The Registry Key belongs to the society. A BCeID belongs to an individual.

There are three different kinds of BCeID accounts: Basic, Personal, and Business. To file a transition application, you need a Basic BCeID account, which does not require verification of your identity in person (unlike the Personal BCeID account).

You can obtain the Basic BCeID for free in a few minutes online:

  1. Go to the Basic BCeID Registration Page.

  2. Provide the requested contact information and choose a User ID and password.

An email will be sent to the email address you provided confirming that you have registered a Basic BCeID account.

Step 3. File the transition application

This slideshow walks you through the process to file the transition application on Societies Online.

Step 4. If your society is a registered charity, notify Canada Revenue Agency

If your society is a registered charity, notify the Canada Revenue Agency about any changes to the society's constitution and bylaws, and provide the CRA with a copy of the amended documents. See the CRA website for information on providing the CRA with a copy of the amended constitution and bylaws.

Common questions

Is there a fee to transition?

There is no fee to file the transition application. If your society has annual reports outstanding, or out-of-date information on file with the Corporate Registry about the society's directors or registered office, there are fees to bring that information up to date.

When can the transition application be filed?

The Societies Online system went live with the coming into force of the new Societies Act on November 28, 2016. Societies have a two-year window, until November 28, 2018, to file their transition application.

Do you need CRA approval?

No. Societies that are registered charities will have to notify the Canada Revenue Agency about changes to the society's constitution and bylaws and provide the CRA with a copy of the amended documents. But as long as your society's charitable purposes are not altered, there is no need for CRA approval to complete the transition process under the new Societies Act.

  • Reviewed in November 2016
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 6 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Michael Blatchford, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP; Steve Carey, Capital Regional District ; and Mary Childs, Tsawwassen First Nation

Michael Blatchford
Steve Carey
Mary Childs

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