Pre-qualifications Required for Registration as an NGO:

  • Must be a non-governmental organization established on a voluntary basis by a group of individuals without the intention of making a profit.
  • Profits or surpluses generated through fundraising activities should not be shared among members.
  • The organization can be maintained by public contributions, charity, grants, domestic or foreign donations, government contribution, or domestic and foreign funds.
  • Goals and values should not be used for personal gains, political goals, or religious goals.
  • The constitution and other activities should be within the legal framework and social values of the country.
  • The aim of the organization should be to provide necessary relief and services to mentally challenged or physically handicapped, poor, sick, orphaned, and destitute persons and to provide relief to the destitute in times of calamity.

Instructions for Registering an NGO:

01. Social Service Organizations/Non-Governmental Organizations Eligibility:

  • Eligibility for registration shall be a voluntary social service organization/NGO as defined in Section 3 of Act No. 31 of 1980.
  • Before registration, the organization must have a name and appoint a board of directors.
  • Every NGO must have an address for sending all communications to it.
  • There must be financial capacity to run the organization.

02. Composition of Officers/Board of Directors:

  • Officers/Board of Directors shall not be less than five (05).
  • Officers/Board of Directors cannot have more than two members of the same family as officers/directors. No two members of the same family should be appointed to the governing body. (For this purpose, the members of the same family include spouse, children, parents, and siblings.)
  • The majority of officers/Board of Directors appointed for local organizations (NGOs) should be local people.
  • Foreign Organizations (INGOs) must appoint a local person or persons to run the local administration.

03. Appointment and Removal of Officers/Board of Directors of an NGO/Voluntary Social Service Organization:
Appointment of Officers/Board of Directors:

  • The appointment of all officers/Board of Directors should be done through a resolution of the General Assembly subject to the provisions of the Constitution.
  • The approval of the Registrar/Director General should be obtained immediately after the appointment of the new Officers/Board of Directors

Removal of Officers/Board of Directors:

  • The removal of all officers/Board of Directors shall be carried out by a resolution of the General Assembly subject to the provisions of the Constitution
  • The Registrar/Director General should be informed immediately after the removal of officers/Board of Directors.

04. Disqualifications for Appointment as Officers/Board of Directors:

  • Persons under 18 years of age
  • Persons who have been judged to be sane
  • A head of a non-governmental organization appoints as the head of another non-governmental organization
  • Being a person who has been convicted by a court in Sri Lanka or any other country

05. Receipt of Salaries and Allowances of Officers/Board of Directors:
Wages cannot be paid and only an allowance can be paid for Officers/Board of Directors

Classification of Organizations for Registration:
For the purpose of registration, all organizations are classified as follows:

  1. NGOs engaged in projects or activities in more than one administrative district with only local funding are classified as local NGOs at the national level.
  2. NGOs receiving foreign funding in addition to domestic funding are categorized as NGOs receiving foreign aid at the national level.
  3. Non-governmental organizations whose head office or parent organization is registered as a non-profit organization under the relevant laws of a country other than Sri Lanka, as international non-governmental organizations.
  4. Locally funded NGOs operating within the geographical area of one district, as District-level NGOs.
  5. Locally funded NGOs operating within a geographical area within a Divisional Secretariat, as Divisional-level NGOs.
  6. Non-governmental organizations incorporated under Standing Orders of Parliament.
  7. Member welfare organizations:
    Organizations whose main purpose is the welfare of members (not receiving foreign funding) should be registered in the Divisional Secretariat where the organization is established, even if the members are scattered all over the island.

Stage of Registration of NGOs:
Registration of NGOs is carried out in the following three stages:
1. National Secretariat:

  • Registration of International NGOs registered in any country outside Sri Lanka.
  • Registration of any local NGO receiving foreign funding.
  • Registration of any local NGO functions in more than one administrative district.
  • Registration of NGOs which registered under Companies Act No. 7 of 2007

2. District Secretariat:

  • Any NGO belong to the above categories considered under the National Secretariat will not be registered. However, necessary recommendations are provided.
  • Any non-governmental organization operating within one administrative district is registered here.

3. Divisional Secretariat:

  • Any NGO belong to the above-mentioned categories will not be registered.
  • Any non-governmental organization operating within the Divisional Secretariat area will be registered here.
  • Examples: Member Welfare Societies, Mutual Aid Societies, Death relief Societies, etc.
    Sub parameters Related to Organization Name:
  • The name of an NGO or Voluntary Social Service Organization currently registered at the National, District, or Divisional Secretariat shall not be used for any other organization.
  • Every NGO and Voluntary Social Service Organization must not mislead any person, group, or the public through the terms or words used in the name of their organization.
    The following terms or words shall not be used by any NGO or Voluntary Social Service Organization for their short or long name:
    Explanation: Should not be used the terms "Sri Lanka," "State," "Government or Government’s," "National," "President or President’s," or any such terms that directly or indirectly refer to the State of Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka, or the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary or provincial or municipal bodies that indicate it is directly or indirectly connected to them.
  • No NGO or Voluntary Social Service Organization shall use only abbreviations and letters for its name without the longer name derived from those abbreviations or letters.
  • No NGO or voluntary social service organization shall use personal names as its name without the permission of the National Secretariat.
  • The name of such an organization shall not appear any other language except in Sinhala, Tamil and English, or correlating the three languages on letter heads, name boards, sign boards, or other documents, and shall not be used in communication with the Government or others.
  • Every organization that has been registered at the district and divisional levels should apply these instructions as much as possible.

Registration Procedure
International and National Level Organizations:

  1. Every NGO shall apply to the Registrar/Director General for registration in the prescribed form and manner.
  2. The specified documents in the prescribed format should also be submitted.
    After receiving the request, the Registrar/Director General may direct the applicant to submit additional information relevant to the application as may be deemed necessary. If so the documents should be provided.
  3. After checking all the documents, the applications of the organizations suitable for registration, along with the attached documents, will be sent to the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the relevant line ministries for obtaining clearance.
  4. A temporary certificate will be issued to the organization for a period of six (06) months until the clearance reports are received.
  5. After receiving the clearance reports from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director General will check the reports and issue the registration certificate if there is no problem. If there is a problem in clearance reports, the registration request will be rejected.

District and Divisional Level Organizations:

  1. The application in the prescribed format should be submitted along with the specified documents.
    After receiving the request, the District or Divisional Secretary may notify the applicant to submit any additional information related to the application process deemed necessary.If so the documents should be provided.
  2. If the District/Divisional Secretary wants to make any other inquiries he deems necessary regarding the organization, after checking all other reports, and if the organization is suitable for registration, the organization will be duly registered, and the certificate issued by the National Secretariat for Non-governmental Organizations will be issued.

Certificate of Registration:
The registration certificate shall contain the following information:

  1. Name of the NGO, Address
  2. Registration No
  3. Date of issue and date of expiry of certificate
  4. Validity period and other information

Every registered non-governmental organization shall not make the following changes unless it has obtained the prior written approval of the National Secretariat, the relevant District Secretariat, or the Divisional Secretariat.

  1. Change of organization name/change of address
  2. Alteration of objects mentioned in the constitution given at the time of registration
  3. Amendment of the Constitution

Change of Organization Name or Address
Change of Name or Address of National Level and International Non-Governmental Organizations:

  1. In case of the name or address of a non-governmental organization is changed, within fourteen days from the date of change, notification shall be provided to the Secretariat and other relevant parties, including the beneficiaries, by publishing notices in Sinhala, Tamil, and English national newspapers.
  2. In case of a change of name or address of a national level or international non-governmental organization, a new certificate will be issued under the old number after obtaining the following details:
    - Every NGO shall apply to the Registrar/Director General for a change of registered name or address in the form and manner prescribed in the Eighth Schedule.
    - Original copies of advertisements published in Sinhala, Tamil, and English national newspapers.
    - Report of the General Meeting which decided to change the name or address.
    - Copy of previously issued registration certificate

Change of Name or Address of District and Divisional Level NGOs:
Two weeks prior to obtaining approval for change of address, a notice should be displayed in the relevant district or divisional secretariat where the organization is operating.

  1. In the case of changing the name or address of the registered organizations in district or divisional secretariat, a new certificate will be issued under the same number after obtaining the details given below:
    - Copy of previously issued registration certificate
    - Notification of change of address to Grama Niladhari and certificate of Grama Niladhari.
    - General meeting report and its signature sheet regarding the change of name or address.
    - A notice used to inform the local residents