Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation - SCIO

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IMPORTANT:  Before adopting this structure, it is vital that you obtain professional advice.

(extracted from OSCR’s Leaflet  ‘Working with SCIOs’ 2011)

What’s different about SCIOs?

The SCIO legal form is available only to Scottish charities. The Scottish Government introduced the SCIO form in April 2011 to allow charities the advantages of being incorporated, without the burden of reporting to two regulators.

SCIOs are incorporated but are administered and regulated by a single body, namely OSCR.  This contrasts with charitable companies, which are also incorporated, and report both to OSCR and to Companies House, the official registrar of private and public companies in the UK.

A SCIO’s charity trustees generally have limited liability because the SCIO is incorporated. This is not the case for unincorporated associations where individual charity trustees are potentially personally liable for the charity’s debts or commitments. Since a SCIO has its own legal personality, there are advantages in terms of its continuity since the charity can continue to own or rent property and hold other contracts whether or not individuals leave or join the organisation.

SCIOs must have a head office in Scotland.  They must also keep a register of their members, something other charities do not have to do under charity law.

A SCIO can only exist as long as it is a charity entered in the Scottish Charity Register. Unlike other charities, SCIOs cannot carry on operating if they cease to be charities.

Further reading


IMPORTANT:  Before adopting this legal structure, it is vital that you obtain professional advice.