In Northern Ireland, as in other countries in the UK, the growing role of charities in public service delivery and the substantial social role played by very large, international charities has led to calls for improved legislation in a country where there is no registration regime for charities. Under the previous legal framework charities in Northern Ireland could not register. For practical purposes the main indication that an organisation was a charity in Northern Ireland was having charitable status for tax purposes acknowledged by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
The Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 introduced major changes to charity law in Northern Ireland. The Act established a new Charity Commission, as well as a Tribunal and a register for all Northern Ireland charities.