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Overview of the Charter Application Process

Overview of the Charter Application Process

This Federal Credit Union Charter Application Guide explains how to apply for a federal credit union charter.  It includes step-by-step guidance for completing the required activities and forms associated with the three phases of the chartering process.  This guide also provides links to examples and additional reference materials available on our website at

You should complete Phases 1 through 3 in the order listed, submitting the deliverables for each phase to the NCUA for review and written feedback before proceeding to the next phase.  For each phase, the NCUA will review all deliverables submitted and will let the organizing group know when to proceed to the next phase.  The NCUA must find all items have been satisfactorily completed before a federal credit union charter can be approved.

The charter application process, as described in this Guide, consists of three phases:

Phase 1 Establishing a Proof of Concept (POC)

In this phase, you should demonstrate that your concept for your proposed federal credit union (PFCU) is well-thought-out before you begin the application process.

Activities in this phase include, but are not limited to:

  • Researching and determining the purpose of your PFCU;
  • Deciding who it will serve;
  • Identifying where it will obtain start-up funding; and
  • Determining whether it has enough qualified subscribers (individuals who will prepare the charter application and who may continue to act in an official capacity after the PFCU is chartered).1

During this phase, the NCUA will assign your PFCU a Consumer Access Coordinator to work with you throughout the chartering process.  See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

NOTE: The NCUA strives to respond within 60 calendar days of the POC submission date.  The NCUA will notify you in writing if the POC is approved and you can proceed to Phase 2.

Phase 2: Preparing the Charter Application

The purpose of this phase is to expand upon the concept you described in Phase 1 with more detailed information.  You will begin this phase after the NCUA approves the POC in Phase 1.

Activities in this phase, include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and conducting a survey of your PFCU’s potential membership;
  • Analyzing market conditions; determining start-up costs and sources of capital to cover those costs; and
  • Developing a business plan; and drafting bylaws and necessary policies.

The NCUA encourages applicants to use the standard bylaws approved by the NCUA Board.  Bylaw amendments outside the scope of those the Board has already approved are rare and require separate approval by NCUA in accordance with Part 701, Appendix A, of NCUA’s Regulations.

Phase 3: Submitting the Application and Required Documents for Final NCUA Approval

In this phase, you will complete and submit your charter application and any remaining documents.  The NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion will review your submission and reach a preliminary determination on advancing the package for final approval. If approval is recommended, other applicable NCUA offices will be provided the materials for review and concurrence with the recommendation.

Once approved, the NCUA will meet with you to sign a Letter of Understanding and Agreement and issue your new federal credit union a charter number and related official chartering documents.  The Letter of Understanding and Agreement will include conditions for the approval the credit union must meet.  The NCUA will also assign your new federal credit union a District Examiner and a Supervisory Examiner. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

You can submit documentation for all completed phases to the NCUA by email (preferred) at  If documents with original signatures are required, send them to the following address:

National Credit Union Administration
Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion
Division of Consumer Access
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3428


1 According to Section 103 of the Federal Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1753, subscribers are the seven or more individuals who want to form a federal credit union.  Ideally, the subscribers will collectively have a sound understanding of, or backgrounds in, accounting, finance, business, and banking or related fields.  These individuals must undergo an “appropriate investigation” to determine their “general character and fitness” as subscribers, in accordance with Section 104 of the Federal Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. §1754.

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