As set forth in the Act and Chartering Manual, there are three types of federal credit union charters: single common bond (one occupational or associational group), multiple common bond (multiple groups), and community. Each of these has a common bond requirement for potential members:
- Occupational (members work for the same employer or in the same line of work);
- Associational (members belong to a particular church; professional, civic, or fraternal group, or labor union); or
- Community (members live, work, worship, or attend school in the same geographic area).
That common bond is known as the credit union’s field of membership (FOM). Every credit union must establish a FOM that is permissible under law and regulation, and only persons or groups within the FOM—and a few others by virtue of their close relationship to a member—may join the credit union.1 For example, a member’s immediate family or household members may join the credit union. Other eligible groups, along with additional information on FOMs, can be found in Appendix B to Part 701 - Chartering and Field of Membership Manual (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) .
The following sections provide specific details about the three FOM charter types. The NCUA will provide preliminary approval of one of the three FOM types once you submit the required documentation. Information about qualifying for a low-income designation based on your PFCU’s FOM is also outlined later in this chapter, along with the potential benefits of such a designation.
1 Immediate family is defined as spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or grandchild. This includes stepparents, stepchildren, stepsiblings, and adoptive relationships. Household is defined as persons living in the same residence maintaining a single economic unit. A PFCU can adopt a more restrictive definition of immediate family or household.