The CRA has service standards and the Charities Directorate publishes those service standards.  The service standards are for “enquiries” and “charity applications”.  At the moment, despite COVID, anecdotally it seems that CRA has been quite quick in their responses especially if one is using their online system.

This is important because for many groups, wanting to apply for charity status, or requesting information or consent from CRA the most frustrating part can be the delay.   About 3 years ago CRA was in some cases taking over a year to acknowledge a merger that had already taken place!  So it is very good that they are responding quickly.  The service standards give you an indication of typically turnaround times but often with more complicated matters for CRA (not whether you think it is complicated) it can take much longer. 

Service Standards 2020-2021

Service standards publicly state the level of performance that citizens can reasonably expect to encounter under normal circumstances. The Canada Revenue Agency has developed these standards as part of its ongoing commitment to quality client service.

Charities – written enquiries

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for responding to written enquiries concerning charities. This service is provided to taxpayers who have questions or concerns relating to charities, including applicants for registration, registered charities, donors, media representatives, corporations, tax professionals, all levels of government, and the general public. This service standard was modified in 2017-2018.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to review and respond to a routineFootnote1 written enquiry within 45 calendar days, and review and respond to a complexFootnote2 written enquiry within 120 calendar days.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.

Charities – responding to applications

  • What is this? This is a timeliness service standard for reviewing and responding to applications for charitable registration. The CRA generally processes applications for registered charitable status on a first-come, first-served basis. If the application is approved, the CRA will send a notification of charitable registration. This service standard was modified in 2018-2019.
  • Our standard: Our goal is to provide an initial response within six months of receiving a complete application.
  • Our target: The CRA aims to meet this standard 80% of the time.