CRA recently updated their guidance with respect to becoming a prescribed university outside of Canada. There are about 600 foreign prescribed universities and they can issue official donation receipts similar to a Canadian registered charity.  The updated CRA publication (RC 191) includes some revisions to the information that CRA requires for applications for prescribed university status (eligibility criteria however has not changed). The main change is that CRA only asks for 5 years information on Canadian students at the foreign university and not 10 years as they had previously requested.  

Previously CRA required the following information from a university submitting an application to become a prescribed university outside of Canada: 

  • a printed copy of the institution’s latest calendar, syllabus, or catalogue containing their course curriculum and general admission requirements. We will also accept a website address (URL) if all the required information is available;
  • a photocopy of documents issued by the appropriate educational authority in the country of residence that confirms that the institution is one of higher learning empowered to confer degrees, in its own right, of at least the baccalaureate level; and
  • the number of Canadian students who have attended the institution in the 10 years before the date of the application and comprehensive information for each student such as their full name (first and last), address, date of birth, years attended, and Canadian social insurance number (if available). 

In the new CRA publication, CRA has indicated that a university will need to provide the following information for a prescribed university application (new information is in bold). CRA is now requesting student information for the last 5 years rather than the previous requirement of 10 years, however the university will now be required to provide more information such as governing documents, officials, contact information, fiscal period-end, etc. 

  • the institution’s identifying information, such as its legal name, mailing address, physical address, and phone number(s) 
  • the institution’s fiscal period-end 
  • a list of all the institution’s current officials, for example, its directors, trustees, and like officials 
  • a copy of the institution’s complete governing documents, for example, incorporating documents and any amendments, as well as current bylaws
  • the institution’s general admission requirements
  • a copy of documents issued by the appropriate educational authority in the institution’s country of residence that confirm that the institution is one of higher learning and has the authority itself to confer degrees of at least the bachelor level
  • a list of the Canadian students who have attended the institution during the last five years and identification information for each student. The list should include each student’s full name (first, last, and middle initial (if available)), Canadian address, date of birth, and Canadian social insurance number (if available), as well as each year or semester they attended. The institution may need to contact the Canadian students to get their approval to release this information
  • the institution’s website address, if available.

Please see our article for more information on prescribed university applications and how to apply with the Canada Revenue Agency.  For universities outside of Canada being a foreign prescribed university can assist substantially with fundraising from Canadians as a Canadian donor receives the same official donation receipt if they donate to the foreign university as if they donated to a local Canadian university.