This new type of company became available for registration in England and Wales from 10th. December 2012.
It has been available in Scotland since 1st. April 2011
Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) are a new type of charitable company, brought into being by the Charities Act 2006. Detailed regulations are in the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (General) Regulations 2012 SI 3012. It became possible to submit applications for registration from 10th. December 2012.
CIOs are designed to be a more efficient way to register an incorporated charity. Until CIOs became available a charity that wished to be incorporated (and so have limited liability) had to register as both a company limited by guarantee and as a charity. Using a CIO should be simpler to incorporate and run as it will be registered with just one body (the Charity Commission) and will only have to submit one annual return and one set of accounts per year.
It will become possible to convert an existing unincorporated charity to a CIO in stages from March 2013, and for charitable companies and Community Interest Companies to convert to CIO from January 2014. The facility to convert is being brought in in stages. However, certain types of organisation may not be able to take advantage of this, and the regulating body will (as with other community/charitable ventures now) have the final say over whether a specific enterprise will qualify for this special status.
Comunity Companies CIC offers a full package of services for CIOs, from first registration to secretarial and other drafting work.
Further details are on the Charity Commission's CIO Page for CIOs in England and Wales and from the Office of the Scotish Charity Regulator for CIOs in Scotland.