Trade unions are registered under the Trade Union Acts 1871-1990. Trade unions are established to represent workers in their relations with employers or to act as representative bodies for particular interest groupings.

In order to register a trade union, the grouping involved, which must consist of at least seven people, must draw up a set of rules governing the operation of the union. The rules must as a minimum contain the matters required to be provided for by the First Schedule of the Trade Union Act 1871. The rules, together with the prescribed application form and fee are submitted to the Registrar for examination and, once the rules are found to be in accordance with statute, the union is registered.

Registration as a trade union does not guarantee that a union will receive a negotiation licence; this is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in which the Registrar of Friendly Societies has no function. Application form is available by emailing

Link to Forms Page                                      Link to Fees Page

Annual Return
After registration, a trade union must have its accounts audited each year by “some fit and proper person or persons” appointed by the trustees (section 11 of the Trade Union Act 1871). While a union is not legally required to have its accounts audited by a registered auditor, the Registrar strongly recommends that unions do so. A trade union must make an annual return, made up to 31 December, to the Registrar by the following 1 June and the return must be accompanied by the audited accounts and a copy of the current registered rules.

When lodging documents with the RFS, please ensure that only unbound pages are submitted. This will ensure that the time taken to prepare, and scan submissions is kept to a minimum, which is in the interests of both the RFS and our customers. Pages of a document shall be kept together by means of a clip or staple at the top left-hand corner and shall not be stitched together or otherwise bound and shall not bear any adhesive tape. Annual returns can now be filed online for a reduced fee at this link:


Amendments to Registered Rules
If a trade union amends any of its rules, it must apply to the Registrar to have the amendment registered. The Registrar will register the amendment when he is satisfied that it is in accordance with statute.


Partial Amendment: Form C: An application for the registration of a partial alteration of rules must be made by seven members of the trade union and accompanied by the following documents:
(a) two copies of the proposed new rulebook (complete) as it has been altered following the changes each copy being marked O and signed by each of the applicants. It is no longer required for the previous registered rules to be submitted and
(b) A statutory declaration in Form D.


Complete amendment: Form F: An application for the registration of a complete alteration of rules shall be made by seven members of the trade union and accompanied by two printed copies of the new rules, each copy being marked P and signed by each of the applicants; and the Registrar before registering the new set of rules shall ascertain that it provides for all matters which, by the Trade Union Acts 1871 to 1990 are to be provided for by the rules of a registered trade union. Accompanied by a statutory declaration in Form D. Amendments to rules can now be filed online at the attached link:
Change of Registered Office
If a trade union changes its registered office it must notify the Registrar using Form M. Form M has a filing fee of €15. It is free if filed online.


Amalgamation, Transfer of Engagements and Change of Name
A trade union may amalgamate with or transfer its engagements to another trade union in accordance with the provisions of the Trade Union Act 1975. Further information on the requirements is available from the Registry.  A trade union may change its name in accordance with section 12 of the Trade Union Act 1975. Further information on the procedure is available from the Registry.

Link to Forms Page                                                Link to Fees Page