Preparing for Societies Act Transition & Onboarding in October & November

image by M.Maslany

This is part three in an ongoing Societies Act series. If you’d like email updates, sign up for our monthly Resource Mailer or Quarterly Communiqué.


These are the key action items your non profit should take in October & November to prepare for the Societies Act transition & onboarding. 

By now you know that the new Societies Act, the law governing non profits in British Columbia, comes into force as of November 28, 2016. You likely also know that each non profit has up to two years to transition. However, there has been less discussion about onboarding and you may be wondering…


What is Onboarding?

Although non profits have up to two years to transition to the new legislation, they will need to onboard as soon as possible and definitely before they try to file an annual report, change of directors or any of the other previous paper filings that will be done exclusively online. Onboarding is basically an online registration process for your non profit, where you set up an account online and give access to key people in your organization.

You don’t have to transition in order to onboard, but you must onboard before you can transition.

To prepare to onboard:

  • Each society will receive via *snail mail* (so make sure your address or your lawyer’s address is up to date!) an onboarding letter in early November. This letter will include a URL to go to and a KEY to use that is unique for your society;
  • You will need a BCeID to login to the URL / BC Societies Registry. A BCeID is different than a BC Online account. A BCeID belongs to an individual, not a society, but you’ll then link your BCeID with your society using your KEY, which you can then change to your own unique password. Make sure you create a BCeID at least 48 hours prior to needing to use it online as it will take some time to become active.
  • In advance of all this, it would be ideal if your society decided WHO is going to be the primary person responsible for creating a BCeID and logging in to onboard your society. Once you’re onboard, you can link other people with BCeIDs to your society but do be careful with this as you’ll also need to make sure people are unlinked with your society if/when they are no longer an employee or director.


Critical steps to take well in advance of November 28

Regardless of whether you’ve decided to transition on or immediately after November 28, you will need to onboard soon thereafter. And to be prepared to do you’ll need to:

  • Ask the Registry for a copy of the bylaws and constitution (aka ‘transition package’) they have on file for you so that you can confirm you and they are both working with the same documents. You do not have to do this, but if you have any uncertainty about your current bylaws or constitution, it’s a way to confirm what’s on file;
  • Ensure ALL your filings are UP TO DATE, including changes in directors, annual reports, fees, and any other special resolutions or documentation that you have. Societies that are not up to date with their filings will not be able to onboard or transition. Do this now, as the registry is backed up with paper filings so it’s best to get these in now rather than later.
  • Decide who will be responsible for your onboarding and transition, and have them create a BCeID.
  • Decide when you will transition and if you want to or need to make changes to your bylaws and constitution before or after you transition. Note that you will need to make some changes to constitution and bylaws if they do not conform with the new Act and that any changes made after November 28 will be subject to the new voting and majority rules in the new Act.
  • Before you transition, make sure all your bylaws are consolidated in one electronic document (i.e. all special resolutions and changes are incorporated into one document).


Transition Tips & Toolkit Workshop

We are hosting a Societies Act Transition Tips & Toolkit Workshop at The Amp in Vancouver on Tuesday October 25 from 5-7pm. Registration is open here. Please let us know if you’d like to attend the workshop remotely and we’ll make arrangements if there is enough demand.

If you need further assistance with these steps or have questions about another part of the process, email who is a practicing lawyer and can assist your organization with basic guidance or, if necessary, legal advice. 



Please also note that Law for Non Profits can help by offering resources, providing free workshops and resources and may be able to help your organization find a lawyer should you need specialized expert advice.


This is general information, it is not legal advice and it is not meant to be tailored to your organization. Please inquire with our lawyer, Rachel Forbes, directly if you have specific questions about this.