What is a Corporate Charter?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Corporate charters are funding documents related to the establishment and ongoing function of a corporation. In most countries, the corporate charter is filed with a government jurisdiction that is empowered to authorize and register the establishment of the business. The corporate charter is usually not a single document, but actually a collection of several documents, based on the requirements that are necessary to comply with local laws.

Corporate charters provide information on the basic rights and privileges extended to members of a corporation's board of directors.
Corporate charters provide information on the basic rights and privileges extended to members of a corporation's board of directors.

In a broad sense, a corporate charter will serve as a means of defining the purpose for the creation of the corporation. This means the charter will specify the type of corporation that is being established and the industry that the company will function within. This amount of detail provides a legal basis for identifying what laws and regulations may be directly applicable to the ongoing operation of the company.

In addition, any applicable details as to if and how the corporation will be allowed to issue stocks is included. Even if the new corporation does not plan on issuing stocks or bond issues in the immediate future, the structure of the charter will help to dictate what types of investment opportunities the company can extend to potential investors. At the same time, the corporate charter will provide information on the basic rights and privileges extended to investors as well as to members of the board of directors.

The Articles of Incorporation are one of the documents that are included in the overall corporate charter. In the United States of America, states are authorized to grant registration privileges to corporations. In order to receive legal recognition to function as a business, the company must submit the Articles of Incorporation for consideration. If the information is judged to meet the standards for incorporation set by the state, a certificate of incorporation is issued. These two documents combined are understood for form the core of the corporate charter.

A corporate charter or articles of charter can be amended over time. This is often the case when a corporation chooses to change focus in some manner, or grows to a point that there is a need to amend details relating to the issuance of stocks and securities. Also, some states require that amended Articles of Incorporation be submitted when there are changes to the number and the identity of persons serving on the Board of Directors.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Where are the original requirements for granting a corporate charter published? Anonymous author 139147 very intelligently proposes that public interests must be served in order for an application for incorporation to be granted. I would like to research the topic and identify the source and current applicability of the statute.


The state government, representing its citizens, must derive some benefit from authorizing a corporate charter, otherwise the owners of the company in question need not seek government approval for incorporation.

What are the obligations of the newly chartered corporation to the citizens of the state in which the charter was granted? It must be more than payment for the charter, via fee or taxes, otherwise anyone -- including the Mafia -- can incorporate for a fee.

I therefore suggest that the granting of corporate charters return to their origin, requiring that public interests be served, with an annual evaluation of the corporation's contribution to the public interest, with the dissolution of all corporate privileges as the punishment if the basis for granting the charter was not served.


I read a court case (Believe from Tennessee) wherein effectively the charter is the organization. In other words, if you are in control of the charter, (registered agent and CEO) you are in control of the organization as far as the law is concerned. Is this a proper interpretation?

If a 501(c) organization, were to fire its leader, and the leader didn't want to go, and is listed as the Secretary of state's registered agent is (s)he in control of all legal aspects of the organization?

Post your comments
Forgot password?