NCUA is responsible for the chartering of federal credit unions, as well as for approving modifications to existing charters, fields of membership and designating credit unions as low income.
Here, interested parties will find a number of resources developed by NCUA to help organizations start a new federal credit union, help existing federal credit unions expand their field of membership, modify their existing charter to meet their strategic objectives, learn more about the benefits of the low-income designation and examine the guidelines that govern the operations and structure of federal credit unions.
Summary of the Proposed Changes to the Field of Membership Rule
NCUA Board Approves
Final Associational Rule—Effective July 6
Letter to Federal Credit Unions:
15-FCU-03 How to Add Association to Your Field of Membership
Updated Field of Membership Internet Application System
A federal charter is a license to operate a federal credit union. Below are resources that outline the steps necessary to begin the chartering process.
Field of Membership
The field of membership of a credit union is a part of its official charter, and is the legal definition of who is eligible to join the credit union. Credit unions often want to expand their field of membership to include additional potential members. A federal credit union’s field of membership can be expanded in the following ways: the field of membership of a credit union is a part of its official charter, and is the legal definition of who is eligible to join the credit union. Credit unions often want to expand their field of membership to include additional potential members. A federal credit union’s field of membership can be expanded in the following ways:
- Occupational common bond expansion, including adding new or related trades, industries or professions;
- Associational common bond expansion;
- Multiple common bond expansion;
- Underserved area expansion;
- Converting to a community charter or expansion of an existing community charter; and
- Taking in the field of membership of another credit union through a merger or purchase and assumption.
To qualify as a low-income credit union, a majority of the credit union’s membership (50.01 percent) must meet certain low-income thresholds, based on data from the Census Bureau, and requirements outlined in NCUA’s Rules and Regulations.
The low-income designation offers several benefits to credit unions, including:
- An exemption from the statutory cap on member business lending, which expands access to capital for small businesses and helps credit unions to diversify portfolios;
- Eligibility for grants and low-interest loans from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund;
- Ability to accept non-member deposits from any source;
- An authorization to obtain supplemental capital; and
- Qualifying for consulting assistance from NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives.
The designation applies to federal and state-chartered, federally insured credit unions, though some state-chartered credit unions may not be afforded all of the benefits if laws in their state do not allow them.
For assistance in determining whether your credit union qualifies for low income designation, contact the Division of Consumer Access at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.518.1150.
Federal credit unions adopt bylaws upon being chartered by NCUA. Bylaws provide a framework for the operation and management of a credit union.
Credit unions have the flexibility to request other bylaw amendments if the need arises. A credit union must file its request with the Director of the Office of Consumer Financial Protection and Access and the request must include:
- The section of the bylaws to be amended;
- The reason why the amendment is desired or necessary;
- What the proposed amendment will accomplish for the credit union; and
- The proposed wording of the amendment.