Credit unions need a charter – which is a license to operate – from either the National Credit Union Administration or a state credit union regulator. The federal government and state governments have different chartering rules and requirements.

Can I Start a Federal Credit Union?

Credit unions are cooperatives and they require a field of membership which is the legal definition of the persons, organizations and other entities the credit union will serve. If you think a federally chartered credit union would help you and others where you work, members of an association where you belong, or people in your community, first discuss the need with members of the group. If you determine your group has the necessary expertise and resources and that it meets the requirements of a credit union field of membership, you may start the chartering process by submitting a written request for preliminary approval of the proposed field of membership. See the resource list below for more detailed information about starting a credit union.

Send your request to:

National Credit Union Administration
Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Or email us at

For More Information:

Chartering Proof of Concept tool on Cybergrants: This is an automated system that helps prospective credit union organizers better understand the process and how to prepare a charter application. Organizers can use the tool to evaluate how well they meet the requirements for starting a credit union by reviewing the four critical application elements: purpose and core values, field of membership, capital, and subscribers Registration is required to access the tool.

Chartering application guidance: Please contact the NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion at 703-518-1150 or for guidance on starting a new federal credit union. A CURE staff member can discuss in greater detail with you the step-by-step processes and answer your questions concerning your specific proposed federal credit union.

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