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:

Federal Credit Union Charter Application Guide: This guide provides direction and guidance on starting up a new federal credit union and what steps need to be completed to receive a charter from the NCUA.

Express Chartering Procedures: This document provides guidance in preparing your charter application and business plan.

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