Friendly Societies

All you need to know about Friendly Societies


What is a Friendly Society?

A Friendly Society is an unlimited number of persons who join together to achieve a common financial and/or social purpose. The members voluntarily bind themselves to rules which are capable of variations in the future, subject to a majority of such members agreeing. It cultivates the practice of thrift, self-reliance, self-help, and assists in fostering community spirit, poverty eradication, and nation building.

What are the types of Societies?

There are several types of Societies which are applied in CAP 184 of the Friendly Societies Act:

  • Friendly Societies

The purpose of this society is to provide voluntary subscriptions by members with or without the aid of donations.

  • Working Man’s Club

The purposes of social intercourse, mutual helpfulness, mental and moral improvement, and rational recreation.

  • Cattle Insurance Society

For the purpose of insurance to any amount against loss of meat cattle, sheep, lambs, swine, horses, and other animals by death from disease or otherwise. 

  • Benevolent Societies

For any benevolent or charitable purpose.

  • Specially Authorized Societies

For any purposes which the Minister may authorize which are in accordance with the The Friendly Societies Act Cap. 114

What are the benefits of joining a Friendly Society?

Some membership benefits of a friendly society include but are not limited to:


  • Death benefit
  • Sick benefit
  • Birth benefit
  • Funeral Expenses
  • Optical benefit
  • Travel in search of employment benefit
  • Dental benefit
  • Distressed circumstances benefit
  • Maternity benefit
  • Endowment of members or nominees benefits
  • Retirement benefit
  • Fire insurance benefits
  • Investment fund
  • Animals insurance benefits

How does one become a member of a Friendly Society?

Generally, a person wishing membership is recommended by a member and according to the societies rule may be required to pay and maintain a membership fee. Every society’s benefits differ. As a result, member’s weekly or monthly contributions may also differ.

What Contributions do Friendly Societies make to their communities?

A Friendly Society helps in bringing a community together. It teaches thrift and self-reliance. It assists in uniting all the people regardless of colour, creed, race and religion. It acts as a vanguard in fighting the social ills of the community.

What are the conditions for registering a Friendly Society?

  • A letter of application to register the society.
  • A letter signed by at least (7) members and the Secretary with their names – (positions, signature, address in Antigua and Barbuda, contact details/mobile/work/home telephone).
  • Resolution appointing (7) Executive members indicating the date of appointment signed off by the Secretary/President.
  • Resolution appointing the Trustees.  This letter should be signed by the Trustees and the Secretary/President.
  • The Trustees shall be appointed at a meeting of the society or branch and by a resolution of a majority of the members present and entitled to vote and the date indicating the appointment.
  • The Trustee shall not be the Secretary or the Treasurer.
  • A copy of a Photo ID, that is not expired or has less than 6 months (preferably a passport or a government-issued ID) and a certified proof of address, of all Executive members and Trustees. (If a driver’s license is used as a form of identification, proof of address is not required).
  • A list of names of the Secretary, every committee member, and of every Trustee or other officer intended to be authorized to sue and be sued on behalf of the society.
  •  Every committee member and every Trustee or other officer intended to be authorized to sue and be sued on behalf of the society.
  • A copy of the Rules of the Society.  

Does a Friendly Society need a Registered Office?

Yes. Every registered society and branch shall have a registered office to which all communications and notices may be addressed, and shall send to the Registrar notice of the situation of that office, and of every change therein. ( Section 21 (1))

In the case of a branch, the notice shall be sent to the Registrar through an officer appointed on that behalf by the society of which the branch forms part.(2)

Does a Friendly Society need to register their amendments of rules?

An amendment of a rule made by a society shall not be valid until the amendment has been registered under this Act, for which purpose copies of the amendment signed by three members and the secretary, shall be sent to the Registrar. (Section 11(1))

How do I change the name of a Friendly Society?

A society may, by special resolution, with the approval in writing of the Registrar, change its name, and shall not change its name in any other manner. (Section 64 (1))

Any such change of name shall not affect any right or obligation of the society, or of any member thereof, and any pending legal proceedings may be continued by or against the trustees of the society, or any other officer who may sue or be sued on behalf of the society, notwithstanding its new name. (2)

How do I cancel or suspend my Friendly Society registry?

The Registrar may – 

  1. if he thinks fit, at the request of a society, to be evidenced in such manner as he may direct; or
  2. with the approval of a Judge of the High Court, on proof to his satisfaction that an acknowledgement of registry has been obtained by fraud or mistake, or that a society exists for an illegal purpose, or has wilfully and after notice from the Registrar violated any of the provisions of this Act, or has ceased to exist by writing under his hand, cancel the registry of a society. (71)

How do I dissolve a Friendly Society?

A society or branch may terminate or be dissolved in any of the following ways-

  1. Upon the happening of any event declared by the rules to be the termination of the society or branch; or
  2. By the consent of three-fourths of the members, testified by their signatures to the instrument of dissolution; or
  3. By the consent of five-sixths in value of the members (including honorary members, if any), testified by their signatures to the instrument of dissolution, and also by the written consent of every person receiving or entitled to receive any benefit from the funds of the society or branch.
  4. By the award of the Registrar in the cases specified in this Act. (Section 72)

Does a Friendly Society need to audit its accounts?

Every society and branch shall, once at least in every year, submit its accounts for audit to the prescribed person or persons at the prescribed time and shall pay the prescribed fees to such persons. (Section 27)

Do Friendly Societies file annual returns ?

Yes. Every society and branch shall, once in every year, not later than the (31st) thirty-first day of March, send to the Registrar the annual returns of the receipts and expenditure, funds, and effects of the society or branch as audited. (Section 28)

How do I change the list of officers for a Friendly Society?

Any change in the names shown on the list mentioned in subsection (2) of section 7 shall be communicated in writing to the Registrar by the secretary of a society, and any secretary failing to make such communication shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

Does a Friendly Society need a Quinquennial valuation?

Yes. Every society and branch shall, except as in this section provided, once at least in every five years either – 

  1.  cause its assets and liabilities to be valued by a valuer to be appointed by the society or branch and approved by the Registrar. A report should be to the Registrar on the condition of the society or branch; or
  2. send to the Registrar the annual returns of the benefits assured and contributions receivable from all the members of the society or branch, and of all its funds and effects, debits and credits, accompanied by such evidence in support as the Registrar prescribes.

Does a Friendly Society need to keep a copy of a balanced sheet?

Yes. Every society and branch shall keep a copy of the last annual balance sheet, and of the last quinquennial valuation, together with any special report of the auditors, always hung up in a conspicuous place at the registered office of the society or branch. (Section 30)

What are matters to be proved in the rules of Friendly Society?

The matters to be proved in the Rules of Society are:

  1. The name and place of office of the society.
  2. The following:
    • The whole of the objects for which the society is to be established;
    • The purposes for which the funds shall be applicable;
    • The terms of admission of members;
    • The conditions under which any member may become entitled to any benefit assured  thereby;
    • The fines and forfeitures to be imposed on any member; and
    • The consequences of non-payment of any subscription or fine
    • The mode of holding meetings and right of voting, and the manner of making, altering, or rescinding rules.
  3. The appointment and removal of a committee of management (by whatever name), of a treasurer and other officers, and of trustees, and in the case of a society with branches, the composition and powers of the central body, and the conditions under which a branch may secede from the society.
  4. The investment of the funds, the keeping of the accounts, and the audit of the same once a year at least. 
  5. Annual returns to the Registrar of the receipts, funds, effects, and expenditure and numbers of members of the society.
  6. The inspection of the books of the society by every person having an interest in the funds of the society.
  7. The manner in which disputes shall be settled.
  8. In case of dividing societies, a provision for meeting all claims upon the society existing at the time of division before any such division takes place and also in the case of friendly and cattle insurance societies.
  9. The keeping separate accounts of all monies received or paid on account of every particular fund or benefit assured for which a separate table of contributions payable shall have been adopted, and the keeping separate accounts of the expenses of management, and of all contributions on account thereof.
  10. (Except as to cattle insurance societies) a valuation once at least in every five years of the assets and liabilities of the society, including the estimated risks and contributions.
  11. The voluntary dissolution of the society by consent in a friendly society of not less than five-sixths in value of the members, and of every person for the time being entitled to any benefit from the funds of the society, unless his claim be first satisfied or adequately provided for; and in a cattle insurance society by consent of three-fourths in number of the members.
  12. The right of one-fifth of the total number of members, or of one hundred members in the case of a society of one thousand members and not exceeding ten thousand, to apply to the Registrar for an investigation of the affairs of the society, or for winding up the same. 

Friendly Society Checklist