An example of a charter (Magna Carta).

A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority (or sovereignty), and that the recipient admits a limited (or inferior) status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.

The word entered the English language from the Old French charte, via Latin charta, and ultimately from Greek χάρτης (khartes, meaning "layer of papyrus"). It has come to be synonymous with a document that sets out a grant of rights or privileges.

Colloquial usages

The term is used for a special case (or as an exception) to an institutional charter. A charter school, for example, is one that has different rules, regulations, and statutes from a state school.

Charter is sometimes used as a synonym for "tool" or "lease", as in the "charter" of a bus or boat or plane by an organization, intended for a similar group destination.

A charter member of an organization is an original member; that is, one who became a member when the organization received its charter.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Xartiya (deklarasiya)
български: Харта
bosanski: Povelja
čeština: Charta
Cymraeg: Siarter
Deutsch: Charta
eesti: Harta
Esperanto: Ĉarto
français: Charte
한국어: 헌장
हिन्दी: राजलेख
hrvatski: Povelja
Ido: Charto
Bahasa Indonesia: Piagam
ქართული: ქარტია
қазақша: Хартия
magyar: Oklevél
norsk: Charter
português: Foro (direito)
русский: Хартия
српски / srpski: Грамата
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Povelja
українська: Хартія
اردو: منشور