This guide provides quick answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Accounting and Corporate Authority of Singapore, also known as ACRA.
What is ACRA?
ACRA is the national regulator of businesses, public accountants and corporate service providers in Singapore. Its main tasks are to a) enforce Singapore’s Company Law and b) keep a register of up-to-date information about businesses that are incorporated in Singapore. ACRA also advises the Singapore legislature to help create a regulatory ecosystem that makes it easier for companies to conduct business in Singapore.
Is ACRA the Registrar of Companies (ROC) in Singapore?
Yes, ACRA and the Singapore Register of Companies (ROC) are the same entity. In 2004, ACRA was formed after the merger of two government agencies: the Public Accountants’ Board (PAB) and the Registry of Companies and Businesses (RCB). As such, ACRA provides the public with an accurate register of all businesses in Singapore and is sometimes referred to as the Singapore Register of Companies.
How do I register a company with ACRA?
Singapore company law requires that all foreigners register their company through a professional Singapore-based corporate services firm. Singaporeans can engage a corporate services firm or do it yourself as follows:
- Login to Bizfile portal using your digital ID CorpPass or SingPass.
- Apply for the desired name for your company. You will receive a name approval transaction number once the name is approved.
- Using the name approval transaction number, enter information about the structure of your company, including the names and identifying information about company directors, company secretary, and shareholders; the company’s registered address; company constitution; etc.
- Make payment for the company registration fee.
- Soon after you make the payment, you will receive an email notification informing you of successful registration of your company. This email contains a Unique Entity Number (UEN) assigned to your company and also acts as a electronic certificate of incorporation for the company.
Advice for Singaporean entrepreneurs: Unless you are well-versed with Singapore company law, you should also engage a registration filing agent to register and manage the ongoing compliance for your company.
What is ACRA Bizfile?
Bizfile is ACRA’s online portal where you can fill out and submit company registration applications and ongoing compliance forms. To access Bizfile, you must first obtain a digital ID called CorpPass. The CorpPass digital ID has been introduced by Singapore government for business users to file all business transactions with various Government agencies, including BizFile. For business transactions, CorpPass is gradually replacing the previous login method that is still currently in place, namely SingPass. Both CorpPass and SingPass are available only to Singapore citizens, permanent residence, and certain work pass holders. Foreigners must engage a corporate service provider for all Bizfile transactions.
Within Bizfile, you can complete all company registration and ongoing compliance tasks required by ACRA. The most common tasks include:
- Registration of a new Singapore company,
- Registration of a Singapore branch office of a foreign company,
- Filing of Annual Return for the company, and
- Notification of any changes to the company structure, personal particulars of members or officers, and company controllers
How to file Annual Returns with ACRA?
To comply with Singapore’s company regulations, your company is required to file annual returns with ACRA. An annual return is a set of documents that you upload through Bizfile. The documents include up-to-date information on your company, such as a list of company directors and shareholders, and your company’s prepared financial statements.
In order to file annual returns with ACRA, your company must complete the following tasks:
- Prepare annual financial statements for your company after your company’s financial year-end.
- Hold an annual general meeting (AGM) where the company directors present the financial statements for the shareholders’ approval.
- Submit the prepared financial statements and additional company information through Bizfile.
You are required to file annual returns with ACRA within 30 days of holding your company’s AGM. If you cannot get a sufficient number of shareholders together to hold an AGM you can apply for an Extension of Time (EOT). The EOT gives your company an extra 30 days to hold an AGM and provides an extension to file annual returns.
If your company cannot hold an AGM within the 30 days after being granted an EOT, you can apply for a second EOT. The extension gives your company an additional 30 days to hold an AGM.
Failure to file annual returns within 30 days of holding the company AGM will result in a S$300 fine. Continued failure to file annual returns will escalate the penalties, which can result in a court summons and total fines of S$1,800.
Note that certain companies can file annual returns without holding an AGM. To see if your company meets the criteria, please see our guide on filing annual returns in Singapore.
Do I need to notify ACRA about changes to my company?
Yes, you are required to notify ACRA through Bizfile within 14 days of making a change to your company. Following changes require such notification:
- Changing your company’s name
- Changing the company’s registered address
- Changing your company’s business activities
- Adding or reducing your company’s share capital
- Adding or removing shareholders
- Appointing or removing a director
- Changes to the personal particulars of any members of the company
If you fail to notify ACRA of a change in time, your company will be assessed a late lodgement fee ranging from S$50-S$350. Failure to notify ACRA can also result in a fine of up to S$5,000 and a default penalty for the company and every company director.
ACRA works to make setting up a company in Singapore and ongoing compliance as easy as possible. So much so that it can be tempting to take a “do it yourself” approach for company registration and compliance.
However, in order to prevent errors, save time, and avoid costly delays with ACRA, it is best to engage the services of a corporate service provider who can ensure that all company registration and compliance forms meet the high degree of preparation and knowledge of Singapore company law that ACRA requires. CorporateServices.com is Singapore’s leading online platform where you can engage such a service provider.
Contact us today if you need help with registration and compliance management of your Singapore company.
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