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ACRA: Singapore Registrar of Companies (ROC)
Companies all over the world are subject to regulations. They are put in place to protect the business, the employees, and the customers. These are necessary to ensure the sustainability and continuity of businesses. In every nation, there is a designated body tasked with overseeing and monitoring all the companies and their activities. These agencies are also responsible for registering them into a database to make sure they are legitimate. At the same time, they are checking if these companies are compliant with all the regulations.
In Singapore, the concept is the same. It has an appointed regulator for all the companies and aspiring entrepreneurs in the country. Let us get to know this regulator.
What is ACRA?
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) in Singapore is the statutory board that oversees the regulation of companies and public accountants in the country and facilitates the development of companies. ACRA Singapore is also vested with the power to impose composition fines and issue court summonses to companies that have defaulted on the ongoing compliance requirements as set out under the Companies’ Act. ACRA Singapore is commonly known as the Registrar of Companies in countries such as the United Kingdom, India and Bermuda. Simply put, it is a Singapore registry of companies and businesses.
ACRA is located in 10 Anson Rd, #05-01/15 International Plaza, Singapore 079903. You can contact them in Singapore through this number: 6248 6028.
Finding the ACRA Meaning Under the Law
The ACRA act details the ACRA register, its powers, authority, and responsibilities.
The law says that ACRA is a corporate body that has the capability to sue and be sued in the court of law. It can purchase, own, hold, develop, and sell both movable and immovable assets. Essentially, it is a separate legal entity.
The functions of ACRA include the following:
- ACRA is reporting and giving advice to the government on the matters about the registration and regulation of companies and public accountants.
- It is keeping the company ACRA document and other important files in a database. It includes the ACRA company registration number or the ROC number (no) of in Singapore. In addition, the repository should also safeguard ACRA business profile document.
- The agency is raising awareness on the latest business structures, compliance requirements, corporate governance practices, and other company-related matters, among others.
- The entity is providing a conducive regulatory environment for both companies and public accountants.
Meanwhile, here are some of the powers of the corporate agency:
- ACRA can sign contracts that are necessary in the execution of its duties.
- The entity can be involved in the formation of any company or in any joint venture with the capacity as a shareholder and partner, among others. Such is allowed after securing approval from the Minister.
- ACRA can be a member or an affiliate of any international organization whose functions and objectives are parallel with the body.
Who is Registrar Body?
For an organization to function, officers are needed to be put in place. In the case of ACRA, a chairman and members of around 10 to 15 are required.
The members should include one public accountant and one non-practicing accountant. Both are chosen by the Minister from at least 2 nominated members.
Getting to Know the Electronic Portal
Similar to other government agencies and statutory boards, Bizfile is ACRA’s electronic portal through which companies may make their applications and submissions. The Ministry of Manpower also uses an electronic portal that can be separately accessed, known as EPOL (“Employment Pass Online”).
Prior to 2003, all applications and submissions, such as an application for the incorporation of a company, had to be done manually, by queuing up at ROC Singapore’s service center, known as ACRA Service Center Inc.
However, Singapore ACRA has expedited the process by allowing companies to make applications and submissions electronically through Bizfile. However, since applications and submissions can be retrieved electronically as well by companies, it would be prudent for companies to consult a professional corporate services provider, like 3E Accounting to seek advice and assistance for any applications and submissions. Given that potential investors and potential joint venture partners may access such information before deciding to invest or work with a company, it would naturally not be preferable for a company’s business reputation to be impacted by such minor mistakes. This is where professionals, like those in 3E Accounting play an important role to assist you.
Submissions and Applications
Basically, almost all submissions and applications required under the Companies’ Act can be submitted via Bizfile. The principal activities accepted by Singapore ACRA are set out in the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (“SSIC”). If a company enters the wrong SSIC code for its name reservation, this could potentially impact the approval of the name reservation application, as some SSIC codes chosen will automatically require approval from certain government entities, such as principal activities in the area of medicine, architecture or financial advisory services. It should also be noted that while ACRA approves a company’s name application and its proposed principal activities, it does not grant the business license for the actual business operations. One crucial point to note is that in order to make any applications or submissions via Bizfile, one is required to have a SingPass, which is an electronic identity that is given to Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents.
Foreigners who hold Employment Passes, Personalised Employment Passes, EntrePass, S-Pass, Dependent Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass-Plus and selected Work Permit Holders, may also submit an application to obtain a SingPass. Upon approval of your application, the SingPass will be sent to your local address within four working days. For local and foreign entrepreneurs with a tight leash on their outgoing expenses, it may be tempting to attempt the incorporation process or corporate transactions via Bizfile by themselves. However, while this may save costs, the process of incorporation requires a degree of preparation for certain sections. All companies are required, at the point of incorporation, to have a registered office in Singapore.
Due to the requirements of certain lease contracts, this typically poses a difficulty for both local and foreign entrepreneurs and foreign corporations, as landlords may require companies to provide their company registration number on the application form, which cannot be provided prior to incorporation. For more information and for the successful incorporation of your company in Singapore, speak to us, at 3E Accounting.
Looking into Company Details
The online portal of ACRA, Bizfile, is really paying off. When you need to check ROC number or business reg number of a company, you can visit the website. You can input the company name and it will lead you to a page result.
ACRA also puts in the Singapore location, contact number and contact details, and even register of directors for the observer to know. Indeed, it is a trade register of all company-related information allowed for public access.
In addition, the online portal also contains other information, including:
- The status of the company. If it is “live”, it means that the business is up and running.
- The company’s compliance rating for annual filing. A green tick in the following aspects means that the company was able to comply: annual general meeting, latest accounts, and annual return filing.
Initiatives by the Regulatory Body
ACRA has been doing several initiatives aimed at simplifying their processes and innovating with the aid of technology. In 2019 alone, the agency has proven to be steadfast in its mission of serving the business community. Here are the highlights of their 2019 run.
- The agency made the process for filing annual returns simple. It was beneficial for over 300,000 companies which are mandated to meet the statutory obligations.
- It streamlined the filing of requirements for XBRL or Extensible Business Reporting Language to ease hassle in submitting financial statements. This, as this pushes for a more comprehensive analysis of the financial data.
- ACRA launched a new preparation tool to allow validation and uploading of XBRL financial reports.
- The agency introduced a new Business Name Alert Service for companies. This is to alert the existing business entities of any newly registered company with names that are similar to theirs.
- ACRA improved the Bizfile dashboard by highlighting transparency and allowing better oversight for the companies.
- It spearheaded a new online business program aimed at encouraging business owners to keep their business operating.
- The regulatory body ventured in a strategic business process re-engineering to evaluate the processes of its core business.
As of end-March 2020, ACRA has nearly 520,000 live entities. Bulk of them or over 350,000 are companies. Others are sole proprietorships (over 120,000), limited liability partnerships (17,355), partnerships (15,527), and limited partnerships (420).
Meanwhile, based on the same period, ACRA noted that there are 1,155 registered public accountants, 701 registered public accounting entities, 2,690 registered filing agents, and 3,356 registered qualified individuals.
A Glance at ACRA’s Financial Performance
In 2019, ACRA saw its operating income reach $83.2 million, which is higher than the $79.6 million it recorded in 2018. The regulator explained that the better income figure was because of the following:
- With more companies having gone through incorporations, company incorporation and related fees rose by $3.4 million in 2019.
- The new services from the Information Service Providers allowed information services fees to grow by $0.7 million.
- Fees from variable capital company incorporation contributed $0.4 million.
Meanwhile, the regulator recorded a slight uptick as well in operating expenditure in 2019 at $62.1 million from the previous year’s $61.8 million.
ACRA pointed out that the increase was due to the consultancy services for the strategic business project re-engineering project. The overall cost, on the other hand, was tempered by the decrease in staff and other expenses amounting to $1.5 million in 2019.
As of the period ending March 2020, the total assets of the regulator amounted to $255.2 million.
Its cash and cash equivalents soared by $16.8 million because of money coming from operating activities amounting to $21.4 million. Other current assets added half a million dollars on the back of higher interest receivables. Meanwhile, fixed and intangible assets dropped by $1.8 million because of depreciation in the right-of-use assets.
Meanwhile, ACRA’s total liabilities reached $20 million as of end-March 2020.
Trade and other payables declined by $1.4 million as the agency received more payments from its creditors. Deposit liabilities plunge by $1 million. Meanwhile, lease liabilities stood at $1.5 million after paying the principal amount and interest expenses.
Seeking for Professional Help
Building a business from the ground up is a major undertaking, especially at a time when the economy is slowing down. It is best for you to employ some professional help so you can be guided in every step of the way.
3E Accounting is here to make sure you are making informed decisions. We are a team of excellent professionals ready to serve you and your company’s needs. We can hold your hand in every step of the way. Contact us today.