ACRA: Singapore Registrar of Companies (ROC)
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 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 is commonly known as the Registrar of Companies in countries such as the United Kingdom, India and Bermuda. 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 ACRA’s service centre.
However, 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.
Basically, almost all submissions and applications required under the Companies’ Act can be submitted via Bizfile. The principal activities accepted by 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.