What Is ACRA and how does it work in Singapore?

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In Singapore, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA) is responsible for the registration of business entities.

In Singapore, ACRA is also referred to as the Registrar of Companies. Singapore Registrar of Companies (ROC) and ACRA are used interchangeably for the same entity. The merger of the Registry of Companies and Businesses with the Public Accountants’ Board in 2004 resulted in the formation of ACRA. 

Who needs to register with ACRA?

Every company conducting business in Singapore needs to register with ACRA. They will have to choose their business structure and take the necessary steps to register their business with ACRA.

How do I register a company in Singapore?

To register a company with ACRA, you have to do it via BizFile+.  BizFile+ is ACRA’s online filing and information retrieval system.

What is BizFile and Bizfile+?

BizFile was introduced in 2004 as a corporate information storage portal to upload, store, and retrieve business data for companies in Singapore. BizFile was renamed BizFile+ in 2016, following a major update in the system to improve the speed and efficiency of the portal. BizFile+ is, therefore, an improved version of BizFile.

 

Before the launch of BizFile in 2004, a business owner was personally required to go to the ROC to fill out and submit form(s) for any corporate actions of a company. However, busy entrepreneurs were not too happy about having to personally visit the ACRA office to register their company and make manual submissions. 

 

With BizFile+, it allows the public to access more than 400 services online and doing business in Singapore has become much easier and convenient. With BizFile+, the public can access a range of services upon request. This includes the submission of statutory documents and retrieval of information about business entities registered with ACRA.

 

Statistics reveal that over 1 million transactions take place annually on BizFile+. It is easy to access BizFile+ login via the ACRA portal.

Key Features of BizFile+

With BizFile+, users can access a range of features that have made life easier. This includes:  

  • Registering a local company, foreign company, LLP, business, and Public Accountant electronically.
  • Maintaining and/or regulating transactions of business entities, companies, and Public Accountants.
  • Search information about a registered company online.
  • Conduct online checks when it comes to seeking approval from other referral authorities.
  • Access the user-friendly graphical interface for different payment methods.
  • Send an enquiry online to check the status of transactions.
  • Receive notifications via email or SMS for successfully completed transactions.
  • Purchase information about business entities.

BizFile+ has proved to be an extremely useful customer-centric platform that makes it easier than ever to file and retrieve critical business information. It is a highly secure, flexible, and cost-efficient system to maintain company information. 

 

ACRA’s objective is to make it easy for a business or individual to set up and register a company in Singapore. Additionally, it is responsible for ensuring that registered companies comply with statutory regulations and maintain their corporate information with ACRA. This is also done to make information accessible to public agencies upon request. The idea is to introduce transparency in the ownership and control of business entities. Besides, it will reduce the risk of misuse of such entities. 

 

ACRA aims to boost Singapore’s efforts to comply with international standards and maintain a strong reputation as a trusted destination for business.

 

BizFile+ primarily covers two areas of improvements from Bizfile:

  • Compliance with the Singapore Companies Act, Chapter 50 (the “Companies Act”)

Bizfile+ is updated regularly to incorporate amendments to the Companies Act to ensure statutory compliance of companies registered in Singapore.

  • Better User Interface

The latest user interface is user-friendly and easier to access. The portal is designed with customised dashboards pertaining to each user. That means you can clearly see the most relevant information and services. 

 

Additionally, following the update to BizFile, amendments were made to the fees of some transactions such as a slight increase in the registration fee and a change in the penalty amount for late filing of annual return and late holding of Annual General Meeting. However, the latest changes have also made certain ad-hoc transactions for free, which earlier required payment. The Bizfile+ system has more mobile-friendly features, making it seamless for users to access the portal on the go. 

 

On The Go iPhone app has brought all the critical information on your fingertips. Now with BizFile+, you can easily search the ACRA directory, access FAQs, calculate the company’s AGM date, and a range of other services.

Why is it better?

The online information portal set up by the accounting and corporate regulatory agency provides an accurate record of all registered businesses in Singapore. A Singapore company may choose a corporate secretarial provider to maintain its statutory records and ensure compliance with filing required information with ACRA. Residents of Singapore can easily access Bizfile+ through their SingPass or CorpPass. On the other hand, foreigners will need an agent’s services in this regard. 

 

The paperless system makes information retrieval more convenient and efficient. On top of it, the online portal is a secure and flexible system, which can handle any simple to complex tasks.

 

The Singapore Government has introduced the CorpPass digital ID for business entities to file all transactions with government agencies. CorpPass is gradually replacing SingPass, which was the login method previously and is still in use at some places. 

 

However, it is necessary for foreigners to engage a corporate service provider to access Bizfile+ to complete any transactions.

 

ACRA requires all companies to complete all statutory obligations relating  to company registration and ongoing compliance requirements set out in the Companies Act. Here are the most common tasks:

  • Register a company in Singapore
  • Register a foreign company’s branch office in Singapore
  • File annual return annually for every company
  • Notify the accounting and corporate regulatory of any changes to the business address, company structure, and particulars of officers and members.

Notifying ACRA about changes to the company

A business entity must notify ACRA through BizFile+ regarding any change to the company within 14 days from the effective date of change, including amongst others,:

  • Change of company name
  • Change in registered address
  • Change in business activities
  • Appointment or removal of a company officer
  • Change of personal information of an officer and/or member
  • Certain ordinary resolutions and special resolutions passed by the company

Any failure to notify ACRA within the stipulated time will be a breach of the Companies Act and may pose a risk of penalty. As a result, your company will accrue a late fee between S$50 and S$350. Not only this, your company might accrue a fine of up to S$5,000 for its failure to notify the ACRA. There may also be an additional default penalty for the company and its officers.

How long does Bizfile take to process updates?

It generally takes only 5-15 minutes for Bizfile+ to process the transaction. However, the information might take even longer to process (even up to 2 months) in the event the process requires approval or review from an ACRA officer or any other agencies. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore receives the update as soon as the change is finalised, which will automatically update their own records on a weekly basis.

 

However, the CPF Board and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) must be informed separately in this regard. Visit the MOM portal and “Change particulars” to update the change of information. Send a form with updates to the CPF board via mail.

Next steps

If you would like to learn about how we work with our clients to help them meet their compliance obligations, feel free to contact us.

 

 

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