In Singapore, anyone who wants to register a business, company, or any other entity must do so through the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). Before 2004, business registration used to be done through the Registry of Companies and Businesses (ROC) where the business owner had to also appear in person for the process to take place. However, with ACRA Bizfile, this no longer the case as you can register a business online through Bizfile.
What is ACRA’s Bizfile?
It is an online or web-based directory for corporate paperwork in Singapore. It was introduced by ACRA in 2004 as a platform for uploading, storing, and or retrieving the data of all businesses registered in Singapore. The platform has since grown to the point that ACRA now requires all businesses to submit their due filings through Bizfile.
In 2016, ACRA updated the platform to improve its speed and efficiency. It further renamed it to Bizfile+. When you are handling corporate paperwork on the platform, you can do it manually or hire an experienced and expert company secretary to do it for you.
What filings can you do on ACRA’s Bizfile?
As a business owner in Singapore, the Bizfile has a lot of essential services for you and thus you should be interacting with the portal regularly. Some of the essential activities that you or your company secretary can do on the Bizfile portal includes:
- Registering a new company online.
- Discontinuation or cessation of a company.
- Inform the ACRA when you change your registered company address.
- Inform the ACRA when the company’s hierarchy changes.
- Filing of annual returns with ACRA.
- Getting essential business data such as industry reports.
- Inform the ACRA while also updating business changes such as the personal details of officers, members, controllers, etc.
- Search, access, or query the unique identification number (UEN) directory.
- Interface with other key government agencies such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
- Carry out online investigations for referral professionals or other approvals.
- Carry out online investigations on Medisave partners or CPF owner status.
While some of these services can be done free of charge, others such as getting an industry report can only be done at a fee. The Bizfile portal has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to pay for any of the services online. It also allows the user to receive an email or SMS notifications once a transaction is successful.
As a registered filing agent (RFA) and corporate service provider (CSP), we ourselves have to access Bizfile at least 20 times a day. Especially when idle on the portal for a short period of time, the system will notify about the inactivity, and will then automatically logout.
Benefits of using Bizfile
With Bizfile, all your company’s end-to-end transactions will easily be managed. This is because the platform puts essential business services under one platform easing accessibility and reducing the cost of seeking the said services. Being paperless, your company will also save a lot on time and money that would have otherwise been spent procuring, printing, and pushing paperwork. Some of the key benefits of ACRA’s Bizfile include;
- Convenience to your business.
- Better operational performance.
- Improved data accuracy.
- Cost-effective in comparison to paper-based transactions.
- Improved compliance with regulatory requirements for your business.
Common ACRA Filings
How your company can file annual returns with ACRA’s Bizfile
Usually, the annual returns filing would be handled by the company secretary. However, if you wish to do it yourself, you may follow the short guide as follows.
The Companies Act of Singapore requires that all companies file their annual returns with ACRA. This can easily be done via Bizfile. You will need your company’s financial statements as well as an updated profile of your company detailing information such as company directors, shareholders, etc. Then follow the following steps;
- Prepare a financial statement following the company’s financial year-end (FYE). This can be prepared by your finance staff or by an outsourced accountant.
- Hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) where the financial statements are presented to the shareholders by the board of directors. Companies may also be exempted for holding an AGM if they are eligible.
- Once approved by the shareholders, you can then upload to ACRA Bizfile the statements as well as the other required company details.
To avoid penalties, companies should file their annual returns with ACRA within 30 days after the AGM. Though an extension can be granted, continuous failure to submit results in hefty fines. It is also worth noting that some companies can file their returns without having to conduct an AGM – where the company is exempted from holding an AGM, or the members have agreed on dispensing of the AGM.
Incorporating a Singapore Company
When registering your company via Bizfile, you will require the following information to ensure a seamless process;
- Details of the company you will be registering. That is whether it is a business, a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), a social agency, etc.
- The name you intend to use for your business or company. This name must first be approved before the process can proceed further.
- The key activities that your company, business, or entity will be undertaking.
- The details of the company directors whether they are foreigners or Singaporean citizens. Moreover, the law requires that all companies must have at least one director could either be a citizen of Singapore, a permanent resident, or a holder of an employment pass.
- Details of the shareholders or contributors to your company. The law permits for entities in the country to have either a corporate or an individual as a shareholder.
- The share capital.
- Your registered address. It is a requirement by ACRA that every company must have a locally registered Singapore address. A post office box address is usually not accepted. However, you can use the premises holding your business as the registered address. If this is not possible, you can opt for a co-working space. Other than this, you may engage a corporate service provider such as an expert company secretary in Singapore to help you fulfill this registered address requirement.