The first step to starting a business in Singapore is to register it with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) – the national regulator of business entities and public accountants in Singapore.
Who Should Register?
As long as you are carrying out an activity on a continuous basis to make profit, you would need to register your business. The vehicle for carrying out the activity may not be a physical space (i.e. office); it can be an online shop or a business set up from your home.
Types of Business Structures
Before registering your business, you should first find out about the different business structures and choose one that meets your need.
|A business owned by 1 person who has absolute say in the running of the business.
The owner has unlimited liability, and is personally liable for debts and losses of the business. They can sue or be sued in their own name.
|A business firm formed by 2 to 20 partners. A partnership of more than 20 partners must be registered as a company.
A partnership is not a separate legal entity from its partners. Partners have unlimited liability and can sue or be sued in the firm’s name. They are personally liable for the partnership’s debts and losses incurred by other partners.
|Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
|Owners have the flexibility of operating the business as a partnership while having a separate legal identity like a private limited company. This means that the LLP is seen as a body corporate and has a legal personality separate from its partners.
Partners of LLP are only personally liable for debts and losses resulting from their own wrongful actions, but are not personally liable for debts and losses incurred by other partners.
|Limited Partnership (LP)
|Unlike Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), a Limited Partnership (LP) does not have a separate legal entity from the partners. LP requires at least one general partner and one limited partner.
The general partner is responsible for the actions of the LP and is liable for all debts and obligations of the LP. The limited partner is not liable for debts and obligations of the LP beyond his agreed contribution, provided he does not take part in the management of the LP.
|A legal entity separate and distinct from its directors and shareholders. The company must have at least 1 director and shareholder.
Types of Companies:
(i) Exempt Private Company (less than 20 members)
(ii) Private Company (less than 50 members)
(iii) Public Company (can be more than 50 members)
Choosing a Business Name
When choosing a name for your business, avoid names which are identical or similar to those that other business entities have already registered with ACRA, as well as names that are offensive and obscene. You can run a directory search on the ACRA website to see if the name has been taken up by another business entity.
Registering with BizFile
Submit an online application at BizFile to register your business. You would need your identification number and SingPass for registration.
Registration takes approximately 15 minutes upon payment. However, should your application need to be referred to other government agencies for approval or review, it may take between 14 days to 2 months for approval to process the registration.
Once your application has been submitted successfully, you will receive your Unique Entity Number (UEN). The UEN is a standard identification number that uniquely identifies your entity. It will be required when you update your entity information with ACRA, file tax returns with Inland Revenue Authority Of Singapore (IRAS) or make CPF payments to Central Provident Fund Board (CPF).
|Registration Fee for Sole-Proprietorship / Partnership
|Incorporation Fee for a Company
|Conversion from Business / Company to Limited Liability Partnership
|Lodgement of Notice of Error (NOE)