BizFile or BizFile+ is an online directory for corporate paperwork in Singapore. When BizFile was created over 15 years ago, it was regarded as a serious innovation in government communication with business. Nowadays ACRA continues to make online data management simple, fast, and efficient. We explain how BizFile works.
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What Is ACRA's BizFile?
All businesses or entrepreneurs starting a company in Singapore are required to register their information with The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. In the past these formalities were conducted in person at the office of the Registry of Companies and Businesses (RoC), but in 2004 these were shifted to an electronic system with a centralised ACRA portal called BizFile which enables users to file and retrieve business data - anywhere and at any time.
ACRA's BizFile is as a web system to upload, store, and retrieve data on organizations registered in the country. Since 2004, ACRA requires companies to submit all due filings online via BizFile.
In 2016 after a major update which helped improve portal’s speed and efficiency it was renamed as BizFile+, the system we know and use today.
What Are Key Features of BizFile That I Can Use?
As a Singapore entrepreneur, you, or more likely, your Corporate secretary, are going to interact with BizFile regularly. Residents can access the directory themselves while foreigners need to hire an agent to do that for them. Here are some of the major activities your business might need:
- Online company registration
- Online company cessation
- Buying data, for example, industry reports
- Submitting updates on various changes in your business
- UEN search and central directory
- Annual filing
Using BizFile To Set Up a Company in Singapore with ACRA
To set up a company – as a sole proprietorship, partnership or a company –business owners can use the BizFile+ portal. For setting up a business in ACRA, you will need to log in to the ACRA BizFile+ portal with your SingPass (all Singapore residents have this Singapore Personal Access Password). Foreigners are required to navigate the ACRA business registration through a Corporate Service Provider
After logging in, you will have to submit some details for the registration purposes. Such as the type of company, its name and registered address, key business activities, details of the directors and shareholders, amount of share capital and so on.
Once the business is set up, you will need the CorpPass to make transactions on BizFile+. This is issued only to Singapore residents, work pass holders, and permanent residence holders.
How Can I Renew My BizFile?
If you are a business owner and you have a valid CorpPass account, you can renew your BizFile+ registration anytime 60 days before the expiry date. The ACRA BizFile renewal fee is $30 for one year or $90 for three years.
How To Change Company Name in ACRA
You can use BizFile+ to change your company's name through a simple application on the portal. The application might need additional approval from referral authorities depending on your proposed name (names have to be approved to avoid duplication). ACRA's BizFile address change process has a fee of $15.
Once the name application is approved, you must submit a Notice of Resolution and file the change of name process in your business details.
How To Change Company Address in Bizfile
Processing your change of address on BizFile right is important since Singapore’s Companies Act requires every business to have a valid registered address. This is where all your mail goes. Not having registered address can lead to a S$5,000 fine and other penalties. Note that some addresses need to be government-approved first, for example, a HDB apartment. If your new address does not require government approval, for example, you get a service from your agency, here is how your Company Secretary will change the address on BizFile:
- Prepare and pass a Board Resolution to change the office address in writing
- Go to http://www.bizfile.gov.sg/ and check-in using the company's CorpPass
- File "Change in Company Information" > "Change in Registered Office Address and Office Hours".
- Fill in the new address and date of the change. If your address requires government approvals, attach them
You need to update this information within 14 days after the change takes place.
Filing is free, but failure to file is not: there is a late penalty of at least S$50 or a maximum S$350 for informing ACRA late.
How To Change Business Activity in ACRA
In Singapore, during the incorporation process, a business owner must select a Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code that puts it into one of the government-mandated categories and defines what the organization does and in what field. You can submit up to 2 SSICs and can also attach customised description of the business activity.
If you decide to change its business activity, then you must update your company's information on BizFile+ within 14 days. These changes do not attract a fee.
To change your company's business activity:
- Log in to www.bizfile.gov.sg with your CorpPass
- File eServices > Local Company > Make Changes > Change in Company Information including Appointment/Cessation of Company Officers/Auditors.
Not updating the change of business activity on ACRA can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a default penalty for the company and directors. You will also not be able to get permits, licences or government incentives.
Do Freelancers Need To Register with ACRA?
For persons (only applicable to Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) running a business under their full names as per NRIC, there is no need to register with ACRA.
If Jenny runs a flower shop called Jenny, she doesn't need to get it registered, however, If she calls her shop Jenny's Flower Mart, she will need to apply for ACRA registration.
Part-time, contract workers and freelancers who work under their full names fall under this category and are exempt from registering. However, they are required to keep clear and complete accounts and declare their income with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
How Can You Check ACRA Business Profiles?
An ACRA Business Profile is widely used by investors and other stakeholders to verify a company's information. You can check BizFile for information such as the registration number (UEN), entity name, business activities, registration date and details of position holders, business owners or directors.
Information such as business status and registered can be checked free of cost on ACRA BizFile. However, a full business profile must be purchased on ACRA's iShop for S$5.50.
- You have to Login with your SingPass/CorpPass
- Go to Buy Information and pay the amount.
- You will receive the information as a link in your email or can alternatively be accessed in the "Messages" section of your login account.
How to Remove a Company Director from ACRA?
A person stops being a director of the company when they resign or are disqualified. Under the Companies Act, an ordinary resolution of shareholders is needed to remove a director before their term in office finishes.
Next, your company must file for removal of director notice with ACRA within 14 days. If you don’t report the changes, you’ll get a penalty of $5000 among other types of penalties. To notify ACRA about these changes, you will need to:
- Log onto BizFile+ with your SingPass.
- Select Explore eServices > Local Company > General > Select the relevant notification form.
- You will then need to attach a copy of the resignation or disqualification with the application.
How to Close Business in ACRA?
To close a business in ACRA ,you will need to apply online using BizFile+.
Closing a Sole-Proprietorship or Partnership – The owner/s will file for the "Cessation of Business" online via BizFile+ using SingPass or CorpPass. The business will close immediately after the application submission. Along with closing the company on BizFile, GST registered businesses will have to apply for cancellation of GST registration with IRAS.
One of the ways to close a company is by striking off the name of the organization from the ACRA register.
As a director, you may apply to ACRA to strike off the company's name from the register. The company director, the company secretary or the registered filing agent apply for striking off the company via BizFile+ using SingPass/CorpPass.
To get the application approved, the organization must satisfy several criteria for striking off such as:
- It has ceased trading.
- Should have no outstanding debts to any government agency.
- Should have no outstanding charges in the charge register.
- Not have any ongoing legal proceedings or any ongoing or pending regulatory. action or disciplinary proceeding.
- Should have no existing assets and liabilities on the date of application.
- The application should be authorised by all or the majority of the directors.
Once The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority approves the application it goes through 2 rounds of Gazette Notification 30 days apart to give interested parties a chance to object. If all goes well, the whole process takes around 4 months.
A company has the option of being restored within 6 years of being struck off by a Court Order. The Court Order must also be routed via BizFile+ , and the status of the company will be updated to "live".
How to Appoint a Company Secretary in Bizfile?
Every registered organization is required by law to appoint a secretary within 6 months of its incorporation date. The CS is a vital member of a company and is responsible for numerous administrative and regulatory responsibilities in a company. Some of the statutory duties of a company secretary as per ACRA is filing of annual returns, recording and filing board resolutions and other legal compliance needs.
A company secretary must be a natural person and a resident of Singapore.
To add the name of your Company Secretary you need to:
- Log on to www.bizfile.gov.sg using your CorpPass.
- Under File eServices > Local Company > Make Changes > Change in Company Information including Appointment/Cessation of Company Officers/Auditors.
How To Buy an ACRA Report?
As the holding portal of all business activity and information in Singapore, ACRA has a wealth of data related to the business entities registered with it. In the spirit of transparency and data sharing, this information can be bought in the form of ACRA reports from the Bizfile portal.
Basic registration details are available for free on the site. However, people can also access detailed information such as:
- Business profile
- Business profile with a certificate of production
- Corporate Compliance and Financial Profile (CCFP)
- People profile
- Extracts such as the Memorandum and Articles of Association, company constitution, annual returns, or audited accounts
- Certificates: Documents such as a Certificate of Good Standing, Certificate of Compliance, Certificate of Conversion, etc.
- Registers including the Register of Members, Directors, Chief Executive Officers, Secretaries, Auditors, and more.
All these reports and documents are available for a fee at iShop@ACRA and are delivered electronically via email.
To purchase these products:
- Login at BizFile+ using SingPass or CorpPass
- Go to Buy Information
- Each type of report has a fee attached to it. After the payment goes through the information will reach you as a download link via an email. Once you have paid, the report will appear in your "Messages" section.
How Long Does It Take ACRA BizFile To Process the Change and Inform Other Agencies?
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority BizFile only needs 5-15 minutes for the transaction to complete. However, it takes them about 3 days to process the changes in the standard cases, and up to 2 months if it needs to contact other agencies to approve or review your application. Once the change is finalized, IRAS will receive it automatically as it updates its records with ACRA on a weekly basis.
Other agencies like Ministry of Manpower and CPF Board need to be informed separately. Log in to MOM online and go to “Change particulars” to provide them with new details. In case of CPF board, you will need to send a form with changes via mail.
How to Contact ACRA in Singapore?
- You can call their telephone number 6248 6028 from 8.30am to 6.00pm, every Monday to Friday except for public holidays.
- Or you can send your enquiries here.