- The Unique Entity Number (UEN) is a standard identification number for business entities registered with ACRA in Singapore, used for interacting with government and private agencies.
- UEN registration is generally included in the business incorporation process for local entities, while foreign entities follow different procedures based on the entity type.
- UENs are mandatory on official documents, aid in streamlining interactions with government authorities, and cannot be changed even if business particulars, like the name, are altered.
- A UEN allows companies registered with ACRA to seamlessly interact with other government agencies using a single number and is particularly important for filing corporate tax returns and applying for import and export permits.
1 What Is the Unique Entity Number (UEN)?
The Unique Entity Number (UEN) is an identification number issued by the Singapore government to business entities after they become registered with ACRA. This number, which consists of 9 or 10 digits, is the business equivalent of a National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) for Singapore citizens. This permanent and unique number serves as a single identifier for entities to interact conveniently with both government and private agencies. If you register a limited liability partnership, your UEN will indicate as such, and the same applies to other business structures.
Various registered entities such as:
- local companies
- Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
- representative offices
receive UENs, but individuals do not. Similar to how the NRIC identifies Singapore citizens, the UEN streamlines business identification for interaction with various government bodies in Singapore.
UEN composition and format
Depending on the entity type and year registered with ACRA, the composition and format of the Unique Entity Number (UEN) differ for various business entities. Here are the different formats:
- Business entities registered after 2009 have a 10-digit UEN following the pattern TyyPQnnnnX.
- Businesses registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) before 2009 have a 9-digit UEN following nnnnnnnnX.
- For local companies registered with ACRA after 2009, the UEN format is yyyynnnnnX.
Interestingly, the UEN format includes an entity-type indicator built into the number, such as ‘LL’ for ‘Limited Liability Partnership’. For specific entity types such as foreign entities and foreign LLPs, their UEN formats include the year of issuance, entity-type indicators like ‘RF’ for representative offices, and end with a 4-digit number and a check alphabet. For example, for a Limited Liability Partnership formed on 1 January 2009 with UEN 'T09LL0001B', the suffix is 'B' — this is used as a check alphabet for this limited liability partnership.
Moreover, Special UENs (SUN) have a system-generated prefix and suffix that cannot be changed to ensure consistency. It’s also worth noting that the suffix in the UEN serves as a check alphabet to validate the Unique Entity Number so that the business can communicate with ACRA and other government institutions.
UEN issuance agencies
Aside from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), other government agencies in Singapore are also authorised to issue UENs to a different entity type. These agencies include the Ministry of Law, International Enterprise Singapore, and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, each catering to the registered entity types they govern.
Entities such as businesses, local companies, LLPs, societies, and representative offices will have their UENs issued by the relevant UEN Issuance Agency, which they use to interact with various government entities. This diversity in issuance agencies allows for a comprehensive coverage of all types of entities operating in Singapore.
2 How To Apply for a UEN
Usually, an entity's incorporation or registration process includes, along with submitting a company name, the application for a Unique Entity Number, whether for a limited liability partnership or other business type. During this process, owners can apply for a Special UEN (SUN) if they so wish. This flexibility ensures that entities can select a UEN that best aligns with their operational needs and preferences.
Both local and foreign companies looking to establish their presence in Singapore need to understand the process of UEN application. The application process slightly varies between local and offshore companies, which we will discuss in the following subsections.
UEN for local companies and businesses
Obtaining a UEN is a straightforward process for businesses and local companies. These entities will automatically be provided with a UEN when incorporated or registered with ACRA (the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). The format of the UEN varies for different entities. For example, sole proprietorships and limited liability partnerships receive a UEN consisting of 8 numbers followed by a mixture of letters. On the other hand, local companies receive a UEN that starts with nine numbers and ends with letters, indicating the year of issuance.
It is worth noting that the UEN for sole proprietorships and partnerships must be renewed along with their business registration, while companies with perpetual succession do not require UEN renewal. During incorporation, registration, or conversion, entity owners can select a preferred UEN from reserved SUNs, which come in two tiers with respective fees. However, if a specific entity type needs a new UEN, it can be obtained by registering a new business or converting the business entity, as the original UEN cannot be changed.
UEN for foreign companies and partnerships
Foreign entities, such as companies andpartnerships, follow a slightly different UEN acquisition process than local entities. Here is how different types of foreign entities obtain a UEN:
- Foreign companies, including representative offices of non-Singapore companies, foreign government bodies, foreign trade associations, chambers, or non-profit organisations, obtain a UEN from Enterprise Singapore (ESG).
- Foreign military units are issued UENs by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
- Foreign law practice representative offices receive their UENs from the Ministry of Law (MLAW).
On the other hand, foreign partnerships must be registered with ACRA to conduct business activities in Singapore and receive a UEN upon registration. These entities use their UENs for transactions with the government. They must comply with local laws and regulations, which may involve appointing a local manager who is ordinarily resident in Singapore if there is no local partner serving as an ‘authorised representative’. However, it’s important to note that foreign entities that sell products to the Singapore government departments on a one-off basis are not eligible for a UEN.
3 How To Utilise Your UEN
Once registered with ACRA, a Unique Entity Number (UEN) is more than just a registration number for entities operating in Singapore. It’s a significant tool with multiple benefits and simplifies processes for entities. The primary use of UEN is to allow for convenient interaction with different government departments, reducing the administrative burden on businesses and local companies registered in Singapore by using a single identification number.
Additionally, the use of UEN offers several benefits, including:
- Streamlining the filing of corporate tax returns
- Simplifying the application process for import and export permits
- Special UENs (SUN) that are easily identifiable and memorable for entity owners, facilitating smoother transactions with government bodies.
In the following subsections, we will delve into how UENs can be utilised to interact with government bodies and with PayNow Corporate.
Interacting with government agencies
In Singapore, the Unique Entity Number is the standard identifier for all communication and interactions with different government agencies. Using a single identifier feature reduces administrative burden, eliminating multiple identification numbers when dealing with different government bodies as one of the local companies registered with ACRA. This simplification process extends to tax filing and the procurement of import/export permits.
Entities can use their UEN to easily access and register for government digital services, such as those offered by the Government Technology Agency’s (GovTech) digital services platform. Verifying an entity’s UEN is crucial for ensuring seamless interactions with various government agencies, facilitating various administrative actions including corporate tax returns and applying for permits.
Finally, the UEN also helps to differentiate entities with similar names within government systems, aiding in precise identification and communication.
PayNow Corporate and UEN
Entities with a UEN can register for PayNow Corporate, which directly links their respective Singapore bank accounts, allowing seamless financial transactions. This system facilitates instantaneous payments in the Singapore Dollar, both for single and bulk transfers, without sharing bank account details.
PayNow Corporate also offers advanced features such as creating multiple PayNow proxies for a registered entity and sending notifications of inward credit transactions to the entity’s respective Singapore bank accounts and accounting systems. To utilise PayNow Corporate, entities need to register with their respective bank’s platform, after which they can leverage PayNow QR for convenient Scan & Pay transactions.
4 How To Perform a UEN Search
To conduct a UEN search, one can visit the Singapore Online Search Directory and enter the company name or other known details. This directory provides search functionality for businesses and local companies registered ACRA and other UEN issuance agencies.
Upon a successful search, the directory will provide key information, including:
- Company name
- UEN status
- Issuance agency
- Entity type
- Partial address
Having access to this information at the tip of your fingers makes the UEN a crucial tool in navigating the Singaporean business landscape.
5 How Can I Verify the Entity Status of the UEN Number?
One can use the Singapore Online Search Directory to verify the entity status of a UEN number. The verification process involves inputting the UEN, following which the entity’s registered information appears, including current status, type of a business entity, company name and registration specifics.
An entity’s details can be verified through its UEN by utilising official online platforms provided by the Singapore government. The search results in the UEN system will list the issuance agency, allowing for additional verification and insights into the entity’s registration background.
6 What Are the Legal Requirements to Display UEN?
Entities in Singapore are legally required to display their UEN on certain official documents. The UEN must be included on:
- Bills of exchange
- Business letterheads
- Official correspondence with government agencies.
In addition, the display of UEN is mandatory on order forms, business signs visible to the public, brochures, leaflets, and any published notices or advertisements. For digital platforms, businesses must publish their UEN or QR code on websites for payment purposes and include it in emails the entity sends.
7 How To Update the UEN Information
Especially when there are changes in particulars like the registered address or business activities, entities must ensure their UEN information is kept up-to-date with the relevant UEN Issuance Agency. The responsibility of keeping the UEN information current lies with the entity, and accessing government portals such as ACRA’s BizFile system requires the UEN.
If an entity needs to change its business activity, it can submit the appropriate documents, which will typically be processed within two weeks. It’s crucial to remember that keeping UEN information updated ensures effective and seamless communication with government agencies.
8 How Do I Change My UEN?
Despite what some may believe, a UEN is permanent and remains unchanged, even when there is a change in the business name. This permanence underscores the importance of the UEN as a unique identifier that remains constant throughout the entity’s operations.
9 What Are the UEN Exemptions and Special Cases?
Though the UEN is a significant requirement for most entities in Singapore, it’s worth noting that there are certain exemptions and special cases. Some entities are exempt from obtaining a UEN due to their activities' non-commercial or unique nature.
In addition to these exemptions, Special UENs (SUN) are issued to entities that require them for specific legal or operational reasons, distinct from the usual UEN registration process. Sub-entity codes are used for branches or divisions of certain entities, such as schools and government agencies, to enable them to operate within the larger entity’s legal and financial umbrella.
Entities exempt from UEN
Certain entities are exempt from obtaining a Unique Entity Number (UEN). These include:
- Entities that have occasional or one-off transactions and interactions with government agencies in Singapore
- Offshore companies that do not engage with local government agencies
- Entities engaged in single incidences with the government
- Branches of Singapore companies
These entities are not issued a UEN.
Furthermore, individuals in Singapore use their National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) instead of a UEN for identification. Sub-entities, such as branches and divisions of a Singapore company, are also excluded from the UEN identification number system, though some government agencies might assign sub-entity codes internally for identification purposes.
Sub-entity codes and special UENs
Sub-entities, such as branches and divisions of an entity, are not assigned separate UENs. However, some government agencies may use sub-entity codes linked to the main entity’s UEN for identification and interaction purposes.
On the other hand, Special UENs (SUNs) can be selected at an additional cost and are valued for their memorability and the prestigious impression they can provide. These sub-entity codes and SUNs simplify government interactions and offer an impressionable alternative to a UEN identification number.
10 What Are the Benefits of Having a UEN Number?
There are manifold benefits to having a Unique Entity Number. For starters, a UEN facilitates seamless interaction with multiple government agencies, eliminating the need to use various numbers for different agencies. This feature proves particularly beneficial in simplifying the process of filing corporate tax returns.
In addition, UENs enable entities to:
- Streamline the application process for import/export permits
- Conveniently interact with government agencies, as the UEN is used as a standard identification number across various departments
- Reduce administrative burdens and improve operational efficiency for entities dealing with government agencies
The UEN serves as a vital tool for all registered entities in Singapore.
In conclusion, the Unique Entity Number (UEN) is a pivotal identifier in Singapore’s business ecosystem. From simplifying interactions with government agencies to streamlining tax filings and facilitating seamless financial transactions, the UEN offers numerous benefits to registered entities. Understanding the UEN’s structure, issuance process, and utilisation can significantly enhance an entity’s operational efficiency. So, whether you’re a local business owner or a foreign entity looking to establish a presence in Singapore, the UEN is a crucial tool that you should understand and utilise effectively.
What is a UEN number in Singapore?
A UEN (Unique Entity Number) is a 9 or 10-digit identification number issued to all entities operating in Singapore, and it is issued by a government organisation empowered by legislation. It uniquely identifies each entity, similar to NRIC for Singapore citizens.
Is the ACRA number and UEN the same?
Yes, for businesses and local companies registered with ACRA, the ACRA Registration Number is the same as the UEN. The same applies to the entity's GST registration number.
What is the meaning of a unique entity number?
A Unique Entity Number (UEN) is an identification number issued by ACRA to business entities in Singapore for transactions with government agencies. It is generated upon successful incorporation/registration and is provided free of charge.
How do I register my business with the UEN?
You can register your business with the UEN by applying through ACRA if you are a local company in Singapore. If you are another entity type (a Limited Liability Partnership, for example), you can apply through different government agencies such as International Enterprise Singapore.
Can I change my UEN?
Unfortunately, a UEN is a permanent and unique number which cannot be changed, even if there is a change in the business name.
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