Often times incorporation may be taken for granted. The words .INC at the end of the company name may sometimes be insignificant to a layman. That should not be the case. Incorporating is the primary step in starting any corporation. This is basically the time when the corporation is born. Without going through this step, a company, strictly speaking, does not exist. Generally, without having been incorporated, all activities done subsequent to it are deemed to have no effect. Incorporation is important because a corporation is considered as an entity distinct and separate from its officers, directors, and stockholders. This means that it has its own personality and it can do acts with legal consequences. Incorporation is thus an important step, in both practical and legal terms as compliance with this requirement avoids troubles with the law and problems which you may have with the people you do business with. It also adds an impression of legitimacy and validity, especially with upstart companies as you can very well show proof that you have complied with all the necessary requirements.
In Singapore, the government body in charge with handling corporate affairs, including incorporation, is the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, or ACRA for short. Prospective businessmen and investors would have to refer to this agency should they wish to incorporate their business. There are a number of requirements that have to be complied with in order to set up your corporation and they must all be met to incorporate successfully. Here are some guidelines on what to expect in the incorporation process.
How to register?
Registration with the ACRA is mostly done online. This makes the process and efficient and hassle-free one with regard to procedural requirements as most can be done in front of a computer. For starters, you can file an online application on your own by logging into the BizFile+ system to submit your forms. You can also hire someone else to take care of this for you. Law firms, accounting firms, and other corporate service firms can be engaged to handle your online application. This can be more beneficial as they have the experience and knowledge with regard to these matters and, thus, mistakes and deficiencies can definitely be minimized. Do note that there is a registration fee of $315, $15 for the name approval fee, and $300 for the registration itself.
How long does the process take?
The processing of the application usually beings around 15 minutes after the fees are paid. The processing time, as a whole, may take sometime between 14 days to 2 months depending on the nature of the activities of the business. ACRA will necessarily review the application to determine if it is fully compliant. The process, however, may take additional time when it proposes to undertake special activities. This is because the ACRA will refer the application to other government bodies whenever necessary. This arises when the proposed activities of the business fall under the matters directly under these other government bodies. For example, an architectural firm would have to have the approval of the Board of Architects as well, a school, on the other hand, would have to be approved by the Ministry of Education.
Once the business has been registered with the ACRA, it may already commence its activities subject to compliance with other governmental requirements that it may require in the conduct of its business.
Send in your endorsement
This step is necessary for those corporations who chose to file their applications on their own without engaging the services of another firm. Within 60 days from the submission of the application, consent must be endorsed by the prospective corporation through its directors, secretary, or shareholders. This signifies that these individuals are informed that they are incorporating a business and they are doing this voluntarily and in their own free will. This also notifies the ACRA that the people who submitted the applications are real people who actually wish to have a company incorporated.
Don’t forget to incorporate after you get your company name
A company with its proposed name approved by ACRA must be incorporated within 60 days from the date of name application. This can be extended for another 60 days should the need arise for no additional charge. The application for extension may be accessed via the BizFile+ system as well. If for any reason the company was not able to incorporate even with the extended time, then he would have to refile the application for the company name again before beginning the incorporation process.
Make sure to have alternate addresses submitted
The officers of the corporation and its directors may register alternate addresses with the ACRA as well. This alternate address must be in the same jurisdiction where his primary residential address is. This would mean that an officer whose primary residential address is within the country must have his alternate address a local address as well. Similarly, a director with a primary foreign address cannot have a local alternate address as it is not located in the same jurisdiction. This alternate address cannot be a mere P.O. Box and should be one where the director or officer can be directly contacted or notified. This is to ensure that all notices and directives from the ACRA and other government bodies are sure to reach the person concerned and so that timely responses can be made when the situation calls for it. This also acts as a safety net as the director or officer can be reached through two addresses and it is virtually guaranteed that he will be able to receive communications.
These are the basic things that should be known if you wish to set up your business in Singapore. So whenever you’re ready, log onto your BizFile+ system to know the documentary requirements so that you may be preparing them immediately. Better yet, you can contact a reputable firm so that you can rest easy that your application process will go smoothly!