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Home > How To Guides > Setting Up in Singapore > Approval from Referral Authorities

Setting Up in Singapore

Essential information you need to know to set up a business in Singapore.
Relevant to:
Local CompaniesForeign CompaniesLimited Liability PartnershipsLimited PartnershipsPartnershipsSole-proprietorshipsStart-ups
Before Starting Up

Approval from Referral Authorities

Applications such as Name Reservation/Company Incorporation/Business Registration/Change of Company Particulars may be referred to Regulatory Authorities for comments due to various reasons. If these applications are being referred, the time of review may take 14 working days to 2 months.

This information serves to assist business owners in planning their timetable for applications to ACRA. Please note that proposed names should not contain the words "National" or "of Singapore" unless justified e.g. government-run or large organisations.

The referrals set out in this table are non-exhaustive. Business owners should note that there may be other referrals required by statutory or government authorities that are not included in these tables.

List of Referral authorities 

Referral Authority When is referral required
Board of Architects (BOA) Singapore
Subject to the provisions of the Architects Act, no person shall use verbally or otherwise the word "architect" or any of its derivatives in connection with his business designation, or any other words, name or designation that will lead to the belief that the person is an architect unless the person is a registered architect.

SSIC Code:
71111 (Architectural services)
Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)
Proposed activities involving “Real Estate Agent” or "Real Estate Agency", and applications for change of name by entities already carrying on real estate agency activities.

SSIC Codes:
68201 (Real estate agencies and valuation services)
68209 (Real estate activities on a fee or contract basis nec.)
Enterprise Singapore
Names and activities involving  “Physical Rubber”, ”Commodity futures” e.g. "Rubber trading", "Commodity brokers", "Commodity Futures Exchange", "Commodity / Commodities Exchange", "Futures brokers", "Commodity Futures", "Clearing Exchange / House / House Exchange".

SSIC Codes:

66124 (Commodity and futures brokers and dealers)
Majlis Ugama Islam of Singapore (MUIS)
Proposed names and activities containing or involving "Islam", "Muslim", "Halal" and their derivatives.
Ministry Of Defence (MINDEF) (Defence Industry & Systems Office- DISO)
Proposed names containing "Military" or "Defence".
Ministry of Education (MOE) (Private Schools Section)
Establishments functioning as a "school" / "learning centre" / "education centre" / "training centre", excluding those offering instruction of a "non-academic" nature, e.g. beauty care, dressmaking, cooking, sports, games, driving, recreation-related, etc.

Names containing "Academy", "College", "Institute", “Institution", "University"; and "National", "Singapore", will normally be disallowed.

SSIC Codes:
85211 (Secondary schools)
85212 (Junior colleges and centralised pre-university institutes)
85213 (International and foreign system schools - secondary)
85214 (Schools for the handicapped and educationally sub-normal - secondary)
85221 (Technical and vocational education)
85223 (Specialised trade schools)
85301 (Polytechnics)
85302 (Universities)
85303 (Teachers' training institutes)
85304 (Commercial schools offering higher education programmes)
85494 (Academic tutoring services)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(ASEAN National Secretariat, Singapore)
Proposed names containing "Association of Southeast Asian Nations" or "ASEAN".

More info on the conditions governing the use of the name "ASEAN" ( PDF file attached) (PDF, 17KB)                

Please ensure that your application includes information describing how these conditions are satisfied.

Ministry of Law
(Legal Services Regulatory Authority)

Applications which contain the following will be referred to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (“LSRA”) :    

(a)       SSIC code: 69100 (Legal Activities); and/or
(b)       Law-related words or acronyms such as “Law”, “Legal”, “Counsel”, “Chamber”, “Advocate”, “Solicitor”, “Law Corporation”, or “LLC”.

If it is intended that the proposed business will be a law practice, the applicant will need to apply to the LSRA for a law practice licence via LSRA e-Services, and obtain in-principle approval before registering the business with ACRA. For more information, please refer to the following links: 

For more information on the LSRA, please refer to the Ministry of Law’s website

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
Proposed names containing the following words:
  1. "Bank" and its derivatives; (Examples of derivatives of word "Bank" would include "banking", "banque", "banco", "Bancaire”, “Banca” and “Banche”)
  2. "Finance Company" and "Finance";
  3. "Futures Exchange", "Clearing House" and "Securities Exchange" or titles that resemble these titles or give the impression that the applicant is a securities or futures exchange or clearing house; (Examples of titles, which resemble "Futures Exchange", "Clearing House" and "Securities Exchange", would include "stock exchange", and "clearing corporation" and "clearing organisation")
Applications to register entities whose activities come under the Banking Act (Cap 19), the Finance Companies Act (Cap 108), and the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (Cap 186). This would include entities which conduct banking business, merchant banking, or finance company business.                                                                                                                                                                                    

SSIC Codes: 6412, 6413, 6414, 6415, 64992

MAS will consider the applications and will, if necessary, liaise directly with the applicants on any information MAS may need concerning the applicants and their proposed business.


The following applications need not be referred to MAS. However, if the applicant intends to engage in any activities that require licensing, registration, or approval by MAS, the requisite license, registration or approval shall be obtained from MAS. The approval of the registration of the entity by ACRA shall not be construed as a reflection on the entity’s suitability to be licensed, registered or approval by MAS.

(A) If proposed names contain the words :

"Futures", "Futures Broker", "Futures Trading Adviser", "Futures Pool Operator", "Securities", "Stockbroker", "Fund manager", "Fund management", "Asset management", "Venture management", "Insurance" or names which resemble these titles; "Financial", "Financing", "Financial Adviser", "Insurance Broker", "Reinsurance Broker", "Assurance", "Reinsurance", "Reassurance", "Insure", "Insuring", "Insuritz".

Applications to register entities whose operations come under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap 289) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap 110).This would include entities, which engage in the trading of securities or futures contracts, fund management activities, or the provision of financial advisory services.

Applications to register entities whose activities include money-changing and remittance businesses. SSIC Codes: 64993, 64994 

Applications to register entities whose activities include the business of issuing credit cards or charge cards in Singapore. SSIC Codes: 64922 

Applications to register entities whose operations come under the Insurance Act (Chap 142). This would include entities which conduct insurance/reinsurance business; insurance broker (life & general); any insurance related businesses including insurance adjusters and surveyors acting as insurance agents. SSIC Codes: 6511, 6512, 6520, 6530, 6622, 6629
Professional Engineers Board (PEB)

 Proposed names containing “Professional Engineering”, “Professional Engineers” and “PE”.

Subject to the provisions of the Professional Engineers Act, no person shall use verbally or otherwise - 
(a) the words “professional engineer” or any additions to or abbreviation or derivative of those words in connection with his designation;
(b) the word “engineer” or the abbreviation “Er.” or “Engr.” as a title before his name; or
(c) any word, name or designation that will lead to the belief that the person is a registered professional engineer, unless the person is a registered professional engineer.

Singapore Tourism Board (STB)

Usage of the Merlion symbol or name is controlled by STB.  Entities wishing to use the Merlion symbol or name may enquire with STB through

Entities wishing to carry out the business of a travel agent should apply for a licence through  


List of regulatory authorities that applicants need to obtain prior approval from before registering with ACRA

Referral Authority When is prior approval required
Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
Names and activities containing "Accountancy", "Accounting", "Audit", or derivatives thereof are to obtain approval from ISCA.
Ministry of Health (MOH)
Names and activities containing “hospital”, “medical clinic/centre”, “dental clinic/centre”, “surgery”, “medical/clinical laboratory”, “healthcare establishment” or any other term or name that implies similarity to these terms. Applicant to obtain approval from MOH. 
Registry of Co-operative Societies 
Names and activities containing "Co-op" or "Co-operative". Applicant to obtain approval of Registrar of Co-operative Society.
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Last Updated/ reviewed On 10 Nov 2016