Under the Accountants Act, all entities that provide public accountancy services must register with ACRA.
Public accountancy services refer to the audit and reporting on financial statements and the doing of such acts that are required by any written law to be done by a public accountant. There is no need to register a public accounting entity with ACRA if the purpose is to provide non-public accountancy services such as accounting or tax services.
Who Can Apply
Only public accountants or registered filing agents (on behalf of the public accountant) can make the application to set up a public accounting firm.
They may also set up a public accounting corporation and an accounting limited liability partnership.
You must comply with these requirements:
- The main function of your firm is to provide public accountancy services (i.e. auditing and reporting on financial statements).
- The name of your firm is not undesirable or identical to any other business entity.
Requirements for Firm Name
You can apply for any name as long as it is not:
- offensive or vulgar
- an identical name to any of the existing entities registered with ACRA.
Please refer to the Practice Direction No. 7 of 2006: Identical Name Prohibition of for All Accounting Entities (PDF, 143KB) for information on the principles for the purpose of determining whether a name is similar to another. You can also perform a search at BizFile+ to check whether your entity name is identical to an existing entity.
Requirements for Partners
The provision of public accountancy services in Singapore has to be under the control and management of partner(s) who are public accountants residing in Singapore – also known as “Partners under section 18(3)(c)” or “Managing Partners”.
If you are the sole person in the firm, you have to be a public accountant.
If the firm has two partners, one of you must be a public accountant.
If the firm has more than two partners, two-thirds of the partners must be public accountants.
How to Apply
You may do so yourself, or engage the services of a registered filing agent (e.g. law firm, accounting firm or corporate secretarial firm) in your submission.
|Step 1: Ensure
||Ensure that you comply with all requirements listed above.
|Step 2: Choose
||Choose a firm name that is not offensive and identical to any other business entity.
|Step 3: Log on to BizFile+
Log on to BizFile+ using your identification number and SingPass to submit the online transaction.
For Registered Filing Agents (on behalf of public accountants)
Engage the services of a registered filing agent (e.g. law firm, accounting firm or corporate secretarial firm) who would log in with their CorpPass to submit an online application on your behalf.
- Submit a "Application of Name for Public Accounting Firm".
- You may be prompted to "register" your public accounting firm in the same transaction in which you may choose to do so or "register" the entity at a later date. The firm is not registered until the approval is given and it is issued with an Unique Identification Number.
- Submit a "Application for Approval for Public Accounting Firm".
|Step 4: Pay
||Pay the following fees:
- Approval of Public Accounting Firm Name: S$15
- Approval of Public Accounting Firm: S$100
What to do After Applying
You can expect an outcome from ACRA within 3 working days of your application.
If your application results in a name appeal, the processing time may take up to 23 working days.
Endorsement of Application After Approval
If you apply for the entity yourself, i.e. without the help of a registered filing agent and there are other partners in the firm, the system will require all the other partners to endorse the application.
All the partners must log onto BizFile+ within 6 days from the submission date to endorse the application.
If consent is not obtained from all the partners within 6 days of submission, your application will lapse.
Unique Entity Number (UEN)
Upon successful registration, each Public Accounting Firm will be issued with a system-generated Unique Entity Number (UEN). The UEN is an identification number that all business entities need to use when transacting with government agencies.
Special UEN (SUN)
The special UEN service offers entity owners the option to choose, at a fee, a preferred Unique Entity Number (UEN) from a list of reserved UENs when registering the Public Accounting Firm. There are 2 categories available – Tier 1 number at $3,000 and Tier 2 number at $1,000. Those who do not wish to opt for the SUN service will be issued with a free system-generated UEN.
For more information, please visit here.
Free Business Profile
From 2 June 2017, all newly registered public accounting firms will receive a free Business Profile - an electronic report containing business registration information of that entity. Upon successful registration, an email with a URL to download the free Business Profile will be sent to the person who filed the registration.
For more information, visit here.