In Singapore, the government body responsible for registration and regulation of business entities and public accountants is called Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Up until 2004, the process of registering a business with ACRA required the business owner to go to the Registry of Companies and Businesses in person and fill out a form. This was not ideal for busy entrepreneurs who did not have time to wait to get their business registered.
In 2004, ACRA launched an online service called BizFile to expedite this process – ACRA’s electronic filing and information retrieval system. Since then, all filings with ACRA must be submitted online via BizFile. With the growing number of transactions each year, ACRA sought feedback from stakeholders such as corporate service providers on how to improve the service. Finally, on 3rd January 2016, Bizfile underwent a major revamp to become Bizfile+, a new and improved online platform.
Basic features of Bizfile
Bizfile provides a range of online services and information for business owners in addition to the registration of businesses and companies. You can update your company or business details, you can close your company or business, and you can purchase information on other registered companies and businesses.
Enhancements in Bizfile+
Enhancements in BizFile+ cover two main areas:
Compliance with Companies (Amendment) Act 2014
The new Bizfile+ system has been updated to reflect the legislative changes to the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 and the new Business Names Registration Act (BNRA), which take effect on the 3rd January 2016. This includes requirements for the maintenance of electronic Registers of Members (EROM) of private companies, and entering the Chief Executive Officer of the company into ACRA’s register. You can find more information about this legislation and the requirements that businesses must comply with on ACRA’s website.
Improved User Interface
Bizfile+ incorporates an updated user interface, which is more customer-friendly, faster and easier to use. There are also customized dashboards for each user, so that when you log in you see the information and services which are most relevant to your needs. The Regulatory Fee Structure has been streamlined, which will result in a slight rise in annual registration fees. On the other hand, many ad-hoc transactions which were previously paid for will now be available for free. Finally, there are now more mobile options available for the Bizfile+ system. The ACRA On The Go iPhone app can be used for searching the ACRA directory, accessing frequently asked questions, and other services such as calculating when a company’s AGM is due.
Using Bizfile+ system
The Bizfile+ system can be accessed at bizfile.gov.sg. You will need a Singpass – that is, a Singapore Personal Access password which you use in order to interact with the government online. This acts as a digital signature to confirm your identity when filing. You can find out more about SingPass at singpass.gov.sg. Note that only Singapore residents can apply for SingPass and perform online transactions with Bizfile. For non-Singapore companies or individuals, the best option is to work with a Corporate Services Provider firm who can do these function on their behalf.
Extended deadlines for filing transactions
As the Bizfile system was down over the Christmas 2015 period for relaunch, deadlines which occurred during this time have been extended. This allows businesses to file their transactions later, such as the Filing of Annual Return. If a business’ deadline for filing their Annual Return was between 26th Dec 2015 and 2nd January 2016, then the business may file it by 2nd Feb 2016, and they will not receive a late filing penalty. This also applies to the Filing of Annual Declaration and other filings such as Change of Particulars/ Appointments/ Cessation, Lodgement of Court Order and Return of Allotment of Shares.