Company Incorporation in Singapore: Referral Authorities

Referral Authorities

When incorporating a new entity in Singapore, businesses or organisations with specific names and activities will require a longer process. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority might refer the entity to referral authorities for comments.

Duration of Incorporation

Does this affect the duration of the incorporation? Yes. Guidelines by ACRA states that the incorporation duration will take 14 to 60 days under such circumstances.

There are 2 categories which involve referral activities:

1. Incorporation applications hat may be referred for review.

Industries include:
1.1. Architecture
1.2. ASEAN
1.3. Banking, Finance and Insurance
1.4. Charities
1.5. Commodity trading
1.6. Defence and Military
1.7. Education
1.8. Engineering
1.9. Legal Services
1.10. Real estate agencies
1.11. Tourism

2. Incorporation applications that would require approval before registering with ACRA.

Industries include:
2.1. Accounting and Auditing
2.2. Co-operative Societies
2.3. Healthcare

1. Incorporation applications that may be referred for review

ACRA might refer a business to referral authorities if:
i. Proposed names containing certain terms
ii. The Business or Organisation runs on Specific Activities

With regards to activities, ACRA classifies them based on SSIC codes. Businesses would have to indicate its activities (and their respective SSIC codes) when registering for a company.

SSIC Codes are the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification, which is the national standard for classifying economic activities.

1.1. Architecture

Proposed names containing:

Activities with SSIC Code:
71111 (Architectural services)

This is governed by the Board of Architects (BOA) Singapore.

Individuals may find architects, architectural firms, understand rules, laws and more on their website.

Referral Authority: Board of Architects Singapore
Legislation: Architects Act (Chapter 12)


1.2. ASEAN

Proposed names containing:
Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The decision of application falls under the ASEAN National Secretariat of Singapore.

With regards to businesses entities applying for the use of the name ASEAN during incorporation, the following guidelines are required:

i) At least 5 members of ASEAN under the entity. This means that the entity should for instance have at least offices in 5 ASEAN member states.

ii) The entity should have its regional headquarters in at least one of the 10 ASEAN member states. 

iii) Businesses should not bring the name “ASEAN” into disrepute by its usage.

iv) There should be no negative effect on the aims and objectives of the entity should they use “ASEAN” in their name.

There are 2 documents required:

i) A letter of undertaking which clearly states understanding of the following:
a. The responsibilities associated with using the name ASEAN and,
b. Withdrawal of such rights on part of the application should there be any violation of the principles listed above.

ii) A detailed prospect that lists the nature, purpose and functions of the business.

Referral Authority: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Authority: The Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

1.3. Banking, Finance and Insurance

Proposed names containing:
Finance Company
Futures Exchange
Clearing House
Sock Exchange
Securities Exchange
Clearing Corporation
Clearing Organisation

Activities with SSIC Code:
64120 (Full banks)
64130 (Wholesale Banks)
64120 (Offshore Banks)
64150 (Merchant banks)
64992 (Representative offices of foreign banks)

With regards to the following business applicants, ACRA states that they need not be referred to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). However, should they intend to engage in any activities that require licensing, registration or approval by MAS, they’ll have to apply separately with MAS. This is applicable for:

Proposed names containing:
Futures Broker
Futures Trading Adviser
Futures Pool Operator
Fund Manager
Fund Management
Asset Management
Venture Management

Or names which resemble these titles:
Financial Adviser
Insurance Broker
Reinsurance Broker

SSIC Codes:
Money-changing and remittance businesses
SSIC Codes: 64993, 64994

Businesses with activities involving issuing credit cards or charge cards
SSIC Codes: 64922

Insurance related businesses such as surveyors acting as insurance adjusters, insurance brokers and insurance adjusters:
SSIC Codes: 6511, 6512, 6520, 6530, 6622, 6629

Referral Authority: Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

1.4. Charities

Proposed names containing:

Based on the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) – Charities Unit, these are the regulations with regards to naming your charity:

Specific Word Use Restrictions for new charity incorporation

New setups will require to meet the following criteria:

i) Use of the word “Foundation” in the newly incorporated charity, is allowed only if the organisation is:
Self-funded: By a for-profit company, a family or an individual to aid the organisation’s charitable purposes or
Financed by and endowment for such an organisation.

ii) The use of the word “International” is allowed should the charity organisation have objects and activities beyond Singapore.

iii) The word “Singapore” is allowed if its in brackets at the end of the charity’s name. For example XYZ Charity (Singapore) is allowed.

Use of the word “Singapore” is prohibited from being used in front of the name of the organisation. For example, Singapore XYZ Charity is not allowed.

iv) Incorporating a charity name in foreign language. The name of the organisation must include an english term for example, Temple or Church. Naming a charity entirely in a foreign language is not allowed.

Referral Authority: MCCY – Charities Unit
Legislation: Charities Act (Chapter 37)

1.5. Commodity trading

Based on the Commodity Trading Act (Cap.48A) the following business activities requires licensing, hence, proposed names containing the following would have to be referred to Enterprise Singapore:
Spot Commodity Trading

You may refer to the legislations the Commodity Trading Act (Cap. 48A) (“CTA”) and the Rubber Industry Act (Cap. 280) (“RIA”) below.

Activities with SSIC Code:
66124 (Commodity (excluding gold) and futures brokers and dealers)

Businesses incorporating their entity with the above names terms and activities would be referred to Enterprise Singapore. Further license may be required.

Note: Your business might not be licensed by Enterprise Singapore even if your incorporation registration is approval by ACRA.

Referral Authority: Enterprise Singapore
Legislations: Commodity Trading Act (Cap. 48A), Rubber Industry Act (Cap. 280)


1.6. Defence and Military

Proposed names containing may be referred to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) – Defence Industry & Systems Office (DISO) :

Referral Authority: MINDEF – (DISO)

1.7. Education

This involves academic establishments. Proposed names include:
Learning Centre
Education Centre
Training Centre

According to ACRA, with regards to education establishments, names containing the following will be disallowed under normal circumstances:

Activities with SSIC Code:
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)
85220 (Technical and vocational secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education)
85301 (Polytechnics)
85302 (Universities)
85303 (Teachers’ training institutes)
85304 (Commercial schools offering higher education programmes)
85494 (Academic tutoring services. e.g. tuition centres, private tutoring services)

Incorporating establishments that are of a non-academic nature in Singapore is excluded from the above. Examples of non-academic

Beauty Schools (E.g. Hair Styling schools, Make Up schools)
Cooking schools
Pet Grooming schools
Sports schools
Gaming schools
All recreation-related schools or classes

Referral Authority: Ministry of Education (MOE)
Legislations: Education Act (Chapter 87, Section 61)Private Education Act (Chapter 247A) 

1.8. Engineering

Proposed names containing:
Professional Engineering
Professional Engineers

According to the Professional Engineers Act, the Professional Engineers Board shall “keep and maintain a register of professional engineers in which shall be entered the names of all persons registered under this Act”.

Businesses with the proposed names containing the above may refer to the Professional Engineers Act via this link for more information.

According to the Professional Engineers (Prescribed Amount of Paid-Up Capital) Notification 2005, the prescribed amount of paid-up captial shall be $500,000.

Referral Authority: Professional Engineers Board (PEB)
Legislation: Professional Engineers Act, Professional Engineers (Prescribed Amount of Paid-Up Capital) Notification 2005

1.9. Legal Services

Proposed names containing:
Law Corporation

Activities with SSIC Code:
69100 (Legal Activities)

For legal corporations there are a few types of licences or registrations including:

i) Singapore Law Practice
This includes the incorporation of law firms, limited liability law partnerships or law corporations. Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) sections 131, 138 and 153.

ii) Foreign Law Practice
Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) section 172.

iii) Qualifying Foreign Law Practice
Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

iv) Joint Law Venture
Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) section 169.

v) Formal Law Alliance
Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) section 170.

vi) Group Practice
Part 5 and Division 6 of Part 6 of the Legal Profession (Law Practice Entities) Rules 2015.

vii) Representative Office
Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) section 173. 

Referral Authority: Ministry of Law
Legislation: Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161), Legal Profession (Law Practice Entites) Rules 2015


1.10. Real estate agency activities

Proposed names containing:
Real Estate Agent

Activities with SSIC Code:
68201 (Real estate agencies and valuation services)
68209 (Real estate activities on a fee or contract basis nec.)

Governed by the Council for Estate Agencies, real estate agents and agencies are registered and regulated under this Referral Authority.

Referral Authority: Council for Estate Agencies (CEA)
Legislation: Estate Agents Act (Chapter 95A)


1.11. Tourism

No name restrictions, however, the merlion symbol usage is controlled by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Users will need to apply for permission to use the merlion symbol or any representation of its resemblance. Unsers include any company, organisation or individual.

Travel agents will require a license from the STB.

Application for a new license: $200
License fee paid to the STB $400

Validity Period: 2 Years from the date of issue

Referral Authority: Singapore Tourism Board
Legislation: Travel Agents Act (Chapter 334), Travel Agents Regulations 2017

2. Incorporation applications that would require approval before registering with ACRA:
2.1. Accounting and Auditing

Proposed name contains:

Incorporation registrants will have to obtain approval from the Institute of SIngapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).

Referral Authority: ISCA

2.2. Co-operative Societies

Proposed names containing:

Before incorporating their organisation with ACRA, applicants are to obtain prior approval from the Registrar of Co-operative Society.

Referral Authority: Registry of Co-operative Societies

2.3. Healthcare

Applicants seeking to incorporate a healthcare establishment are required to obtain approval from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Proposed names containing:
Medical Clinic / Centre
Dental Clinic
Dental Centre
Medical Laboratory
Clinical Laboratory
Healthcare Establishment
Any other similar terms

New licence categories based on MOH guidelines:
New Clinic
New Hospital
New Nursing Home
New Clinical Laboratory
New X- Ray Laboratory

Other changes include:
Making changes to licences
Updating information on the HCI Directory

Here’s a list of relevant professional registration acts under the MOH:
Medical Registration Act
Dental Registration Act
Nurses and Midwives Act

Pharmacists Registration Act 2007
Optometrists and Opticians Act
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act

Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act
Termination of Pregnancy Act
Voluntary Sterilization Act
Human Organ Transplant Act

Referral Authority: Ministry of Health

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