The First Step to Incorporating Your Company: Reserving Your Company Name

For anyone starting a company in Singapore, the first step begins with reserving a company name. While choosing a unique name is all about picking a distinct identity, there are also legal considerations to make.

In this article, we'll walk you through the process of reserving your company name, from choosing the right trading name right up to making it official with the referral authority.

Step #1: Choosing a Company Name

There are several considerations involved with choosing a company name. A company name is important— the right name can set the tone and image of your business.

Restrictions

Section 17 of the Business Naming Act places a series of restrictions on business names, including:

1) Undesirable names, i.e. names that are offensive or religious in nature.

2) Names that are Identical to other registered business names. These copyright restrictions include other companies, corporations, businesses, partnerships, or limited liability partnership.

3) Identical to any currently reserved business names.

4) Names that the Ministry of Finance prohibits.

Referral Authorities

Each potential company that wants to be registered must also satisfy the relevant referral authorities. Anyone starting a business in Singapore should do their own name check before sending it away for registration. These bodies review applications for approval before the information is entered into BizFile.


Some examples of the various referral authorities are:

Board of Architects (BOA) Singapore: The BOA will review applicants to ensure any business using the word "architect" is qualified to provide architectural services.

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF): Any applications using "Defence" or "Military" will need to be approved by the MINDEF.

Ministry of Law (MINLAW): Names that include the words "law", "solicitor", or "counsel", and so on must be reviewed by the MINLAW.


The above checks all exist to protect the consumer from fraudulent or misleading operators. The processing time for these applications can take anywhere from 14 to 60 days as the ministries might revert back to you with questions.

Company Name Application Process

So, once you've got the right name for your company, the next step is to begin the name application process through BizFile. The application cost $15. During this time, BizFile will reserve the name for 120 days. If the business is not registered within this time, it becomes open to the public once more.

Step #2: Choosing the Right Suffix

Next, depending on the type of legal entity your company is, you'll need to select the correct suffix. This choice will depend on your companies legal structure.


Popular suffixes include:

  • Pte Ltd or Private Limited (for private companies)
  • Ltd or Limited (for public companies)
  • LLP (for Limited Liability Partnership)

Step #3: Choose an SSIC

During the company name application process, you'll also need to provide other types of information. Part of this process requires specifying the primary and secondary functions of your business.


To do this, business owners must find the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code relevant to their business activity. Business owners can search for these codes here.


For example, the function of your business is "The Manufacture of Games or Toys", the SSIC code will be 32400.


Remember, once this is selected, you cannot change it during the incorporation process. For more information about choosing the right SSIC codes, read on here.

Step #4: List of Directors and Shareholders

The Singapore Companies Act governs the registration of companies. Some of the details that need to be registered alongside business function and name are:

  • Shareholders: There must be at least one shareholder in the company
  • Company Secretary: Again, per the terms of the Singapore Companies Act, the company secretary must be a Singapore resident
  • List of Directors: At a minimum, one director must be a local resident in Singapore


If you do not have a local director, you may need to engage a nominee director. Sprout Asia’s incorporation packages for foreigners include providing a nominee director. For more information about nominee directors, you may read on here.

Conclusion

Starting a business in Singapore means coming up with a name. A company cannot be incorporated without one. To do this, business owners should consult the Companies Act and ensure compliance with the laws and rules.

These rules include:

  • Choosing an original name
  • Picking an SSIC code
  • Selecting the correct suffix
  • Including a list of directors and shareholders

Let Sprout guide you through your business incorporation!

Starting a new business and first-time entrepreneurship is often overwhelming with a long checklist, but it can be much less so. Sprout Asia provides company formation services and guidance through the registration of a Singapore company. Find out more about our incorporation packages here.

Arrange for a complimentary consultation now if you’re interested in learning more about the incorporation process or Sprout Asia’s approach to top-tier accounting and bookkeeping service!