What Are SSIC Codes and Why Do They Matter?

What Are SSIC Codes and Why Do They Matter?

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The Singaporean government uses SSIC codes to categorise business activities in the country and monitor the state of all industries in the economy. If you plan to starting a business in Singapore, you need to understand the basics of the SSIC code.

In this article, we will explain what the SSIC code is, why it is important, how to search for one, and how to select the correct one.

What Is an SSIC code?

The Singapore Standard Industrial Classification, commonly referred to as SSIC, is a five-digit code that the government uses to classify business activities in Singapore. The system is based on a similar one used internationally, namely the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) system.

Why Do I Need an SSIC Code?

While it might seem like a trivial matter for a business owner, getting an SSIC code (and the correct one, for that matter) is incredibly important.

First, since certain business activities are regulated and require licenses, the SSIC code helps determine if you need such a license due to the nature of your company’s activities. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) will automatically notify you if your code indicates that your business requires a license.

Second, SSIC codes help determine if your business qualifies for various tax incentives, grants, or other government aid programs. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) uses it to notify you if you are eligible for any of these programs.

From the perspective of the Singaporean government, the SSIC code is important because it helps the Department of Statistics keep track of trends in the Singaporean economy, industries that are growing and those that are declining, and developments in international standards.

The codes also help the government learn about how the economy is changing and whether it needs to do anything to support or change these developments. It does this by using data from SSIC codes to create surveys, databases, reports, and statistical forecasts about the economy.

How Do I Select an SSIC Code?

Business owners often struggle to select the correct SSIC code. What if your business primarily does one activity but also frequently engages in other activities? Which one should you pick for your code?  

To answer these questions, business owners must first understand the definition of an economic activity. An economic activity occurs when a company uses resources (e.g., physical capital, labour, goods, and services) to produce goods and services. There are three types of economic activities:

  1. Principal activity. This is the activity with the highest value-added and/or generates the most revenue from the goods and services your company produces.
  1. Secondary activity. As the name suggests, this is not your principal activity but one that your company still does occasionally.
  1. When selecting an SSIC code for your company, the most important thing to understand is that the code should reflect its principal economic activity. If your company engages in two or more principal business activities, select the SSIC codes for the two economic activities that generate the most revenue for your company. Furthermore, please note that you must register your code with ACRA.

What Are Some Common Examples of SSIC Codes?

  • 56111: Restaurants (may require a license)
  • 62011: Development of software and applications (excludes games and cybersecurity)
  • 46900: Wholesale Trade of a variety of goods without a dominant product
  • 69201: Accounting and auditing services, not including online marketplaces (may require a license)

SSICs Under Referral Authorities (write another section based + talk about potential delay)

SSIC codes for specific businesses may need to be reviewed by Referral Authorities before being approved in the BizFile. The processing time for checking and approving code applications could range between 14 and 60 days. As a result, your company's incorporation could be delayed. The following are some examples of SSIC codes that must be reviewed by the Referral Authority.

  • Monetary Authority of Singapore – 64120, 64130, 64140, 64992: Banks and financial holding companies (includes Full, Wholesale, Merchant and foreign banks)
  • Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) - 68201, 68209: Real estate agency activities (excluding online market places)
  • Ministry of Education – 85211, 85212, 85220 and more: Educational establishments such as schools or learning centres. This excludes “non-academic” nature such as beauty care, cooking or sports.

Do check Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) for more information, whether your SSIC code is required to be reviewed by the Referral Authority.

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