What Is a Unique Entity Number (UEN) & What Is Its Importance?

What Is a Unique Entity Number (UEN) & What Is Its Importance?

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Similar to how individuals in Singapore are given identification numbers, businesses and local companies are also given a unique, nine or ten-digit identification number when they register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

This number is known as the Unique Entity Number (UEN), which spawned from an initiative that ACRA and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) launched together in 2009.

In this article, we will explain the purpose and benefits of a UEN, and which entities are required to register for one.

What Is the Purpose of a UEN?

Government agencies use the UEN to identify entities in Singapore. Moreover, often the only way you can efficiently interact with these agencies is through your UEN. Without it, they may not recognise your business, which forms you have filed in the past, and your history of interactions with other government agencies. In other words, all companies require a UEN in order to be incorporated or recognised by the government of Singapore.

How Do I Know If I Need a UEN?

The following entities are required to have a UEN:

·      Businesses

·      Trade unions

·      Local companies

·      Societies

·      Healthcare institutions

·      Limited liability partnerships (LLPs)

·      Representative offices

Individuals are not required to get a UEN because they are required to have a National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) instead. Furthermore, foreign-based companies that have little to no interaction with local government agencies and sub-entities (e.g. branches and divisions of an entity) are exempt from getting a UEN. That said, government agencies in Singapore may sometimes choose to add sub-entity codes to a UEN if they need to identify and interact with such sub-entities.

Another important characteristic of a UEN is that each entity’s number is permanent and unique. This means that it will never be given to another entity (including subsidiaries) and remains the same regardless of whether the entity’s name changes.

What Are the Benefits of a UEN?

Interacting with government agencies is much easier with a UEN. Instead of having different identification numbers for every different agency when you file your corporate tax returns, apply for import/export permits, update registered details about your entity, resolve legal disputes, or handle other affairs with the government, all you need is your UEN. Before the introduction of UENs, companies had to keep track of dozens of different identification numbers, one for each agency they have interacted with.

How Do You Look Up an Entity’s UEN?

You can find an entity’s UEN by searching the online directory available here. You will find the UEN, name and type of the entity, status of the entity’s UEN, agency that issued the number, and a partial address.

Which Agencies Can Issue a UEN?

In addition to ACRA, the following agencies can issue a UEN:

·      The Ministry of Law

·      The International Enterprise Singapore

·      The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

·      The Ministry of Health

·      The Ministry of Defence

·      The Ministry of Education

·      The Registry of Societies

·      The Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth

·      The Singapore Land Authority

·      The Ministry of National Development

·      The Ministry of Communications and Information

·      The Ministry of Manpower

·      The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

·      The Monetary Authority

·      The Ministry of Finance

·      The People’s Association

Sprout with Us!

Getting a UEN is part of the journey of starting a business. If you do not have this number yet, we recommend that you contact ACRA immediately to get the registration process started.

Sprout Asia offers incorporation services to help you get your business up and running in a budget-friendly manner. Our experts have got you covered! Feel free to reach out to receive a complimentary consultation to discuss the specifics of your business, we’ll respond within 24 hours.