Everything You Need To Know About XBRL Filing

Everything You Need To Know About XBRL Filing

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If you have recently heard someone mention the term but you are not 100% sure exactly what XBRL filing is, you have come to the right place. What follows in this article is a brief introduction to the term XBRL, important information on how it is used, and by whom.

What is XBRL and How Did it Originate?

Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) was created in 1998 by the American Institute of Public Accountants (AICPA). As a variant of Extensible Markup Language (XML), it adopts the same technologies and syntax.

The XBRL format enables one to carry out a variety of functions, and possesses  a whole range of new functions that are independent of any platform, better defined, and can be tested. In addition, it is also digital, thereby allowing XBRL to simplify the way that we analyse, share, use, and add value to data.

Who Has to Submit Financial Statements in XBRL Format?

Since December 2013, every company, including those limited or unlimited by shares as well as dormant ones, has to file their financial statements in an XBRL format that complies with the relevant requirements of ACRA Taxonomy.

To streamline the filing of XBRL-format financial statements, ACRA recently revised some of the data elements and other XBRL reporting requirements, with 30 April 2021 being the date on which these new requirements became effective. Prior to this, the changes were only voluntary in the period between 16 May 2020 and 30 April 2021.

ACRA XBRL Requirements

ACRA currently has four different XBRL templates for different users and circumstances:

  • Full XBRL template: This uses around 210 data elements now instead of more than 400 previously.
  • Simplified XBRL template: This currently contains around 120 data elements, and will replace the XBRL FSH (General) template.
  • XBRL FSH (Banks): This is suitable for banking firms, with about 80 data elements.
  • XBRL FSH (Insurance): Similar to the template above in the number of data elements, this is more suitable for insurance firms.

Are Certain Singapore Companies Exempted from the New XBRL Filing Requirements?

The following list of companies will be able to file their financial statements in PDF format with highlights in XBRL:

  • Foreign companies with SG branches
  • SG-incorporated companies limited by guarantee
  • SG-incorporated companies preparing financial statements using accounting standards other than prescribed accounting standards in Singapore or IFRS  

Who Else Uses XBRL and Why?

Now that you also know what XBRL is used for and who is legally required to use it, the next logical question is who else uses it and why.

Other Businesses

These users include firms that have to accurately share data within a specific group of businesses. Another group of users include supply chains that want to swap data among themselves, to help assess activity and control risk.


These professionals often use XBRL in response to the reporting needs of their clients.

Analysts and Investors

Analysts use XBRL because it helps them to gain a better understanding of relative performance and risk. On the other hand, investors find XBRL reports useful because of their need to compare different investments by analysing their performance.

Data Providers

XBRL is also very useful to expert data providers that utilise risk and performance data publicly available to create ratings, comparisons and similar value-added data products for a variety of market players.

Government Agencies

The XBRL format is often used by government agencies that are responsible for reducing the amount of red tape and simplify the business reporting process., This is because it helps them to better integrate reporting requirements and coordinate data definitions.

Other agencies that find XBRL useful include those that have to improve official reporting methods by developing standardised ways in which to prepare these reports.


Some of the different regulators and regulatory agencies are listed below.

  • Stock exchanges and securities regulators in charge of studying the compliance and performance of listed securities and companies.
  • Business registrars responsible for gathering and publishing a variety of data for both public and private companies.
  • Authorities involved in monetary and statistical policies who need financial data from a variety of businesses and other organisations.
  • Financial regulators who regularly gather large amounts of data on risk and performance, that are often complicated, about the organisations they have to regulate.
  • Tax authorities that receive financial statements and related compliance data from companies before analysing them in order to process the former’s corporate tax assessments.

Sprout with Us!

In this article, we briefly explained what XBRL and its benefits are, who uses it, and the purposes it is used for. We hope to have clarified doubts you may have! Sprout Asia offers budget-friendly accounting services as well as other XBRL preparation services to help you stay compliant with ACRA’s requirements. Feel free to contact us and receive a complimentary consultation, to answer your questions. We will respond within 24 hours.