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What is a Certificate of Incorporation in Singapore?

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They say that a certificate of incorporation is the ultimate proof of business registration in Singapore. You might have also heard that the certificate itself comes in multiple distinctive forms. And then some that claim that the certificate of incorporation is not available to all corporate structures in Singapore. 

So, what’s true and what’s not? Most importantly, what is a certificate of incorporation in Singapore? Why do you need it? And where can you even get one in Singapore in the first place? 

This article explores all these issues in detail, starting with the basics. 

What is a Certificate of Incorporation in Singapore?

In Singapore, a certificate of incorporation or COI is an official document that duly expresses the legal status of a fully-registered company. It’s generally issued by the registrar of companies- the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)- as soon as you incorporate a new company. 

But, don’t get it wrong. A COI isn’t released automatically during company formation. Rather, ACRA will first give you what it calls “an incorporation e-notification”, in the form of an email statement that closely resembles a certificate of incorporation. 

Now, the kicker here is, such an electronic document is never accompanied by an official signature. It essentially outlines the Singapore company’s basic details, without a legal authentication seal from the registrar. Consequently, you can only use the e-notification as an unofficial registration certificate for your Singapore company. 

The COI, on the other hand, is normally backed by a legal signature from the registrar. This makes it the overall official proof for company registration in Singapore

It’s worth noting, though, that while an e-notification is sent automatically via email, a COI doesn’t come free of charge. Instead, the Singapore registrar of companies provides it separately after you make an additional payment.  

And once you purchase it, the document itself comes with details like:

  • Company’s name. 
  • Company’s Unique Entity Number (UEN) / Registration Number. 
  • Date of incorporation. 
  • Company’s corporate structure. 
  • Company’s former names (if applicable). 

All in all, therefore, the certificate of incorporation is pretty much the corporate ID in Singapore. 

Why is a COI Important?

You’ll need your Singapore company's certificate of incorporation to:

  • Open corporate bank accounts. 
  • Sign formal business agreements. 
  • Demonstrate your company’s legal status. 
  • Apply for loans and other forms of business funding. 
  • Sell the company to third parties. 

Who Issues a COI in Singapore?

As the statutory body that handles business registration in Singapore, ACRA is the only agency that prepares, signs, issues, distributes, and regulates incorporation certificates. 

It all begins with an e-notification, which you can expect as soon as your company is successfully incorporated. Such emails are typically sent out to all Singapore company officers, plus the principal registration applicant. 

It’s only after this stage that you can apply for your company’s COI through Singapore ACRA’s BizFile portal. The whole process will, in the long run, cost you S$50 for an electronic version of the company incorporation certificate. 

How Can You Get a Certificate of Incorporation?

  • After acquiring your e-notification certificate, go to Singapore ACRA BizFile portal. 
  • On the ACRA portal, proceed straight to the “Buy Information” section. 
  • Choose your business information package from the list of options and proceed. The standard price for a certificate of incorporation is S$50. 
  • ACRA will send the download link to your email within 15 minutes or so. 

Your Next Move — Singapore Company Incorporation

A certificate of incorporation is only a single document in an increasingly intricate web of corporate compliance requirements for your Singapore company. So, while you apply for one, be sure to get in touch with us for expert guidance in all the subsequent stages of setting up a business in Singapore -- from company incorporation, company registration, tax and account filing and the whole range of corporate service requirements. 

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