If you need a quick answer: Yes, you need to register your online business in Singapore. As indicated in Section 5 of Business Names Registration Act or BNRA, all types of businesses—with a few exceptions—must register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). According to ACRA, if you are carrying out an activity continually for profit, you have to register your business.
Why do I need to register my online business in Singapore?
Registering your online business in Singapore offers many benefits. Here are a couple of reasons why you need to register your online business in Singapore:
- Protection from liability. If you run a business under your name or as a sole proprietorship, your personal assets can also be used to cover for company damages. If, in any case, a client decided to sue you—depending on the amount of damages you have to pay—your personal assets will also be at risk. However, if you register your online business with ACRA, your company and personal assets are separated.
- Lower tax rates. Personal tax rates in Singapore can go up to 22% while corporate tax is about 17% only. Additionally, there are tax exemptions for newly-registered businesses for the first $300,000 of the chargeable income for the first three years. You may enjoy a Partial Tax Exemption or PTE after the first three years of your business.
What are the other benefits when I register my online business with ACRA Singapore?
ACRA is partnered with various entities to render integrated services, especially for newly registered businesses. This move is part of their pro-enterprise and one-stop business facilitation initiative. Services include:
- Application of licenses. Once you have successfully registered your business with ACRA, you need to apply for certain permits or licenses before you can commence operation. GoBusiness Licensing portal allows business owners to apply multiple licenses simultaneously in a simplified manner.
- Reservation of Domain Name. After the registration of your business, ACRA allows you to reserve up to five domain names (ending with .com.sg or .sg) through SGNIC or the Singapore Network Information Center in BizFile. A notification will be sent to you immediately if the nominated domain names are available for registration.
- Registration of trademark. Trademark is a symbol or sign that distinguishes your product from other companies. A registered trademark gives business owners the right to exclude other entities from using a mark similar to their own. ACRA Singapore lets you register your trademark with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) via BizFile.
The regulation of internet content requires e-retailers to comply with the Internet Code of Practice or ICP. It prohibits the broadcast of materials considered objectionable by Singapore law. Depending on the type of services you offer, you are subjected to certain rules and regulations on the activities of your online business.
Online business or e-Commerce presents a great opportunity for business owners. However, starting up an online business does not end after a successful registration with ACRA. It is of utmost importance that a company owner is knowledgeable about the laws governing the online industry.