To make it easier to classify Singaporean businesses by the types of economic activities they are engaged in, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has introduced a system known as the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC). An SSIC code is assigned to every business and is used for multiple purposes. ACRA has laid down a set of regulations concerning the assignment of SSIC codes which are meant to be followed by every business. Discussed in this article are some of the key points to remember about ACRA’s SSIC codes and how to manage them.

Choosing an ACRA SSIC Code

SSIC Codes and ACRA 

SSIC codes help ACRA differentiate the various economic activities undertaken by companies in Singapore. Economic activity is defined as one which requires resources like labour, capital or service as a part of the production process. 

Any company in Singapore can choose up to two SSIC codes that are relevant to its principal economic activity, as well as any secondary activity that they undertake. The business can still participate in other economic activities. However, it is important to choose the right SSIC code, as it can affect the business’ ability to obtain any further licenses, as well as the opening of a corporate bank account.

The Importance of SSIC codes for ACRA

To formulate policies, the government needs to keep track of what businesses are present in the country. At an informational level, SSIC codes are used by Singapore’s Department of Statistics when conducting household surveys or population censuses, as well as in administrative databases. The use of SSIC codes during research enables consistency and comparability of the data, which allows the government to carry out meaningful analyses as well as data sharing. Apart from this, the SSIC is used by ACRA to categorise businesses based on of economic activities. 

SSIC Code Limit For Singaporean Companies 

A company must have at least one SSIC code. However, if they wish to have a second one they can assign it as well. The limit for the number of SSIC codes a company can have is two. 

The exhaustive list of SSIC codes is available on the Department of Statistics website. While some SSIC codes can be found on the ACRA website, the list is not very extensive or informative. However, the ACRA website provides an exhaustive list of registered companies in Singapore, on which further information regarding every business can be found.

Choosing the right SSIC Code

Choosing the correct SSIC code is very important, as companies under certain SSIC codes may not be under ACRA’s legislation. If the wrong code is selected, it can lead to delays in setting up the company. For example, some types of companies are governed under alternate authorities and government bodies, which do not fall under the purview of ACRA. In case ACRA determines that they need to be passed on to these external institutions, it can take up to two months to review and approve the application. Select the right code to ensure that this does not happen unnecessarily.

Finding an appropriate SSIC Code can be easily done in a few steps through Bizfile, ACRA’s one-stop online portal for all information regarding businesses in Singapore. Visit their free SSIC search tool to get started, and take the following steps:

  • Step 1 – Enter a Keyword or Search Query into the box on the ACRA Website.
  • Step 2 – The system will generate all the SSIC categories that contain the keyword you have entered. Select the one that best describes your main business activity.
  • Step 3 – If the keyword is not recognised or your search query is not relevant then you might want to tweak the keywords a little. 

ACRA and BizFile

A quick note: certain codes ending with the digit ‘9’ contain “n.e.c.”, which stands for “not elsewhere classified”. These n.e.c. codes cover business activities that do not fall under the scope of the 5-digit SSIC codes in the same business category. These types of codes should only be selected if no other codes suitably describe the primary business activity.

Changing an SSIC Code 

The process of changing an SSIC code is quite simple. All that needs to be done is for an application to be submitted for a change of SSIC code to ACRA by the company secretary. The ACRA is very helpful and any difficulty can be solved with one call to the ACRA hotline. An SSIC code change can only be initiated once the company has been fully incorporated. There are no restrictions on the number of times the codes can be changed. 

When in doubt, you can always seek help from incorporation service providers like CorpXervices. These firms can assist you in selecting the correct SSIC codes to prevent the delay of company incorporation.

Cherrie Yee
Cherrie Yee is an expert on small and medium enterprises. She has over 10 years of professional experience in corporate secretarial involving foreign companies, local companies as well as private companies.
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Cherrie Yee
Cherrie Yee is an expert on small and medium enterprises. She has over 10 years of professional experience in corporate secretarial involving foreign companies, local companies as well as private companies.
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