eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is the open international standard for digital business reporting that enables businesses to efficiently and accurately process and share their data. The XML-based language is widely used in more than 50 countries, including Singapore. 

Companies in Singapore are required to file their financial statements in XBRL format with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). The main reason is that XBRL filing allows for greater transparency as data can be sliced and diced almost immediately for analysis with software tools. The XBRL reporting system also enables ACRA to determine industry trends and better understand business in Singapore.

This article will help you understand XBRL financial statement requirements in 2021. Please, note that the information presented here is for general guidance only. Reach out to Biz Atom if you need professional advice or the assistance of an expert on financial statement filing.


Who should file XBRL financial statements?

XBRL filing applies to all Singapore incorporated companies except those that are specifically exempted. Sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited partnership do not need to file financial statements with ACRA.

There are four templates that companies are required to use to meet revised filing requirements and data elements:

Full XBRL template

  • Data elements have been reduced by 50% to about 210 data elements.
  • Captures the information in primary statements and selected notes to financial statements.

Simplified XBRL template

  • Replaces the XBRL FSH (general) template.
  • Has about 120 data elements.
  • Captures the complete information in the statements of financial performance and position.

XBRL FSH (banks) template

  • Minimal changes.
  • Has about 80 data elements.

XBRL FSH (insurance) template

  • Minimal changes.
  • Has about 80 data elements.


Who needs to file financial statements in a full XBRL template?

  • ACRA mandates all Singapore incorporated public/private companies (including insolvent-exempt private companies) to file financial statements in a full XBRL template based on their nature and size of operations.
  • Smaller and non-publicly accountable companies are only required to file in a simplified XBRL template with PDF copies of their financial statements.


Who should file financial statements in XBRL FSH (banks or insurance) template?

Singapore incorporated companies in the business of banking, finance, and insurance regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are required to file either in XBRL FSH (banks) template or XBRL FSH (insurance) template together with PDF copies of their financial statements.


Which companies are not required to file but can voluntarily do it?

Solvent-exempt private companies are not obliged to file financial statements. However, they can file either in the XBRL format or PDF copies of their financial statements if they want to file voluntarily.


Which companies can file only PDF copies of their financial statements?

  • Companies permitted by law to prepare accounts that comply with accounting standards other than the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Companies limited by guarantee.
  • Foreign companies and their local branches.


Timeline for implementation of revised XBRL filing requirements

To give companies more transition time given the COVID-19 situation, ACRA postponed the following effective dates:

  • Companies are required to implement revised filing requirements and data elements starting May 1, 2021.
  • Companies can voluntarily implement filing requirements and data elements from 16 May 2020 to 30 April 2021.
  • Before May 1, 2021, companies filing can continue to prepare and file financial statements based on XBRL’s current filing requirements.


How to prepare financial statements in XBRL format

There three ways to prepare your company’s financial statements in the XBRL template and file them as part of your company’s annual profit:

  • Prepare your financial statements using the BizFin preparation tool and submit your annual returns through the BizFile + portal. Refer to this page for the steps.
  • Use accounting software to prepare seamlessly and file your annual returns (with Simplified XBRL FS) to ACRA.
  • Engage the service of an authorized corporate service provider to help your company prepare your financial statements.


Applying for an exemption

You may apply for an exemption from filing financial statements in the XBRL template. Your exemption request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and no fee is charged for this service. 

You can apply by filling out the exemption request form (you can download it from ACRA’s website) and sending it to ACRA. Remember to attach your company’s signed annual general meeting (AGM) financial statements and XBRL file as well.