How to Choose a Company Name in Singapore

A Comprehensive Guide to Singapore Employment Act

Choosing a company name is one of the most crucial parts of company incorporation. The name you choose will be the name your customers will identify with, so it should define the image you want to portray. Your company can also reap a great many benefits from such a name.

Conversely, choosing the wrong name can bring a lot of hurdles for the company in the future. For example, an unsuitable name for a business may end up driving potential customers away from the company, causing the company to lose a lot of profit and revenue.

Therefore, through this guide, we have come up with a comprehensive list of tips that you can check out to help you find the right, legally approved name for your company in Singapore.

 

Reserving Your Company Name with ACRA

Before you can set up a company in Singapore, you must have your company name approved by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), the Registrar of Companies in Singapore.

The Registrar will reject your proposed company name if it is similar or phonetically identical to a company or business already registered in Singapore. Furthermore, the use of certain words such as “bank,” “insurance,” and “education” may be controlled and regulated by other government authorities. Therefore, it will require permission before you can proceed to incorporate. 

In Singapore, typically, company name reservations will be made by corporate service firms. However, if you plan to go through the process yourself, here are some guidelines:

  • First, you must register your business name through BizFile+ before you can register/enter your business entity. The name application costs $15.
  • Once the name application is approved, the name will be kept for 120 days. If you do not register your business or incorporate a company within these 120 days, the name will no longer be reserved. Instead, it will be available to other members of the community.
  • Name requests may be referred to the Referral Authority to be reviewed (e.g., if your business name has the word “school” in it, it can be directed to the Ministry of Education for review and approval).

 

Before you can submit your proposed business name with ACRA, you must first check its availability. If you need help with this, you can contact us to get the assistance of our specialists.  

 

How to Check Your Company Name Availability

To minimize the risk of future complaints on behalf of your company, you should conduct an initial search for identical or similar names using the ACRA’s system before submitting a name application for formal approval. Here are some guidelines to know whether the name you have in mind is identical to an existing or reserved name:

  • Look for parts of your proposed business name and its variations. For example, if you plan to go with the name “Moonshine Bookstore,” you should search for “Moon Shine,” or “Moon-Shine,” or other variations.
  • Check for names that have a similar pronunciation to your business name. For example, if your proposed business name includes the word “Kors,” you might need to look for “Course,” or “Coarse,” or “Corse,” or other words that sound the same.
  • Check for variations of your proposed company name with a difference in sequence. For instance, if you’re going to go with “Five Four Two Digital Marketing,” you should look for “Two Four Five,” or “Four Five Two,” or “Two Five Four,” etc.
  • Lastly, look for business names that have similar meanings as the one you are proposing. As an illustration, if your planned business name is “Ranch Meat Market,” you might need to search for “Ranch Butchery,” or “Ranch Meat Shop,” or “Ranch Meat House.”

 

Note: 

You can also use Biz Atom’s Company Name Search tool if you’re worried that someone in the world is using a name similar to yours.

 

Restrictions on the Registration of Business Names

ACRA will reject a proposed company or business name for purposes of incorporation, registration, or name change if the name:

  1. a) identical to the others;
  2. b) unwanted; or
  3. c) of the kind that the Minister has ordered the Registrar not to accept (e.g., “Temasek”).

Therefore, you need to be careful and avoid choosing a name that resembles another company’s name. The Registrar has the discretion to direct you to change your company name if another company files a valid complaint within 12 months that your company name resembles theirs and/or it may be mistaken for it.

In addition, the Company Regulations (Identical Names) and Business Registration Regulations (Identical Names) are enforced under s. 27(2D) of the Companies Act and s. 11(10) Business Registration Act.

 

Words & Elements You Should Exclude from Your Business Name

In determining whether one name is identical to another, the following shall be disregarded.

  1. “The,” where it is the first word of the name;
  2. “Private”, “Pte”, “Sendirian”, “Sdn”, “Limited”, “Ltd”, “Berhad” and “Bhd”;
  3. The following words and expressions where they appear at the end of the name:
    “company,” “and company,” “corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Asia,” “Asia Pacific,” “International,” “Singapore,” “South Asia,” “South East Asia,” “Trading,” “.com,” and “Worldwide”;
  4. Any word or expression which, in the opinion of the Registrar, is intended to represent any word or expression listed above, and the plural version of any of those words;
  5. The type and case of letters, spacing between letters and punctuation marks; 
  6. The symbol “&” is deemed to have the same meaning as the word “and.”

 

What If Someone Complaints Against My Business Name?

If someone submits a complaint against your business name, ACRA may write to you to provide feedback or more facts regarding the complaint. Then, the Registrar will decide if you need to change your business name.

Furthermore, ACRA will write to you and give you six weeks (or a longer period) to change your business name to a name that doesn’t resemble the complainant’s business name. 

On the other hand, if ACRA decides not to direct you to change your business name, they will send the complainant a letter informing them of this decision. In most cases, the Registrar will also notify the other party of such a decision as well.

If you are asked to change your business name but fail to do so, you might have to pay for costly consequences. For example, your company or business entity and its officials may be subject to criminal prosecution in court. Furthermore, you could be subject to a maximum fine of $2,000 and also a default penalty. In addition, under section 17(8) of the Business Name Registration Act, ACRA may cancel your business registration for non-compliance with the Registrar’s direction.

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