How to Choose Your ACRA-Approved Singapore Business Name
Your company’s name is a part of its identity. With all the businesses popping up in Singapore, it is essential to choose a business name that is relevant and distinguishable. It is, in fact, a legal requirement.
Singapore has stringent regulations regarding business names. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is the body tasked with reviewing business names. It ensures that the chosen name is relevant, unique (dissimilar to registered and reserved business names), and compliant with every rule and regulation.
Coming up with a business name sounds easy enough. It is, but you need to be aware of existing rules and regulations to avoid legal hurdles. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process successfully.
Business Name Limitations Stipulated by ACRA
ACRA can reject a proposed business name based on several factors. A proposed business name will be rejected if:
- It is identical to another registered business name
- It is identical to a reserved business name
- It sounds obscene and is undesirable in a morally upright community
- It has been singled out by the minister in charge
These regulations are stringent, but there are exceptions in some cases. For instance, if a business name is reserved, it means that it has already been approved by ACRA, albeit the company is not yet operational. However, reservation, unlike registration, is not absolute. You can still register the business name as yours if the one under reservation is not registered within 120 days since the day it was reserved.
A registered business name is not untouchable either. You can still register it as your own if the business is dissolved or has simply ceased to operate and exist. However, there are strict regulations that vary depending on several factors. Common factors include the type of company registered under that name, how the company was dissolved or ceased operations, and the company’s location, among others.
Tips for Choosing a Unique Business Name
Creativity and brainstorming are not enough to come up with a unique business name that meets all of ACRA’s stringent requirements. It is essential to conduct a business name check based on ACRA’s regulations. The process is a bit complex as the rules and regulations are not straightforward. Here are helpful tips on how to conduct a thorough search:
Initials are common and fashionable for business names. They are catchy and descriptive. However, they leave a lot to the imagination. As such, you should check all possible combinations in your chosen business name.
For instance, suppose you wish to set up a consultancy company and want to name it ABC Consultants. The initials ABC can stand for anything. As such, start by checking whether there is a company that is already registered under such initials. Additionally, go a step further and check for other possible combinations of the same initials, such as ACB, BCA, CBA, and any other possible permutation.
Certain words are spelt differently but still sound the same. This is also considered as being identical under ACRA’s regulations since people may not be able to tell the difference. As such, avoid tweaking names to make them appear different in spelling – as long as it sounds similar, it is untouchable. For instance, you cannot register a company under the name “Xpress transporters” if there is another company registered under the name “Express Transporters.”
Besides pronunciation, sequencing is also a grey spot in naming a business. It is considered fraudulent to scramble the specific words used to register another business name. For instance, consider a moving company with the name Singapore Movers Fleet. If another moving company adopted these words and simply rearranged them as Movers Fleet Singapore, the ACRA would take note and decline its application.
Meaning in Industry
Resemblance is especially sensitive if the companies operate in the same industry. It is often viewed as an attempt to misguide the public and ride on the tailcoat of the business that was registered first. For instance, if there is a transportation company registered as Express Movers, variations such as “Express Transporters” and “Express Transportation” would be out of bounds.
It is considered fraudulent to add punctuation marks to a business name that is identical to a registered name in all other aspects, including pronunciation and sequencing. For instance, the business name “Delic Eateries!” would be rejected if there is already another business registered under the name “Delic Eateries” or “Delic Eats,” among other variations.
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Read our Step-by-Step Guide on How to Register a Company in Singapore.
Penalties of Resemblance and Similarity
As mentioned, the authorities are very strict about business names. Usually, ACRA will identify similarities and other offences that can be penalized before granting approval. In this case, you will need to go back to the drawing board and come up with another business name that doesn’t violate the set requirements.
However, ACRA is not fool-proof. Sometimes business names that do not meet the set requirements make it through. If this happens, the business that feels that its name has been violated is at liberty to sue the offender. Normally, a complaint is presented to the Registrar with a request for revocation of the offending business name. The complainant can also file a suit in court and seek financial compensation for damages incurred.
Time is also another factor to consider. Your chosen business name will be rejected if it does not meet ACRA’s requirements. This will set you back several days in your application process. It will also hinder the rest of the application process.
Singapore is one of the fastest-growing countries in Asia. It is gearing up to be the region’s powerhouse thanks to its growing economy. Business is good, and this is the right time to set up a company and get in on the wave. Your company will need a unique, relevant, and distinguishable business name. These tips will help you come up with an ACRA-approved business name. Be creative and make sure that you conduct a comprehensive business name check.
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