How to Get a UEN Number in Singapore: Step-by-Step Guide
A Unique Entity Number (UEN) is like the NRIC number of businesses registered in Singapore. You may also obtain a special UEN (SUN) by choosing from a list of preferred UENs.
If you are looking to start a business in Singapore, this article explains the use of a UEN and how you can go about obtaining one for your business. It will cover:
What is a UEN?
A UEN is a string of numbers that identifies a specific entity. “Entity” here refers to more than just companies. It also includes other business structures through which business is conducted, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. Individuals, like yourself, are not referred to as “entities”.
For businesses registered with ACRA (including local companies), their registration number will be their UEN. All other registered entities will be issued a UEN that is different and separate from their registration number. This is except for the following entities, which will not be issued any UEN:
- Entities that do not interact, or have only one-off interactions, with a government agency.
- For instance, a business that is not required to pay taxes locally, does not have to make any CPF contributions for its employees, and does not need to apply for import or export permits (where these are usually considered government interactions) may not have a UEN. On the other hand, most functioning businesses will be issued a UEN, as such interactions with government agencies occur naturally in the process of legal compliance.
- Sub-entities, such as branches and divisions of an entity.
Below is a table of the different forms of UENs that you may encounter:
|8 numbers followed by an alphabet, e.g. 11111111B||Business registered with ACRA|
|9 numbers followed by an alphabet, e.g. 201311111C||Local company registered with ACRA||The first four numbers = year of issuance|
|9 alpha-numeric digits followed by an alphabet, such as:
||All other entities, but the fourth and fifth digits indicate their specific entity type.
For instance, LP = Limited Partnership; LL = Limited Liability Partnerships.
For a complete list of such other entities, refer to the UEN.gov.sg website.
|The first 3 digits represent the year of issuance, where “T” represents “20” and “S” represents “19”, similar to NRIC numbers.|
What Can Your UEN be Used For in Singapore?
The UEN becomes the standard number for all communication and interaction with government agencies for your business. You will no longer need different numbers for, say, updating particulars with ACRA, applying for trade permits, making CPF contributions, filing tax returns and so on.
With a UEN, your business also appears more legitimate to customers, suppliers and potential business partners. Your registration and business information can be searched and verified via ACRA, which also facilitates financing and contracting on credit.
Moreover, obtaining a UEN allows your business to utilise PayNow Corporate by linking the UEN to your business’ bank account. By using PayNow Corporate, you will be able to transfer and receive funds from customers and other registered entities instantaneously. This may be particularly useful for online businesses, or businesses looking for another low-barrier alternative mode of payment for their customers.
How Do You Get a UEN?
If you have registered a business in Singapore, you will already have a UEN, which you can find out by checking your business profile.
However, if you haven’t registered your business and so don’t already have a UEN, here’s how you can get one:
1) Choose a business structure
Partnerships are smaller-scale businesses where the partners directly manage the business. They are subject to less complex legal rules and allow for more flexibility in terms of the conduct of business. For instance, there is no need to hold Annual General Meetings, and partners need only declare personal income and pay taxes on them.
On the other hand, companies are more suited for future expansion and raising of capital. However, they have to comply with stricter regulatory compliance rules relating to audit requirements, filing of returns and conduct of general meetings, among many others.
2) Register your business
The registration is done through the BizFile+ website. It is a relatively quick process that can usually be completed in one sitting, unless your business is in certain regulated industries such as architecture, real estate and defence.
For sole proprietors, partnerships and LLPs, the registration fee for a 1-year registration is $115 while the registration fee for a 3-year registration is $175. The registration must be renewed if business carries on.
For companies, the cost is a one-time incorporation fee of $315, which includes the registration of a business name.
3) Decide if you want to get a special UEN (SUN)
Special UENs are certain UENs that have been reserved for being generally “nicer-looking” and easier to remember. However, there are additional costs for getting an SUN, on top of the costs of business registration. See below for more information on these costs.
4) Check your UEN after registration
Upon registration, you will be issued a business profile containing details of your business as well as your UEN.
You can also check your UEN (or the UEN of any other entity that has one) through a free search on BizFile+ or UEN.gov.sg.
How Do You Get a Special UEN (SUN)?
Rather than obtaining a system-generated UEN, you can choose to get a SUN from a list of reserved UENs. SUNs may increase the prestige and reputation of the business, and they are also generally easier to remember. There are two tiers of SUNs.
- Tier 1 SUNs have the same consecutive number or contain the number “8”. Examples are 20188888A, T18LL7777F and 201800800K. These SUNs cost $3,000 each, not including the costs of registering the business as mentioned above.
- Tier 2 SUNs have repetitive patterns or ends with triple identical numbers. Examples are 201812121R, 53410101G and T18LL1222N. These SUNs cost $1,000 each, not including the costs of registering the business.
In contrast to these SUNs, the UENs appear random. Examples are 201024853H and 201328326E.
Note that you can purchase a SUN only at the payment stage of registering a business. You will not have a second chance to convert your UEN to a SUN later on unless you register an entirely new business or convert your business structure.
For instance, if you convert your existing sole proprietorship into a company, you will get to purchase a SUN for your company then.
When Must You Display Your UEN?
You must use your UEN when transacting with government agencies such as ACRA, Department of Statistics, CPF Board and IRAS.
Additionally, for companies, the UEN must be displayed on all business letters, statements of account, invoices, official notices and publications of the company.
Can You Change Your UEN?
No. You will not be able to change your UEN once you have obtained it. However, you can obtain a new UEN by registering a new business or converting your business structure.
Do You Need to Renew Your UEN?
Companies have perpetual succession once incorporated. Therefore, UENs for companies do not need to be renewed. The UEN will last for as long as the company remains a going concern and remains on the register of companies.
However, sole proprietorships and partnerships are registered on a term-basis. When that term expires, you will have to renew the registration to keep the business going, and to retain the UEN.
UENs are a unique identifier of businesses as no two businesses share the same UEN. They are also a quick way to verify businesses through an online search, and allow for more convenient identification when transacting and interacting with government agencies.
If you require advice on or assistance with registering your business to get a UEN in Singapore, it is recommended that you engage a corporate services firm.
The corporate services firm will be able to advise you on the business structure most suited for your aims. It can also assist with the registration procedure and advise you on the necessary legal compliance both during and after registration.
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