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Head of Corporate Secretarial, TMF Singapore
08 December 2019
Read time
2 minutes

Serious consequences for incorrect business classification in Singapore

SSIC codes have just changed and, since you first incorporated, perhaps your business has changed too? If your SSIC is wrong, you could be breaking the law, paying too much tax or losing out on economic incentives.

A key element in the incorporation/registration process with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) involves submitting the appropriate Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code, which defines core business activities.   

The Department of Statistics recently introduced the latest edition of these codes. The SSIC 2015 (version 2018) implemented modifications to address the changing characteristics of Singapore’s economic landscape while enhancing international comparability. ACRA has followed suit, updating some companies’ SSIC codes to align with the SSIC 2015 (version 2018).

What are SSICs for?

The SSIC code, a four-digit number that tells local authorities what a Singapore company’s primary source of revenue is, is similar to the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) and other local industrial classifications. 

It is used by the government to measure activity in the different business sectors across the economy, leading to policy changes that boost economic development and growth; and, with the Singapore Standard Occupational Classification (SSOC) of workers, to gather periodic census data.

Your SSIC code may be out of date

The list of SSIC codes, like your business, is not static. Recent changes to the codes may mean that your company’s registered SSIC code is no longer correct.  At the same time, your company’s main activity could have changed over the years and your currently registered SSIC is no longer relevant.

If you are a director, it is your responsibility to keep it accurate.

What can happen if my SSIC code is wrongly stated?

  • You may not be able to apply for the relevant permits or licenses unless the right SSIC code is applied.
  • You may not be able to access government incentives targeted at specific business sectors.
  • The directors may be criticised for providing incorrect public data.

What action should I take?

SSIC codes are available online, so one can easily check the correct codes. If in doubt, professional advice can be sought to identify the correct category.

If a new SSIC is appropriate for your business, this must be registered with ACRA.

From a corporate governance perspective, the directors are responsible to provide proper and updated data to ACRA. A change of the SSIC code, whether due to the change introduced by the Department of Statistics or whether it is due to an actual change of principal activities driven by operational or economic needs, must be approved by the directors via formal directors’ resolutions. From an audit perspective, the auditors should verify the principal activities stated with ACRA to make sure they are not in conflict with the actual principal activities, eg. a company may be undertaking trading activities when it claims it is an investment company. 

Talk to us

Based on TMF Group’’s Global Business Complexity Index (GBCI), Singapore is one of the easier jurisdictions in which to set up and operate. However, it is not without some business challenges, including keeping up to date with changing regulations.   

TMF Group can help you navigate all corporate secretarial hurdles. Whether you are considering incorporating a new company in Singapore or want to expand and optimise your Singapore operations using a solid management service, TMF Singapore’s expert team can help across the spectrum of HR and payroll, accounting and tax, corporate secretarial and regulatory issues.

Want to know more about our services? Contact us.

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