How to choose an ACRA-approved company name in Singapore

Choosing the right company name is a crucial step in establishing a successful business in Singapore. The name not only represents your brand and identity but also plays a role in attracting customers and distinguishing your company from competitors. However, there are certain restrictions and guidelines to consider when choosing a company name in Singapore. In this article, we will explore the guidelines set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) for registering a business name in Singapore.

Restrictions on Registration of Business Names

ACRA has certain criteria that must be met for a business name to be approved for registration. These restrictions aim to ensure that the chosen name is not offensive, confusingly similar to existing names, or prohibited by the Minister for Finance. Here are some key restrictions to keep in mind:

Undesirable Names: Business names that are obscene or religious in nature will be refused registration.

Identical to Reserved Names: ACRA will not register a business name that is identical to a name that has already been reserved by another entity. Names are reserved for a period of 60 to 120 days.

Identical to Registered Names: Business names that are identical to existing registered names will not be approved.

Prohibited Names: Currently, the word “Temasek” is not accepted for registration.

ACRA may allow registration of a business name that is identical to a dissolved or ceased business in Singapore, after a specific period of time has passed. The time period varies depending on the legal entity of the previous business.

How to checking for identical business names

Before finalising your business name, it is important to check if there are any existing businesses with similar names. ACRA provides several methods to conduct a comprehensive search:

1. Use a Search Engine

Perform an online search on search engines like Google to check if your proposed business name is already in use by another business.

2. IPOS Go Mobile App

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore has developed a mobile app called “IPOS Go” that allows new business owners to perform a quick search for existing business names, registered trademarks, available domain names, and social media usernames. By entering your proposed name, you can check if similar names have already been registered.

3. BizFile+ Website’s Entity Search Function

ACRA encourages using the entity search function on the BizFile+ website. To conduct a comprehensive search, follow these guidelines:

  • Key in only part of your proposed business name, instead of the whole name.
  • Consider variations and abbreviations.
  • Check for names with similar pronunciations to your proposed name.
  • Check for names that are in a different sequence but have similar meanings to your proposed name.
  • Look for names with similar meanings as your proposed name to ensure there are no conflicts.

After running the search, the system will provide a list of businesses with identical or similar names for you to review.

When determining if a proposed business name is similar to an existing name, disregard common elements like prefixes or suffixes indicating the type of legal entity (e.g., “Private,” “Limited Liability Partnership”) and specific extensions such as “.com” or “.sg.”

Business Names Similar to Registered Names

Although ACRA does not permit identical names, there is a chance of approval for business names that are similar to existing registered names. However, choosing a similar name may expose you to legal risks, such as the tort of passing off. This occurs when another business believes you are trying to imitate their company and pass off your business as theirs. To avoid this, it is best to choose a unique and distinguishable name.

Protecting Your Business Name

Once you have finalised your business name, consider protecting it by registering it as a trademark. Registering your business name as a trademark provides exclusive rights to use the name in relation to specific goods or services. This helps safeguard your brand identity and prevents others from using a similar name.

In conclusion, choosing a company name in Singapore requires careful consideration to meet ACRA’s guidelines and ensure it is unique and distinguishable. Conduct thorough searches using search engines, IPOS Go app, and the BizFile+ website’s entity search function to avoid conflicts with existing names. Remember to protect your chosen name by registering it as a trademark. With a well-chosen and legally compliant company name, you can start your business journey with confidence.

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