Finding a name that is unique and appropriate for your company is as much a daunting task as it is an exciting one. While some people are very pragmatic in choosing a name that best fits their business, some people are very keen on choosing one that fits their numerological and fortune factors. Regardless of which category you are, you must be mindful of the regulations governing the names of companies.
Doing a Singapore Company Name Check
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is the approving authority. Mostly the chosen name will be approved, and the Registrar will only reject a proposed company or business name for purposes of incorporation, registration or change of name if that name is:
- identical to another registered business/company; or
- identical to a reserved name (Reserved business name are names already approved by ACRA but not registered because the business entity behind the reserved business name has not been incorporated yet.
- undesirable ( it is obscene or offensive); or
- of a kind the Minister has directed the Registrar not to accept ( As of date, the word “Temasek” is not accepted for registration).
It must be noted that if the proposed name includes terms such as bank, military, academy, institution, finance, financial institution, clearinghouse, architect etc., it will be referred to the relevant authorities for their approval, as the case warrants. So while naming your business or company, be wary of including such terms that require referral to additional authorities and include them only if such terms are indispensable. Also, avoid names that are suggestive of links with any government agencies or statutory bodies.
With the commencement of the provisions Companies (Amendment) Act 2002 and the Business Registration (Amendment) Act 2002, with effect from 13 Jan 2003, the Registrar does not check if the proposed name so closely resembles that of another company that one will be mistaken for another. If by chance your company gets registered with a name that is identical to that of an existing company, the company can lodge a complaint against your company and seek the Registrar’s authority to direct your company to change its name. So you must exercise ample caution and take adequate measures to ensure that the proposed name does not resemble the name of an existing business or company.
Can a business register an identical name?
If your chosen name is identical to a reserved name fret not; a name can be held reserved for only up to 120 days, and if the reserved name remains unregistered after 120 days, the names can be used by other entities.
ACRA can also allow entities to use the name of another business that has dissolved or has ceased to exist in Singapore after a set amount of time. The time frame varies but the relevant time are as follows:
- One year after the date of cancellation or cessation of a business name whose reservation and registration was cancelled or has ceased business.
- Two years after the dissolution of a company or limited partnership that has wound up or been liquidated.
- Six years after the dissolution of a company or limited partnership that was struck off the register or deregistered from the Register of Companies.
- One year after the cancellation of a limited partnership that has their registration cancelled.
- One year after the date of dissolution for limited partnerships who gave notice of their dissolution to ACRA.
- Three months after the date of cessation in the case of foreign companies or entities that have ceased to do business in Singapore or have closed or ceased their place of business in Singapore.
- Two years after the date of dissolution of a foreign company that has given notice of their dissolution to ACRA.
- Six years after the date of being struck off for foreign companies who have had their names struck off the register.
How to ensure that the proposed name is not identical or similar?
Before applying for name approval, it is advisable to conduct a name search using our ‘Name Check Service’ to check if there are other companies and businesses with a similar or identical name. This name-checking step would essentially improve your chances of selecting a name that gets approved by ACRA and would minimise the probability of future disputes and complaints against your company.
How are entities’ names identified as being identical?
Companies (Identical Names) Rules and Business Registration (Identical Names) Rules set out the rules based on which the Registrar will determine if the names are identical. Accordingly, in deciding if the names are identical the following shall be disregarded:
- “The”, where it is the first word of the name;
- “Private”, “Pte”, “Sendirian”, “Sdn”, “Limited”, “Ltd”, “Berhad” and “Bhd”;
- 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” and “Worldwide”;
- any word or expression which, in the opinion of the Registrar, is intended to represent any word or expression in sub-paragraph (iii);
- the plural version of the name;
- the type and case of letters, the spacing between letters and punctuation marks; and
In addition to the above, the symbol “&” shall have the same meaning as the word “and”.
How to conduct a thorough check for an identical company name?
- If the company name has initials, key in the various combinations of the proposed name. For example, if the proposed name is AB Consultants, check for various combinations such as, AB, A B, A.B, A. B, A-B, A – B, A&B, A & B, ANB, A N B, A ‘n’ B, The AB, The A.B, The A&B, etc.
- Check for company names with similar pronunciations. For example, Classic, Classique, Klassic, Clasic, etc. Express, Xpress, X’press, X-press, Shing, Sheng, Seng, Sing etc.
- Check for similar company names but in different sequence and Singapore company name format.
- For example, if the proposed name is First Fast Track, check for Track Fast First, Fast Track First, Track First Fast etc.
- Check for similar names in similar industries. Besides, check for words with similar meanings to the proposed company name. For Example, Mars Transport is similar to Mars Transportation, Mars Forwarding, Mars Movers etc.
- Take note, some of the common descriptive words are considered similar:
- Trading; trade; marketing; enterprise
- Investment; holding
- Construction; building; builder; build
- Contractor; renovation contractor
- Systems; solutions; information technology; I.T.; technologies
- Travels; traveling; traveler
- Movers; transports; logistics
- Freight forwarders; freight forwarding, express
- Graphical words like names of countries and places are not considered distinguishing. For example, “Hello Travel” is similar to “Hello Travel International” or “Hello Travel Singapore”, etc.
- The punctuation mark is not considered distinguished as well. For example, “Happy! Eats” is similar to “Happy Eats”
What happens if the chosen name a company or business resembles that of another existing business or company?
If the name of a company or business so closely resembles that of another that one will be mistaken for another, a complaint can be lodged with the Registrar. The Registrar has the discretion to direct a name change if the complaint is found to be valid. The Registrar may also refer the disputing parties to mediation before giving any direction for a name change. However, complaints seeking the Registrar’s direction for name change must be made within 12 months of registration of the company or business complained against.
Check a Singapore Company Name
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