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What is a UEN? Here’s Everything Singapore Business Owners Need to Know

If you’re just starting out a business in Singapore, you will need a Unique Entity Number (UEN) which is issued by the Singapore government. It comprises a 9 or 10 digit character code and is used to identify companies that operate in the lion state.

The UEN number is allocated to companies by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance which is also the national regulator of business entities, public accountants and corporate service providers. 

Once companies successfully register with ACRA, they are allotted a UEN. There are no fees for requesting a UEN, but once received, a UEN cannot be changed. The UEN remains the same even if you alter your business’ name or make other important changes in your company’s structure. 

It is now your unique identifier and applies to all sorts of entities including non-profit, public & private organizations, sole proprietorship, trade unions, representative offices and more. Think of a UEN in the same vein as how residents of Singapore have their National Registration Identity Card, just that it applies to companies instead.

What are the benefits of the UEN?

The UEN has been necessary to establish a business since 2009. In the past, businesses had to have different registration procedures and cumbersome reporting requirements when engaging in things like corporate tax returns, import/export licenses, and other regulatory needs. Each government department had their own unique number, adding lots of paperwork to the mix. The UEN streamlines this process, making it possible for businesses to communicate with the government using one unique number. 

What is the UEN format?

The UEN number will look something like this, depending on your company’s registration year.

When should companies use the UEN?

It’s necessary to quote the UEN when doing any of the following things:

  • Updating company information such as the name, address, partners, directors, and shareholders
  • When terminating a company or registered business
  • Formal communication with Singapore customs for import/export purposes
  • Filing annual financial statements
  • Making payments to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) 
  • Transacting with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)

Other than these government communication requirements, the UEN is also necessary when your business opens a bank account, applies for financial products, enters into contract with another business, applies for utilities, or opens up a new office. 

Who is exempt from a UEN?

As we mentioned earlier, a UEN is necessary to conduct business in Singapore. So whether it is a foreign entity looking to start an office in Singapore or a local entity that’s newly registered, a UEN is necessary to get started. However, you will not be issued a UEN if you fall in any of these categories:

  • Individuals will not be granted a UEN. They are asked to use their national registration identity card instead.
  • Foreign companies that are not looking to set up an office in Singapore but have a one-time transaction requirement will not be issued a UEN.
  • Branches of Singapore registered companies, also known as sub-entities won’t have unique UENs of their own. They will have to make use of the master UEN. 

Which government agencies can issue the UEN?

The ACRA is not the only body that issues a UEN. Depending on the type of registration, the following government bodies also have the mandate to issue a UEN:

  • International Enterprise Singapore
  • Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
  • Ministry of Communications and Information
  • Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Law
  • Ministry of Manpower
  • Ministry of National Development
  • Monetary Authority
  • People’s Association
  • Registry of Societies
  • Singapore Land Authority
  • Smart Nation and Digital Government Office

How do I find a UEN?

The Singapore government maintains a database of all registered companies in the country. If you would like to search for your UEN or check for another company’s UEN, the official website is the best place to start. The search result will reveal things like the UEN, the company name, address, and type of entity.

Where should I display the UEN?

Singapore law dictates that companies need to display their registration details prominently, including on documents like:

  • Letterheads
  • Official emails
  • Receipts
  • Invoices
  • Order forms
  • Brochures
  • Leaflets
  • Printed marketing material
  • Websites and other online platforms

What is the Special UEN (SUN)?

When applying for a regular UEN, the company does not have any control over the number that it is issued. A regular UEN is computer-generated without any manual intervention. 

A Special UEN gives business owners the ability to select a specific UEN number. However, opting for a SUN does entail a cost. Tier-2 SUNs cost $1,000 and Tier-1 SUNs cost $3,000. The regular UEN is free of charge.

SUNs are designed in a way that makes them easy to remember and memorable. Some may have consecutive numbers, specific number combinations, or repetitive numbers. They may also have sentimental value for owners.