Just like a personal name, your company’s name is a good identifier of your business, as it provides your prospective and existing customers a meaningful story to your brand and helps differentiate from your competitors.
While you don’t want to lose the brand equity built up, there will be times where it makes sense if your business has evolved over the years, you are changing your business services, you have undertaken a company rebranding exercise, or perhaps to ensure a better representation of your business services. This is when some may decide to change their company’s name.
#1 Choosing Another Company Name
Just like choosing a name when starting a new company, the change of a company’s name involves a proper procedure that requires not only the support of your shareholders, but also approval from the authorities.
As stated in the Companies Act, companies must avoid choosing a name that is deemed undesirable, such as a business name that is obscene in nature, or identical to the name of any reserved names that are approved by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), but has not been incorporated yet.
In addition, companies are not allowed to choose a business name that is identical to other registered business names, as well as names that are prohibited for use by the order of the Minister of Finance.
#2 Apply For Approval Of New Company Name With ACRA
After deciding and choosing a new company name, you will need to submit a “Change in Company Information” application with ACRA to apply for the approval of the proposed new company name. Do note that the application on the proposed name change may require in-principle approval from referral authorities.
#3 Prepare And Pass A Special Resolution For Name Change
Once the name change application is approved by ACRA, you will need to pass a special resolution to change your company’s name in a general meeting by going through the following process:
- Prepare a written resolution to change the company name;
- Decide on a date for a general meeting, and then to inform all shareholders of the date and venue of meeting, as well as the proposal to pass the resolution to change the company name. Do note that 14 days’ written notice must be given for the meeting in the case of a private company. However, the meeting can be held at a shorter notice if the shareholders holding at least 95% of the voting rights have agreed to do so;
- At the meeting, shareholders who hold at least ¾ of the voting rights collectively must agree to the resolution to change the company name. Only then will the motion of changing the name can be passed.
Once the motion is passed, a copy of the resolution must be submitted to ACRA within 14 days from the date of the passing of resolution, which can be done online via BizFile+ website. Once the resolution has been filed, the company name change will be updated with the authorities. Your company will be issued with a notice of incorporation under the company’s new name, and the change of name will be effective upon the issuance of the notice.
#4 Update Your Company’s Profile
After you have changed your company’s name, you should start replacing the old name with the new name in your company’s collaterals and marketing platforms, such as website, social media accounts, namecards, letterhead, signages and brochures. Also, you will need to change your company’s stamp, as well as to register for a new trademark under the new name, if required.
While not legally obligated to, you should communicate your company’s name change clearly to your suppliers and clients to ensure they are aware of your company’s name change.
Also, there is no need to inform the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) of the change in name, as IRAS will update its records based on the information filed with ACRA on a weekly basis.
However, if there is an urgent need to inform IRAS of the name change, such as if you are expecting a tax refund or correspondence from IRAS within the next two weeks from the date of change of company name, you can reach out to IRAS via myTax Mail to update the information immediately with the following information:
- Company’s tax reference number;
- Company’s name before the update with ACRA;
- Company’s new name that is updated with ACRA;
- A copy of ACRA’s email notification on change of company name, or a Biz Profile extracted from ACRA.
Lastly, do bear in mind that the process of changing the name of your company does not change any of your company’s obligations or rights. For example, any debts incurred by your company will still have to be paid after the change of name.
Don’t Forget To Update Your Business Bank Account Details
Once you change your company’s name, don’t forget to change your business bank account details to facilitate payments to your business. You likely will face problems with clients trying to pay an account by inputting a different name, especially via cheques or bank transfers.
Most banks will offer a Business Account Update Form (which looks like this) on their website for you to update your company or account details. For private limited and public companies, you may also need to submit a Board Resolution. You may also need to submit a copy of your updated ACRA.
There may also be other banking services, such as your company debit cards or company credit cards, that may need to be updated as well.
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