A Complete Guide to What a Registered Filing Agent Does

Your Pte Ltd can't function without a registered agent. Find out what a registered filing agent does and how to find one for your Pte Ltd.

A registerd filing agent is a person who or which, in the course of his or its business, carries out on behalf of any other person (for example, a customer) any transaction with the Corporate Registrar using the electronic transaction system, or via any other means allowed by the Registrar, if the electronic transaction system is unavailable. 

Find out more about what a registered agent does and how to find one for your Pte Ltd company.

Why a Registered Filing Agent is important

A registered filing agent is a hard requirement for opening a Pte Ltd company. You can't file the formation papers without one. If you don't have a registered filing agent who accepts documents and gives them to you, you will completely miss essential notices your business needs.

Without a current registered filing agent, your Pte Ltd faces the following problems:

  • Fines from the country regulator
  • Not being permitted to file a lawsuit
  • Being blocked from expanding your business into other countries
  • Denial of financing
  • Dissolution of your business

The registered filing agent can perform a lot of other activities on your behalf in addition to accepting notice and service.

“The essential duty of a registered filing agent is to accept service of process on behalf of your business. They are also the primary point of contact for your business with the regulator and a team coach to the board of your business. Dependent on whether you hire a professional registered filing agent, your agent may also provide compliance monitoring such as for annual reports", explains Alvin Koh, of Kimbo Corporate Pte Ltd, in Singapore.

Who can be a registered filing agent

The person must:

  • be a business entity registered with ACRA i.e. incorporated company, registered business, registered limited liability partnership or registered limited partnership;
  • act by or through at least one registered qualified individual. For example, the person may himself be a registered qualified individual, or have at least one partner who is a registered qualified individual, or he may employ or engage at least one registered qualified individual;
  • be a fit and proper person, or show that his directors or partners or persons directly or indirectly taking part in or concerned in his management are fit and proper; and
  • have attended the mandatory AML/CFT course and passed the proficiency test at least once in every two years; and
  • if applicable, not less than 2 years have elapsed since the cancellation of his previous registration as a filing agent due to a sanction by ACRA. 

Can you be your own Registered Filing Agent?

You don't necessarily have to hire someone to be your registered filing agent. Koh explains, "A Pte Ltd can decide to be their own registered filing agent by appointing a member, owner or manager."

There are some caveats to doing this yourself, though. If the designated person is not physically located at the office in the country where the Pte Ltd is registered, the designated person may never receive filing notices and fines may be imposed if filing dates are missed. Another drawback is that "if the designated filing agent is a person located at your business, then legal papers may be served directly in front of clients and employees, which can be embarrasing." Imagine being serviced with a fine or penalty notice for late filing or some legal notice of being sued right in the middle of closing a big deal. Another concern is that the name and address of the registered filing agent is a public record, so you get more junk mail.

Finally it would not be possible for non-residents of the country to act as filing agents anyway, as the filing work would need to be done by a resident with a Singpass, which is a trusted digital identity system issued to residents of Singapore. 

How to find a registerd filing agent?

If you are not actually in the country where your Pte Ltd is registered, aren't comfortable naming someone in your company, or simply don't want to have to manage this in-house, you can hire a registered filing agent company. This is a business that takes on the registered filing agent role for a fee. Start by searching for a registered agent in the Corporate Registrar or checking to see if the company has a license that looks like this. Koh says, "Beyond searching online and asking for recommendations from others, it's important to find a filing agent that suits your company's circumstances and longer-term ambitions."

Consider the following factors when choosing one:

  • If your Pte Ltd will do technology-related businesses, look for a company that can help you access various startup ecosystems
  • Make sure the filing agent is trustworthy and has been in business for several years
  • Confirm they have a physical address and are open during business hours

Ansgar Diekmann, needed a registered agent for his Pte Ltd, Bothmann + Vogler Solutions, "My company was just two members at the time and neither of us were located in Singapore where we were registering. My main criteria was a company that would handle basically everything for a Singapore Pte Ltd and at a relatively low price." He pays about $500 a year for the service and is pleased with it.

A registered agent is an important part of your Pte Ltd. Choose one wisely and carefully so that you can focus on doing business.


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