Introduction of registering a Society in Singapore
Definition of Society
A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.
Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common) benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap. A society can also consist of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values within a dominant, larger society. This is sometimes referred to as a subculture, a term used extensively within criminology.
More broadly, and especially within structuralist thought, a society may be illustrated as an economic, social, industrial or cultural infrastructure, made up of, yet distinct from, a varied collection of individuals. In this regard society can mean the objective relationships people have with the material world and with other people, rather than “other people” beyond the individual and their familiar social environment.
Any club, company, partnership or association of 10 or more persons, whatever its nature or object should seek registration with ROS, unless you are any of the following:
- a) Any company registered under any written law relating to companies for the time being in force in Singapore
- b) Any company or association constituted under any written law.
- c) Any trade union registered or required to be registered under any written law relating to trade unions for the time being in Singapore.
- d) Any co-operative society registered as such under any written law.
- e) Any mutual benefit organizations registered as such under any written law relating to mutual benefit organizations for the time being in force in Singapore.
- f) Any company, association or partnership, consisting of not more than 20 persons formed for the sole purpose of carrying on any lawful business that has for its object the acquisition of gain by the company, association or partnership, or the individual members thereof.
- g) Any class, society or association of foreign insurers carrying on insurance business in Singapore under any foreign insurer scheme established under Part IIA of the Insurance Act (Cap. 142).
- h) Any school or management committee of a school constituted under any law regulating schools for the time being in force in Singapore.
The income and property of the Society whensoever derived shall be applied towards the promotion of the objects of the Society as set forth in its Constitution and no portion thereof shall be paid or transferred directly or indirectly by way of dividend or bonus or otherwise howsoever by way of profit to the persons who at any time are or have been members of the Society or to any of them or to any person claiming through any of them.
There are two types of registration processes – Normal and Automatic.
- a) Normal Registration process:
The types of societies that are listed in the Schedule of the Societies Act shall seek registration under the normal registration process.
Once ROS has given in-principle approval to the registration and notified the applicant, the society will be registered when ROS receives the registration fee.
The society can commence its activities after its registration has been published in the Gazette.
- b) Automatic Registration process:
The types of societies that are not listed in the Schedule of the Societies Act are eligible to seek registration under the automatic registration process.
A society has to submit its registration application together with a declaration and payment of the registration fee. Once it is registered, the society can start its activities.
Under the Societies Act, the Registrar of Societies is empowered to order an automatically registered society to, after its registration, change its name or its rules, if he is of the opinion that the rules of the society if unchanged, would be contrary to national interest or prejudicial to the public peace, welfare or good order in Singapore.
Body of the Society
For the categories of societies listed below, the majority of the Committee Members must be Singapore Citizens. In addition, the President, Secretary, Treasurer and their deputies shall be Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents. Foreign Diplomats shall not serve as Committee Members.
- a) Religious societies.
- b) Societies which identify themselves publicly as or whose membership is confined exclusively to members of a single race.
- c) Any society whose object, purpose or activity, whether primary or otherwise, is to represent; promote any cause or interest of; or discuss any issue relating to a class of persons defined by reference to their gender or sexual orientation.
- d) Any society whose object, purpose or activity, whether primary or otherwise, is to promote or discuss the use or status of any language.
- e) Any arts groups except those promoting classical music/works.
For societies categorized as below, the majority of the Committee Members must be Singapore Citizens. In addition, the President, Secretary, Treasurer and their deputies shall be Singapore Citizens. Foreign Diplomats shall not serve as Committee Members.
- Any society whose object, purpose or activity, whether primary or otherwise, is to represent persons who advocate; promote; or discuss any issue relating to any civil or political right (including human rights, environmental rights and animal rights).
Proposed name of society
(i) The society’s proposed name should not be the same or similar to that of another entity that is already registered. To check, you may refer to the Unique Entity Number (UEN) website www.uen.gov.sg.
(ii) The name of the society must be spelt out in full. Acronyms/abbreviations are not encouraged. Where acronyms/abbreviations are used, its meaning must be clearly explained.
(iii) Please provide a letter of support from the relevant authorities if you are using any of the following words as part of the name of the proposed society:
Ministry of Education /
Council for Private Education
|Academy, College, Institute (with exception of an alumni)|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs||Asean|
|National Heritage Board||Bras Basah.Bugis|
|Urban Redevelopment Authority||Bayfront, Marina Centre, Marina South, Marina East, Straits View, Greater Southern Waterfront, Downtown Core, Raffles Place, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay, Empress Place, Civic District, CBD, Orchard Road, Mount Sophia, Fort Canning, Emerald Hill, Kallang Riverside, Paya Lebar Central, Jurong Lake District, Lakeside, Jurong Gateway, Rail Corridor, Southern Ridges, Gillman Village, Round Island Route, Marina Bay, Singapore River, Kampong Glam.|
|Singapore Tourism Board||Orchard, Tanglin, Somerset, Scotts, Sentosa, HarbourFront, Merlion.|
Urban Redevelopment Authority / Singapore Tourism Board
|Little India, Chinatown, Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Pasoh, Ann Siang Hill, Duxton.|
|Spring Singapore||Standards Board|
|Any relevant authority||Council, Government, Ministry, National, Raffles, Republic, Registry, State, Stamford Raffles, Temasek|
(iv) The word “Singapore” or its abbreviation is allowed to be used within brackets at the end of the society’s name, eg. ABC Society (Singapore) to indicate the society’s place of registration.
(v) A society will only be allowed to use the word “Foundation” in its name if it is an institution or association with a permanent fund dedicated to charitable, educational, religious, research or other benevolent purpose, and the society is financed by a donation or legacy to aid the society’s intended charitable purposes or an endowment for such society.
Application for Registration
Societies can submit their applications via the Integrated Registry of Societies Electronic System (iROSES). The 3 key office bearers of the society, i.e. President, Secretary and Treasurer will be required to verify and submit the application online using their SingPasses. The constitution of the proposed society shall be in Microsoft Word format while other supporting documents should preferably be in pdf or tif format. All documents submitted to ROS shall be in English only.
Applicants are strongly advised to verify that the information furnished is complete and accurate. The registration of any society procured by fraud or misrepresentation at the point of application can be basis for dissolution of the society by the Minister. For furnishing false information to any public servant, a person may be charged under section 182 of the Penal Code, the penalty of which is imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to $1,000.
Proposed Place of Business
(iii) The following addresses are prohibited from use as the society’s place of business:
(iv) Provide a letter of consent from the relevant authorities if the following addresses are used as the society’s place of business:
If your society falls under any of the types of societies listed in the Schedule of the Societies Act, you should seek registration under the normal registration process. The average processing time under the normal registration process is about two months.
If your society does not fall under any of the types of societies listed in the Schedule of the Societies Act, you are eligible to seek registration under the automatic registration process. Societies that wish to register under Automatic Registration will need to declare that they are eligible for Automatic Registration. Registration is immediate for those who qualify under the Automatic Registration process. Do note that under the Societies Act, the Registrar of Societies is empowered to order an automatically registered society to, after its registration, change its name or its rules, if he is of the opinion that the rules of the society if unchanged, would be contrary to national interest or prejudicial to the public peace, welfare or good order in Singapore.
Documents Required For Registration
A society that is registered under normal registration can conduct its activities after its registration has been published in the Gazette.
A society that is registered under the automatic registration process can carry out its activities upon registration. Do note that under the Societies Act, the Registrar of Societies is empowered to order an automatically registered society to, after its registration, change its name or its rules, if he is of the opinion that the rules of the society if unchanged, would be contrary to national interest or prejudicial to the public peace, welfare or good order in Singapore.
Applicable law for societies is “Societies Act” Chapter 311.
Features of Non-profit Organisations
When Non-profit Organizations making Profit
Non-profit organizations have founders, not owners. The founders of a non-profit are not permitted to make a profit or benefit from the net earnings of the organization. They can make money in various other ways, however, including receiving compensation from the non-profit. Net earnings and surplus funds may be built up and invested for the organization’s future operational use.
Non-profits generate income from a number of sources. Fundraising is the most common method of obtaining operating capital. This includes grant writing, sponsorship and revenue generation. Grant writing occurs when the organization applies for grants made available by government bodies and philanthropic organizations for specific purposes.
Corporate sponsorship works by enabling companies to fund aspects of the non-profit’s work in exchange for visibility in their markets. Revenue generation is based on sales of products and services to support the organization’s work and activities.
Most registered non-profits operate on the same principles as a small business, with fixed and variable cost components. Fixed costs account for overhead, rent, staff salaries, utilities and basic administration expenses, while variable costs apply to the cost of operations. In the non-profit environment, this is typically the cost of delivering the services offered by the organization or of producing the items sold for revenue generation. Whatever the source of the organization’s income, the non-profit must operate efficiently from a financial viewpoint.
Net Earnings for the Year
As with for-profit business operations, a non-profit prepares a balance sheet and income and expenditure statement at the end of each fiscal year. This shows whether the staff has managed the organization’s budget effectively and delivered a healthy financial result. If the income is more than the expenditure, the non-profit has a surplus of money, which is the net earnings for the year. If the management has spent more than it has brought in, it is in deficit and possibly owes money to third parties.
Retained Earnings and Financial Worth
The retained earnings of a non-profit organization is the total of each year’s surplus funds. This represents the organization’s financial worth and, provided the funds are managed correctly, should be a positive amount available in the bank account. The retained earnings can be invested for safekeeping and the generation of interest or dividends for the non-profit, or they can be reinvested back into the operation of the organization. In the case of reinvestment, the money can be used to fund operational costs, including compensation and benefits for the founders or directors, management and staff.
A society is required to submit an Annual Return to the Registry of Societies within one month of every annual general meeting held, or if no meeting is held, within one month after the close of the society’s financial year.
The Annual Return consists of the details of the Management Committee Members holding office for the year and shall include a copy of the accounts (income and expenditure and balance sheet) of the last financial year of the society, duly certified by the society’s auditors or a qualified company auditor in accordance with Societies Regulation 7(1)(b).
How do I submit an Annual Return for my society?
A society can submit its Annual Return via iROSES. It is a requirement under the Societies Regulations for a society to submit its Annual Return within a month after the holding of their Annual General Meeting, or if no meeting is held, once in every calendar year within a month after the close of its financial year. The information provided in the Annual Return should contain:
- a) The latest update on the society and its office-bearers.
- b) A copy of the statement of accounts (income and expenditure and balance sheet) of the last financial year of the society, duly certified by the society’s auditors or a qualified company auditor in accordance with Societies Regulations 7(1)(b) must be attached.
The current President, Secretary and Treasurer are required to verify and submit the application online using their CorpPasses. Statement of accounts duly signed by the society’s auditors or qualified company auditors should be attached in docx, pdf, png or jpg format. The file size of each attachment should not exceed 5Mb.
Can my society postpone our Annual General Meeting to a later date instead of the month stipulated in our society’s constitution?
Your society’s Constitution is a private contractual agreement among members. The holding of an Annual General Meeting is a rule in your society’s constitution. Your members must agree to any changes in the month the Annual General Meeting is supposed to be held. If the change is to be permanent, the members would have to pass a resolution at a General Meeting to change the rule. Thereafter, an application to amend this rule must be made to ROS. The change has to be approved by ROS before it can be adopted by the society.
General FAQ about Society including Compliance, etc in details (Refer to the below URL)
The source of information is from the Registry Of Societies (ROS). You may wish to visit ROS for more updated guidelines, rules, regulations, etc.