How to register for GST

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In an earlier article, we gave an overview of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Singapore. In this article we shall elaborate on the GST registration process in greater detail.

We have broken down the process in easy to comprehend steps for the convenience of new organisations, or first-timers to GST registration.

The registration method and process may vary a little depending on the type of business and type of registration. The article is, therefore, organised into several sections to cover the following scenarios:

  • Compulsory registration.
  • Voluntary registration.
  • Overseas entities.
  • Overseas entities that import goods for supply in Singapore.
  • Overseas suppliers under the Vendor Registration Regime.
  • Overseas electronic marketplaces under the Vendor Registration Regime.
  • Joint ventures (JV) with Singapore Residents.
  • Joint ventures with only non-Singapore Residents.

 Before Registering for GST

  1. Ensure that the following measures are in place:
  • The organisation is registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA).
  • The organisation has a Business Bank Account.
  • Business activities can be clearly defined with expected revenue for the next 12 months.
  • Documents which may be required depending on whether the company has started sales.
  • A record of past sales (if available).
  1. Get an authorised account on CorpPass

All applications for GST registration must be submitted online via myTax Portal.

To do that, you must first open an account with CorpPass for your organisation. You will then get an authorisation for  the personnel to access the GST registration e-Service on myTax Portal. The authorisation also allows access to all the other e-services on IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore).

  1. Determine whether your organisation is required to register

Not all goods and services supplied are GST taxable. Refer to Taxable and Non-Taxable Goods and Services for more details.

Some supplies are zero-rated, exempt from GST, or may fall under the Out-of-Scope category. All of these must be identified from the onset.

If there are any goods and services which are zero-rated and standard-rated, the taxable turnover of these items must be calculated for a period of 12 months. 

Refer to Calculating Taxable Turnover for GST Registration for the method of calculation.

GST registration will be deemed compulsory for your organisation if it meets all the criteria stipulated in either the Retrospective View, Prospective View, or Reverse Charge and Overseas Vendor Registration category. (Refer to Singapore GST Registration for more details)

If your organisation does not meet these criteria, the section on Voluntary GST Registration Process will be relevant to you.

Compulsory GST registration process

This section is for organisations that are liable to register for GST and have fulfilled steps 1 and 2 in the preceding section.

  1. Prepare soft copies of supporting documents for the application

There is a list of required supporting documents included in the Document Checklist provided by IRAS. These include:

  • Form for appointing local agent
  • Form for details of partners and partnerships
  • Master Giro application form
  1. Register online via myTax Portal

A detailed step-by-step video guide is available on IRAS’s website for those who have never used the portal for this purpose. Here is a summary of the steps:

a. Log in to myTax Portal using your CorpPass account.
b. Verify and describe your business.
c. Provide information on your supplies.
d. Select the accounting period and complete the questionnaire provided.
e. Disclose the GST amount collected before registration.
f. Attach supporting documents and submit the application.
g. View and save the acknowledgment page.
h. Wait for notification on GST registration.

  1. Choose your filing frequency

There are two options (monthly or quarterly) to choose from when deciding how frequently you want to file your GST returns.

The standard accounting period is quarterly unless you indicate otherwise. The accounting period refers to the period covered by the GST return.

You can apply for a monthly accounting period or a change of accounting periods if there is a change in your business circumstances by the financial year-end. Your application will then be subject to review and approval. 

Even if there are no GST transactions during an accounting period, you are still required to file NIL as the return.

  1. Wait for a letter of notification from IRAS

The processing of applications usually takes 10 working days. During this time, IRAS may request additional information and supporting documents subsequently through email or letter.

Applications with incomplete information or insufficient supporting documents will be regarded as withdrawn.

  1. Wait for the approval letter

Once your application is approved, you will receive notifications from IRAS in the form of a (printed) letter, as well as SMS or email (if this information was included in the application).

A copy of the approval letter can be obtained under the ‘Notices/Letters’ section when you log in to myTax Portal.

The printed copy will be mailed to your registered address. It will contain:

  • Your GST Registration Number (the number you have to print on your invoices, credit notes, and receipts); and
  • Your Effective Date of GST Registration (the date when you have to start charging and collecting GST on your taxable supplies and not before the effective date of your GST registration).

The Effective Date of GST Registration usually falls within 3 weeks after the approval letter is issued. You must not charge or collect GST before the effective date of your registration.

The 3-week window is deemed enough for business owners to update their point of sale systems, invoices, as well as train and prepare their staff for the changes that are expected once the business or company is registered.

If you were late in submitting your application, your effective date of registration will be back-dated to a date on which you ought to have registered.

Voluntary GST registration process

There are a few differences here as compared to Compulsory GST Registration Process.

  1. Pass the compulsory e-Learning courses provided by IRAS

The company director, sole-proprietor, partner, trustee, or preparer of GST returns must complete two e-Learning courses by IRAS and pass the quiz. The passing marks are 80%.

They are Registering for GST and Overview of GST. The acknowledgment pages from these courses must be kept safely, especially the soft copy.

The courses are not required if:

  • The company director/ sole-proprietor/ partner/ trustee of the business has the experience of managing other existing GST-registered businesses; or
  • The person who prepares your GST returns is an Accredited Tax Adviser (ATA) or Accredited Tax Practitioner (ATP); or
  • The business is applying to be registered under the Overseas Vendor Simplified Pay-only Registration Regime.
  1. Register for GST via myTax Portal

Once the above requirements have been met, you may proceed with registering for GST via myTax Portal. The procedure is the same as Step 2 of the Compulsory GST Registration Process.

What is additional here are the GIRO application form and acknowledgment pages from the e-learning courses.

  1. Apply for the GIRO plan

Mail the completed original GIRO application form to 55 Newton Road Singapore 307987. The soft copy of the form is included in the Documents Checklist. GIRO is necessary for GST payment and refund.

IRAS will then send the form to your bank for approval. The process for approval may take 2 to 4 weeks.

IRAS will inform you whether the bank has rejected your application via written letter. If the application has been accepted, the bank will notify you directly.

  1. Wait for a letter of notification from IRAS

The process is the same as for compulsory registration.

However, the processing period is longer for voluntary registration. It will take 2 to 3 weeks for your registration to take effect from the date of the approval letter.

No back-dating of the date of registration is allowed for voluntary registration.

GST registration process for Overseas Entities

Definition of ‘Overseas Entity’: an entity that is not a resident in Singapore and/or does not have an established place of business in Singapore.

The rules for GST registration are the same for both local and overseas entities. However, overseas entities must appoint a local agent in Singapore.

Known as a Section 33(1) agent, the agent will act on your behalf for all your GST matters, including being responsible for the accounting and payment of GST.

The form for appointing a local agent is available in the Documents Checklist. An appointment letter should be given to the appointed agent.

Overseas Entities that import goods for supply in Singapore

If your organisation is this type of entity, you have the following alternatives:

  1. Supply goods in your business name

This option is available for both, compulsory and voluntary GST registration. Being GST-registered allows you to claim GST paid on imports.

  1. Supply goods through a GST-registered Singapore agent

You do not need to register for GST. The agent will import and supply goods on your behalf. Known as a Section 33(2) agent, it is responsible for the goods as if it is the principal.

The agent imports your goods into Singapore in his name and then claims GST paid on these goods. Any subsequent supply of goods will be treated as its taxable supplies. The agent also has to account for GST on the supplies.

Overseas Suppliers and Overseas Electronic Marketplaces under the Overseas Vendor Registration Regime

If you are registering under this regime, you need to submit an application using the OVR form. The process for GST registration is the same as for Singapore incorporated companies under the Compulsory category.

You need not appoint a local Singapore agent for GST matters. However, if you are voluntarily registering for GST, you may be required to provide a security deposit.


GST registration process for Joint Ventures

An entity is considered a Joint Venture (JV) when the business arrangement involves two or more parties (members) coming together to carry out certain activities jointly. The rules differ for JVs that are registered with ACRA and for those that are not.

JVs registered with ACRA

A JV is considered a legal entity if it is registered with ACRA. Therefore, it can be registered for GST. 

JVs not registered with ACRA

Because it is not registered with ACRA, a JV can only qualify for GST registration on the following conditions:

  1. The JV is a distinct, organised entity with documentary evidence governing the constitution, objects, rules, and activities. Documentary evidence includes partnership agreements, JV contracts, deeds, and letters of undertaking among others;
  2. Members of the JV are carrying on a business in common under the JV;
  3. The JV is in the business of making taxable supplies;
  4. Each member is participating in the business carried on by the JV; and
  5. One member is nominated and appointed by the others as the representative member to fulfill the administrative requirements of filing and payment of GST as well as other GST obligations for and on behalf of the JV.

If all the JV members are not Singapore residents, the JV must appoint a local agent in Singapore to handle GST matters. The agent is known as Section 33(1) agent who is accountable for the payment and accounting of GST.

A duly completed letter has to be submitted to appoint a local agent (refer to the last page of Documents Checklist).

After successful GST registration

The following GST requirements should be adhered to once you have received your approval letter from IRAS:

  • All taxable supplies made and received by the business are properly accounted for.
  • GST returns should be submitted by filing a GST F5 after the end of the accounting period covered by the return.
  • A tax invoice must be issued when the customer is GST registered.
  • GST payment is due on the last day of the following month after the end of the accounting period.
  • Comply fully with the responsibilities of a GST-registered business.

Wrap Up

Do you need assistance with your GST registration application? Intime Accounting has extensive experience in handling the GST registration process for both local and international clients.

There are many benefits to outsourcing accounting work to a corporate service provider in Singapore. By outsourcing the accounting of GST to us, you will also save time and effort in the processing and submission of tax returns for GST as we also offer corporate tax services.

Contact us today for a quote on our services.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. While we endeavour to provide information that is as up-to-date as possible, Intime Accounting makes no warranties or representations of any kind, express or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the content on the blog for any purpose. Readers are encouraged to obtain formal, independent advice before making any decisions.

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