The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and XBRL

Singapore ACRA and XBRL mandate

Since 2014, conforming to the compulsory XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) filing standards has become a critical feature for companies in Singapore’s dynamic business environment. These requirements, which differ depending on the type of firm, size, and economic activity, are critical for guaranteeing transparent and efficient financial reporting. This guide provides a complete overview of the XBRL filing process for Singapore-based businesses. We go over the intricacies of these standards as well as the step-by-step process for presenting financial statements in XBRL format, focusing on important areas that are critical for compliance and corporate success.

Understanding XBRL Filing and Its Importance in Singapore

XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is a global standard for exchanging business information, particularly financial statements. It leverages an XML-based framework conforming to Financial Reporting Standards ­, ensuring a unified approach to presenting financial data. This format is widely adopted due to its capacity for handling extensive quantitative data, thereby streamlining the financial reporting process and establishing a universally accepted format.

Advantages of XBRL Filing for Singapore Companies

The implementation of XBRL in Singapore brings numerous benefits to companies, enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of financial reporting. Key advantages include:

  • Automated Report Generation: XBRL allows for the seamless creation of reports, reducing manual efforts and the likelihood of errors.
  • Enhanced Data Accuracy and Reliability: The standardized format ensures consistent and reliable data handling.
  • Improved Business Information Analysis: XBRL facilitates deeper and more effective analysis of financial data.
  • Efficient Handling of Large Data Sets: Companies can manage and analyse extensive accounting information with ease.
  • Cost-Effective Regulatory Compliance: The XBRL format streamlines the regulatory process, making it more efficient and less costly.

Who Is Required to File in XBRL Format?

In Singapore, the mandate to file financial statements in XBRL format extends to all incorporated companies, as per the directives of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). This requirement is integral to annual filings, with some exemptions applied to specific entities. Public and private companies are required to submit a comprehensive set of financial statements in XBRL format.

On the other hand, companies limited by guarantee and foreign companies, including their branches, need to file key financial metrics in XBRL format along with a complete set of signed financial statements in PDF format for AGMs and distribution to members. Unlike these entities, sole proprietorships and partnerships are exempt from filing financial statements with ACRA.

Who Is Exempt from the Requirements for Filing XBRL Reports?

Navigating the XBRL filing landscape in Singapore involves understanding not just who needs to file, but also who is exempt from these requirements. While XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, has become a standard for financial reporting, certain entities are exempt from filing their financial statements in this format with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA).

Entities Exempt from XBRL Filing

The following types of businesses are not required to file their financial statements in XBRL format:

  1. Merchant and Commercial Banks: These financial institutions are exempt due to their unique reporting requirements.
  2. Finance Companies Regulated by MAS: Being under the purview of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, these companies have specific regulatory frameworks to follow.
  3. Licensed Insurers: Their distinct regulatory needs exempt them from standard XBRL filing.
  4. Solvent Exempt Private Companies (EPCs): These entities have the option to file in a non-XBRL format.
  5. Companies Using Non-SFRS Accounting Standards: Firms adhering to accounting standards other than Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS), SFRS for Small Entities, and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are exempt.

For these entities, filing financial statements in PDF format is acceptable. However, it’s important to note that banks, finance companies, and insurers are still required to submit Financial Statements Highlights (FSH) in XBRL format.

Filing Requirements for Insolvent EPCs

Contrasting with solvent EPCs, insolvent Exempt Private Companies have specific XBRL filing obligations. They must file their full financial statements either entirely in XBRL format or as a combination of PDF format financial statements accompanied by a simplified XBRL template.

What financial statements must be filed in XBRL format?

In the realm of financial compliance in Singapore, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) plays a pivotal role in dictating the format and nature of financial reports that companies need to file. A crucial aspect of these requirements is the filing of specific financial statements in XBRL format. XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, offers a standardized approach to financial reporting, enhancing transparency and ease of analysis.

Key Financial Statements Required in XBRL Format

ACRA specifies that the following financial statements must be filed in XBRL format:

  1. Balance Sheet: A snapshot of a company’s financial condition at a specific point in time, detailing assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity.
  2. Income Statement: This report outlines the company’s financial performance over a period, showing revenue, expenses, profits, and losses.
  3. Cash Flow Statement: This statement provides insights into the company’s cash inflows and outflows, covering operating, investing, and financing activities.
  4. Statement of Changes in Equity: This outlines the movement in equity during the reporting period, including retained earnings and issued share capital.

Collectively known as financial statement highlights, these documents are integral to a company’s financial disclosure. They offer stakeholders a comprehensive view of the company’s financial health, performance, and position.

The Importance of XBRL Filing

Filing financial statements in XBRL format is more than a compliance measure; it’s a step towards greater corporate transparency and efficiency. This standardized format allows for easier access, comparison, and analysis of financial data by regulators, investors, and other key stakeholders. It aligns with global best practices and ensures compliance with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS)

Singapore ACRA and XBRL mandate

ACRA (The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) in Singapore mandated the financial report filing requirements. Accordingly, companies need to file their financial statements in XBRL file format with effect from 3 March 2014. The revised XBRL filing requirement is applicable for companies filing their financial statements with periods ending on or after 30 April 2007. All Singapore-incorporated companies must file financial statements with ACRA, except those exempted. Some companies will file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format, while others will file only salient financial data in XBRL file format and a full set of financial statements in PDF. The ACRA XBRL filing requirements depend on the type of company you own (see table below) and you can check for XBRL services by DataTracks.

ACRA XBRL Filing Requirements


Type of company Financial statements you need to file
Public/private companies (limited or unlimited by shares), except those under (a) and (b) below Full set of financial statements in XBRL format.

(a) Specific companies regulated by MAS, such as commercial banks, merchant banks, insurance companies, and finance companies*

*Companies other than the specified types (e.g. money changers) are required to file a full set of XBRL financial statements

Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL format, plus a PDF copy of the financial statements.

(b) Companies permitted to use accounting standards other than SFRS, SFRS for Small Entities, and IFRS**

** SFRS stands for Singapore Financial Reporting Standards, and IFRS stands for International Financial Reporting Standards

Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL file format, plus PDF copy of the financial statements.
Solvent Exempt Private Companies (EPCs) Exempted from filing financial statements. Nonetheless, you are encouraged to file the full set of financial statements or the financial statement highlights in XBRL format.
Insolvent EPCs You must either:
(a) file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format, or(b) Financial statements highlights in XBRL file format, plus a PDF copy of the financial statements.
Companies limited by guarantee PDF copy of the financial statements
Foreign companies or local branches of foreign companies PDF copy of the financial statements


For more information, refer ACRA website

Types of XBRL Filing Formats in Singapore

In Singapore, XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) filing formats are tailored to meet the diverse needs of companies based on their size and activities. There are four main types:

  • Full XBRL: This format is comprehensive, covering primary statements and selected notes to financial statements with around 210 data points. It’s designed for detailed financial reporting and is the standard for most companies since partial XBRL is no longer available.
  • Simplified XBRL: Ideal for small entities and non-publicly accountable companies, this format includes about 120 data points. It captures all essential information relating to financial performance and position, offering a streamlined approach for smaller businesses.
  • XBRL FSH for Banks: Tailored specifically for banking institutions, this format comprises approximately 80 data points. It’s designed to meet the unique reporting requirements of banks.
  • XBRL FSH for Insurers: Similar to the banks’ format, this is specifically for insurance companies, containing about 80 data points. It facilitates efficient reporting for the insurance sector.

These formats ensure that companies of different sizes and in various sectors can comply with ACRA’s XBRL filing requirements effectively.

Preparing Your Company’s XBRL Financial Statements in Singapore

In Singapore, preparing and submitting financial statements in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) format is a crucial compliance requirement for companies. There are three primary methods to prepare these statements for the annual return filing:

Engaging a Corporate Services Provider: Companies can opt to work with a Corporate Services Provider, like DataTracks, to handle the preparation and filing of XBRL statements. DataTracks specializes in regulatory compliance and reporting solutions, offering expertise in accurately preparing XBRL financial statements in line with ACRA’s requirements.

Leveraging Accounting Software: There are specialized accounting software options capable of preparing and submitting annual returns with Simplified XBRL FS to ACRA. This method is particularly beneficial for companies looking for an integrated solution that aligns their accounting and compliance processes.

Using the BizFinx Preparation Tool: Companies can utilize the BizFinx preparation tool, a comprehensive solution provided by ACRA. This tool allows for the preparation and filing of XBRL financial statements (FS) directly through the BizFinx portal.

Steps to File Financial Statements in XBRL in Singapore

For companies in Singapore, filing financial statements in XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) format involves a systematic process. Here are the six essential steps to follow:

  1. Download the BizFinx Preparation Tool
    • Visit the ACRA website and download the BizFinx preparation tool at no cost.
  2. Prepare the Source Document
    • Use your company’s financial statements, in either Microsoft Word or Excel format, as they were presented at the annual general meeting.
  3. Input Financial Data
    • Enter all relevant financial information into the BizFinx template and apply the appropriate XBRL tags. Leave any fields blank if the information wasn’t mentioned at the annual general meeting.
  4. Review and Validate
    • Examine and correct any errors highlighted in the XBRL financial statements, then validate them offline.
  5. Upload and Verify on BizFinx
    • Upload your XBRL financial statements directly to BizFinx, where they remain valid for 14 days. Follow the prompts to acknowledge and upload, ensuring a successful submission as per the provided guidelines. If errors occur, you have the option to delete and re-upload the correct file.
  6. Submit Annual Return via BizFile
    • Finally, log in to BizFile and submit your annual return along with the XBRL financial statements you’ve prepared.

Following these steps ensures that your company’s financial reporting aligns with ACRA’s requirements in Singapore, facilitating a smooth and compliant XBRL filing process.

Challenges of Using the BizFinx Preparation Tool

The BizFinx Preparation Tool, while useful for preparing financial statements in compliance with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) requirements in Singapore, presents its own set of difficulties. Let’s delve into the challenges and advantages of opting for a specialized service like DataTracks, underlined by their impressive credentials.

  • Steeper Learning Curve: The tool requires users to gain a solid understanding of XBRL tags and the process of mapping financial data to the ACRA taxonomy. This learning curve can be daunting for users without prior experience in XBRL filings.
  • Time-Consuming Process: Manually inputting data and tagging financial elements is not only tedious but also fraught with potential errors, especially when dealing with complex financial statements. This aspect of the process can significantly extend the time needed for preparation and filing.
  • Limited Functionality: The BizFinx Preparation Tool may lack advanced features that could streamline the process, such as data validation checks or seamless integration with existing accounting software. This limitation could hinder the efficiency of financial reporting.

How DataTracks Can Help?

  • Addressing the Steeper Learning Curve: DataTracks brings 19+ years of specialized experience in XBRL preparation, eliminating the need for in-depth training on XBRL tags and mapping. Their team’s expertise ensures accurate and compliant reporting, streamlining the process for their clients.
  • Making the Process More Efficient: By leveraging DataTracks’ service, businesses can save significant time. DataTracks handles the tedious and complex task of data entry and tagging, allowing companies to allocate their resources to core business activities. This results in a more efficient and less error-prone filing process.
  • Overcoming Limited Functionality: DataTracks offers advanced features that the BizFinx Preparation Tool may lack, such as robust data validation checks and possible integration capabilities with existing accounting systems. Their service ensures that the financial reporting process is not only accurate but also integrates seamlessly with the client’s existing processes.

Deadline for XBRL Filing in Singapore and How to Apply for an Extension

The timeline for XBRL filing in Singapore differs based on the company’s classification. Listed companies are required to file within five months, whereas non-listed companies have up to seven months. Not adhering to these timelines can attract penalties, with late filing fees ranging from $300 to $500, contingent on the extent of the delay.

For companies needing additional time for XBRL filing, the following procedure can be followed to apply for an extension:

  1. Access ACRA’s online VCC registration and filing portal.
  2. Navigate to the ‘Extension of Time’ option found under ‘eServices’.
  3. Complete and submit your extension application.

It’s important to note that processing such an application might take up to 14 working days. Therefore, companies are advised to initiate this process well in advance to circumvent any late filing penalties.

Avoiding Common Errors in XBRL Financial Statement Filing

For a smooth and efficient filing of financial statements in XBRL format, it is crucial to be aware of and avoid common mistakes. Here are key errors to watch out for:

  1. AGM Financial Statements vs. XBRL Text Block Data
    • Ensure that the AGM financial statements are clear and consistent with the information in the XBRL text block under “Disclosure of complete set of financial statements”. Use the text editor to accurately transfer all data from the source document to the XBRL text block.
  2. Incomplete Data
    • Verify that all required templates are completed as per the minimum requirement list. Leave fields blank only if they are not applicable to your company, such as share capital, employee benefits expenses, or property details.
  3. Incorrect Mapping
    • When mapping items in the XBRL templates, apply the “best-fit” principle. Classify unique items that don’t match any specific concepts under “others”.
  4. Discrepancies Between XBRL and AGM Statements
    • Common discrepancies arise due to differences in currency indicators, presentation formats, rounding levels, types of accounting standards used (like SFRS or SFRS for SE), and reporting of Earnings Per Share (EPS) not in dollars. Also, watch for issues like incomplete net cash flows or the omission of prior year figures in consolidated financial statements when they are being prepared for the first time.

Avoiding these errors can help ensure that your XBRL financial statements are accurate, complete, and in compliance with regulatory requirements. This diligence is essential to avoid potential complications or penalties associated with incorrect filing.

How DataTracks Can Assist You with ACRA XBRL Filing

At DataTracks, we understand the intricacies and challenges of complying with ACRA’s XBRL filing requirements in Singapore. Our specialized XBRL tagging services are designed to streamline the conversion of your financial statements into the requisite XBRL format, a mandatory requirement for all Singapore-incorporated companies.

Why Choose DataTracks?

  1. Expertise and Experience: Our team comprises seasoned XBRL specialists with extensive knowledge and experience in handling ACRA filings. They are well-versed in the latest XBRL standards and are adept at ensuring accuracy and compliance in your financial reports.
  2. Seamless Conversion Process: We simplify the process of converting your financial statements into XBRL format. Our team meticulously handles every aspect of the conversion, ensuring that your financial data is accurately represented in the required format.
  3. Compliance with ACRA Standards: With DataTracks, you can rest assured that your XBRL filings will meet all the regulatory requirements set forth by ACRA. Our commitment to compliance means your company can avoid the pitfalls of incorrect or incomplete filings.

Take the Next Step Towards Hassle-Free XBRL Filing

Don’t let the complexity of XBRL filing slow down your business. Let DataTracks take care of your XBRL conversion needs, so you can focus on what you do best – running your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in meeting your ACRA XBRL filing requirements with ease and efficiency.

Get Started with DataTracks Today

Ready to ensure your XBRL filings are accurate and compliant? Reach out to DataTracks now for a consultation and see how our expert XBRL services can benefit your company. Let us help you navigate the XBRL filing process with confidence and ease. Get a Quote Now!

Frequently Asked Questions

XBRL filing with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) involves submitting financial statements in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format. This standardized format is used for the electronic communication of business and financial data, facilitating easier sharing, analysis, and comparison of financial information. ACRA requires Singapore-incorporated companies to file their financial statements in XBRL format, aligning with international financial reporting and compliance standards.

Yes, XBRL filing is mandatory in Singapore for most companies. Since the introduction of the ‘XBRL filing requirement ACRA,’ companies incorporated in Singapore are obligated to file their financial statements in XBRL format, as part of their annual filing requirements. However, certain types of entities, like solvent exempt private companies and those using non-SFRS accounting standards, are exempt from this requirement.

The deadline for XBRL filing in Singapore depends on the type of company. Listed companies must file within five months, while non-listed companies have a seven-month deadline. It’s important to adhere to these timelines as late filings can incur penalties. Companies can also apply for an extension via ACRA’s online portal, ensuring they meet the ‘ACRA XBRL filing’ deadlines.

To prepare an XBRL file, companies can use the BizFinx preparation tool available on the ACRA website. This tool facilitates the conversion of financial statements into XBRL format. Companies should ensure that the financial information is accurately represented and tagged in the XBRL file, and any errors in the data are rectified before submission. Alternatively, companies can engage services like DataTracks, which offer ‘ACRA XBRL filing services’ to assist in preparing and filing XBRL financial statements accurately and in compliance with ACRA’s requirements.

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