What is XBRL?



 XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is an internationally recognised language used in computers for business reporting and electronic communication of business information between organisations.

With effect from 1 November 2007, Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) requires Singapore incorporated companies to file their financial statements in XBRL format. The use of XBRL will create a pro-enterprise financial reporting environment for businesses in Singapore, allowing financial information to be easily accessible and exchanged. It also enhances the accountability of businesses with increased transparency of business information.

In June 2013, ACRA announced the revision of filing requirements for Singapore incorporated companies. With effect from 3 March 2014, the revised XBRL filing requirements under the BizFinx system will apply. Filing of Option B (Partial XBRL) under the previous XBRL system (FS Manager) will no longer be available. Singapore incorporated companies (unless exempted), which are either unlimited or limited by shares and required to file their financial statements with ACRA, will need to file a full set of financial statements in XBRL.

Who needs to file XBRL?

All Singapore incorporated companies (unlimited or limited by shares), unless exempted to file financial statements with ACRA, will be required to file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format. The filing must comply with the minimum requirements reflected within the ACRA Taxonomy 2013.

However, the full XBRL filing requirement will not apply to:

  1. Banks, licensed insurance companies and finance companies regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore;
  2. Companies that are allowed by law to prepare accounts in accordance with accounting standards other than the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS), SFRS for Small Entities and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS);
  3. Companies limited by guarantee; and
  4. Foreign companies and their local branches.

Companies, excluded from the full XBRL filing requirement, shall continue to file by providing PDF copy of financial statements. Besides providing financial statements in PDF, companies under categories 1 and 2 would have to produce Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL format as well.

Insolvent exempt private companies (EPCs) have the following filing options:

  • A full set of financial statements in XBRL format; or
  • A full set of financial statements in PDF with Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL format.

On the other hand, solvent EPCs will remain exempted from filing their financial statements with ACRA.

What is the applicable financial period?

Your company will need to file its financial statement in XBRL format if you are filing:

  • financial statements for periods ending on or after 30 April 2007;and
  • Annual Returns on or after 1 November 2007.

How to file/upload XBRL file?

  1. Download BizFinx preparation tool for preparation of the XBRL report. Preparers will need to do mapping by matching data within the financial statements to an appropriate and compatible concept within the Taxonomy.(BizFinx preparation tool is an offline software application provided free of charge by ACRA to help companies to prepare and manage their financial statements in XBRL format in accordance with the revised XBRL filing requirements and new ACRA Taxonomy. It replaces the FS manager which was phased out with effect from 1 March 2014.)
  1. Once XBRL report is prepared, log in to BizFinx portal to validate and upload XBRL reports.

Alternatively, you may choose to save the hassle by engaging a professional service provider to assist you in the process.

Why should I outsource the work of XBRL to a professional service provider?

Directors of companies are liable for the correct representation and accuracy of financial statements filed with ACRA. Thus, directors are advised to check the information to be filed before authorising their staff to submit the information to ACRA. Filing of XBRL can be tedious and time-consuming. By outsouring the preparation of financial statements to a professional service provider, such as Enston, companies can save a lot of time and dedicate more time to their core business. Directors can also be assured that financial statements are prepared in compliance with the revised XBRL filing requirements and ACRA Taxonomy 2013.