What is XBRL

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data worldwide. As one of the family of “XML” languages, it is becoming a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the Internet.


How XBRL works

Under XML, identifying tags are applied to items of data so that they can be processed efficiently by computer software. XBRL is a powerful and flexible version of XML which has been defined specifically to meet the requirements of business and financial information. It enables unique identifying tags to be applied to items of financial data, such as ‘net profit’. However, these are more than simple identifiers. They provide a range of information about the item, such as whether it is a monetary item, percentage or fraction. XBRL allows labels in any language to be applied to items, as well as accounting references or other subsidiary information.

XBRL can show how items are related to one another. It can thus represent how they are calculated. It can also identify whether they fall into particular groupings for organisational or presentational purposes. Most importantly, XBRL is easily extensible, so companies and other organisations can adapt it to meet a variety of special requirements.

The rich and powerful structure of XBRL allows very efficient handling of business data by computer software. It supports all the standard tasks involved in compiling, storing and using business data. Such information can be converted into XBRL by suitable mapping processes or generated in XBRL by software. It can then be searched, selected, exchanged or analysed by computer, or published for ordinary viewing.



With effect from 3 March 2014, companies will file their financial statements in XBRL in accordance with the revised XBRL filing requirements. In tandem with the revision, ACRA has implemented the BizFinx filing system.

The BizFinx filing system includes a new preparation tool, which is an offline software application provided by ACRA free of charge, for companies to prepare XBRL financial statements in accordance with the revised XBRL filing requirements. The new BizFinx filing system replaces the old FS Manager, which was phased out with effect from 28 February 2014, 2359 hours.


Who Needs to File and Who is Exempted

Singapore incorporated companies (unlimited or limited by shares) which are required to file their financial statements with ACRA, will be required to file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format, according to a minimum requirement list within the new ACRA Taxonomy 2013.

Filing of Option B (Partial XBRL), a filing option under the previous XBRL system (FS Manager), will no longer be available.

The table below sets out the filing requirements for various types of companies:

Type of CompanyFiling of Financial Statements
Public / Private companies (limited/unlimited by shares), except those under (a) and (b)Full set of XBRL financial statements
a.     specific companies, i.e. commercial banks, merchant banks, registered insurers, finance companies regulated by MASFinancial statements highlights (FSH) in XBRL format + PDF copy of financial statements
a.     companies allowed by law to prepare accounts in accordance with accounting standards other than SFRS, SFRS for Small Entities and IFRSFSH in XBRL format + PDF copy of financial statements
Solvent exempt private companies (EPCs)Exempted from filing financial statements, but are encouraged to file with following options:§   full set of XBRL financial statements or§   FSH in XBRL format
Insolvent EPCsOptions of:§   full set of XBRL financial statements; or§   FSH in XBRL format + PDF copy of financial statements
Companies limited by guaranteePDF copy of financial statements (XBRL filing not required)
Foreign companies and their local branchesPDF copy of financial statements (XBRL filing not required)


Applicable Financial Periods

The revised XBRL filing requirements are applicable for companies filing financial statements with periods ending on or after 30 April 2007.

Companies filing financial statements relating to financial periods ending before 30 April 2007 will continue to file their financial statements in PDF format and their financial highlights in respect of the financial statements in their Annual Return (AR).


Minimum Requirement List (for Full Set of Financial Statements in XBRL)

Applicable only for companies filing full set of financial statements in XBRL, the minimum requirement list is a set of elements within ACRA Taxonomy 2013 which companies are required to file if the information is available in the financial statements. Companies may voluntarily choose to submit more information in XBRL format than the minimum requirement list.

The minimum requirement list is designed on a needs-driven basis, which means elements are only included for collection if they are sought after by consumers of financial information. A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis weighing the interests of all stakeholders was conducted before the minimum requirement list was derived.

The minimum requirement list as explained in the table below comprises a combination of:

  • a text block element to allow companies to submit their entire set of financial statements; and
  • detailed information elements to allow companies to submit information within individual sections of the financial statements.


Financial Statements Highlights

Companies exempted from filing the full set of financial statements in XBRL, are generally required to file Financial Statements Highlights (FSH) in XBRL and the filing requirements for the different types of companies are set out hereto. Before prepare the Financial Statement Highlights, the company must ready their company management accounts and/or financial statement for AGM purpose.

Comprising approximately 50 data elements, FSH is a set of salient financial and non-financial information.

With FSH filing, you will also enjoy free data analysis provided as part of BizFinx.


Free Data Analysis

Companies which file their financial statements in XBRL will also qualify for a free one time usage of data analysis via the BizFinx portal from March 2014.  

How your company can gain a competitive edge from XBRL enabled Business Data

  • Companies can utilize the data to:
  • Benchmark themselves against peers
  • Compare their performance against competition
  • Gain a competitive edge with improved analytics
  • Understand industry trends and take appropriate decisions
  • Achieve cost savings within your company with better business insights and quicker and more accurate decision-making
  • Compare, share and transmit data with related subsidiaries and different company divisions even if different accounting systems and being used

(Source: ACRA)


Helps and Resources

It is important to do filing of BizFinx if the company is required by ACRA. BizFinx filing is complicated and fine may impose to those company that filed BizFinx incorrectly. ACRA provides BizFinx training seminars or heavily-subsidised training courses (costly) to appointed staffs or employers.

For employer or employee’s point of view, these courses and seminars may consume a lot of time to understand and do filing just for one or few companies. JM Management would suggest if you do it in house, you may consider to outsource to your trained/experience third party secretary. With our company secretarial services, you may save a lot time and money to your business for growth.

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