Facebook Share
Twitter Share
Singapore Government
Contact us · Feedback · Sitemap · FAQs

Co-operative Societies

Co-operative Societies, or co-ops, are associations of persons who have voluntarily joined together to achieve a common social or economic aim by forming a jointly-owned and democratically controlled business organisation. They operate on principles of self-help and mutual assistance. Most co-ops also have social missions to benefit the greater society in which they operate in.

Co-ops are regulated by the Registry of Co-operative Societies (“the Registry”), under the Co-operatives Societies Act (Chapter 62) [softcopy for download] and Co-operative Societies Rules 2009.

Latest news

18 December 2018

The Registry of Co-operative Societies has updated the Written Direction (‘WD’) on Provisions for Bad and Doubtful Loans, and Impairment Loss for Investments. The updates to the WD reflect the new FRS 109, which superseded FRS 39. Credit co-ops may seek their auditors’ advice on the application of FRS 109 in the preparation of financial statements.

WD on Provisions for Bad and Doubtful Loans, and Impairment Loss for Investments 

The Registry has also updated the Form 1 template for credit co-ops. Credit co-ops are to ensure that the updated Form 1 template is used in future submissions.

Form 1 

31 October 2018 

The Registry of Co-operative Societies has issued the Annual Report on Co-operative Societies for the financial year ended 31 March 2018. The Annual Report provides key statistics on the sector, latest developments, the Registry’s future plans, as well as the use of the Central Co-operative Fund for the promotion and development of the sector. 

Annual Report on Co-operative Societies in Singapore for the financial year ended 31 March 2018

24 October 2018

The Written Direction on Investments has been updated. The key changes are:

a) A new category “special investments” is added; and
b) A credit co-op is not allowed to invest in cryptocurrency.

The updated WD is issued on 24 October 2018 and is effective from 1 November 2018.

2 May 2018

The Registry of Co-operative Societies and the Singapore National Co-operative Federation have jointly issued 3 Governance Guides for credit co-ops, on Internal Controls, Loan Management and Investment Management. The Governance Guides are designed to be references of good practices for the credit co-ops, with examples and templates for the credit co-ops to adopt when designing or revising their own standard operating procedures.

10 April 2018

The Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Parliament on 9 January 2018. The amended Co-operative Societies Act comes into operations on 10 April 2018.

The Registry’s functions are as follows:

  • Regulating the registration and dissolution of co-ops;
  • Regulating organisation and management of co-ops, so as to protect the interests of co-op members as a whole;
  • Supervising credit co-ops so as to promote prudence and accountability; and
  • Overseeing the custody and utilisation of the net funds from dissolved co-ops, including the repayments of moneys due to ex-members and/or creditors.

Through facilitating the development of the co-ops sector, the Registry’s work furthers the Ministry’s mission of building social capital and making Singapore home through the promotion of active citizenship.

With inputs from the various stakeholders, the Registry reviews and updates our policies and rules from time to time so as to provide a robust regulatory framework for the proper governance and sound management of the co-ops. This way, Singaporeans and residents will have confidence in the co-op structure and continue to participate in the co-op movement.

Contact us


Registry of Co-operative Societies 
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth 
140 Hill Street, #02-00 
Old Hill Street Police Station 
Singapore 179369

Tel (hotline):

6337 3832


6837 8090


Operating hours:

Monday - Friday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
(closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)

“The growth of the Singapore Co-op Movement must also be credited to the collective efforts of every co-operative and co-operator for their outstanding contributions and their dedication to the Co-op mission of serving the needs of members and society. As the apex body of the Co-op Movement, SNCF will continue to support and facilitate the growth of co-ops. SNCF will continue to do our best to nurture the development of cooperatives in Singapore, to promote the principles of self and mutual help, so as to contribute towards developing a more resilient and cohesive society.”

Mr Chan Tee Seng, Immediate Past Chairman Of Singapore National Co-Operative Federation (SNCF)

There are currently 86 co-operative societies, or co-ops, in Singapore.

Categories Number of co-ops
Consumer and Services 59
Credit 24
School 3

Consumer and services co-ops provide goods and/or services to their members to meet their daily needs. Some of these co-ops have become household names, such as:

  • NTUC Fairprice
  • NTUC First Campus
  • NTUC Foodfare 
  • NTUC Income 

While these co-ops are business driven, they are anchored in their social mission to help Singaporeans and residents through moderating the cost of living.

Credit co-ops provide financial services (i.e. take in deposits and/or grant loans) to their members who are within a pre-existing common bond of association or community of interest. The earliest registered co-op in Singapore was the Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-op.

There are also school co-ops which operate in secondary schools and junior colleges that aim to expose students to co-op principles and social entrepreneurship.

There are seven principles governing co-ops.

  1. Voluntary and open membership

    Co-ops are voluntary organisations, open to all persons who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

    Notwithstanding the above, the eligibility of an individual's admission into a co-op's membership is confined within the criteria as set out in the individual co-op's constitution and the laws of the jurisdiction.

  2. Democratic member council

    Co-ops are democratic organisations controlled by members, who actively participate in setting their own policies and decision making. This means members vote on policies passed and vote for elected representatives.

  3. Members’ economic participation

    All members contribute equitably to their co-op’s capital. Generally, part of the co-op’s capital is common member property. Usually members get limited compensation for the subscribed capital given as condition of their membership.

    Surplus capital may be allocated for any, or all, of the following:

    • To develop the co-op
    • To set up or build reserves
    • To benefit members in their transactions with the co-ops
    • Supporting other activities approved by the members

  4. Autonomy and independence

    Members of Co-ops are responsible for their own governance, subject to the legislation and any orders by the Registry. If they make agreements with other organisations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and their co-op autonomy.

  5. Education, training and information

    Co-ops provide education and training to their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so that they can contribute to the development of their co-ops.

  6. Co-operation amongst co-operatives

    Co-ops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-op movement by working through local, national, regional and international structures.

  7. Concern for community

    While focusing on members’ needs, co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by the members.

  1. Considerations for registration

    Before applying for registration as a co-op, applicants are to have due considerations as to:

    • Whether the proposed co-op promotes the economic/social interests of its members and/or the economic/social interests of the general public, in accordance with co-op principles;
    • Meets the minimum membership requirement of at least 5 persons or 2 institutional members, each of whom qualifies and willing to take up membership;
    • The sufficient capital for the commencement of operations; and
    • Demonstrate that the proposed co-op will have in place the required organisational and management structure to oversee the operations of the proposed co-op.

    The process to setting up a co-op are summed up below:

  3. Setting up a Pro-tem Committee

    Pro-tem Committee must have at least 3 members

    The Pro-tem Committee:

    • Undertakes the feasibility study of the proposed co-op. A viability statement consisting of the business plan and the financial projections (at least 3 years) is to be prepared.
    • Consider the society’s objects and by-laws, and
    • Draft by-laws

  5. Seeking the Registrar’s comments

    The Pro-tem Committee, once they’ve completed the feasibility study and drafted the by-laws, submits:

    For your reference, we’ve included here links to guidelines for submitting by-laws of a new co-op:


  7. Preliminary meeting

    Once the proposed co-op has obtained the Registrar’s comments, a preliminary meeting will be held with at least five persons qualified for membership.

    In this meeting, the by-law’s proposed by the Committee and commented on by the Registrar need to be discussed and adopted by the potential members, accepting all the rights, duties and liabilities prescribed within the by-laws.


  9. Membership

    You can apply to be a co-op member if:

    • You are at least 16 years old (or at least 12 years old if it’s a school co-op)
    • You are a Singaporean citizen or resident in Singapore
    • Meet all the residential, employment and profession requirements, and any such other requirements laid out in the by-laws
    • For credit co-ops: belong to a pre-existing common bond (such as same community, industry and employer) as provided in the by-laws.
    • Institutional membership in a co-op is open to other registered co-ops or trade unions.

  11. Application for registration

    To apply for registration as a co-op, the following documents must be submitted:

    • Application form: download and complete the credit co-op registration form, or the non-credit co-operative registration form
    • Personal details such as name, NRIC or FIN No, nationality, occupation and address of at least five potential members
    • Proposed by-laws
    • Business plan and three-year financial projections. The business plan should contain things like (but not limited to) business strategy, products and services, target customers, expected demand. Financial projections should include the balance sheet, income and expenditure and cash flow statements.
    • Minutes of the preliminary meeting and signatures of all present at the meeting

After registration

When your co-op is registered, the Pro-tem committee manages the co-op until you have your First Meeting following the registration.

You must hold your First Meeting within first three months after the co-op receives its notice of registration.

In your First meeting, you need to elect your co-op officers. These officers will manage the operations of the co-op as the committee of management until the First Annual General Meeting. The officers shall be eligible for re-election at the First Annual General Meeting.

For assistance and advice on setting up a co-operative society

Singapore National Co-operative Federation
Co-ops must submit these documents to the Register:
Type of document Submission date
Notice of Annual General Meeting (AGM) To be submitted at least 15 days before date of AGM
AGM Form To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Form A - List of Office Bearers
To be submitted within 14 days of any change and at least once a year, within 6 months from end of Financial Year)
Audited Financial Statements and Auditors' Report To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Annual Report To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Notification of Change of Registered Address To be submitted as may be necessary
  1. Read about the amendment of by-laws:

  2. If you are looking to amalgamate or transfer the assets and liabilities of your co-op, please contact the Registry and/or talk to your apex body.

  3. The Registry's contact details


    Registry of Co-operative Societies 
    Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth 
    140 Hill Street, #02-00 
    Old Hill Street Police Station 
    Singapore 179369

    Tel (hotline):

    6837 8537


    6837 8090


    Operating hours:

    Monday - Friday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
    (closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)

    The apex body

    Singapore National Co-operative Federation

  4. Information on dissolving a co-op:
Members of dissolved co-ops who:

(a) have not cashed in their cheques from the appointed liquidators; or 
(b) did not present their claims to the appointed liquidators

may still be able to make claims to the Registry of Co-operative Societies for up to 2 years from the date of cancellation of registration of their respective co-op. Monies unclaimed after 2 years from the date of cancellation of registration of a co-op shall be carried to the Co-op Societies Liquidation Account, which would be applied to the furtherance of co-op principles or transferred to the Central Co-op Fund.

Members should complete and mail this letter to the Registry of Co-operative Societies, together with a photocopy of their NRIC (both sides) to make their claims before the end of 2 years from the date of cancellation of registration of their respective co-op.

Written directions are in place for credit co-ops to strengthen their prudence and risk management. These requirements re-focus the credit co-ops towards their core business of thrift and loans, and ensure accountability to their members.

Written directions to date:

Issue date Effective date Description
18 Dec 2018
21 Dec 2018
Written direction – provisions for bad and doubtful loans and impairment loss for investments
24 Oct 2018 1 Nov 2018 Written direction – investments
29 Jun 2016 01 Jul 2016 Written direction – capital adequacy and restriction on dividend
29 Jun 2016 01 Jul 2016 Written direction - minimum liquid assets
29 Jun 2016 01 Jul 2016 Written direction – unsecured loans
07 May 2013 10 May 2013 Written direction – submission of financial returns - templates for Form 1 and Form 1A
29 Aug 2011 01 Nov 2011 Written direction – secured loans

Submission of financial returns

Credit co-ops are required to submit these returns to the Registry annually:

Type of document Submission date
i. Completed Form 1
  • To report the audited year-end financial position, capital adequacy ratio, minimum liquid assets, restricted investments and loans data

Due 6 months after the close of the previous financial year
ii. Completed Form 1A

iii. Mid-year unaudited Balance Sheet

iv. Mid-year unaudited Income & Expenditure Statement
Due 2 months after end of the current mid financial year
Members of credit co-ops consist of individuals who have entrusted their hard-earned savings to credit co-ops and expect their deposits and interests to be safeguarded. Good governance is thus important as it seeks to safeguard credit co-ops’ members’ deposits and maintain members’ confidence and trust. Good governance, when practised by credit co-ops’ top leadership, will enable a more resilient, effective and prudent organisation.

Code of Governance 2016

The Registry and the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) have jointly issued the Code of Governance 2016, which provides useful guidelines to help credit co-op officers carry out their duties in the best interests of the members.

Governance Evaluation Checklist 2016

To complement the Code of Governance, the Registry and SNCF have issued the Governance Evaluation Checklist 2016. This Checklist allows credit co-ops to assess their compliance with selected guidelines, better understand its state of governance and work on the areas that require improvements.
The Governance Guides on Internal Controls, Loan Management and Investment Management were jointly issued by the Registry of Co-operative Societies and the Singapore National Co-operative Federation. They are designed to be references of good practices for the credit co-ops, with examples and templates for the credit co-ops to adopt when designing or revising their own standard operating procedures.

Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF)

The SNCF promotes the co-operative movement and co-operative societies. It also provides co-operative education and training and development. The SNCF represents the co-op movement at national and international levels.

International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)

The ICA is an independent, non-governmental association that unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide. Read more about Singapore’s Regional ICA.

Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore (ACRA)

ACRA is the national regulator of businesses entities and public accountants in Singapore. ACRA also facilitates the development of businesses and the public accountancy profession.

Registry of Societies (ROS)

The ROS regulates societies under the Societies Act and Regulations.
Last Updated: 18 December 2018

Quick Poll

Do you like our website?

Join us

Get started in a challenging and meaningful career with MCCY. Be involved in strengthening community bonds, encouraging volunteerism and philanthropy, engaging youth, developing and promoting sports, heritage and the arts. Experience a range of challenging and interesting portfolios to build a cohesive and resilient society, and deepen the sense of national identity and affinity for Singapore. Join us in building a vibrant and people-centered culture!

Find out more.

Singapore Quality Class Logo