With a population of about five million people, Singapore is a thriving member of the global economy.
This small unlikely city-state has for the longest time led by the nose as the world’s best place for doing business. That was until recently when New Zealand nudged it out, but if the projections made by the World Bank are anything to go by, this city-state might be fast regaining its position.
Registering a Company in Singapore
Registering a company in Singapore is fairly easy and straightforward, thanks to the enterprise-friendly administration and well-supported process requirements.
Use this guide to understand the process.
Types of Corporate Entities in Singapore
Here’s an overview of the types of business entities that are supported in Singapore:
Owned and managed by a single person, with no legal distinction between the business entity and the business owner.
Owned by at least two and no more than 20 partners. The partners shoulder all the liabilities and debts relating to the business.
It’s similar to a general partnership, except that it consists of both general and limited partners, with no limit as to the number of partners that can be brought on board.
The difference between a limited partner and a general partner
While a limited liability partner is limited to a liability amounting to their contribution and not personally liable, a general partner is personally liable for the company’s debts and liabilities. A limited partner is also restricted from taking an active management role in the management of the company. Instead, they only act as the silent partners of the company.
A limited liability partnership is a relatively new business concept, comprising of at least one general partner and one limited partner. However, the general partner doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual but even a corporation.
The company and its owners are treated distinctively, as two separate entities. The other requirement is that one of the directors should be a Singaporean, a permanent citizen, or an Employment Pass holder.
A foreign company is a corporation, society, association, or company formed in a different country other than Singapore. The company is incorporated under foreign law, and can still be sued.
It’s a foreign ad hoc company set to operate temporarily. Essentially, these offices are set to get the lay of the land before the company is established. It’s meant to explore business ventures, trade leads, and market surveys in Singapore.
Things to Consider when Setting Up a Company in Singapore
Here’s a list of the things to consider when setting up a company in Singapore:
The first and perhaps the most important factor you should consider when setting up a company in Singapore are business factors, and in particular:
- The industry you’re getting in or the type of business you plan to set up.
- The nationality of the partners
- Existing trade relationships and agreements
Location matters, too. When you look at it, different regions and cities have different costs, rules, and availability. It’s advisable to speak to relevant professionals and authorities, especially legal advisors, other business owners, and accountants.
Most people speak English in Singapore. Other languages spoken are predominantly Mandarin and a variety of Chinese dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hakka; also Malay and Tamil.
Company Registration in Singapore
Registering a company in Singapore is easy and free of red tape. Adding to that, the government, in its bid to support the business infrastructure, offers tax exemptions to start-ups and has several schemes to help them in their early days.
ACRA = Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority
ACRA is the government entity tasked with the role of regulating business environment.
It’s the body responsible for supervising the registration of companies in Singapore. Anyone looking to register a company in the country must fulfil all of their compliance requirements.
Registered Filling Agents
Both local and foreign business owners looking to register a company in Singapore have a lot to benefit from by hiring the services of a registered filing agent.
This is especially true for foreigners that want to register a company in Singapore. For one, foreigners are not allowed to self-register a company in the country. They must, therefore, hire a local company registration provider.
They’re also required to acquire an Entre pass or Singapore’s work visa. Company registration providers are equipped with the necessary knowledge and can guide you through the process.
Identify a Business Structure that Maximises Your Tax Benefits
ACRA allows you to register your company as:
- A Sole proprietorship
- Private Limited Company (Private Limited)
- Limited Liability Partnership
Instead of rushing to register your business, take your time to evaluate your options and choose a business structure that resonates best with you.
How to Incorporate a Company in Singapore
The process of incorporating a company in Singapore is easy and straightforward, with no red tape. Both foreign and local entrepreneurs can complete the process in one to three days, without too much hassle.
Why Register Your Company as Private Limited?
The business structure you choose should help you to manage your risks, liability, brand image, and allow for a smooth scaling of your business.
- A private limited company pays a corporate tax of 0% to 17% on its taxable income.
- The owner of a sole proprietorship, on the other hand, pays personal income tax of 0% to 22% on its’ business income.
- Entrepreneurs prefer setting up their businesses as private limited companies because of its robustness, credibility, and scalability.
- Its legal identity is also distinct
- Shareholders’ liability is limited to the par value of their investment
- It’s tax-efficient if properly structured
- Foreigners can own up to 100% of the company’s share
- Anyone can incorporate a company in Singapore as long as they’re of the legal age (above 18 years)
Key Requirements for Registering a Company in Singapore
After you’ve identified a business structure, the next thing you want to do is go through the requirements:
- ACRA-approved Company Name
- Local director: you should at least appoint one Singaporean director for your company
- Shareholder: A company can have anywhere between 1 and 50 shareholders
- Registered Address: Have a registered office address in Singapore
- Company Secretary: You should appoint your company secretary within six months of incorporating your company
- Initial Capital: You need company needs a paid-up starting capital of at least $1.
Additional Requirements for Foreign Investors Looking to Set up a Company in Singapore
Foreigners must fulfil the following requirements when registering a company in Singapore:
- Employ a local director (Either Singaporean by birth, an EntrePass Holder, or a Permanent Resident)
- Hire a qualified filing agent (law firm, corporate secretarial firm, law firm) to help you complete the registration process for you
3 Steps to Registering a Company in Singapore
Getting your Company Name approved by ACRA
The first step to registering a company in Singapore is getting your company name approved by ACRA. The chances of approval can be heightened or sped up by keeping the following in mind:
- Make sure the name is unique, meaningful, easy-to-read, and devoid of any obscene or vulgar word
- Make sure the name has no copyright or trademark infringement claim to it
- A higher authority approval if it contains words such as Finance, Bank, Media, and Educational
You can register your company name online by visiting Bizfile, an ACRA-maintained web portal.
Have at least three names that you can check for availability with ACRA. After your name is approved, it will be reserved automatically for 60 days. You have to incorporate the company within this period or file another request asking for another 60 days extension.
Prepare the Documents You’ll Need to Register the Company
Here’s a list of documents you’ll be asked to produce during the registration process:
- Company name as registered with ACRA
- A short description of your business activities
- Particulars of directors
- Particulars of shareholders
- Detailed of your registered company address in Singapore
- The particulars of your company secretary
- A copy of your passport if you’re a foreign entrepreneur, backed with residential address proof of your home country
- Foreign companies are also required to submit Memorandum and Articles of Association
- Singaporean residents must also produce their original identity card and submit a copy of it
Submit Your Application to ACRA
After getting your name approved by ACRA and getting all the required documents in order, the next thing you want to do is complete the company registration process.
Assuming you’ve assembled all the documents, it shouldn’t take you much time to complete the process.
You can register your company online via Bizfile, an ACRA-controlled web portal
Post-Company-registration Formalities in Singapore
What next after registering a company in Singapore?
ACRA will send you an email to confirm that your company has been successfully incorporated. Included in the email will be your company registration number. You’ll also be issued with a soft copy of your company registration certificate, but you’re free to request for a hardy copy certificate of incorporation online. There’s a nominal fee for this.
Company Business Profile
Once your company has been incorporated, the next thing would be to obtain its profile. This profile contains all the particulars of your company. Of course, you’ll be required to pay a small fee to obtain this information, delivered in a PDF within an hour of submitting your request.
Here are the key details included in your company business profile:
- The name of your company and its registration number
- The previous name of the company, if it used to go by any other name
- Paid-up Capital
- Principal Business Activities
- Registration date
- Particulars of shareholder/Company secretary/Directors
- Registered Address
Remember: you need a soft copy of your certificate of incorporation and the pdf copy of your company for any legal or contractual activity. You may also be asked to produce them when opening a corporate bank account, subscribing to an office utility, such as telephone, and the internet, or when signing an office lease.
Acquire Relevant Business Permits and Licenses
Be sure to check if your newly incorporated company needs a business permit or license. If it turns out you need one, be sure to acquire it before you commence your business. Examples of businesses that need licences and permits include, but not limited to, financial services, travel agencies, importation of goods, financial services, and educational facilities.
Goods and Service Tax Registration (GST)
If your expected annual turnover exceeds S$1 million, you must register for the GST. It’s also your responsibility to collect a 7% GST from clients that buy your goods and services.
You’re also required to remit the 7% GST to the IRAS for filing. Bear in mind that the GST is the equivalent of Value Added Tax as it’s referred to in other countries.
A company rubber stamp will lend credibility to your company document. Typically, the rubber stamp should bear your company name, company registration number, and address. Besides enhancing your credibility, a rubber stamp will make your company appear more professional and authentic.
The company secretary should share the company certificate to all the shareholders. It’s to serve as proof that they’re part of the company’s ownership. It also shows how the shareholdings are distributed.
First Board Resolution
After you’ve successfully registered your company, you must organise for a board meeting for all the shareholders. The agenda of this meeting should be to discuss the company’s resolution and appoint one or more directors to spearhead the activities of the company.
They should also pass the resolution to appoint other company officials, including the company secretary, auditors, and so forth.
Filing Requirements for Registered Companies in Singapore
Incorporated companies must fulfil the following requirements to stay compliant with the company regulation laws installed in place:
Accounting Requirements: Your company must maintain its accounting books and make sure they’re all in order. You must maintain your general ledger, account receivables, account payable, and any other account. Be sure to file your annual financial statement with relevant authorities in XBRL format.
Convening of Annual General Meeting (AGM): Your company must hold an AGM in every calendar year. The company’s financial statements must also be tabled to be approved by all the shareholders.
Annual Returns Filing: Your annual returns must be filed a month after you held your AGM.
Corporate Tax Filing: You have to file your company taxes before 30th November (for paper filing) and before 15th December (for electronic filing).
Financial Year Determination: It’s up to every company to determine its financial year. For instance, your financial year may follow the standard calendar and run from January – December or run from June to May the following year. Your financial year or accounting cycle can start from any month, depending on what you agree on.
The Cost of Registering a Company in Singapore
The cost of incorporating a company in Singapore covers two things:
- Name application cost (S$15)
- Actual company registration fee (S$300)
However, the cost goes higher if you factor in other mandatory requirements, such as Registered Address and Company secretary.
On average, company registration agents charge about S$650 for the whole process (company name application and company registration. In most cases, the cost covers free company secretary (worth S$300) and a free registered office address (worth S$240).
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) on Registering a Company in Singapore
Why should you choose Singapore for Incorporating your company?
Singapore is ranked second (after New Zealand) as the best place to register and run a business. Here are some of the reasons:
- It’s rated atop as one of the easiest countries to do business: no red tape or government interference. If anything, they have one of the most supportive governments you’ll ever come across.
- They have one of the best labour forces in the world
- Low personal tax rates
- Low corporate tax rates
- Multiple government grants to take advantage of
- A globalised economy
- No much auditing for privately-owned companies
Who’s Allowed to Register a Company in Singapore.
Anyone can register a company in Singapore, regardless of their nationality. They’re however required to be above the legal age of 18 and never been declared bankrupt at any given point.
What are the Main steps of Registering a Company in Singapore?
Singapore has one of the most straightforward procedures for registering a company. There are only two steps to follow:
- Getting your company name approved by ACRA
- Submitting your application and all the required documents to bizfile, ACRA managed web portal
How Long Does It Take for Your Company Name to be Approved?
Provided all requirements are met, it only takes minutes to have your company name approval. It may, however, take longer if the name is found to be offensive or if it has a trademark or copyright claim to it.
How Long Does It Take to Register a Company in Singapore?
Here’s the amount of time it takes to complete each step of incorporating a company in Singapore:
- Providing your business information, including your business activities, documents, and structure – it all depends on you
- Getting your company name approved by ACRA – not more than 1 hour
- Company incorporation with ACRA – not more than 1 hour
Overall, it may take you between one hour to a few days to register a company in Singapore. But essentially, it all depends on you. The quicker you provide all the required details and documents, the faster the process.
Are Foreigners Allow to Incorporate a Company in Singapore?
Anyone can incorporate a company in Singapore, so long as they’re over the legal age of 18 years, and regardless of their nationality.
Can Foreigners Own 100% Equity in the Company they Incorporate?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to own 100% equity in the company they incorporate in Singapore. No rule or requirement limits them to a particular shareholding percentage.
Top Company Incorporation Services in Singapore
SOAS = Singapore Online Accounting Services
Their main speciality is offering accounting services to corporations.
They also provide company incorporation and registration services.
“Very professional and great knowledge of accounting. Very responsible and provides great advices when needed. Would recommend to everyone who requires a secretary for their newly started company, you won’t regret engaging SOAS. Many thanks to the team – David, Vernice, and Janes for the help in submitting my annual reports.”
Rikvin was established in 1998. It’s credited as the first company ever to offer incorporation services within 3 hours. Ever since it started, the company has helped thousands of companies in Singapore incorporate.
“I’m so glad that Rikvin takes care of all our Accounting needs. Their services is awesome. They handled all our business accounting and regulatory details smoothly. It was really a smart choice to have them because they deliver services is very efficient in terms of complying to all the statutory regulations. It allowed me to have more time in my business operations.”
Hawksford is a global company formation agency with offices in Singapore, China, the UK, and the US. They have one of the most impressive track records, having worked with some of the giant brands you know.
“Overall, my experience with Hawksford was very positive. I got the good response from them on my inquiry. They are fast and very helpful in getting all documentations done, I was able to register my company and open bank account when I’m in Singapore. Seriously recommend for setting new company in Singapore!”
Osome has only been around for two years (found in 2017) and has grown to be one of the most reputed online assistants specialised in services such as incorporation, corporate secretary, accounting, and immigration services. They have offices in Singapore, the UK, and Hong Kong.
“All the forms etc. was very easy to sign and look into. Customer support was always pretty quick. There is usually someone to answer your questions.”
Acrafile primary specialises in offering secretarial services. They also assist foreign entrepreneurs with company formation. And to ensure their customers are totally satisfied with their services, the company offers 100% money-back guarantee.
“We are an Indian firm and ACRAfile helped us to incorporate our company in Singapore in a timely manner. They also provided us a business registration address and that solved our main issue of receiving mails before we moved into a functional office in Singapore. Our account manager in ACRAfile – Chandlery is very helpful. After experiencing their committed service – we are now relying on ACRAfile for our Accounting, Tax and Annual return filing service also. Thank you, team…”
Company incorporation is a top-rated company registration and formation agency in Singapore. Ideal for overseas clients who want to incorporate their companies in Singapore.
SBS Consulting was established in 2010, and it’s currently one of the leading and most prominent company registration and formation agencies in Singapore. The company offers a range of corporate services, including incorporation.
“We are very pleased with the service and professionalism provided by SBS Consulting Pte Ltd. In addition to registration, accounting and tax services you have assisted us with advise to better operate our business in Singapore. We happily recommend your services and look forward to a long and successful cooperation.”
Healey Consulting is a prominent company formation agent in Singapore, offering a comprehensive range of company registration services to both local and foreign entrepreneurs looking to explore the Singapore market.
“I have used the Healy Consultants Group multiple times for the appointment of a resident non-executive director in Australia. Their process is thorough, fast, and comprehensive. The fees for their services are the best I’ve found for the great quality service and responsiveness to clients. I would recommend their services in full confidence.”
3E Accounting should be among the first few companies that pop up when searching for a company formation agency in Singapore. Thanks to its expertise and professional services, the company has been bagging so many awards over the years, including:
· Singapore Top Brand
· Top Player Firm by Singapore Brand
“I don’t write a lot of reviews, but this time I want to do it. With 3E Accounting working, they have the best way of analysis. The experience that they claim before the contract seems to be very legit, it is almost like they know the future. Work with them, they will do the best management of your numbers.”
Sandhurst consultancy makes an excellent choice of a company formation agent in Singapore. They’re one of the few company registration companies in the country that are so committed to ensuring every single one of their clients is satisfied by the quality of services that they receive from them.
“We have engaged Sandhurst Consultancy for Branch Office registration in Singapore. Ms Maribel had patiently discussed the requirements, steps and the fees for setting up a branch. They have also gave us some an advice on corporate tax, goods and services tax, Singapore employment (even if it is not asked)- thanks to you Mr Sukhbir Singh. Generally, we are happy to the services provided by Sandhurst. High recommended!”
Paul hype was started in 2008 and has grown to be one of the leading providers of company registration services in the country. Headed by Eric Eio, the company has helped thousands of companies form, including the Big4s.
“A team with the passion and drive to guide clients through the incorporation process that’s what sets Paul Hype Page & Co. apart from the rest.”
Precursor offers a full-suite of advisory and corporate solutions to individuals and corporate entities that want to set up their companies in Singapore. Their strong network, coupled with deep expertise on corporate matters, makes them one of the most sought-after company formation agencies in the country.
“It’s our 5th year working with Precursor’s Audit team. It has been a pleasure experience working with them. They are knowledgeable and efficient. We highly recommend their service to company looking for professional accounting services.”
Singapore Company Incorporation is a premier company formation agent based in Singapore. The company provides a wide selection of essential business registration services and other corporate services to companies.
Work Visa and Relocation
Accounting and Taxation
“Always very supportive, professional and helpful with all our queries related to Singapore company incorporation.”
A. I Business has been in the business of helping companies incorporate for 12 years. During this time, they have served more than 1800 happy clients, including Pokka, Axcell, and the National University of Singapore.
“Ordered a new company stamp from A1. Despite me making an error with the order type they happily corrected it, refunded the difference, and responded quickly to all emails.”
CorpServe, formerly FMG, is one of the leading providers of corporate secretarial services in Singapore. The company specialises in company formation, advisory, compliance, and business support. It acts as a one-stop-shop for all your company registration and incorporation needs.
Richmond is a reliable company registration service provider, dealing with secretarial services, branch office registration, accounting and tax services, offshore company registration.