Success tips when doing business in Singapore
- The country has several distinct cultures, each with its own business etiquette. Malays are likely to frown upon handshakes between opposite sex business persons, while more traditional Chinese businessmen are likely to bow in place of a handshake;
- Saving face is of immense importance to Asian Chinese businessmen and employees. All negative remarks or comments should be made in private and entrepreneurs should take extra care to avoid correcting a business partner in a way that might embarrass the other.
- Chinese individuals are generally averse to fee negotiations and so, attention should paid to ensure that a Chinese business partner is not offended by your negotiations;
- Names depend on the culture of the business person as well. Chinese names usually lead with the surname and are followed by 1 or 2 given names, while Malay games are likely to forego a family name entirely;
- The exchange of business cards is an important aspect of working in the country. A business card should be given to everyone attending the meeting. When handing a business card to someone it should be presented with both hands with the front of the card facing the recipient. When receiving a business card, taking time to look and comment about the card shows respect. Print your business cards in English with a colour photo of you. The back of the card should be an Asian language translation;
- Government agencies play an important role in business in the country. So, a foreigner engaging in company registration should exercise restraint and be patient as much as possible because the authorities will always have the final say in the matter;
- Since, all resident companies will not be well-versed with international trade, Healy Consultants encourages our Clients to consistently use and sign contracts of service;
- Singaporean business communication is very polite, with questions often worded with a yes/no format, such as “would you like to or not?”. Business persons should consider this when communicating about business dealings;
- Make friends with your local Clients and suppliers. Singapore’s business culture is based on extra caution and so, you will need to develop trust before starting work together;
- To increase business certainty, we encourage our Clients to consistently use and sign legal contracts of service;
- To optimize the success of your new business venture in Asia, Healy Consultants will assist your firm i) complete a feasibility study ii) prepare a detailed business plan iii) communicate with each city Chamber of Commerce and foreign embassy and iv) communicate with Healy Consultants Clients who successfully launched their business in Singapore;
- Asian customers invariably focus on price, no matter how hard you sell the intangible benefits. Price drives most business negotiations;
- Each Asian city has a Chamber of Commerce. Their powerful membership embraces the local business community. Chamber functions provide useful networking opportunities for companies new to the market.
Interesting facts about Singapore
- Singapore is the best business gateway to Asia because of its strategic location. Located in the centre of Southeast Asia, a three hour flight will connect you to major markets such as Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and Taiwan, with Malaysia and Indonesia less than an hour away;
- Singapore is considered the premier financial hub of Asia. The country’s financial centre houses hundreds of financial companies, insurance companies, banks and asset management companies, earning low tax profits within a liberal economy free of exchange controls;
- Singapore offers highly luxurious residential facilities. With a strategic location for wealthy Asian entrepreneurs, the city currently caters to the world’s highest percentage of millionaires;
- Singapore is Asia’s most liveable city, comprising i) a cosmopolitan, multinational population ii) high quality office and residential accommodation iii) reliable power and utilities and iv) first-class hotels, hospitals and schools;
- The country is made up of 1 main island and 63 smaller islands, most of which are uninhabited;
- It is also among the 20 smallest countries in the world. However, it is the 2nd most densely populated country in the world;
- The country’s name comes from the term ‘Singapura’ which literally means Lion City. In 13th century, an Indonesian prince saw an animal that he thought was a lion and hence, the name;
- The Merlion (half fish and half lion) is the most popular symbol of the country. The fish represents Singapore’s past as a small sea town while the lion represents the creature which the Indonesian prince saw;
- Singaporean national anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’ is actually sung in Malay;
- The highest point in the country is Bukit Timah Hill which is only 164 meters high;
- The world’s first night zoo, Night Safari, is located in Singapore;
- Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has a greater variety of trees than in all of North America;
- Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park is the world’s highest man-made waterfall;
- Singapore’s Suntec City has the world’s largest foundation;
- Singapore has agreed to commit to the standards set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which help maintain Singapore’s reputable image as a secure and long-term solution for many entrepreneurs;
- Singapore is made up 63 islands and has increased in size by 25% since independence;
- Singapore boasts the fastest walkers on the planet, just ahead of Copenhagen and Madrid;
- Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has a greater variety of trees than in all of North America.
Frequently asked questions
How do I form a Singapore entity?Incorporating a Singapore entity is done through the Accounting and Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). Healy Consultants provides Singapore incorporation and corporate secretarial services. Consequently, our firm will assist in our Clients in incorporating a company in Singapore and opening a corporate bank account. Following business setup, the company must register for goods & sales tax (GST). Also, annual financial statements and tax returns must be submitted to both ACRA and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
What type of company/entity/corporate structure can I incorporate in Singapore?A limited liability company (LLC) is the most common entity used by foreign entrepreneurs to conduct international business. Other corporate structures include Branch Company and Representative Office. A LLC is allowed to engage in any commercial or industrial activity. A foreign branch is allowed to invoice, sign contracts and receive income from local customers, while a representative office is limited to business promotion and conducting market research for the parent company.
Who can incorporate a limited company in Singapore?Any individual above the age of 18 can register an entity through a Singapore incorporation service provider.
Why incorporate a company in Singapore?Singapore is a low-tax jurisdiction with government incentives to benefit foreign entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it is possible to engage in offshore company incorporation in Singapore, which can be legally 100% tax-exempt.
Am I required to travel to incorporate a Singapore company?No. Our Clients will not be required to travel to complete the Singapore company incorporation process.
Am I required to visit Singapore to open a bank account?No, we can open a bank account without our Clients having to travel.
Can my company be 100% foreign owned?Yes, wholly foreign owned companies can be incorporated in Singapore and must comply with basic requirements such as: local resident director and company secretary, registered address, and appoint audit within three months of incorporation.
If I start a business in Singapore will a resident director be required?Yes. According to the Singapore Companies Act, a resident director can be a citizen, permanent resident or work pass holder in Singapore.
What is the minimum number of directors required?Any number of foreign or local directors are allowed, although only one director is required to form a limited liability company.
What is the minimum paid up share capital to register an entity?The minimum paid up share capital is US$1.
What is the minimum number of shareholders required?Only one shareholder is required to form a limited liability company.
Are shareholder/director details available for public viewing?Yes, public records are available for public viewing.
Is a company required to submit annual tax returns or financial statements?Yes, annual unaudited financial statements must be submitted to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
What are the taxes for companies?The corporate tax rate in Singapore is 17%. The effective tax rate for startup companies is just 4%. For the first three years, startup companies are eligible for 100% tax exemption on the first US$78,000 and 50% tax exemption on the next US$157,000.
Does a Singapore company benefit from Double Taxation treaties?Yes, Singapore counts with 76 Double Tax Treaties.
What are the business visas available for migration?Singapore visas available to international entrepreneurs are i) EntrePass and ii) Employment Pass (EP). The S Pass and Work Permit (WP) are visas applicable for mid-level and semi skilled workers.