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How to register a company in SINGAPORE in 2020

Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC assists Clients to register a company in Singapore. Our services include i) Singapore business registration ii) corporate bank account opening services in Singapore and globally iii) employee recruitment iv) residence visa strategies and v) office rental solutions.

About Singapore company set up

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01

Popular business entities in Singapore

Compare different Singapore entitiesTax resident LLCTax exempt LLCFree zone LLCLLPRepresentative Office
Best use of company?All purposesTrading/holdingGlobal tradingProfessional servicesMarketing & research
How soon to invoice Clients?1 weekCannot trade locally1 week1 weekNot allowed
How soon can you hire staff?1 week1 week1 week1 week1 week
How soon can you sign a lease agreement?1 week1 week1 week1 week1 week
How long to supply co. reg / tax numbers?1 week1 week1 week1 week1 week
How long to supply corporate bank a/c?6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks6 weeks
Corporate tax rate on annual net profits?17%0%17%0%0%
Effective tax rate on US$500,000?10%0%10%0%0%
Limited liability entity?YesYesYesYesNo
Res. director/partner/ legal rep. required?YesYesYesYesYes
Min. paid up share capital?US$1US$1US$1US$1None
Corporate bank account location?DBSSwitzerlandUOBDBSSBI
Can secure trade finance?YesYesYesYesNo
VAT payable on sales to local customers?7%0%0%7%0%
Average total engagement costs?US$11,530US$11,490US$13,340US$11,530US$8,800
Average total engagement period?2 months2 months2 months2 months2 months
Subject to i) new start up and ii) partial tax exemptions?YesNoNoYesNo

See full table

Accounting and tax considerationsTax resident LLCTax exempt LLCFree zone LLCLLPRepresentative Office
Statutory corporate tax payable?17%0%17%0%0%
Legally tax exempt if properly structured?NoYesNoYesYes
Must file an annual company tax return?YesYesYesNoNo
Must file annual financial statements?YesYesYesNoNo
Access to double taxation treaties?YesNoYesNoNo
Government grants available?YesNoYesYesNo
Group HQ tax incentives?YesNoYesYesNo
Company RegistrationTax resident LLCTax exempt LLCFree zone LLCLLPRepresentative Office
Minimum number of directors/managers?11111
Minimum number of shareholders/partners?1112Parent company
Shelf companies available?YesYesNoNoNo
Time to incorporate a new entity?1 week1 week1 week1 week1 week
Can easily convert to a PLC?YesYesYesNoNo
Public register of shareholders and directors?YesYesYesYesYes
Can have preference shareholders?YesYesYesYesNo
This entity will likely be regulated by?ACRAACRAACRAACRAACRA
Business ConsiderationsTax resident LLCTax exempt LLCFree zone LLCLLPRepresentative Office
Good entity for trademark registration?YesYesYesYesNo
Can secure an import and export license?YesNoYesYesNo
Can bid for Government contracts?YesNoYesYesNo
Can secure residence visa for business owner?YesNoYesYesYes
Monthly GST reporting to the Government?No
Maximum number of staff allowed?No maximum limit
Our Client must travel to Singapore?No
Can be wholly foreign owned?Yes
Maximum shareholding for foreigners?100%
Govt. approval required for foreign owners?No
Temp. physical office solutions available?Yes
You need local resident as bank signatory?No
Withholding tax on payments to shareholders?0%
Must appoint an auditor?No
Dividends received are legally tax exempt?Yes
Security deposit to be kept with Government?No
Must sign an office lease agreement?No
S/holder/director docs attested?Yes
Foreign non-resident director needs a work permit?No
S/holder/director docs translated?No
Expatriate to local staff ratio?Depends on business activity
Other useful information
What will be included in my customer sales invoice?Read more
Singapore has signed free trade agreements?Yes
Singapore is a member of WIPO/TRIPS?Yes
Singapore is a member of the ICSID?Yes
Average customs duties suffered?0.50%
Average monthly office rent? (US$/sq m)37
Minimum statutory annual salary?None
Average US$ salary for local skilled staff?US$3,800
S$ deposit interest rate? (1 year average)0.40%
US$ deposit interest rate (year average)?0.10%
Overseas remittance currency controls?None
Banking considerations
Multi-currency bank accounts available?Yes
Corporate visa debit cards available?No
Quality of e-banking platform?Excellent
Crypto-friendly banks available?No
Crowd funding available in this country?Yes

Choose your Singapore business entity

02

Advantages of doing business in Singapore

  1. Singapore business set up is straightforward, requiring i) one shareholder and ii) a paid-up capital of just US$1. Read more here.
  2. A properly-structured Singapore company can be legally exempt from corporation tax. Read more here.
  3. A Singapore non-resident company is legally tax exempt if it does not have a bank account in Singapore.
  4. Singapore-based exporters benefit from tariff concessions and fast market entry thanks to a comprehensive network of free trade agreements.
  5. Singapore is well regulated, foreign investment laws are enforced by local courts, and there is low corruption.
  6. As well as being safe for investments, Singapore presents a good image to global Clients.
  7. Singapore is a global financial centre, with a sophisticated banking system and no controls over the repatriation of funds overseas.
  8. The Singapore government offers incentives, including tax breaks and grants, to locally-incorporated companies. Read more here.
  9. Registering a company in Singapore an ideal entry point to Asian tech markets. Of 11 ‘tech unicorns’ in Southeast Asia, five are Singapore-based.
  10. Singapore aims to be the world’s first smart nation, and has a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. Read more here.
  11. Singapore is the world’s fourth-largest FinTech investment hub, supported by FinTech-friendly regulations. Read more here.
  12. A Singapore offshore company is a tax-efficient way to access the US$237 billion global crypto-currency market. Read more here.
  13. Singapore has the world’s fastest fixed broadband.
  14. Investors setting up a company in Singapore have access to some of the best qualified talent in Asia.

See more benefits

Disadvantages of doing business in Singapore

  1. It is becoming harder to hire foreign workers. See more information in this report.
  2. Singapore is the world’s second most expensive city. The average monthly salary is US$3,600 for professionals.
  3. Singapore banks do not welcome tax haven entities as customers.
  4. All resident firms must have at least one resident director, who can either be a citizen, permanent resident or work pass holder in the country.
  5. As a services and export-based economy, Singapore depends on the economic health of China, the USA and EU.

See more challenges

03

Typical Singapore engagement steps

  1. Consultation with Healy Consultants Group PLC experts, including i) discussing goals for the business ii) optimum corporate structure iii) potential licensing requirements and iv) our fees.
  2. Reserving the company name at BizFile.
  3. Client confirms ownership structure, including i) shareholders and ii) directors.
  4. Client appoints company secretary to manage the company’s statutory administration and annual returns.
  5. The Client confirms which registered office address is to be used.
  6. Healy Consultants Group PLC drafts the company constitution, which includes the company’s i) share capital ii) registered address and iii) shareholders and directors.
  7. Our team drafts a detailed engagement project plan mapping out the entire process from i) company incorporation ii) tax registration iii) corporate bank account opening and iv) obtaining applicable licences.
  8. We gather all documents required to complete Singapore company incorporation, and assist our Clients to complete and authenticate them.
  9. Our Singapore Incorporation Team submits the incorporation package to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) via Bizfile.
  10. Within three days of submission, the entity is incorporated. Our Firm immediately emails our Client with the certificate of incorporation and company extract (view sample of a business profile).
  11. The Client applies for a corporate bank account for his business. Our team helps prepare a quality business plan for the bank to optimise the probability of corporate bank account approval.
  12. The company registers for GST, applies for employee visas and obtain government grants and incentives, if required.
  13. If required, we assist our Clients obtaining licenses for their Singapore companies.
  14. Healy Consultants Group PLC couriers a full company kit to our Client, including i) original corporate documents ii) unopened bank correspondence and iii) Client feedback survey.

View all steps

Typical Singapore engagement timeline

Start
Engagement Planning

1 week

Company incorporation

1 week

Corporate bank account approval

4 weeks

Corporate internet banking approval

2 weeks

Engagement completion

1 week

9 weeks

Compare timelines with other type of businesses in Singapore

04

Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore

Singapore is a global financial centre home to top tier international banks. It is not necessary for our Clients to travel to Singapore to open a local multi-currency bank account. Healy Consultants Group PLC can complete formalities on your behalf. Foreign companies can open a Singapore business account without having to register a local company.

Learn more

Singapore accounting & tax considerations

17%

Corporate tax

7%

Goods & Services Tax

2 to 22%

Personal Income Tax

15 December

Deadline for e-filing corporate tax return

Learn more

Singapore visas

  1. EntrePass, for foreign entrepreneurs wanting to live and start a company in Singapore.
  2. Employment Pass (EP). Employers must apply for an EP when hiring foreign professionals, managers and executives where the minimum monthly salary is S$3,600.
  3. S Pass or Work Permit, for mid-level skilled or semi-skilled foreign workers where the minimum salary is at least S$2,300 per month.
  4. Dependant’s Pass, for spouses and children of EntrePass, EP or S Pass holders on a minimum salary of S$6,000 per month.
  5. Long Term Visit Pass. This visa is for parents, common law spouses, stepchildren or handicapped children of EP or S Pass holders.

Learn more

05

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I set up a company in Singapore?

    To set up a company in Singapore, the process is as follows:

    • After setting our fees, our Client returns us scans of the KYC documents required from each shareholder, director and beneficial owner;
    • Thereafter, our Firm will email pre-filled incorporation forms to our Client for signature;
    • Upon receipt of the documents, our Firm registers the company, usually within three business days or less. Our Client mails us hard copies of all KYC documents and signed forms over the following month.
  • I want to set up a small business in Singapore. Should I use a sole proprietorship or private limited company?

    We recommend that our Clients set up a company rather than a sole proprietorship, as all qualifying start-up LLCs enjoy tax rebates on profits in the first three years. A 100% tax exemption is possible on the first SG$100,000 and 50% tax exemption on the next SG$200,000. The LLC also limits the owner’s losses in the event that the business fails, since the company’s debts are not attributable to the shareholders. Incorporating a company also simplifies international growth in the event that the business succeeds.

  • How can a foreigner register a company in Singapore?

    A foreigner can register a company in Singapore by following the below checklist for company registration:

    • Submit a list of three names, in the order of preference, through a Singapore resident to reserve the preferred one;
    • Determine the company structure, including the share allotment;
    • Appoint the directors, where at least one director is resident;
    • Appoint a resident company secretary;
    • Provide a local address for registration;
    • Draft and sign the company constitution and incorporation forms;
    • Submit the documents above to ACRA for their review and company registration approval;
    • Secure the official company registration documents, including Certificate of Incorporation and the company extract, Bizfile;
    • Order a company stamp;
    • Apply for bank account opening;
    • Apply for GST registration and government grants, if required;
    • Apply for specific business licenses, if required.

    The rules might vary for different entities; however the basic incorporation steps apply.

  • 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 incorporation process.

  • What is the cost to register a company in Singapore with a corporate bank account without travel?

    To register a company in Singapore for a foreigner, according to the ACRA guidelines, the costs of name application and company registration amount to around SG$315. To this you need to add the costs of ordering the Certificate of Incorporation and the company stamp, which will amount to an additional fee of approximate SG$80. Once the company is registered and depending on the business activity, there will be several banks that will be ready to onboard the company. However, each bank has different deposit and maintenance requirements.

    A standard package is offered by Healy Consultants Group PLC for Singapore company registration services without travel. The package is inclusive of everything from company formation, multi-currency corporate bank account opening, resident director services, corporate secretary and local registration address and the government fees.

  • Can a foreigner set up a private limited company in Singapore?

    Yes, a foreigner can set up a private limited company in Singapore easily. In fact, Singapore laws allow 100% foreign ownership of a private limited company. However, there are a few mandatory requirements to fulfil:

    • One resident director in Singapore (the foreign owners can apply for an Entre Pass if they want to be the resident director);
    • A Singapore-based company secretary;
    • A valid local address.

    More information on the procedure and required documents from a foreigner setting up a business in Singapore can be found on our website.

  • Can a foreigner set up a sole proprietorship in Singapore?

    Yes, foreigners can register a sole proprietorship in Singapore, if there is an authorized resident representative of the business. The foreign owner can either appoint a Singapore citizen to be the resident representative, or they can become a resident in Singapore by becoming an Entre Pass holder.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a limited private company in Singapore?

    Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages of a limited private company in Singapore.

    Advantages

    • Tax incentives and exemptions are available to newly incorporated companies;
    • Profits are taxed at corporate tax rates;
    • Separate legal status of the companies means that the owners are not personally liable for the debts and losses of the company;
    • There is no explicit lifetime of a Pte Ltd and the company does not cease to exist if one or more shareholders die;
    • Ownership of the company is transferrable;
    • Additional owners can be included up to a total of 50 shareholders;
    • Higher likelihood of availing loans from banks.

    Disadvantages

    • i) Resident director and ii) company secretary and iii) local address requirement;
    • Directors need to disclose their interests in the company’s shares, contracts, and debentures;
    • High costs of starting and running a new business;
    • Stringent regulations to hire foreign workers;
    • Mandatory compliance with ACRA and IRAS;
  • What are the options for foreign companies to register in Singapore?

    There are four options for foreign companies to register in Singapore: they can set up a branch office, a subsidiary, a representative office and re-domiciliate.

    • Subsidiary
      Subsidiaries are locally incorporated and privately limited companies set up under the umbrella of a parent company. Subsidiaries are legally separate from the parent company and can enjoy tax exemptions like local tax-residents.
    • Branch office
      A branch office is an ideal option for companies aiming at shorter-term market expansion. The parent company is responsible for the activities of the branch office. Please note that a branch office is not a resident entity and cannot avail any tax exemptions. The registration can be done online by the parent company.
    • Representative office
      Representative offices are suitable for companies which want to test the market. The only activities that Representative Offices can conduct is market research and marketing activities, before taking on a full-fledged market presence in Singapore. They cannot enter into contracts or trading activities; and are not taxed as they cannot and do not earn profits.
    • Redomiciliation
      The last option is to change the existing jurisdiction of your business and relocate to Singapore to become a local company instead, as per this relocation guide from ACRA.
  • How to set up a branch of a foreign company in Singapore?

    The parent company can set up a branch in if it has at least one authorized representative ordinarily resident in Singapore.

    • The first step is to apply for the name of the office – which must be the same as the parent company. The applicable fee is $15;
    • After the name is approved, the next step is to register with ACRA and paying the registration fee of $300;
    • The branch can start operations once it is approved by ACRA.
  • Are there any additional requirements for some foreign nationals to start a business in Singapore?

    No, the requirements to register a company in Singapore for a foreigner do not differ from nationality to nationality.

  • Is there a direct Government conversion tool from SP/ Partnership to LLC?

    No. Singapore Government does not provide a direct conversion tool for this process. However, Healy Consultants can negate this with our complete transition solution, including: i) securing limited liability company status; ii) complete asset transfer and iii) proprietorship or partnership deregistration.

  • Is limited liability beneficial for my business?

    Yes, Limited liability companies minimize financial and legal risks for their owners against creditor claims over their personal assets.

  • Can my new LLC have the same name as my old partnership?

    Yes. Healy Consultants will secure the same name for your new limited liability business, as part of our complete transition solution.

  • Is an LLC more tax-efficient than a partnership?

    Yes. Partnerships suffer higher tax burdens, as company profits fall under personal income taxation and cannot obtain a wide array of Singapore Government tax grants.

  • Why set up Singapore offshore companies?

    A Singapore non-resident company i) is exempt of capital gains tax, withholding tax, value added tax, sales tax and accumulated tax ii) enjoys a positive reputation with suppliers, Clients and investors and iii) can be an excellent global holding company. For more detailed information, please to refer to our section on “Uses of an offshore company.

  • How do I form a Singapore entity?

    Healy Consultants will register your firm with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and then courier you the certificate of incorporation. We will also open the corporate bank account for your company.

  • Can my offshore firm be wholly foreign-owned?

    Yes. Your company can be wholly foreign owned.

  • Where should I open my offshore business bank account?

    For optimum business solutions, we recommend our Client open an account with HSBC, SCB or Citibank.

  • Will I be required to apply for business licence to form a tax free company?

    No. If your business activity requires a licence, then that company cannot be considered an offshore entity. Consequently, such as entity cannot be legally tax exempt.

  • Who will help my offshore business formation with accounting requirements?

    Our firm is specialist in bookkeeping and accounting services. We will your firm prepare annual financial statements.

  • What business visa are available?

    Non-tax resident Singapore companies are not eligible to apply for EP, PEP nor EntrePass visa.

  • Will my offshore company be tax-exempt?

    Yes, if your company does not conduct any local business it will be legally tax exempt.

  • Does my offshore business setup benefit from Singapore’s double taxation treaties?

    No. Since, your company will already be non resident, it can not benefit under the double taxation treaties.

  • I am setting up a company in Singapore and want to apply for an entrepreneur pass. Am I eligible?

    Clients seeking an EntrePass must fulfill certain criteria. The company must have a minimum paid up capital of US$50,000 and the applicant must hold at least 30% of shares in the company. Furthermore, the company must meet at least one of the following requirements: i) receives funding or investment from a recognized third-party VC or business angel who is accredited by a Singapore Government agency ii) holds an IP that is registered with an approved national IP institution iii) has ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognized by A*STAR or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore iv) is an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator.

  • I want to pursue Singapore employment pass application. How do I find out if I will be eligible?

    Clients pursuing an E pass or an S pass can take a Self-Assessment Test to determine whether they will be eligible for an E pass or an S pass.

  • Do I need a physical office space to form a company in Singapore?

    No, a legal registered business address is sufficient to form a new business in Singapore. As part of our Singapore company formation services, Healy Consultants can provide our Clients with i) legal registered office ii) virtual office services and iii) assistance finding physical office space in Singapore.

  • What is a company secretary in Singapore useful for?

    First of all, a resident company secretary is mandatory to set up a company in Singapore. A company secretary in Singapore is very useful because they are the main point of contact between the company and the local authorities, as follows:

    • Liaising with ACRA – the Singapore regulatory authority;
    • Maintaining statutory company registers;
    • Preparing board meetings and AGMs;
    • Performing administrative activities for the company;
    • Providing advisory services to the directors, shareholders and owners;
    • Playing the role of a fiduciary to avoid any potential conflict of interests.

    It is crucial to have a reliable company secretary to maintain legal compliance and run your business successfully.

  • How can my company accept online payments from customers?

    In order to setup online payments, Clients can open an ecommerce merchant account in Singapore. Most of our Clients request for both debit card and credit card processing accounts. Healy Consultants can guide you in this matter.

  • I want to start a private education institution (PEI) in Singapore. Which authorities will I have to report to?

    Clients setting up a private school will have to report to the Ministry of Education and the Council for Private Education.

  • What is the cost of setting up a school in Singapore?

    Healy Consultants fees for registration of a private school range from US$20,000 to US$45,000.

  • Where can I find further information regarding registration of a private school in Singapore?

    Read relevant information on registration of a private school in Singapore.

Register your company in Singapore now!Healy Consultants Group PLC has the solution to help you grow.
Purchasing a bank
Since 2003, Healy Consultants PLC helps multi-national Clients’ buy and sell banks

To help us find the optimum banking solution for your Firm, please complete the 5-minute questionnaire below:





  • Characteristics of bank

    In what countries would you prefer to own a bank? (In order of preference)
    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

    Do you need the bank to own its own SWIFT code, or will an intermediary correspondent bank account suffice?
    Do you want to be the single owner of the bank?
    Are you open to being a part owner of a bank? If yes, what is your minimum expect level of ownership?
    Specifically what products do you want the bank to sell? So we can ensure the correct regulatory license is in place;
    Does your firm need a banking license to serve third parties/customers or intra group banking?
    Does your firm have a timeframe to start operating the bank?
    Is it important the bank has an existing network of correspondent bank accounts?
    What is your firm’s budget to purchase a bank?*
    What is your Firm’s annual budget for maintaining the bank?
    From this page, which specific bank options are interested in?*
  • About you

    Name of your company?*
    Your email address*
    What country & city are you based?*
    Is your firm a regulated financial services company?
    Is your firm regulated by any other Government agency?
    Does you firm already have a banking license?
    How many years has your professional Firm been in business?
    Why does your firm need to purchase a bank?
    Does your firm have a track record in the banking and financial industry?
    What is your main source of income?
    Please read this web page and advise if you are agreeable with our retainer fee payment schedule?*
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