A Guide to Setting Up a Business in Singapore: What you Need to Know

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If your UK business is going great guns and you see yourself making in-roads into foreign markets such as Singapore, there is a lot to think about. You might have been to this small island nation on holiday for a few times and have decided you would like to live there, or you have a partner who is a Singaporean native, either way, we offer some useful information on how to go about registering a business in Singapore.

Choosing a Business Registration Option

As with most countries, Singapore offers several business registration options, which include the following:

  • Representative Office – If you need to carry out extensive market research in Singapore, this is the right choice; a non-trading entity, the RO enables certain business activities.
  • Limited Company – Setting up a private limited company requires one or more resident director(s) and you must have a company secretary in Singapore.
  • Limited Liability Partnership – This trading entity is subject to local laws and would suit a professional person such as an engineer or architect. There are no capital requirements and you are not restricted in any way.

If you make contact with a leading Singaporean law firm, they can assist you in more ways than one; they can advise you about which type of business to register, help with long-time visas and they can also help you source essential business services.

Local Director Requirement

Singapore welcomes 100% foreign owned businesses, however, there must be a resident director (you or a Singaporean citizen) if you wish to open a limited company. Your local law firm partner can assist you if you are in need of local citizens to take up administration roles. Click here for tips on balancing your work life with other aspects.

Company Secretary

The local law firm can act as your company secretary, which involves the following:

  • Safe custody of the company’s business records.
  • Maintaining ACRA status and submitting files and fees on time.
  • Organising the Annual General Meeting.
  • Preparing the minutes and records for the AGM.

It is important that you comply fully with local laws and regulations; which is something your legal partner can ensure. Like most countries, Singapore has complex business laws that must be adhered to, which is why you need the services of a specialist law firm in order to be fully compliant.

Other Secretarial Services

If there are any changes within the company, these must be recorded and the company secretary prepares the meeting agendas and records the minutes. This would likely include communicating with company shareholders and filing any changes within the organisation, which is required by Singaporean law.

Statutory Registers

The register of Nominee Directors must be kept up to date and should always be stored at the company’s registered address; ACRA inspectors can randomly request to see the register at any time, so the books need to be updated regularly, which is the role of the company secretary.

Opening Bank Accounts

This is one aspect of the business registration process that your legal advisor can handle on your behalf and once this has been completed, you will be instructed to transfer the necessary funds into the newly opened accounts. Certificates are created, documents notarised and application to join ACRA needs to be lodged. In most cases, the business registration can be completed within 30 days, then you are free to start trading.

Online Solutions

The business registration process can be completed online and usually can be finalised within 30 days, which means you can implement your business plan without delay. The lawyer will instruct you on how to open business accounts with a local bank and the amount of capital that needs to be transferred; once the paperwork has been processed, things move along at a good pace.

Free 30-Minute Consultation

If you would like to learn more about setting up a business in Singapore, Google will take you to the website of a leading law firm that specialises in helping foreign business people to register their business. You can book a free 30-minute Zoom call with a legal specialist, when you can find out more about the complex process of business registration in Singapore. As mentioned above, there are numerous types of business registration, each with its own set of rules and by discussing your needs with a legal specialist, you will make the right choices. If, for example, you are looking to carry out extensive market research in Singapore, you can register as a non-trading entity and when ready, you can change to a trading entity. Singapore has a very healthy economy and whatever your business sector, if you need to do some market research and whether a trading or non-trading entity, the law firm can ensure that you are always compliant.


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