Opening a company in Singapore?
Get the answers you need.
Concise answers to frequently asked questions about opening a company in Singapore.
What are the main requirements?
- A company needs to have at least one shareholder who can be a local or foreign individual or company.
- At least one of the directors must be a natural person, above the age of eighteen years old, and a resident of Singapore.
- A shareholder who is a natural person can also be a director of the company.
- A qualified company secretary has to be appointed. The secretary must be a resident of Singapore.
- Company must have a physical, local address in Singapore.
- The company must have a paid up capital of at least $1.
Foreign companies or entrepreneurs who wish to incorporate and operate a Singapore company can either A) have a foreign executive relocate to Singapore to act as the resident director (subject to the approval of their work pass); or B) use the nominee director service of a corporate services firm to meet the resident director requirement.
Company Name Reservation
Before registering a new company in Singapore, the company name must be reserved. Therefore, application to reserve your proposed company name must be filed first. If the proposed company name does not conflict with any existing names and does not fall into the category of undesirable names, it should take only 10-15 minutes to get the company name approval. Once approved, the name will be reserved for you for 60 days from the date of approval.
Incorporation of the Company
The online application to register a company can be filed after approval of the company name has been obtained. The following information must be provided as part of the application:
- Details of business activities
- Details of the shareholder(s) and the shares issued to them
- Details of the company director(s)
- Details of company secretary
- Details of registered office
- Signed Constitution of the Company
If you use a professional services firm, the firm can assist in ensuring that the information in your application is accurate and complete. If everything is in order, the incorporation application will be processed within a few minutes and you will receive a notice of incorporation via email. Note that the incorporation approval can take longer if the application is referred for additional review by the company registrar.
There are three possible outcomes when you submit a name request:
- If the name is approved, the entrepreneur can proceed to the next step of incorporating the company with that name.
- If the name is “referred”, it means that the name will be referred for additional review by other government departments and a final outcome will be available in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- If the name is rejected, the applicant has to submit a new name.
A foreign company can set up a 100% owned local Singapore company (often called as a subsidiary company). A subsidiary company is by far the most popular type of business structure for foreign companies operating in Singapore. This is due to the liability protections and the favorable tax treatment available to this structure.
In general, the address of the company secretary is used as the registered address since the company secretary maintains the statutory books. If you have a corporate office and wish to use that as the registered address then you should ensure that the company secretary is based there and the company’s statutory books and records are maintained at that address. If you use a corporate services firm, it can provide the registered address service for you for a service fee.
- Number of shareholders is less than twenty; and
- Shares are not held by any corporate entity.
An EPC enjoys simplified compliance requirements due to its uncomplicated structure.
Fortunately, bureaucratic hurdles are kept to a minimum in Singapore and most types of businesses do not require a license. Even if a license is required, you can be assured of a quick, efficient and straightforward approval process for your license application.
How long will it take?
What will it cost?
Things the company can and cannot do?
What are my long-term obligations?
In general, the address of the company secretary is used as the registered address since the company secretary maintains the statutory books. If you have a corporate office and wish to use that as the registered address then you should ensure that the company secretary is based there and the company’s statutory books and records are maintained at that address.
Your corporate service provider can provide a registered address service for a fee.
Foreign companies or entrepreneurs who wish to incorporate and operate a Singapore company can either A) have a foreign executive relocate to Singapore to act as the resident director (subject to the approval of their work pass); or B) use the nominee director service of a professional services firm to meet the resident director requirement.
The following video presentation from ACRA provides a good overview about the organization:
Singaporeans, if I can chose an analogy, we are the hard disk of a computer, the foreign talent are the megabytes you add to your storage capacity. So your computer never hangs because you got enormous storage capacity.Lee Kuan Yew