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How Can a Foreigner Start a Business in Singapore

Last modified: December 20, 2017
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Foreigners-Register-a-Company-in-SingaporeThe entrepreneurs from all over the world often ask, “Is it easy to register company in Singapore for foreigner?” Many of them desperately search reliable info on, “How to start a business in Singapore for foreigner?” Every bit of useful information helps them in making hard & fast decisions about the move. However, the good news is that starting business in Singapore for foreigners is quite easy and straightforward.
The Singapore authorities have made the task of registering a business in Singapore simple. It is also free of red-tape and corruption. And, they have a good reason for doing so.
Not only does local individual likes to take the plunge into the advantages of Singapore business incorporation, but a foreigner can also be an equal part of it.
Every year, the nation witnesses an influx of large pool of global talent. This strong liking towards Singapore can be attributed to its pro-business approach. However, still, many of overseas business aspirants wonder that “Can foreigners register a company in Singapore?”
It is clear that they need more assurances and data on the subject. This blog will demystify the doubts of those aspirants who wish to set up business in Singapore.

Can Foreigners Register a Company in Singapore?

Well.. the answer is yes. Just like a local Singaporean, a foreigner can register a company without facing any hurdles. Moreover, when a foreigner incorporates a private limited company, that is considered to be a tax resident of Singapore and thus, the entity is entitled to tax benefits that are available for local companies.
The current corporate income tax rate is between 8.5% – 17%, which is quite lower than the rates prevalent in many other countries in the world. It is a great reward to the business owner that are setting up a company in Singapore.
It is especially true for those who has to suffer due to the high tax rates in their native lands. The higher taxes mean they have fewer funds for the research and development of new products, upgradations of machinery, technology or for the expansion of their business activities.
It is one of the prime reasons why the number of company registration in Singapore by foreigner is increasing. The move often comes after the search queries like, “How to open a company in Singapore?”, or, “Can a foreigner start a business in Singapore?” By choosing to open a company in Singapore, the entrepreneurs gain more flexibility and profits.

Also Read:  Private Limited Company Singapore: A Comprehensive Registration Guide

Key Points to Consider for Singapore Company Incorporation

  • Before anything else, a foreigner must acquire a right work visa/pass such as Employment Pass (EP) or EntrePass. These passes will enable you to work in Singapore.
  • In addition to it, the holder of EP or EntrePass has the liberty to act as a local director of a Singapore company (which is a key requirement of Singapore company registration).
  • Any person above age 18 years can register a company in Singapore. Provided, that he has not been convicted of any legal offense or bankruptcy.
  • The entire process of company incorporation has to be carried out electronically using this very online filing system only.
  • That is why foreigners are advised to appoint a Singapore company incorporation service to submit the application on their behalf. They have the experienced incorporation experts who could authoritatively provide a comprehensive answer on, “How to register a company in Singapore as foreigner?”
  • If the foreigner intends to operate the business without relocating to Singapore, he is not necessarily needed to acquire an EP or EntrePass. However, he can appoint a local nominee director to fulfill the requirement of Company registration in Singapore by foreigner.

Key Points to Consider for Foreigners before Singapore Company Incorporation-new

A Few Other Essential Notes

  • If you are looking for expansion of your on-going business, you can set up a Branch Office of the parent company. For this, you can approach an incorporation consultant for guidance and advice.
  • You can check with Economic Development Board (EDB) for availing a viable business space in Singapore. There you can find a variety of location choices.
  • Singapore government has copious cash grant schemes to support the start-up companies financially. You can consult with the various government agencies such as Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board (SPRING) and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore). Fortunately, there is no limitation laid down on foreigner from availing these schemes. It opens a great opportunity for those trying to discover more about, “Can a foreigner start a business in Singapore?” and “Is it beneficial?”
  • As per Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) of MOM, you must appoint a sizable strength of local talents before considering foreign professionals. Thus, you may refer to online job portals for searching candidates or advertising job openings.
  • While you are in Singapore, you must abide by the requirements of regulatory authorities very rigorously. Make sure to adhere to the laws of ACRA, MOM, IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) by any means.

Before deciding on Singapore, as a foreigner trying to resolve the difficulties in how to register business in Singapore, you must consider these facts well in advance. Evaluate, how open and business-friendly Singapore government is. And, how it has been welcoming the global entrepreneurs with the open heart.

Know about its efforts in simplifying rules and regulations to facilitate the setting up a business in Singapore for foreigners. So, there is no point in letting the question, “Can Foreigners Register a Company in Singapore?” cause any confusion in your mind and sidetrack you from your goal.

Also Read:  Company Registration Singapore – A Ready Reckoner

Company Registration Singapore for Foreign Companies

Foreign company registration in Singapore offers a great opportunity for the corporates especially the SMEs from all over the globe to establish their toe-hold in Singapore. Depending on their business goals, they can choose to form a Subsidiary Company, a Branch Office or a Representative Office in Singapore.
Singapore’s marketplace and the governmental policies are very conducive to the growth of the business. Ease of Doing Business (EDBI) index – the international ranking system for measuring business viability in any country, has rated Singapore as the second easiest place in 2017 to do business. The major benefit to them is that the registration process can be completed with minimum hassle.
SBS Consulting Pte Ltd has made the Singapore company registration process fuss-free and at $699, highly affordable for you. With us, you can be sure of availing the best in town services. To get the ball rolling, check out our 3-in-1 promo incorporation package & the different types of companies that a foreign company can incorporate in Singapore.
Before starting a business or incorporating a company, learn the types of legal structures will be most suitable for your business activities. The following section gives information about the types of businesses a foreign company can look forward to incorporate in Singapore.

Foreign Company Registration Options in Singapore

Subsidiary Company Registration

Incorporating a subsidiary company is the most viable type of business structure for foreign corporates. A subsidiary company is a form of limited liability company that can have the foreign parent company as its 100% shareholder. Even a local company can become the shareholder of a subsidiary company.
The main advantage of a subsidiary company is that it is a separate entity from its parent company. In addition, the parent company will only be eligible for liabilities until the extent of the share capital invested.
All other assets of the parent company will be safely protected from the debts and liabilities arising out of the debts and losses of the subsidiary company’s business activities.
After forming the subsidiary company, the foreign parent company will have to relocate one of its employees to Singapore to take charge of the new company’s affairs. The employee will need an Employment Pass to work in Singapore.
A subsidiary is considered as the local company and qualifies for the different schemes and programs run by the Singapore authorities.

Singapore Branch Office

This is the second option for foreign corporates that wish to incorporate in Singapore. Mostly SMEs can and prefer to register a branch office in Singapore. Doing so has its advantages for the parent company.
A branch office becomes a proper legal entity after registration.
It is considered an extension of its parent company. It must hire at least one ordinarily resident Singaporean. Unlike a subsidiary company, the parent company is responsible for all the debts and liabilities incurred by the branch office in Singapore.
As per the requirements, the name of the branch office must correspond to the name of its parent company. It must follow the lead of its parent company when it comes to its business activities. A branch office is considered as a non-resident company for tax purposes.

Representative Office

A foreign company can set up a representative office in Singapore for testing the business potential of the marketplace. This entity is set up only for the purpose of market research and feasibility studies, and in no case should indulge in any profit-making activities.
A representative office does not have a legal identity separate from its foreign parent company. It must also appoint not more than 5 employees. In case the parent company gets dissolved, the representative office in Singapore gets de-registered.
The foreign parent company must be an established company for more than 3 years and should be having an annual turnover of more than S$250,000, in order to be eligible to set up a representative office in Singapore.

Comparison of Subsidiary Company, Branch Office, & Representative Office

Comparison Factors

Subsidiary Company

Branch Office

Representative Office

Company Name

Similar or different from the parent company

Same as that of the parent company

Same as that of the parent company

Valid Up to

Last forever until closed

Last forever until closed

Maximum of 3 years, must be renewed every year

Legal Status

Separate legal entity

An extension of the parent company

A temporary setup. An extension of the parent company


Not liable to the parent company

It is liable to the parent company

It is liable to the parent company

Registration Timeline

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 days

3-5 days

Officers’ Appointment

Need at least 1 local director

Need to appoint at least one local agents

Need to appoint a chief representative of the parent company

Staff Employment

Can hire any number of local or foreign staff

Can hire any number of local or foreign staff

Apart from the chief representative, a maximum of 5 employees can be hired

Activities Permitted

Can be similar or different from the activities of the parent company

Same as that of the activities of the parent company

Can conduct administrative tasks, market research and feasibility studies only

Opening of Bank Account

Corporate bank account in Singapore

Corporate bank account in Singapore

Can open a bank account in Singapore funded by the parent company

Taxed Under

Singapore tax resident

Taxed as a non-resident in Singapore

Not applicable. Not allowed to conduct business activities

Annual Tax Filing

Need to file its own accounts

Need to file the accounts of Singapore branch office & parent company

Not applicable

Audited Accounts

Must submit the audited accounts to ACRA and IRAS

Must submit the audited accounts to ACRA and IRAS

Not applicable

We advise our clients on registering the most suitable type of company for their purposes. Choosing the right business structure for company registration in Singapore is an important decision as it can affect the taxation of the new business entity.

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