How to Start a Business in Singapore as a Foreigner 2019

Starting a business in a foreign land can be a daunting task for an entrepreneur or business owners, the procedures for registering the company, preparing documentation, and managing the legal hurdles requires experience, patience and understanding. Meanwhile, the state of Singapore has made it easier for international businesspeople, foreign entrepreneurs and investors to register, start and grow business in Singapore through a procedure that is common for citizens of Singapore as well as foreigners.

Singapore government actively attracts international businesses to start their operations by creating comfortable, streamlined procedures that are free of red-tape and corruption. In addition to this, the government offers specialised status which gives tax credits, incentives and support to the companies incorporated in Singapore.Moreover, Singapore is establishing itself as an ideal location for starting a business in the Asia-Pacific region offers numerous business opportunities with its strategic advantage, excellent connectivity to major cities and openness to highly-qualified foreign talent with its outstanding multi-cultural ecosystem.

Advantages of Starting your Business in Singapore

When it comes to starting your business, organisation or company in the country, Singapore has a wide range of facilities and advantages for the business community to grow and flourish. Here are some of the benefits of registering and starting your business in Singapore.

Business Advantages

  • World-class infrastructure with secure and stable business ecosystem
  • State-of-the-art communications and telecom infrastructure
  • A highly-developed economy with strong GDP
  • Access to highly-skilled, talented, multi-cultural workforce
  • Offers the strategic advantage for your business as located close to major shipping lanes
  • Excellent connectivity by air to major locations in the world in less than seven hours
  • Close Proximity to emerging markets in Asia (i.e., China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia)
  • Strict enforcement of rules and regulations
  • Gateway for establishing your business in the Asia-Pacific Region

Financial and Legal Advantages

  • Attractive investment location with a thriving start-up ecosystem
  • Low corporate tax rates (i.e., Singapore corporate tax rates 8.5% to 17%)
  • Tax holidays and incentives for SME's, start-ups and research labs which come under a special category
  • Numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) and Investment Guarantee Agreements
  • Robust Intellectual Property laws that protect innovation and ideas
  • An efficient, fair, and transparent commercial legal system that protects businesses and companies impartially
  • A comprehensive network of Double-Taxation Agreements with more than 50 countries
  • Smart immigration policies that attract highly-talented individuals, professionals, investors and entrepreneurs internationally
  • The least corrupt country in the Asia region

How to Start your Business in Singapore as a Foreigner?

  1. Perform research on what industry you need to start your business in Singapore
  2. Determine the right legal business structure for your company
  3. Determine the capital required for your business
  4. Choose partners, investors and employees
  5. Design your business name, logo and trademarks
  6. Prepare the documentation and paperwork needed for registration
  7. Register your company with the Singapore authorities or get an incorporation service for effortless registration
  8. Acquire a business address or office space for your company
  9. Apply for licenses and permits according to the type of business
  10. Apply for Singapore visa (i.e., SingPass-Singapore Personal Access) for yourself, investors, directors for legally residing and working in Singapore
  11. In case if you’re operating the company outside of Singapore appoint a nominee director
  12. Open a bank account in Singapore for handling your company's finances
  13. Appoint employees, while hiring the international talent you need to apply for EntrePass or Employment Pass from Ministry of Manpower for your employees as a Company
  14. Submit the necessary financial documents of the company to the Accounting & Corporate Registration Authority (ACRA)
  15. Now you’re ready to start your business operations in Singapore

Things to Consider while Starting your business in Singapore

  • The person interested in starting a business or registering their company in Singapore must be above age 18
  • The individual should possess clean records and should not have been convicted for any legal offence in Singapore or any other nation or filed bankruptcy
  • Citizens who are not residents of Singapore must obtain EntrePass (a type of visa) to enter into Singapore and Employment Pass is necessary for allowing an individual to work inside the country according to laws
  • Hiring a professional Company incorporation service shall help you to a great extent in terms of handling any complexities that arise during the process of registration thereby ensuring that you can focus on your business without any hassles
  • A foreigner who has registered his company in Singapore is granted to obtain EntrePass and Employment Pass to enter and work in Singapore provided that he is willing to relocate.
  • Conversely, if the foreign business owner or individual who is not a Singapore resident wants to operate a business without moving to Singapore, the owner can appoint a local Singapore resident as a nominee director for fulfilling the legal registration requirements
  • Decide on the type of business structure in which you want to register your business, taking the assistance of professionals can help you as Singapore has segregated the business types according to the type of activity and services offered

Business Structures Available for Foreigners in Singapore

Just like a resident or citizen of the Republic of Singapore any person of foreign origin can effortlessly register their company in Singapore with all the advantages it offers. Singapore has several legal businesses/corporate structures that suit every company's need. International companies and foreign entrepreneurs have numerous options for selecting according to their business type, classes of services offered, capital requirements and future business goals.

Types of Legal Business Structures in the Republic of Singapore

  1. Sole proprietorship
  2. Private Limited Company
  3. Public Company
    1. Public Company Limited by Shares
    2. Public Company Limited by Guarantee
  4. Partnership Company
    1. General Partnership
    2. Limited Partnership
    3. Limited Liability Partnership
  5. Subsidiary Company
  6. Branch Office
  7. Representative Office

As a foreigner interested in starting your business in Singapore, you can get more information on how to register your company in Singapore by contacting us. Our experts in Singapore team shall provide you with all the information necessary for registering and starting your business operations in Singapore.

About the Author

narayanan@bsworldwide.com's picture

Narayanan has been a ghostwriter for the past 4 years. As an undergrad in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, he has a well-founded interest in developing sustainable solutions with innovative technology. Intellectually curious, he has a wide range of interests ranging from Renewable Energy, Electronics, Technology, Military Science, Geopolitics, International Relations, and world history.