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How to Set-up a Company in Singapore

July 16, 2015 | Sharon Cheong

Singapore has long enjoyed a very lucrative import/export business. Companies come from around the world to do business here due to the excellent shipping lanes, low cost labor and availability of manufacturing and industrial space. Many global companies now have an offshore presence in Singapore and this is a favorite destination for business people, tourists and investors. If you've visited Singapore recently, you know the wide variety of housing, entertainment and shopping available. 

Stable Economy 

Those coming to Singapore will find that it has a very business-friendly environment. Investors have not been disappointed by the high return on their investments in the region. The strong forex market and stable financial structure give entrepreneurs the confidence they need to move into the area and start a new business. Today, you will find global companies worth billions of dollars in Singapore. These include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Credit Suisse First Boston, Hewlett Packard, IBM and DBS Bank. 

Outsourcing Businesses 

Many companies have found an excellent way to cut their expenses by building an offshore presence in Singapore. Outsourcing some or all of your work can give you a much higher return on your investment. It is simply cheaper to manufacture most goods, such as electronics, computers, phones, clothing and many others in Singapore. If you can design and manufacture a ladies dress in Singapore for a third of the cost of the UK or US, then it only makes sense to outsource the work. The infrastructure is strong enough to support a company of almost any size. 

Registering Your Company 

Your business should be registered at the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). This includes all business types, even corporations, sole proprietorships and partnerships. If you have a company in another country and would like to set up an offshore branch in Singapore, then you'll need two local agents who can act on your behalf. They must be residents of Singapore, either citizens or permanent residents. The government will also accept foreigners with employment and/or dependent passes. The process can be confusing to foreigners and many experts recommend hiring a local attorney or consultant to help get it completed correctly. 

Special licenses may be required for certain businesses, including banking, stock broking and insurance. If you're planning to manufacture certain goods such as cigars and firecrackers, then you'll need a special license to do so. 

The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) 

Register your new company with the MOC using the guidelines provided on the website. Promoters who register the company must be at least 20 years of age or older. They must also be legally able to sign official documents during the process. A private limited company requires at least 3 promoters, while a public limited company requires at least 15 promoters. These people must also be company shareholders who hold a minimum of one share. Once the registration process is complete, it is legal for these promoters to transfer ownership of their stock to someone else. 

Other requirements exist based upon the size of the business and the type. Companies that fall under the definition of “foreign” according to regulations from the Foreign Business Act (FBA), must obtain Cabinet approval before they can begin doing business. A Foreign Business License may also be required. It normally takes from 7 to 10 business days to get this license. If you have not submitted all of the documents and required information to the Revenue Department, someone will contact you. 

Registration Process in a Nutshell 

The registration process can seem lengthy, but is not too complex. You must choose a business name and then register that name. Next you must apply for the correct permits and licenses. Finally, you must set up business accounts at a local bank. 

Office Space 

You'll also need upscale office space with IT and HR personnel, along with a receptionist and meeting rooms. When you want the very best for your new company, Servcorp Serviced Offices are the one to choose. With locations in the heart of Singapore's business district, you'll be able to begin doing business right away. Call +65 6690 6161 to learn more.