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What You Should Know Before Starting a Business in Singapore

October 3, 2014 | Sharon Cheong

Many expatriates wish to start a business in Singapore for various reasons: its robust economy, low crime rate, and excellent social services being on top of the list. However, starting a business in Singapore as a foreigner can sometimes require nerves of steel. But do not worry. As long as one is aware of the possibilities and possible pitfalls of having a Singapore-based business, it's an achievable and worthwhile goal.

EntrePass Requirements and Business Registration

Before anything else, would-be business owners should secure the right visa type, which is the EntrePass. EntrePass eligibility has several crucial requirements. First, the business should be registered as a Private Limited Company (PLC). The business owner should also avoid being registered for more than six months during the application period.

In addition to these, a foreign business owner must own more than 30% of the business's shares. Finally, the business should have at least SGD50,000 paid up as capital.

EntrePass is crucial for business owners who wish to be actively involved in the management of their company operations. If they need more detailed guidelines regarding this visa type, they can contact Singapore's Ministry of Manpower for additional information.

With regards to business registration, there's a variety of Singaporean business structures to choose from, such as:

●     Company

●     Limited Partnership (LP)

●     Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

●     Partnership

●     Sole Proprietorship

More Business Registration Details

All the necessary permits and licenses should be prepared before opening a business in Singapore. The business owners should check if the name they want for their company is still available through the Singapore Network Information Center (SGNIC). The headquarters and other business locations of the business should be decided upon prior to registration. Business owners should also find out the Singapore Standard Industry Classification (SSIC) code of their company beforehand. Last but not the least, they should review everything thoroughly and ensure that their business adheres to Singaporean eligibility requirements.

Business owners can actually hire two local agents as legal Singaporean agents to act on their behalf when starting a Singaporean business. All in all, the business registration process is rather easy (compared to other countries) as long as the important requirements are prepared beforehand.

Taxes and Other Fees

The business registration fee in Singapore can range from SGD300 to SGD1,200, depending on the business and the details behind the registration. An additional SGD15 is also required for business name approval.

As for taxes, any type of income received by the company is subject to Singaporean income tax. This is also the case for Singaporean startups.

There are other taxes that owners of businesses should deal with, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that is levied on goods importation. Here are the various tax rates:

●     GST is 7%, income tax depends on the type of business

●     Property tax is 10%

●     Withholding tax is 10-20% depending on the purpose

●     Stamp duty depends on the value of every transaction

After everything has been prepared, entrepreneurs can register their business through the Internet with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). If a business owner is not sure about the process of business registration or have other questions about opening or managing a business in Singapore, it is best to seek the help of experts.

If you want to establish a startup in Singapore, inquire at Servcorp to find out how they can help you out with its corporate registration services and virtual office solutions.