Consistently ranked as the ‘easiest place to do business’ worldwide, Singapore is a highly competitive and stable platform for business in Asia. Sovereign can assist with all aspects of setting up a company in Singapore for long-term success.

Singapore is recognised for its high government efficiency and competitiveness while its robust legal and regulatory regimes make it the most transparent country in Asia. With one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the region (17%), on top of a host of other tax schemes and incentives, Singapore is one of the best countries in Asia from which to grow a business.

Selecting a business structure

Generally, all businesses in Singapore business entities must register with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). There are four principal types of business structure to choose from:

  • Sole-Proprietorship (one owner) or Partnership (two or more owners)
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Alternative set-up options include a Representative Office (RO), a Subsidiary Company or a Branch Office.

To determine the best structure, you will need to consider the benefits and disadvantages of the different corporate forms, the amount of capital you are prepared to invest, the number of owners and the liabilities and responsibilities that you are prepared to assume. Sovereign can assist.

Registering business name

Having selected your business structure, you will need to choose and apply for a name by checking on the BizFile+ portal to ensure that the proposed name is not already registered by an existing entity. If the proposed business name is available, you can register it on Bizfile+ for SGD15. If approved, ACRA will reserve the name for 120 days to give you time to register the business or incorporate the company.

As part of the name application, applicants are required to specify the primary and secondary activities of the proposed business by selecting the most relevant Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code, which classifies all registered firms according to their principal economic activity.

Some business activities may require your company to apply for additional licences or permits after registration before you can start your operations.

Registration of Addresses

At the point of registration, ACRA requires all applicants to provide a physical Business Address, and all business owners and company officers to provide their residential addresses.

For sole-proprietorships, partnerships and LPs, the Business Address is the place where the business is carried out. This can be residential address with Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) or Housing & Development Board (HDB) approval.

Companies and LLPs are required to have a Registered Office Address, to which all communications and notices will be sent and where the register and records will be kept. The registered office must be operational and accessible to the public during normal office hours but does not need to be where the company or LLP conducts its activities.

All business owners and company officers must provide their residential address to ACRA. These addresses are publicly available but, for personal data protection purposes, there is an option to register an Alternate Address for SGD40. This will be displayed in ACRA’s public records but all official correspondence from ACRA will continue to be sent to your residential address.

Business Registration

A Business Registration application will take up to three working days to be approved unless referred for review to a relevant statutory or government authority depending on the proposed economic activities of a business. A referral can extend the application approval time by 14 to 60 days.

An application for registration can either be submitted online using the on the BizFile+ portal, or the applicants(s) can engage the services of a registered filing agent, such as Sovereign Management Services Pte. Ltd., to submit an online application on your behalf.

After Business Registration

After registering your business with ACRA, you will need to obtain a ‘CorpPass’, which is a corporate digital identity for business entities that allows them to transact with government agencies online via a single login.

Before commencing business, many Singapore-registered businesses will require licences and permits from other government agencies according to their business activities. You can visit the GoBusiness Licensing website to check if this applies to you.

All Singapore companies are required to maintain proper accounting records and to make the necessary regulatory filings in accordance with the requirements of ACRA and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

To determine your liability for certain taxes such as income tax, corporate tax, and Goods & Services Tax (GST), you should visit the IRAS website to determine your tax obligations or speak to Sovereign. Sovereign has an experienced team that provides a comprehensive accounting service to ensure that companies stay in compliance with all these requirements.

Opening a corporate bank account is strongly encouraged. A corporate bank account allows you to keep business transactions separate and assists in tracking business cash flows/income and expenses. Sovereign has a specialist banking team to help guide clients through the traditional and digital banking options that are available for their businesses.

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