A Comprehensive Guide on Company Registration in Singapore

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Overview

Around six years ago, the small nation of Singapore rose to the number one spot of the World Bank’s best places for business report and hasn’t gone down on the list since.
This report states that it only takes three days to start your own business in Singapore and doesn’t that sound just great. There are many reasons why this specific country is great for business owners, including business-friendly laws, a flexible immigration policy, and ease of paying taxes. If all of these sound favorable to you, then read on for a simple guide to opening a business in Singapore.

Choose your business entity

Firstly, you must select your business entity, and though lots of options exist, many new businesses register with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) under “private limited companies” due to the scalability. Under this registration, any shareholders aren’t liable for debts and losses that are beyond their share capital. Your business is also going to be recognized as a taxable entity.

Select a company name and Decide on Shareholding Structure

Next, you must choose a name to represent your business. Before you finalize this decision, make sure that the chosen title is available for use. As a private limited company, you must also decide on your shareholding structure which is crucial towards your corporate tax and your eligibility for certain tax incentives or benefits in Singapore. 

Procure the necessary documents and permits

Proper permits may be required before you can get your business started. You need to do extensive research to find the permits that are relevant to your business. But, you can also hire a professional business consultant. They will help you find the right permits required for your business. Once you have finalised the required permits, its time to move on to the next step.

Register your Singapore company

Next, you must make a few decisions to set up your company. Your business will be governed by the Singapore Companies Act and has to comply with its laws under ACRA and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. These include:
– Company name – Approved by the ACRA.
– Shareholders – At least one.
– Directors – At least one director must be a resident of Singapore.
– Company Secretary – Also has to be a Singapore resident.
– Paid-up capital – A minimum of S$1
– Registered address – A physical office address is mandatory.

Additionally, you must prepare the following documents for the company setup:

– Your passport bio-data (or NRIC for locals);
– Your proof of residential address documents (e.g. bank statement or electricity bill that shows your full name and address in the letter);
– Both the directors and shareholders are required to sign a number of documents

As a new Singapore company, you can purchase a Business Profile from ACRA. This is an electronic report that includes details regarding your company, including the registration number (UEN), date of registration, shareholders, etc. You are going to need this profile to open a corporate bank account and apply for permits and licenses.

Complete any additional post-registration activities

This step varies according to what industry your newly-opened business is in. You should do whatever option applies to you.

Registered office hours – You have to register your office address and hours (a minimum of three hours per day of the week is required.
Licenses and permits – Some businesses may require approval from government authorities to conduct business. A few examples of this include video companies, private schools, travel agencies, money lenders, banks, liquor distributors/wholesalers/retailers, financial advisers, and childcare centers.
Registration number – Your ACRA-issued business registration number must be on all your official documents used for business communications.
Customs registration – If your business involves import and export, then you have to register your company with Singapore customs.
Goods and services tax registration – If your annual taxable revenue is over S$1 million, then you must register for GST. This is the Goods and Services Tax and applies to the supply of goods and services and the import of goods into Singapore.

Get The Right Visa to run your business

If you are the business owner / director who plans to stay in Singapore to run your business operations, getting the right visa may be the most challenging part of the entire set up process as Singapore is is complex and there are unwritten rules which may hinder your visa application process. Typically, you are allowed to work in Singapore under the Entrepass or employment pass scheme. You will also need to provide details of your business activities as well as showing that you have the right experience and skillset before they grant you the visa. This can be confusing for someone who does not understand the loca policies, so you should consider hiring a visa consulting company with a lot of experience to help you save time and avoid stress.

If you are the business owner / director that plans to stay in Singapore to run your business, this may be the most challenging part of the entire set up process as Singapore offers loads of different visas and passes, according to your company structure, the nature of business, the applicant’s skillset, and expected salary. This can be confusing for someone to do on their own, so consider hiring a visa consulting company with lots of experience to help you save time and avoid stress. 

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