Throughout the years, Singapore has established itself as a frontrunner in global business. The World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business Report has recognized Singapore as the easiest place to conduct business in the world for nearly 10 consecutive years. Its transparent corporate policies, tax exemption schemes, fair trade agreements, productive workforce and overall efficient incorporation process are just some of the many benefits businesses incorporated in the city-state can enjoy.
Anyone interested in setting up a business in Singapore must take note of the following requirements:
1. Company Name: The ideation of a business name is vital in establishing a brand. It is important to choose a name that best represents the company. Once you have decided on a name, you must have the name registered and approved by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
2. Registered Business Address: All Singapore companies are required to have a registered business address. In some cases, a residential address may be used as the business’ registered address. However, it is important to note that a PO Box cannot be considered a valid business address.
3. Business Activity: Provide a brief description of the company’s proposed business activities.
4. Company Director: Under the Companies Act, all Singapore companies must have at the very least one (1) director who is a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident or someone who possesses an Employment Pass, Dependent Pass or Entrepreneur Pass. Directors have to be 18 years old and above. Individuals who have a history of bankruptcy, fraud and malpractice are not qualified for the position.
5. Shareholders: There must be at least one (1) shareholder in the company. A shareholder can either be corporate entities or individuals. Company directors are allowed to be shareholders as well.
6. Company Secretary: In compliance with the Companies Act Section 171, a company secretary must be employed within the first six (6) months of incorporation. The appointed company secretary must be locally residing in Singapore and must be knowledgeable about regulatory compliances. Sole company directors may not function as company secretary.
7. Paid-up Capital: A minimum of S$1 paid-up capital is required prior to a business’ Singapore company incorporation.
8. Corporate Bank Account: The next step after successfully incorporating your company is opening a corporate bank account. You may do so in any of Singapore’s major banking institutions. Take notes that set of requirements, application process and service fees may vary depending on which bank you choose to transact with. Hence, it will be beneficial to research and survey which bank is most suitable for your business.
9. License Requirements: There are particular types of business activities that require a business license before commencing its business operations. Essentially, a business license is a permit from the government of Singapore that allows specific categories of business to operate. The application for industry-specific licenses may take two (2) weeks up to two (2) months of waiting time, depending on the license type. Applications are usually facilitated through Singapore’s Online Business Licensing Service (OLBS).