2018 Guide on How To Register Your Own Company in Singapore
If you’re thinking about opening or setting up a company in Singapore, you will first need to learn about the requirements of the formation which you should adhere to in order to succeed and safely operate your business here. To help ease you through the process, we have compiled a useful guide that is designed to touch on the important topics on how to start the Singapore business registration process.
When it comes to starting a business in Singapore, the most popular method of registering a company would be to establish a private limited liability company. This is because limited companies in Singapore are considered as separate legal entities so all your shareholders receive protection from any potential debts that are incurred beyond the amount of capital they are contributing. This type of Singapore company formation actually is the most efficient tax structure you can benefit from.
According to the Singapore Companies Act, you will be able to register a company in Singapore if you are above 18 years old. If you qualify and have made sufficient preparations to begin, here’s what you can start off by:
Double-checking Your Documents
To succeed in registering a business in Singapore, you will need to prepare this following company information for submission:
1. Your full company name
- This company name has to be approved for use! You can check using the UEN website to see if it has been taken.
2. Information on the Directors of your company
- You will need a minimum of one Resident Director in Singapore in order to qualify. The resident director can be either a permanent resident, someone with a valid employment pass/dependent pass, or a Singapore citizen. All your appointed directors must be 18 years old or above and hold no criminal records. They must also not be under a state of bankruptcy!
3. Information on the Shareholders of your company
- Private limited companies can have up to 50 shareholders! They can be either local or foreign individuals or entities. You will be able to issue shares to your shareholders after you finished company incorporation. If you have a private company that has up to 20 shareholders with no company having any beneficial interests in your shares, then your company is considered an Exempt Private Company.
4. Details of your company secretary
- If you don’t have one appointed just yet, you need to keep track and appoint a qualified company secretary within the 6 months of having incorporated your company. The company secretary you appoint cannot be a sole director or shareholder and they must be a person living within Singapore.
5. Specified Paid Up Capital
- A minimum of $1 should be had for paid-up capital in order to complete Singapore business registration. After you finish incorporating, you can increase it any time you want! Since companies here in Singapore don’t use authorised capital, you can use ordinary shared, preference shares or other shares instead.
6. Working Registered Address
- Either a residential or commercial address can be used to register as your local business address. If you intend to conduct business on a smaller scale with your residential address, then you will need to apply for the Home Office Scheme. Both HDB and private properties can be used in your applications and submitted either through the HDB or URA for approving.
For foreign entrepreneurs, if you are a looking to open or register a company in Singapore, you will need to also make sure that:
- 1. Both the records of your directors and shareholders are publically accessible. You may need to pay a fee of $5.50 to do so.
- 2. In Singapore, self-registering is not applicable for foreign entrepreneurs so it is recommended for you to do so with the help of service providers like Singapore Company Incorporation Consultants Pte Ltd, who can assist you throughout the process without trouble.
- 3. For entrepreneurs who want to run their company but not live within Singapore, they do not need Singapore visas. But if you want to operate your company elsewhere, you’ll also need to appoint someone as your local nominee director. You’ll also need a visitor visa if you ever want to visit on a short-term basis. If you want to operate locally instead, you will need to apply for either an Entrepreneur Pass or Employment pass.
- 4. You will need to provide the same details of other business owners along with your MAA (Memorandum and Articles of Association)
Work Passes and Permits
As mentioned, foreign entrepreneurs may need to apply for a series of passes or permits in order to complete Singapore business registration. To give a better understanding on what applies, here are some popular work passes and permits to look into:
- A registered corporate digital identity for business owners to use when transacting with Government agencies. Registration for CorpPass will require you to appoint a CorpPass administrator, who will register for an account on the official CorpPass website. After the account is approved, the administrator can then create accounts and access the services and transact on behalf of the company.
2. Employment Pass
- This pass is meant for professionals, executives and managers that are earning a minimum of $3600 per month. The appointed employment agent or employer will need to apply through sending applications to EP Online.
- This is the pass you need to apply for as a foreign entrepreneur if you intend to start a business in Singapore. Similarly, an appointed employment agency can help send your application to EP Online for approval.
4. Personalised Employment Pass
- This pass is for high-earning foreign professionals or employment pass holders. To quality, employment pass holders must earn a minimum of $12 000 monthly and foreign professionals must earn at least $18 000 monthly. This pass can be applied by yourself.
5. S Pass
- Usually for mid-level skilled staff who are earning a minimum of $2200 on a monthly basis. This pass will also have to be applied for by either an employer or appointed employment agency. Changing of jobs means you will need to apply for a new S Pass.
6. Training Employment Pass
- This pass is applied for foreign professionals who are currently under practical training and earning a minimum of $3000 per month. The foreign professional cannot apply for this pass themselves; they will need an employer to do so for them.
7. Training Work Permit
- If there are semi-skilled foreign students or foreign trainees who are undergoing practical training for a time period of more than 6 months, they will need their employer to apply for this work permit.
8. Dependant’s Pass
- If you are an Employment pass or S pass holder, your employer can apply for the Dependant’s Pass if your spouse or children (below 21 years old) will be living here with you. The validity is only for 2 years at a time.
9. Long Term Visit Pass
- Similarly for Employment pass or S pass holders, employers can also apply for long-term visit passes if they are to bring in their parents, handicapped children, step-children or common law spouses. The validity of this visit pass is also only for 2 years at a time.
10. Letter of Consent
- If you already have someone under the Dependant’s Pass or Long Term Visit Pass who wants to work in Singapore too, they will need a letter of consent. This can also be applied by employment agencies or employers through the EP Online system.
Establishing Your Groundwork
Once you have prepared and readied all relevant documents, it is time to establish your own groundwork before you register a business in Singapore. Make sure to conduct some market research first so you can better tell whether there is current demand for your services or products. By doing market research beforehand, you can actually be able to minimise your total overheads. You can also build your own network of investors and team members who share your vision for your business.
Since self-registering a company isn’t applicable for foreign entrepreneurs, we encourage you to engage with our friendly staff at Singapore Company Incorporation Consultants Pte Ltd to help you through the process of Singapore company formation with professional and top-notch services.
Making A Company Name Reservation
To be able to register your proposed company name, you must first get the approval of the Singapore government. This process is overseen by the Company Registrar. The necessary application forms can be filled out by yourself or by service providers like Singapore Company Incorporation Consultants Pte Ltd on your behalf. The Company Registrar will then update you on their decision on your application quickly! If your company contains certain words (like law, bank, finance and media), the application status may take longer since they’ll need further approval from Government Authorities.
To increase the success rate of your application, choose company names that:
- 1. Are unique and different from all existing local companies
- 2. Do and will not infringe on any trademarks present
- 3. Are not rude, obscene or dirty
- 4. Have not already been reserved by others
How to Register Your Business
Once you receive the approval from the Singapore Company Registrar, you can proceed to register your business officially. To do so, you will need your aforementioned documents at the ready. You will also need to fill in an incorporation application along with it. Make sure that all your company directors and shareholders have all signed the forms they are required to do so as well.
Your completed application should be submitted through an online filing system referred to as BizFile. Local residents are able to submit the application themselves using their Singpass account details. However, for foreign entrepreneurs, they will need to enlist the help of authorised service providers to do so on. In the event that your business is connected to finance, food and beverages, manufacturing of controlled items and banking, special licenses may also be required for submission along with the application.
In most cases, the application process is fully computerised to promote faster approval rates and convenience. If you have successfully submitted your incorporation application, the company registrar can typically incorporate your business within the same day. This is why most business owners choose to both reserves their company name and register their business in Singapore at the same time. But in cases where your application has to be referred to other governing authorities for reviewing, then the incorporation process can actually take any time between two weeks to two months for you to receive the approval.
What’s more, if you are from certain countries, you may also find your application to be delayed. While this is very rare, it does happen from time to time when the governing authorities need further interrogations to be performed. When this happens, you will need to pay an upfront fee of $300 to the Registrar of Companies for their assistance. Aside from that, you will only need to pay a fee of $50 for sole proprietorship company registration and additional $15 for name approval.
What to expect for Post-Registration
After tending to everything that is required, you can rest assured that you will not meet with any further complications for the whole process. There are, however, certain formalities you can expect to be receiving eventually so do be sure to keep an eye out for when they are sent to you.
Upon approval of your Singapore business registration, you will receive:
1. A Certificate of Incorporation
- Check your email for one from the Company Registrar. This email you are receiving should confirm that your business has been successfully incorporated. You should also be receiving a company registration number from the Registrar in this email as well. Be sure not to delete or lose this since it can be considered your official certificate of incorporation. Since paper certificates are no longer used, safekeeping this is even more important. If you do want a physical copy, then you will need to offer up a $50 fee to receive it. This will take an additional 3 to 5 working day to process.
2. A Corporate Business Profile
- A company business profile will also be created for you once your registration process is completed and approved. This business profile should be available in your BizFile account. If you do not yet have an account, the service provider you have engaged will take it upon themselves to retrieve your business profile for you. These business profiles usually come in the format of a PDF. To make sure that you have received a correct business profile, you will need to download or receive the file and check through.
A complete company business profile should have:
- 1. Key information about your Company name along with its registration number
- 2. The previous name versions of your established company (only if applicable)
- 3. The date your company has been successfully incorporated
- 4. A descriptive account of what your company’s principal activities are
- 5. The details of your company secretary
- 6. The details of your directors and shareholders
- 7. The full working registered business address of your company
- 8. The total amount of paid-up capital you have included
You will need both the email notification and your business profile before you can properly proceed with all the legal or contractual tasks you have planned to perform in Singapore. Additionally, you may also want to get started with acquiring an official company rubber stamp and common seal. You can also begin preparing the share certificates for each of your company’s shareholders so that you can update your share register with the shares that are allotted to each of these individuals or entities. After you have finished up tying any potential loose ends or any other important tasks to see to, you may also want to consider opening up a business bank account or leasing an office space.
Opening up a Corporate Bank Account
If you were to take an objective look at all the banking options in Singapore, you will notice that there are many reputable bank branches located here. There are some bank branches who would be able to facilitate the process of opening up a business account without you having to physically be there for the process too so be sure to inquire and check with them for optimal efficiency! It’s also worth noting that your choices of bank branches would be wider if you are able to make an appearance within Singapore for the process.
Applying for Business Licensing
For certain business types, you may find yourself having to register for additional business licenses in order to carry out activities. Fortunately enough, these licenses can be easily applied for. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you need special licensing, then check to see if your business falls under these categories.
You will need to apply for Singapore business licenses if your company provides activities that are related to:
- 1. Traveling Agencies
- 2. The importation or exportation of goods
- 3. Employment agencies
- 4. Restaurants
- 5. Educational Institutes
Leasing or Acquiring An Office Space
Having an office space for your company greatly improves a potential customer’s likelihood to trust in the services offered by your corporation. Business owners can choose to lease an office space themselves in business districts and get started. However, for entrepreneurs who want an office space but are unable to be present in Singapore, there are also alternative options they can consider- virtual offices.
Virtual offices are a solution for both foreign entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.
The buying or renting of office spaces can rack up quite a large amount of costs, seeing as you’d not only have to pay for space but also to invest in the equipment needed to carry out your business. As a startup company, the total expenditure can eat up quite a lot of budgeting. Instead of doing so, you can better manage your budget for business processes by signing up for virtual office services. This is because the service providers usually charge by a monthly basis, which you can choose to continue or discontinue whenever necessary. A lot of essential business administration tasks are also handled by their talented virtual teams so you gain both experience and the reduction of costs all at once.
Foreign entrepreneurs or business owners who have to travel frequently and can’t be physically present in Singapore are also recommended to consider virtual offices as an option since they can entrust important tasks like email management, call forwarding, package/mail forwarding and more to professionals without having to waste time and money in training new staff themselves. They will also be able to make use of the address provided by virtual offices so that all of their important documents can be safely kept for later collection in their own time.
Improving Your Business Presence
Now that you have received full approval to carry out business activities, it is time to improve your business presence in Singapore. One of the most effective methods of doing so would be to set up your own company website. To do that, you will first need to get your own domain name.
This can be done through the services of hosting providers, where you can check the availability of the domain you want or receive suggestions on the domains you can buy. With their guidance, you will be able to register for domain names like .sg, .com and more. After you successfully registered a domain, you can also consider purchasing hosting plans from the same service provider or another. By allowing hosting providers to house your website or emails, you can then get to design your business website and secure it with confidence.
With the help of this guide, you will now be able to better prepare yourself before Singapore business registration and after registration. We wish you much luck in creating and sustaining a thriving business within the local industry!