5 Essential Tips to Incorporate a Company in Singapore

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Starting a business in Singapore is relatively simpler than most other countries, but it’s still important for you to prepare for the process. Here are five things that you should know before you start your incorporation in Singapore.

Also read: An overview of unicorn startups based in Singapore

1. Figure out what structure your business needs

Before you start doing business in Singapore, you should already have a clear idea of your business plans. Specifically, you should have at least a general idea of how to answer questions like:

  • What are your planned business activities?
  • How much capital are you going to have?
  • What are your revenue projections?
  • How quickly do you want to scale your company?
  • How many partners or shareholders are you going to have?

Knowing these things is essential in choosing the right legal structure for your business when you start your incorporation process.

Singapore offers many legal entity structures for businesses like sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, subsidiaries, branch offices, representative offices, and so on. These options can impact a lot of things, including your credibility to consumers, tax exemptions, and ease in expanding the company.

You can consult an incorporation service provider to help review these options. However, having a clear business plan will help you choose a legal structure that better fits your needs.

2. Pick the right company name

Next, you should pick a name for your company that accurately represents your business activities. For ACRA — the Singaporean governing body for business incorporation — to approve it, your company name should fulfill a few criteria including:

  • Must not contain any obscene words.
  • Must not infringe on any trademarks.
  • Must not be too similar to any existing business.

You should prepare a shortlist of at least three company name options that you like.

Also, you can take this chance to check if a website domain that fits your company name is available — if you plan to create a website for your business.

3. Prepare a registered business address

During the incorporation process, ACRA also requires you to submit an official address for your company. This location will be the official destination for your all mailing and communications, so it needs to fulfill a few criteria:

  • The office must be open and accessible for at least five hours during ordinary business hours on each business day.
  • It should be a property designated for commercial, industrial or office purposes located in Singapore.
  • It should be an actual location and not a P.O. Box.

You should know that virtual office and coworking options are also available as business addresses in Singapore. You can consult an incorporation service provider to decide if this is the right option for you.

4. Get a resident director

The next step is especially crucial if you’re a foreign entity seeking to incorporate in Singapore. For this step, you need to choose at least one director for your company that fits these criteria:

  • A Singapore citizen, Permanent Resident, or holding a Singapore Pass such as the Entrepreneur Pass.
  • A director may also be an Employment Pass (EP) holder. However, in these cases the director must first get a Letter of Consent (LOC) from the Ministry of Manpower.
  • At least 18 years old.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Never have declared bankrupt.

If you fulfill these criteria, you can be the director yourself. Otherwise, you can appoint a trusted business partner. Most incorporation service providers offer a nominee director service for foreign companies to fulfill these requirements.

5. Get a company secretary

Besides a director, you also need to appoint an official company secretary. This secretary needs to fulfill these criteria:

  • A Singapore citizen, Permanent Resident, or holding a Singapore Pass such as the Entrepreneur Pass.
  • At least 18 years old.
  • Appointed within six months of company incorporation.

This step is just as important as deciding on your director or shareholder. Corporate compliance is a big deal in Singapore, and your company secretary should be able to provide the directors with guidance about compliance issues.

Also, a director of the company can’t also be the company secretary unless the company has more than one director. For this reason, you will most likely have to appoint a different person well-versed in Singaporean corporate practices as your secretary.

Most incorporation service providers also offer a corporate secretarial service. This allows you to outsource your secretarial affairs to professionals fully accountable to your company.

Greenhouse empowers you to book business incorporation services and connect with market entry consultants in your target markets.

We’ll connect you with experienced consultants on the ground who can help answer your questions about doing business in Singapore.

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