How to Register a Business in Singapore – The Timelines and Procedures

Singapore has consistently been ranked among the top countries with a perfect business environment. Wondering how to register your business in the country? Read along for facts on how to register a company in Singapore

Choose the Entity Type

Before starting a business in Singapore, it’s vital to pick a business entity that rhymes with your type of business and maximize your tax benefit. A Private Limited Company for instance features high registration costs and complicated tax compliance requirements. You must, therefore, consider the aftermath of registering your company as a private limited company, sole proprietorship or any other legal structure. 

A sole proprietorship is ideal if your startup is small, involves fewer risks, and if you intend to manage it yourself. It features minimal compliance obligation after registration and low compliance cost. If two or more partners fund your company, a Limited Liability partnership would be a better option.

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Think of Private Limited Company if you plan on registering a company with a long term plan, high risks and high profits. It attracts valuable investors, numerous financing options and allows access to tax concessions.

 Registration Requirements 

For a smooth registration process in Singapore, prepare the company information below:

  1. Company name: Keep in mind that ACRA won’t approve a name that is undesirable or similar to any reserved or registered name. 
  2. List of shareholders:  You can have up to 50 shareholders if your business is a Private Limited Company. The shareholders can either be foreign, local, individuals or entities. You are allowed to transfer or issues shares to shareholders after incorporation.  A company with 20 or fewer shareholders is referred to an Exempt Private Company (EPC). If it fulfills the small company requirements, an EPC can enjoy an audit exemption.
  3. Directors: Foreigners must register at least one local director. The individual can either have an employment pass, be a permanent resident or a citizen. There is no limit on the number of foreign or local directors you can have. 
  4. Registered address:  A local company address is mandatory when starting a business in Singapore. A commercial or residential address is acceptable, but not a post office box. The government allows homeowners to run a small scale business from home as per the terms of Home office Scheme. Approval is done after business registration with ACRA.
  5. Paid-up Capital:  The least amount of paid-up capital your company requires for registration is S$1. You can increase it after incorporation.
  6. Auditor: You should appoint an auditor within the first three months of incorporation.  It is not the case for companies that have been exempted from audit. Most startups in Singapore are not audited.
  7. Company secretary: Singapore law under companies Act, section 171, requires you to appoint a company secretary within six months after incorporation. The secretary will help you prepare relevant data and file the necessary documents.

Registration Timeline 

ACRA can complete the incorporation process within three business days provided you have all your documents ready. Company formation in Singapore via ACRA involves two significant steps; reserving you company name and registering the business.

Reserving Your Business Name 

Like mentioned earlier, ACRA must approve your company name before starting the registration process. In most cases, you will receive feedback on whether your company name has been rejected or approved within 24 hours. Approval may take a while if your proposed name has words like bank, education, law, finance or media. The related external government may need to conduct a review and finally approve or reject it.

To increase the chances of approval, ensure that you pick a name that is not similar to an existing name, not reserved and not vulgar. Your approved name will be secured and held for 60 days. .In case you need the period extended by 60 more days, you can apply for an extension before the initial hold period expires. 

Company Registration 

After your proposed name has been approved, you can start filing the incorporation materials. Approval by ACRA can be done in a day if your documents are well presented and signed by all your company directors. 

Post- Incorporation

When the incorporation process is completed successfully, you will receive a confirmation email from ACRA. The email highlights the company registration number and is considered to be the official Certificate of Incorporation. If you need a hard copy, you can pay S$50 and collect it at ACRA office 24 hours after application. You can also receive a copy of your Business profile at a nominal fee. A Business profile is a PDF document that contains vital company information.

Before commencing your operations in Singapore, you must open a corporate bank account. Singapore is an international financial center; it features a wide range of leading regional and foreign banks. Pick one that will suit your business needs. 

Foreigners are not allowed to self-register their company. Instead, seek company incorporation services Singapore for a smooth registration process. You can manage your business from a different country with the help of local and foreign directors.  However, you might be forced to travel for the corporate account opening. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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