Business Development Singapore

The pages below provide key information for the Singaporean marketplace

Singapore Foreign Company Registration
- Singapore Subsidiary Registration
- Singapore Branch Office Registration
- Singapore Representative Office Registration
Singapore New Business Registration
- Singapore Company Registration
- Limited Liability Partnership Registration
- Sole Proprietor Registration
Singapore offers a set of different Visas:
- Singapore Entre Pass
- Singapore Employment Pass
- Singapore Personalized Employment Pass
- Singapore Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate
- Singapore Permanent Resident
- Singapore Landed Permanent Resident
- Singapore Dependent Pass
The Tax structure in Singapore is quite simple:
- General Taxes in Singapore
- Singapore Corporate Tax
- Singapore GST & Registration
- Singapore Income Tax
Other Areas:
- Set up a trading business in Singapore
- Winding up a business in Singapore

Information about Economy

Legal Entities / Ownership
Foreign Company Registration Overview

A foreign company is one that is incorporated outside Singapore and wishes to register an office in Singapore. A foreign company may either register an office for non-business purposes or for business purposes in Singapore.

For non-business purposes, it may register a Singapore Representative Office where as to conduct business it may either register a Singapore Subsidiary Company or as a Singapore Branch Office of the foreign company.

The procedure and documentation for the registration of a Singapore Subsidiary Company is different from that of a Singapore Branch Office. Generally, it is faster and easier to register a Singapore Subsidiary Company.

Singapore subsidiary company is taxed as a resident company whereas a branch office is taxed as a non-resident company. Resident companies are eligible for local tax exemptions.

Foreign Company Registration Options – How are they different?
Singapore Subsidiary Company (Foreign Company Registration)
This is the most widely used option for foreign company registration in Singapore. A Singapore Subsidiary Company is a separate legal entity altogether. Generally, the Singapore government permits 100% ownership of the Singapore Subsidiary Company by the foreign company.

A company requires to have a minimum of one director and one shareholder. At least one of the the directors must be ordinarily resident in Singapore. There is no restriction on the number of foreign directors that a company may have.

If a foreign company does not have a local director in Singapore, it will require the services of a nominee director to satisfy the legal requirement for local resident director.

Read details of Registering a Subsidiary of Foreign Company.

Singapore Branch Office (Foreign Company Registration)
A Singapore Branch of a foreign company is not a separate legal entity as it is considered to be merely an extension of a company incorporated outside Singapore.

A Singapore Branch does not have a distinct legal personality. Therefore, its liabilities may be enforced against all the assets of the foreign company, whether or not the assets are in Singapore, and whether or not the liabilities are attributable to the branch’s operations in Singapore. Any action against a Singapore Branch Office is tantamount to an action against the head office.

As the Singapore Branch is regarded as an extension of its head office, potential claimants (whether in the country of incorporation, Singapore or elsewhere) would, therefore, also have access to the Singapore courts in respect of the foreign company’s business activities worldwide.

Read details of Registering a Singapore Branch of Foreign Company

Representative Office (Foreign Company Registration)
A Representative Office of a foreign company in Singapore can be used for promotional activities only and it cannot enter into any business transactions either in its own capacity or on behalf of the parent company. Approving authority for registering a Representative Office is IE Singapore.

A Representative Office in Singapore has very limited use since it cannot engage in any other business activities but promotional activities.

Approval can take 1-2 weeks and will usually be valid for one year. A representative office must re-apply for a continuation of its status after the expiry of the initial period of approval.

Singapore Subsidiary Registration

A Singapore Subsidiary of a foreign company is a locally incorporated company with the shareholder being the foreign company. As such its a separate legal entity and distinct from its parent company.

Key Characteristics of a Singapore Subsidiary
The foreign entity can hold 100% shares of its Singapore Subsidiary Company.
At least one of the directors of the Singapore Subsidiary must be a local resident director.
Each Singapore Subsidiary must appoint a local resident qualified company secretary.
Any overseas staff planning to work for the Subsidiary Company in Singapore will need to obtain an employment pass.
A Singapore Subsidiary needs to file annual audited accounts with authorities.
The requirements and procedures for registering a Singapore Subsidiary of a foreign company are mostly the same as registering a new company in Singapore. The only difference being that in case of a Singapore Subsidiary, the shareholder happens to be the foreign company. Therefore for further details, please refer to Singapore Company Registration page.

Related Topic: Branch Office vs. Singapore Subsidiary vs. Representative Office
Singapore has a minimum of business formalities for establishing a business and favors foreign investment. There are no exchange controls or restrictions on the introduction of capital or the repatriation of capital and profits and there are no currency regulations.
A Singapore Subsidiary can be formed quickly and easily. The corporate tax rates in Singapore are low in comparison with many of the other developed countries. Singapore has double taxation agreements with many other countries.
A Singapore Subsidiary is required to keep its accounting and other records that will sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company and enable true and fair profit and loss accounts and balance sheets to be prepared. If such records are kept in a place outside Singapore, copies must be kept in Singapore.
The Singapore Companies Act requires that a company name must be approved before the company can be registered.
It’s company’s responsibility to update Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of any changes in its registered particulars e.g. change of company name, registered office address, change of directors, other officers, etc.
A Singapore Subsidiary cannot start to trade until it has been successfully registered with ACRA. Singapore Branch Office Registration

Legal Status
A Singapore Branch Office is the same entity as the foreign company (“Head Office”) which is incorporated outside Singapore. Thereafter, a Branch is not a separate entity but only an extension of its Head Office. Any action against a Singapore Branch is equivalent to an action against the Head Office.
Please be advised that most of the foreign companies prefer to register as a subsidiary company in Singapore rather than a branch office.

Related Topic: Branch Office vs. Singapore Subsidiary vs. Representative Office

The name of a branch will have to be that of the Head Office and must be approved by Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”).

The activities of a Singapore Branch Office are governed by the MAA and/or By-laws of the Head Office.

A Branch Office in Singapore must file with ACRA annually its Head Office accounts as well as its own audited accounts relating to its operations in Singapore.

Annual General Meeting
The requirement to hold AGM depends on the law of the country of incorporation of the foreign company.

A Singapore Branch is required to have at least 2 persons ordinarily resident in Singapore to act as agents whose authority is to accept service of process and notices required to be served on the company in Singapore. These agents may not be companies themselves but must be natural persons.

Depends on the constitution of the Head Office of the foreign company.

Statutory Registers
The requirements of keeping statutory registers and minute books in Singapore are not applicable to a Branch.

Registered Office
A Branch must have a registered office situated within Singapore.

Registration Procedure & Requirements
The requirements for registration of a Singapore Branch Office of a foreign company are prescribed by Singapore Companies Act. Application must be made to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) for approval of its name.

The following documents are required:
A certified copy of its certificate of incorporation in the foreign country;
A certified copy of the instrument defining its constitution;
A list of directors with their particulars;
If any of the directors are resident in Singapore and are members of the local board of directors, a memorandum stating the powers of the local directors;
A memorandum of appointment or power of attorney of two or more local agents authorised to accept notices served on the branch on its behalf. The local agents must be natural persons resident in Singapore;
A statutory declaration by the agent confirming particulars of the branch;
A notice of location of its registered office in Singapore.
If the original documents of the foreign incorporation are not in English, certified translated copies in English must be filed with ACRA.

Other Related Info Foreign companies investment has been the main force behind Singapore’s rapid development over the past 35 years. Singapore’s investment laws are clear and fair, and present few problems for business. Foreign and local businesses are treated equally, there are no production or local content requirements, and nearly all sectors are open to 100 percent foreign ownership. Residents and non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts. There are no controls or requirements on transfers, payments, or repatriation of profits.

Singapore Representative Office Registration

Foreign companies that are keen on exploring the viability of doing business in Singapore, or are interested in using Singapore as a launch pad into the Asia Pacific, may wish to register a Representative Office (RO) in Singapore.

A representative office in Singapore has no legal status, but is merely an administrative arrangement. Generally, the purpose of the representative office is to perform liaison services and establish business contacts, often as a precursor to the commencement of full-scale business activities in Singapore.

Related Topic: Branch Office vs. Singapore Subsidiary vs. Representative Office

Key Features
  • A representative office cannot enter into any business transactions either in its own capacity or on behalf of the parent company.
  • A representative office in Singapore cannot conclude contracts, provide consultancy for a fee, undertake transshipment of goods, open or negotiate any letters of credit.
  • A representative office does not have to maintain accounts or file tax returns in Singapore.
  • A Singapore representative office has the benefit of allowing a foreign company to test out the business environment in Singapore before committing to any investment decisions.
  • A representative cannot engage in any other business activities but promotional activities.
Foreign companies wanting to maintain long term operations in Singapore will be required to incorporate as legal entities in due course.

In order to apply for the Singapore Representative Office approval, an application has to be completed. In addition, the following documents are required:
  • A copy of the parent company’s Certificate of Incorporation (in English or an official translation)
  • The parent company’s latest annual report and audited accounts
If the applicant is unable to provide the above requested documents, the applicant must be written to seek waiver and provide a set of the company brochures and self-declare the needed information.
Approval can take 1-2 weeks and will usually be valid for one year. A representative office in Singapore must re-apply for a continuation of its status after the expiry of the initial period of approval. A representative office can be renewed for a total of no more than 3 years.

After the registration of representative office, the foreign company can apply for employment pass for their overseas personnel that will be relocating to Singapore. The foreign company can also hire local staff to handle Rep Office support operations.

Singapore New Business Registration

Before embarking on new business registration in Singapore, an important decision to make early on is to decide what legal form your business will take. In Singapore, you can choose to operate your business as a private limited company, sole proprietorship, or limited liability partnership. When deciding which category to register your Singapore business under, you need to consider the scale of your business and the amount of debt you might incur, as the liabilities for businesses are different depending upon which legal form you choose.
Deciding on the Right Legal Form for Singapore Business Registration

Private Limited Company
A private limited company (“Singapore Company”) is incorporated under the Singapore Companies Act and registered with Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). As one of the types of Singapore business registration, a Singapore Company is a separate legal entity from its owners and as such the owners of the company are generally not liable for the debts of the company.
The most common type of company to be incorporated in Singapore is the private company limited by shares, commonly known as a private limited company. Shareholder’s liability, in most cases. is limited to the amount they paid for.

You should choose to register a Singapore private limited company if one or more of the following is true:
  • You are a foreign entrepreneur planning to register a business in Singapore
  • Your business has the potential to grow big
  • You may need to secure a loan or an investment for your business growth
  • Your business has the potential to be sued by others
  • There are multiple people who want to own the business
  • You may sell part of your business to others down the line
  • You need to present a professional image to your potential clients or bankers
  • You are a high risk startup
  • You plan to conduct international trading
  • You plan to expand your business overseas
Registering and maintaining a private limited company involves more paperwork than sole proprietorship.

Generally, the selection of a entity for Singapore business registration starts with a simple question: Should you incorporate a company? If after reading the above, you decide it isn’t necessary, you can register your business in Singapore either as a sole proprietorship or as a limited liability partnership.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietor is an individual who runs a business on his/her own behalf. There are no other directors, shareholders, or partners involved. Sole proprietorships are often one-man show, with no other, or very few, staff. This is the simplest form of business registration in Singapore and typically used by local mom-and-pop type business activities.
The biggest problem with sole proprietorship is personal liability. A sole proprietorship is not a separate legal entity and there is no distinction between personal assets of the owner and the business. If you incur significant debts, you may be forced to sell your personal assets to pay off the debt.
As a sole proprietorship, you are limited in the amount of financial resources you have available to you. Banks and financial institutes are often reluctant to loan significant amounts of money. You are left to rely on your own savings and assets.
Sole proprietorship is registered under the Singapore Business Registration Act.

Limited Liability Partnership
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) is a separate legal entity and was introduced in April 2005. LLP is defined under the Partnership Act and has to be registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
Limited Liability Partnership in Singapore is a relatively new type of business registration in Singapore. It operates much like a partnership, but allows members of the LLP to take an active role in the business of the partnership, without exposing them to personal liability for other partners’ acts. The liability protection is generally limited only to liabilities arising out of malpractice committed by other partners. A partner will not be protected from liabilities arising from contracts or from malpractice committed by partner himself or those he or she supervises.

Many of the legal and tax issues have not yet been fully resolved.

The minimum number of partners in an LLP is two. LLP combines the limited liability features of companies with the operational elements of a sole proprietorship. The members may agree on how profits and losses are to be shared and how the business is to be run. Procedure and Timeline for Singapore Company Registration

The basic steps are as below:
  • Get company name approval
  • Prepare registration documents
  • Client to sign company registration documents
  • Register company
  • Open bank account
Your company incorporation agent will prepare and submit all the necessary documentation for registering your Singapore company so you don’t have to worry. Just for your reference, to register a Singapore company, the following information needs to be submitted to the registrar of companies (ACRA):

  • Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Statutory Declaration of Compliance
  • Particulars of Shareholders, Directors, Secretaries, etc.
  • Certificate of Identity
  • Situation of Registered Office/Office Hrs at Time of Registration
  • Consent to Act as Director and Statement of Non-disqualification to Act as Director
  • A Consent to Act as Secretary
The time taken for company registration depends on two factors: a) the company name approval and b) whether you will be signing the documents in Singapore or overseas.
The company name approval takes only 2-3 hours unless there is some conflict with an existing name or the name has some sensitive words in it. Once the company name is approved and the signed documents are ready, the Singapore company can normally be registered in 1 day.
If you are signing the company registration documents overseas, you will need to factor in the time it takes to courier the documents back to Singapore.
After the company registration, the bank accounts opening can take from 2-3 days to 1-2 weeks depending on a) the bank you choose; and b) whether you are in Singapore to sign the account opening documents; and c) the level of due diligence conducted by the bank.
If you are a foreign entrepreneur and need to relocate to Singapore to run your company, you will need to apply for EntrePass or Employment Pass.

A Singapore Company may be registered with only one shareholder who can be an individual or a corporation. There is no requirement for shareholder(s) to be resident in Singapore.

Paid-up Capital
There are no minimum paid-up capital requirements for a Singapore company registration. A Singapore company can be registered with a minimum of S$1.

Company Directors
As per Singapore Companies Act, a Singapore company can have one or more resident or non-resident directors. Minimum requirement is one director.
However as per Singapore Company Registration Laws, at least one of the company directors must be ordinarily resident in Singapore i.e. a Singapore citizen, a Permanent Resident of Singapore or an expatriate holding a valid employment pass may act as the resident director. Your incorporation agent can provide Nominee Director service to meet this statutory requirement, if you do not have a local resident director.

Company Secretary
A company must have at least one qualified corporate secretary with a principle place of residence in Singapore. Your company incorporation agent will provide this service.

Registered Office
A Company must have a registered office situated within Singapore. Your company registration agent can provide this service if required.

Name Approval
All business entities require approval of proposed name prior to company registration in Singapore. This is the first step of Singapore company registration process and normally be accomplished in few hours.

The general rules for choosing a Singapore company name are:
  • must not be identical or too similar to another business’ name
  • must not infringe registered trademarks or patents
  • must not be offensive or vulgar in any way
Company names that contain regulated words like Bank, Finance Company, Insurance, School, University, Media, etc. must first be approved by the Singapore Company Registration regulatory authority before they can be used which can take 1-2 weeks.

Exempt Private Company
A company is called an Exempt Private Company (EPC) if it has less than 20 shareholders, and none of the shareholders is a corporation.

An exempt private company registered in Singapore is relieved from filing copies of its accounts with the Registrar of Companies.

As per Singapore Companies Act, a company must file its audited accounts with ACRA on an annual basis unless it is an exempt private company.

Licenses and Permits
No special approval is required for most of the business activities in Singapore.
Only certain types of business activities are controlled by government agencies and require necessary approvals and license from relevant authorities before commencing business. Government approval is generally not required for companies to do business in Singapore with the exception of the following:
Banks and other financial institutions wishing to do business do require approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Certain activities, such as the production of cigarettes, beer, refrigerators and air-conditioners, operation of restaurants, bars, etc. require a license from the relevant government bodies. More information about business licenses can be found here.

Other Related Info
There are no exchange controls or restrictions on the introduction of capital or the repatriation of capital and profits and there are no currency regulations. Singapore has a minimum of business formalities for establishing a business and favors foreign investment.
Residents and non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts. There are no controls or requirements on current transfers, payments, or repatriation of profits. The court system is very efficient and strongly protects private property, and there is no threat of expropriation. Singapore is known for its tough laws, strict enforcement and stiff penalties for offenders, and it exercises expedient and efficient procedures.
The corporate tax rates in Singapore are low in comparison with many of the other developed countries. Singapore has double taxation agreements with many other countries.
A company registered in Singapore is required to keep its accounting and other records that will sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company and enable true and fair profit and loss accounts and balance sheets to be prepared. If such records are kept in a place outside Singapore, copies must be kept in Singapore.
It’s company’s responsibility to update Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of any changes in its registered particulars e.g. change of company name, registered office address, change of directors, other officers, etc.
A company registered in Singapore cannot start to trade until it has been successfully registered with ACRA. Singapore LLP Registration

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) was introduced in 2005. All LLPs must be registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore.

Facts at a Glance
  • The partners can be individuals or companies.
  • There must be a minimum of 2 partners. There is no maximum number of partners in a LLP.
  • A Limited Liability Partnership in Singapore is a legal entity (i.e. it can sue or be sued in its own name and can own or hold any property).
  • Profits form part of each partner’s personal income and are taxed at personal income tax rates.
  • Print your registration number on all letterheads, invoices, bills or other documents used for the purposes of the business.
  • It is compulsory for all LLPs to appoint a local manager who is a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or Employment Pass holder. There can be more than one local manager.
  • The personal assets of the partners are protected. In addition, owners are not personally accountable for the wrongful acts of other owners. However, partners can be personally accountable for debts and losses resulting from their own careless actions.
  • Limited Liability Partnership in Singapore is a new business structure and many of the legal and tax issues have not yet been fully resolved.
  • The manager must make an Annual Declaration to ACRA stating whether the business is able or unable to pay its debts as it becomes due in the normal course of business.
  • The first Annual Declaration must be made within 15 months of the date of registration.
Additional Information on LLP
A Limited Liability Partnership is a form of business entity that permits one partner to be shielded from individual joint liability for partnership obligations created by another partner’s or person’s misconduct. A partner’s liability is not limited, however, when the misconduct took place under the supervision or control of the partner. Only liability arising from the misconduct of other partners or persons is covered by this law; the partnership is not relieved from liability for other partnership obligations and individual partners are liable for their own misconduct.

A Limited Liability Partnership in Singapore may be registered where persons who wish to start a business with a view of profit and have agreed (with or without other terms):
  • that the business shall be carried-on in the form of a limited liability partnership, following the registration date.
  • that they shall each contribute effort and skill to the business as a member of the limited liability partnership.
  • that the profit of the business shall be divided between them as per agreed upon terms.

A Limited Liability Partnership is a legal entity distinct from the partners of whom it is composed and accordingly:
  • any contract which binds the LLP is made only with the legal entity; and
  • any change in the LLP brought about by the retirement or death of a partner shall not affect the existence, rights or liabilities of that legal entity.

Regarding partnership property, you should consider the following factors to determine whether a property belongs to the partnership or to the individual partners:
  • Whether there is an agreement or mutual understanding among partners in relation to that property.
  • Whether the property is used in the course or furtherance of the partnership business.
  • Whether the property is reflected as an asset of the partnership.
  • Whether the property is bought with funds of the partnership.

If the property is rented out, whether rental proceeds are distributed among the partners.
Whether all the property owners are partners of the partnership. If one of the property owners is not a partner of the partnership, then the property is not likely to be a partnership property. Singapore Sole Proprietorship

Almost anyone or any company can register a sole proprietorship in Singapore with some exceptions, for instance, undischarged bankrupts may not be allowed to register such entities in Singapore.

Foreign entrepreneurs should incorporate a private limited company in Singapore.

Facts at a Glance
  • You must first register your business name and get it approved. You will be issued with a business registration number.
  • You must appoint a local manager if none of the owners registering is “ordinarily resident” in Singapore.
  • Depending upon on the type of business, you may require a business license for your business.
  • Business must be carried out under the registered business name in Singapore. You cannot use any other name.
  • You must print your registration number on all letterheads, invoices, bills or other documents used for the purposes of the business.
  • You must renew your business registration on time.
  • You must notify Singapore Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) immediately if there is a change of business particulars, such as a change of address, business activity, etc.
  • You must notify ACRA when you decide to end your sole proprietorship business in Singapore.
Additional Information
A sole proprietorship is a form of business organization but not a separate legal entity. It is the simplest form of business to start, but in many ways, the most risky.
A sole proprietorship essentially means a person does business in their own name and there is only one owner. Since the business is really just an extension of that person and not a new entity (like a company), any business debts are also personal debts. If the business were to get a judgment filed against it, it would be a problem for the owner.
As a sole proprietorship is not a company, it does not pay corporate taxes, but rather the person who organized the business pays personal income taxes on the profits made, making accounting much simpler. A sole proprietorship need not worry about double taxation like a corporation would have to.
A business organized as a sole proprietorship will likely have a hard time raising capital since shares of the business cannot be sold, and there is a smaller sense of legitimacy relative to a business organized as a company or limited liability partnership. Hiring employees may also be difficult. This form of business will have unlimited liability, therefore, if the business is sued, it is the owner’s problem.
Selling part of your business might also be difficult if you are a sole proprietor. Visa
Singapore Entre Pass

Are you a foreign national who would like to start a business in Singapore and relocate to Singapore to run your business?

If the answer to the above question is YES then EntrePass may be for you. EntrePass scheme is meant for entrepreneurs that lack tertiary education. For entrepreneurs with good educational qualifications, Employment Pass is normally the better choice. To read more about the difference between the two, see EntrePass vs Employment Pass.

Application for EntrePass is normally made prior to incorporating a Singapore company. If the EntrePass is approved, you must incorporate your company within 30-days of in-principle-approval letter. If however you EntrePass is rejected, you have no obligation to setup a Singapore company.

EntrePass (nicknamed from Entrepreneur Pass) allows global value-creating entrepreneurs and innovators to stay and run their business ventures from Singapore. The EntrePass, is a type of Singapore Employment Pass that is designed to facilitate the entry and stay of foreign entrepreneurs who are ready to incorporate and start a business in Singapore. EntrePass was introduced in 2004 and is aimed at attracting foreign entrepreneurs into the country. With its desire to become a regional business hub, Singapore plans to attract a good number of entrepreneur minds into the country from overseas.

The processing of EntrePass applications can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks. If you don’t want to wait that long and need to register your company urgently, you can register your company first and then apply for EntrePass. However, you must think through what you will do with the company if the EntrePass application is not successful.

NOTE: You don’t have to apply for either entrepass or employment pass in order to register a Singapore company. EntrePass or employment pass is required only if you want to relocate to Singapore in order to run your company operations.

You don’t need to have a Ph.D. from top-notch school or have millions in the bank to get started. What you need is an entrepreneurial background, a good business plan (along with a good business idea) and a minimum of S$50,000 investment to cover your startup expenses and support yourself in the early stages.

EntrePass holders are eligible to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence status in due course.

EntrePass – Key Facts
  • A minimum of S$50,000 investment is required.
  • Application for EntrePass is normally made prior to incorporating your business in Singapore.
  • Along with EntrePass application, you will need to submit a approximately 10-page business plan. The details of preparing a good business plan are described towards the end of this page.
  • Once submitted, the application processing time is about 4-6 weeks.
  • If your application is successful, you will be issued an EntrePass that is initially valid for 1-2 years.
  • You do not need to incorporate your business in Singapore until the successful outcome of your EntrePass application.
  • Your EntrePass allows you to bring your immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) to Singapore to live with you. You will need to apply for their Dependent Pass if they are to relocate with you.
  • The EntrePass is renewable for as long as the business remains viable. Your business must employee local staff over time. You are also eligible to apply for a permanent residence in Singapore in due course.
  • EntrePass – Required Documents

Business plan
  • Completed EntrePass application
  • Copies of educational certificates
  • Copies of past employment testimonials, if any
  • A recent passport-sized photograph
  • A copy of the passport
  • A copy of the CV/Resume for the applicant
Business Plan for Entrepreneur Pass
Preparing a business plan as part of applying for Singapore EntrePass is not much different than preparing a business plan for your own planning purposes. One important fact about EntrePass business plan is that it’s expected to be relatively concise i.e. no more than 10 pages long.

As per official guidelines, Business Plan for EntrePass shall contain details of the following:
  • Business idea – a short, self-explanatory summary covering the proposed business concept;
  • Product / service – the total product and service offering;
  • Market analysis – the target market in terms of key customers, competition and market growth potential;
  • Market plan – how the product / service will be marketed or distributed;
  • Operation plan – resources needed to run the business;
  • Financial projections – projected sales and net profit before tax for three years and breakeven point;
  • Management team – key drivers of the business; and
  • Supporting documents – e.g. licensing agreements, product certifications, endorsements, etc

Although it requires some effort and research, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Writing a entrepass business plan is just capturing your longer-term goals, objectives, estimates, and forecasts on paper. Keep in mind that it’s your best guess given your current analysis and state of information before you start your business. Forecasts and objectives change as you acquire new experiences and data points.

A well thought out business plan will not only improve your chances of getting a Singapore EntrePass, but it will also help you clarify your mind and better prepare for your entrepreneurship journey. The well-known fleas-in-the-box analogy applies to your plan as well; if you put a lid on the box, the fleas will learn to jump to that height only, but if there is no lid, they jump as high as they are capable of doing. Your plan should set that lid higher. At the same time you must be confident that figures in business plan are achievable. You must strike a good balance between optimism and realism.

Make sure EntrePass business plan is impressive in presentation. Your plan must get across to readers what is interesting about your business. Stress your marketing and sales strategy and include a break-even analysis. Be sure to include tax payments, payments to local accountants and other service providers to demonstrate your contributions to local economy.

Singapore Employment Pass

Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore is issued to foreign company directors, professionals, managers, executives, specialist or middle-level skilled workers who will be working in Singapore. The minimum salary requirement for employment pass is S$2500/month.
Company owners have the option of applying for Employment Pass or Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass). More details about this can be found at EntrePass VS Employment Pass page.
Employment pass types comprise P passes and Q passes. The type of pass issued will depend on the proposed salary and educational qualifications. There is no significant difference between the two types of passes. P employment pass is intended for the highly skilled and generally issued to foreign nationals who hold university degrees and seek professional, administrative, executive or managerial jobs, or who are entrepreneurs or investors. Q employment pass is issued to those with a lower salary and who have evidence of “acceptable” degrees, professional qualification or specialist skills.
Holders of P and Q employment passes may work in any sector of the economy, are not subject to levies, and may bring family members with them on dependent pass.
Depending upon the salary, professional, and academic qualifications, you will be issued one of the types of employment passes.
A local sponsor, your employer in most cases, is required to apply for the Employment Pass.
Employment Pass holders can apply for Singapore Permanent Residence status in due course.
An Employment Pass (EP) is tied to a specific employer. Any change of employer requires a fresh application.

Processing Time and Documentation
The processing time for Singapore Employment Pass application or renewal is about 4-5 weeks from the date of receipt of the application. The approval letter for an Employment Pass is valid for six months from the date of the letter. A first-time applicant may be issued Employment Pass of up to two years. The Employment Pass may be renewed each time for a period of 2-5 years.

The following documents are required to apply for Employment Pass in Singapore:
  • Form 8 (Application Form), duly completed and>
  • A copy each of all the applicant’s educational documents and past employment testimonials
  • A recent passport-sized photograph of the applicant taken within the last three months
  • A copy of the Travel Document page showing the applicant’s personal particulars
  • A copy of the applicant’s Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  • Past employment reference letters (if available)
  • For non-English certificates / documents, a copy each of the certificates / documents and the official English translation (certified by the respective Embassy) must be submitted together
Change of Employment
Where there is a change of employer in Singapore, the Employment Pass holder is required to submit a new application. Each application made will be considered based on the merits of the case. Submission of new Singapore Employment Pass application under a different employer can be made without the cancellation of existing Employment Pass. However, once the new EP application is approved, the existing application has to be canceled.

Termination of Employment
The Employment Pass must be cancelled upon cessation or termination of employment or attaining Singapore Permanent Residence. An Employment Pass holder must surrender the Pass for cancellation within seven days from the date of cessation or termination of his / her employment. A two-week social visit pass is normally issued upon cancellation.

EntrePass for Entrepreneurs
Singapore EntrePass is a special employment pass designed specifically to facilitate the entry and stay of entrepreneurs who are ready to start a new business in Singapore. This pass is issued with an initial validity period of 1-2 years, and upon the submission of a comprehensive business proposal.

First-time Singapore EntrePass applicants will be assessed based on the credibility of their proposed business plans, which should include the objective or nature of business, products or services offered, marketing strategies, development plans and milestones, projected sales turnover, intended amount of investment and staffing plan.

Business authenticity and viability will be used to assess subsequent EntrePass renewals. The Singapore EntrePass is renewable for as long as the business remains viable.

For existing EP holders that meet certain criteria, Singapore has introduced a new type of employment pass named Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) that is not tied to any employer. For more details, please refer to Personalised Employment Pass page. The PEP allows the holder to remain in Singapore for up to six months in between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities.

If you don’t yet have a job in Singapore but would like to come to Singapore and look for a job, you need to obtain an Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC). The EPEC facilitates job search by granting the holder up to one-year Social Visit Pass (SVP). The EPEC is issued on a one-time basis and is strictly non-renewable. You may apply for EPEC if you hold acceptable tertiary/professional qualifications. You should apply only when you are ready to come to Singapore and look for a job here. Singapore Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

Singapore has recently introduced a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) to help better attract and retain global talent. The PEP will facilitate selected Employment Pass holders to continue working in Singapore. The PEP will be granted to suitable EP holders that have worked in Singapore for a period of time.

Currently an Employment Pass (EP) is tied to a specific employer. Any change of employer requires a fresh application. If an EP holder leaves the company, his EP is cancelled and he must leave Singapore unless he finds employment with a new company. In contrast, the new PEP is not tied to any employer and will be granted on the strength of an EP holder’s individual merits. The PEP allows the holder to remain in Singapore for up to six months in between jobs to evaluate new employment opportunities.

The following groups of EP holders will be eligible for a PEP, if they had earned a basic salary of at least S$30,000 in the preceding year:
  • P Pass holders that have at least two years’ working experience on a P Pass.
  • Q1 pass holders with at least five years’ working experience on a Q1 pass.
  • The PEP will be issued only once with a validity of 5 years. It will be non-renewable. A PEP holder will retain the dependant privileges of his original EP type and the minimum annual basic salary requirement of S$30,000 will continue to apply throughout the 5-year duration.
Personalized employment pass (PEP) should be applied by the EP holder and not the employer since it’s tied to an individual and not a company.

Once approved, the applicant will be given 3 months to collect the PEP. The applicant will be required to produce a cancellation letter for the existing employment pass from the current employer.

Singapore companies will be able to hire personalised employment pass holders the same way they hire Singapore citizens and PRs. However, they will need to notify MOM whenever they hire or terminate the services of a PEP holder.

No sponsor or bank guarantee is required for personalized employment pass.

The average processing time for personalised employment pass is about 3 weeks.

Singapore Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC)

Have good educational background and professional working experience? Looking for a job in Singapore? If you are a foreigner and would like to work in Singapore, you:

Have to first secure a job offer in Singapore;
Once you have a job offer, you need to apply for an Employment Pass;
Only upon approval of the employment pass you can start employment in Singapore.
The main problem with the above steps is that many Singapore companies are often reluctant to make job offers because they don’t know if the employment pass will be approved or not. In order to address the above problem, Singapore government has introduced so called employment pass eligibility certificate (EPEC). This certificate from Singapore government will make it lot easier for you to find a job in Singapore for the following two reasons:

You will be issued a 6-12 months visa to stay in Singapore and look for a job.
Your prospective employer will have the high confidence that you will be issued an employment pass if they decide to hire you.
The processing time for an employment pass eligibility certificate (epec) application is about 3-4 weeks from the date of submission.

EPEC Requirements: The following documents are required for application of employment eligibility certificate:
  • Copies of your educational certificates and transcripts
  • Passport copy
  • 2 passport size photos
  • A copy of your Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • All documents must be in English or official English translation is required.
After you have found a job in Singapore and have obtained your employment pass, you are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Singapore.

Singapore Permanent Residence Schemes

A foreigner who is interested to start up a business or invest in Singapore, may apply for Permanent Residence (PR) status for himself and his immediate family (spouse and unmarried children 21 years of ago and below).

Under the scheme, you can choose either of the following investment options:
  • Invest at least S$1 million in a new business startup or expansion of an existing business operation or
  • Invest at least $1.5 million in a new business startup, expansion of an existing operation, approved Singapore-incorporated venture capital fund or Singapore-incorporated foundation or trust that focuses on economic development or
  • Invest at least $2 million in a new business startup, expansion of an existing operation, approved Singapore-incorporated venture capital fund or Singapore-incorporated foundation or trust that focuses on economic development. Residential property can be purchased with not more than 50% of the investment amount.
Key criteria for Singapore permanent residence application through the investment scheme includes:
  • Have a business track record
  • Have an entrepreneurial background
  • Have a business proposal or investment plan
  • Permanent Residence for Skilled Professionals
Skilled foreigners may apply to become Permanent Residents (PRs). Permanent Residents are provided with most of the rights and duties of citizens, including government-sponsored housing and mandatory National Service (military service) for young male adults.

There are a number of schemes under which Singapore permanent residence can be granted, depending on your skills and qualifications. The following are the main categories of PR schemes specially tailored for professionals, graduates and others with specific skills.

Professionals, Technical Personnel & Skilled Workers Scheme (PTS)
Singapore Permanent Residence under this scheme is conferred to those who have secured employment in Singapore prior to PR application. They should also hold an Employment Pass (P or Q Pass). The spouse and unmarried children (below 21 years of age) of a PR may also apply for Singapore PR status. Applicants under this scheme will be assessed by a Points System, which takes into account the:
  • Type of employment pass
  • Duration of stay in Singapore
  • Academic qualifications
  • Basic monthly salary
  • Age
  • Kinship ties in Singapore
Foreign Artistic Talent Scheme
Artistic talents with international standing in art, photography, dance, music, theatre, literature and film may apply for Singapore Permanent Residence. Applicants should first submit a detailed resume with supporting materials (portfolio, press reviews etc) to the National Arts Council (NAC) for assessment. A copy of the Singapore Permanent Residence application form will be sent to the applicant if he or she is found suitable. Upon receiving the application form from the applicant, NAC will recommend the applicant to the Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) for its decision.

Landed Permanent Residence (Landed PR) Scheme
Singapore Landed Permanent Residence under this scheme is open to those who have acceptable professional or tertiary qualifications, are working in professional, managerial or specialist jobs and are interested in relocating to Singapore but are currently not working in Singapore. Undergraduate or postgraduate students studying in reputable foreign universities may also apply. Successful applicants will have up to 1 or 2 years to seek employment or relocate their families to Singapore. Permanent Residence status will be granted once employment is secured or the family has relocated to Singapore.

Approved-in-Principle (AIP) PR Scheme
This scheme provides a 5-year approval-in-principle PR to successful Hong Kong applicants. Holders can obtain Permanent Residence status if they secure employment or relocate their family to Singapore within the 5 years validity period. Singapore Landed Permanent Residence (LPR)

Living overseas? Have exceptional education from a reputable and well-recognized university? Have high flying professional working experience? Your expertise is in demand? Would like to relocate to Singapore?

If the answer to all the above questions is Yes, Singapore landed permanent residence (LPR) scheme may be for you. Once your LPR application is approved, you will have up to 1-2 years to find a job or relocate your family to Singapore, upon which you will be granted permanent residence in Singapore.

Word of Caution: LPR is granted only to exceptional individuals. You must have a very distinguishing career or education to get approved under LPR scheme. It will be a waste of your time and money to apply for LPR unless you meet this strict criteria.

Required Documents
  • Completed LPR application
  • Copy of passport
  • 2 passport size photos
  • Birth certificate
  • Educational certificates
  • Employment testimonials (if any)
  • Salary slips for the last six months
  • Income tax returns for the last three years
If you are married, you will need to provide marriage certificate. If you have children, you will need to provide their birth certificates.

You will need to provide official English translations of the documents that are not in English along with true copies of original documents. Singapore Dependant Pass

When you are applying for an Employment Pass or EntrePass and you also want to relocate your family to Singapore, you need to a apply for a Dependant Pass for your spouse and unmarried and/or legally adopted children below 21. You will be supplied with a Singapore Dependent Pass card (similar to an Employment Pass card) that has a Foreign Identification Number (FIN) number on it.

It is best to apply for dependent pass at the same time when applying for employment pass in order to avoid any delays.

As unmarried partnerships are not recognized, partners need to contact the authorities for a solution. Alternatively they may qualify for their own employment pass.

If a Dependent Pass Holders wants to take up work in Singapore they have to apply for a Letter of Consent. Such applications need to be sponsored by an employer who can be the Dependent Pass Holder her/himself in case of proprietorship of his/her own business.

The following documents are required when applying for dependent pass:
  • Completed application. Separate application is required for each applicant traveling on his/her own passport.
  • A copy of the birth certificate
  • A copy of the marriage certificate
  • 2 recent photographs

Tax Structures
Corporate Income Tax in Singapore: The current corporate tax rate is 17%. In addition, certain tax exemptions are available on annual profits of up-to 300K which makes Singapore as a very attractive place to do business for small-to-midsize companies.
Personal Income Tax in Singapore: For individuals, all income derived from Singapore is liable to tax. With effect from 1 January 2004, all overseas income remitted by individuals to Singapore is not taxable, except for overseas income received in Singapore through partnerships in Singapore.

Goods & Services Tax (GST) in Singapore
The GST rate of has gone up to 7% starting July 1, 2007. All Singapore companies with annual turnover exceeding $1 million are required by law to register for GST. Companies with annual turnover of less that $1 million may choose to register for GST voluntarily.

For more information, please visit Singapore Goods & Services Tax (GST) page.

Corporate Income Tax in Singapore
Singapore is a major international finance center which provides an attractive fiscal and economic environment from which to base regional business activities and international holding companies.

The Singapore tax system is territorial. Income tax is levied on the net income of companies from sources within Singapore and on foreign source income if remitted into Singapore. Non-resident Singapore companies and businesses are taxed on the same basis.

Singapore has implemented a one-tier corporate tax system. Under this system, the income tax payable on the normal chargeable income of a company is a final tax and shareholders will not be taxed on such dividend income.

Singapore does not levy a withholding tax on dividends. Interest, royalties or rental of equipment payments to non-residents are subject to a 15% withholding tax.

There is no capital gains tax imposed in Singapore.

Corporate Tax Rates
Zero tax for new Singapore companies on the first 100K annual profits for the first 3 years
All resident companies to enjoy approx. 9% corporate tax rate for profits up to 300K
Overall company tax rate is a flat 17%
Full Tax Exemption
Full corporate tax exemption will be granted on normal chargeable income of a qualifying company up to $100,000, for each of its first three consecutive tax filing years.

To qualify for this full corporate tax exemption for a relevant year under the scheme, a Singapore company must:
  • be a company incorporated in Singapore
  • be a tax resident in Singapore for that year
  • have no more than 20 shareholders throughout the basis period relating to that year; and
  • At least 10% of the shareholders must be individuals
Any company that does not meet the above qualifying conditions would still be eligible for partial corporate tax exemption as below.

Partial Tax Exemption
All companies are eligible for partial tax exemption on chargeable income of up to $300,000 as follows:

Amount of chargeable income Effective Singapore tax rate First $10,000 4.5% Next $290,000 9.0% In excess of $300,000 17.0% Related Topic: Personal Income Tax Singapore

Corporate Tax Filing Due Date
A newly incorporated Singapore company that has income accrued in or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside Singapore is required to declare its income by completing an Income Tax Form for companies, known as Form C, each year. The company has to submit its completed Form C with the accounts, tax computation and supporting documents by 31st of October each year.

First Time Filing:
The first set of Form C that a newly incorporated company has to submit to IRAS depends on the financial-year-end of the company.

Example: Assuming that a company has commenced business upon its incorporation, the first Form C that the company need to submit is as follows:

Incorporation Date 2008 2008 First Financial Year End Year Any date in year 2008 Any date in year 2009 First Form C To be filed by October 31, 2009 To be filed by October 31, 2010 Tax Exemptions on Foreign-Sourced Income Remitted into Singapore A Singapore company can enjoy tax exemption from its foreign-sourced dividends, foreign branch profits, and foreign-sourced service income that is remitted into Singapore if the following conditions are met:

The highest corporate tax rate (Headline tax rate) of the foreign country from which income is received from is at least 15% in the year the income is received; and The foreign income had been subjected to tax in the foreign country from which they were received For the purpose of corporate tax exemption on foreign-sourced service income, the service income refers to professional, technical, consultancy or other services rendered in the course of a company’s trade through a fixed place of operation in a foreign country.

To enjoy the tax exemption, the company has to furnish the following information:
  • Nature and amount of income received;
  • Country from which income is received;
  • Headline tax rate of foreign country; and
  • Amount of foreign tax paid in the country from which income was received.
Tax Treaties
Singapore has tax treaties for the avoidance of double taxation with more than 50 countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Thailand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Holding Companies
Singapore has established itself as a credible and attractive jurisdiction from which to base international holding companies, both as a result of its status as a major financial centre and through the introduction of income tax legislation encompassing specific tax exemptions and tax concessions.

As mentioned above, the Singapore tax system is territorial and foreign source income is taxed if it is remitted into Singapore. Foreign source income which is earned and retained outside Singapore is not taxed in Singapore. Dividends received in Singapore by resident companies are taxable but credit is allowed for foreign tax paid. The tax credits allowed may include the foreign tax paid on the underlying corporate profits out of which the foreign source dividend has been paid. As such when foreign tax credits in aggregate exceed 20%, there is no Singapore tax payable on the dividend.

These exemptions make a Singapore resident company an attractive entity for holding foreign investments. If the foreign source income has borne tax at a rate of 20% or more, the Singapore resident holding company does not pay any Singapore tax on that income and may distribute dividends out of such income to its shareholders on a tax exempt basis.

As Singapore does not tax capital gains further benefits may arise to the holding company upon the disposal of its investment in the foreign company, particularly in tax treaty countries where the treaty concedes to Singapore the right to tax capital gains.

Taxation for Non-Resident Companies
A company is resident in Singapore if the central management and control of its business is exercised in Singapore. Given that such management and control is normally vested with its Board of Directors, a company is generally treated as being resident in the country where its Board meets.

Non-resident Singapore companies are not entitled to the benefits of double tax treaties. However, non-resident companies are not liable to Singapore income tax on foreign source income if it is not received in Singapore. Therefore non-resident companies are an attractive vehicle as international holding or trading companies.

Other Related Information
Annual accounts must be prepared and submitted to the Singapore Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS).

If corporate turnover is less than S$5 million, the Singapore Company is not required to file audited returns, however unaudited returns must still be filed.

Singapore Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Goods and services tax (GST) in Singapore is a tax on domestic consumption. The tax is paid when money is spent on goods or services, including imports. In general, goods sold or services performed in Singapore are taxable. The only exceptions are financial services or the sale or lease of residential properties which are exempt supplies.

In Singapore, GST is currently charged and accounted at a rate of 7% on the value of supply.

You must register for GST in Singapore, if:
  • At the end of a quarter if your taxable supplies exceed S$1 million for a quarter and the immediate past 3 quarters. Quarter refers to March, June. September or December; or
  • At any time if your taxable supplies are expected to exceed S$1 million for the next 12 months.
If you are required to register for GST in Singapore, you must apply within 30 days of becoming liable.
GST registration for companies with annual turnover below $1 million
For companies with turnover below $1 million GST registration is not mandatory. A company may however choose to register voluntarily if it makes economic sense for them to do so This really depends on their business scenarios and operations. Some factors to consider include:

Whether their customers are GST-registered – If their customers are GST-registered, then there is greater reason for a Singapore business to be GST-registered as this will enable their customers to claim the GST incurred.
Whether their suppliers are GST-registered – If their suppliers are GST-registered, then a Singapore company will be incurring GST on the purchases. If they want to claim the GST-incurred, then they may wish to register.
Whether they have the resources to fulfill the regular GST filing and record-keeping requirements – Companies need to file their GST returns either monthly or quarterly. They need to ensure that GST invoices are issued to their customers; and to keep proper records of the GST claimed.

Singapore Personal Taxes

Individuals are either “resident” or “non-resident” in Singapore for tax purposes. Generally, a person is resident if he or she is physically present or exercises employment in Singapore for 183 days or more in the calendar year.

For individuals, all income derived from Singapore is liable to tax. With effect from 1 January 2004, all overseas income remitted by individuals in Singapore is not taxable, except for overseas income received in Singapore through partnerships in Singapore. Personal income is taxable at progressive rates from 0% to 20% and entitled to claim certain personal reliefs.

Current Personal Income Tax Rates in Singapore
Personal Income Income Tax Rate
<20,000 0
20,000 – 30,000 3.5%
30,000 – 40,000 5.5%
40,000 – 80,000 8.5%
80,000 – 160,000 14%
160,000 – 320,000 17%
320,000+ 20%

Non-resident individuals are taxed at a flat rate of 15% or at the above rates whichever amounts to higher tax.

Interest derived by a non-resident individual on monies held on deposits in an approved bank in Singapore is tax exempt.

Regional representatives based in Singapore and employed by the representative office of an overseas company may be taxed concessionally on income pro-rated based on days spent in Singapore provided certain requirements are met.

Taxation for Foreigners Working in Singapore
Foreign employees working in Singapore either on work permit or employment pass will be taxed as above in Singapore unless:
  • The person is on short-term employment no exceeding 60 days in a calendar year
  • his/her earnings are exempt from tax under the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement
  • As a tax resident, you will be taxed on all personal income derived in Singapore.
When a foreign employee stops his term of employment in Singapore, his employer is required to inform IRAS before the termination of employment or departure from Singapore. The employer shall also withhold whatever money due to the employee until tax clearance is given.

Fringe Benefits
Employer-provided fringe benefits are taxed in the employee’s hands. As a number of benefits are taxed on a concessionary basis (e.g. housing) in Singapore, it is possible to reduce an individual’s tax liability through appropriate structuring of his/her remuneration package.

Central Provident Fund (CPF)
Foreigners on work pass are exempt from CPF contributions in Singapore.

Double Taxation
Double taxation can be avoided or minimized by unilateral tax credits and double tax treaties, depending on the type of foreign source income and the source country. Only Singapore resident companies and individuals are entitled to claim such tax credits.

Other areas
Starting a Trading Business

Trading, as it is popularly known, is the business of matching buyers and sellers. You call it International trading when you deal with people from different countries. Basically, international trading is acting as a middleman between the two entities located in different countries.

International trade is one of the hot industries of the new millennium. As the world is transforming into a one-world global community with advancements in technology and fewer and fewer trade barriers, international trading opportunities are becoming more and more accessible and rewarding.

Related Topic: Singapore Company Registration Guide

Good news is that trading business these days is not the sole purview of the big boys, they make up only about 4 percent of all import/exporter business. Which means that the other 96 percent of trading businesses is done by small-to-mid size enterprises.

One of the good things about a trading business is that its startup costs are comparatively low. Unless you’re starting as a distributor, you can get away with purchasing no inventory. Your major financial outlay will go toward office equipment and market research expenses–and if you’re like many modern traders, you already have the most expensive piece of office equipment – a computer system!

Your basic necessities will be a computer, printer, fax machine and modem. If you already have these items, then you’re off and running.

As an international trader, your mission is sales–in two different but overlapping fields:
  • selling yourself and your company to clients as an import/export manager for their products, and
  • selling the products themselves to representatives and distributors.
Success in one of these arenas will contribute to your success in another. Once you’ve established a favorable sales record with one client’s goods, you’ll have a track record with which to attract more clients. And, of course, each success will contribute to your own self-confidence, which will, in turn, will increase your confidence during negotiations with new prospects.

Trading Business in Singapore
With the exception of few Singapore sectors (such as broadcasting, news media, legal services, some financial and banking services, trade in tobacco products and residential property), Singapore has very few trade barriers. Singapore maintains its position as one of the most liberal trading regimes in the world.

Singapore’s safe, pro-business environment is supported by a well-respected government with transparent and consistent policies that protect companies’ physical and IP investments. Global business magazine Forbes has ranked Singapore as the second best place in the world to start a business.

Singapore Tariffs
In general, Singapore is a free port and an open economy. More than 99% of all imports into Singapore enter the country duty-free. The only exceptions are heavy tariffs on the import of motor vehicles, liquor, petrol, and cigarettes / tobacco products.

Singapore charges Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the supply and import of goods and services in Singapore. Current GST rate is 7%. GST is a multi-stage tax and is collected at every stage of the production and distribution chain. A registered trader/company will be able to claim credits from the Comptroller for GST paid on goods or services imported and used within the production chain.

When a Singapore company/agent imports goods on behalf of an overseas non-taxable person who has no business establishment in Singapore, the Singapore company will be treated as the principal importing the goods, irrespective of whether the Singapore company calls itself an agent or not. The Singapore company must pay GST Input Tax to Customs Department.

All imported goods (whether for domestic sale or re-exports), are taxable unless the goods are specifically given GST relief by the Comptroller of GST. If the goods are kept in the Free Trade Zones they are not treated as imports; GST is not charged until the goods leave the Free Trade Zones (FTZ) for sale in Singapore (re-exported goods from the FTZ are exempt from GST).

Outside the FTZ, when goods are imported, GST (Input Tax) must be paid to the Customs and Excise Department at the point of importation, irrespective of whether the importer is a trader or a final consumer.

Singapore Customs
Traders are required to ensure that the declared values of goods for customs purposes are correct. If the goods have been undervalued, the Customs and Excise Department will increase the values declared. Severe penalties may be imposed on traders attempting to evade duty.

Cost, insurance, freight, handling charges and all other charges incidental to the sale and delivery of the goods are taken into account when duty is assessed.

License Requirements in Singapore
Most goods in Singapore can be imported freely without licenses.

Generally, the import of goods which the Singapore government considers pose a threat to health, security, safety and social decency are controlled. For example, licenses are required for pharmaceuticals, hazardous chemicals, films and videos, arms and ammunition. Companies exporting controlled items to Singapore must apply for licenses from the appropriate government agencies.

Winding Up a Company

Winding up is the process of dissolving a company and is also known as company liquidation. In such a case, the company’s business is closed down, its assets are sold off, the creditors are paid, the balance of the assets are distributed to the members and at the end, the company ceases to exist.

Singapore Company wind up (liquidation) can happen two ways:

Voluntary Winding Up
A Singapore company can be liquidated voluntarily by its members or its creditors. This is only possible if the company is solvent and able to pay its debts in full within a period not exceeding 12 months from the commencement of the winding up proceedings.

A majority of directors of the company must make a written Declaration of Solvency at a meeting of the directors. Once this declaration has been filed with the Registrar, the directors must send to the members a notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”) to be convened for the purpose of passing a Special Resolution to wind up the company, and an Ordinary Resolution appointing the liquidators (and approving their remuneration).

A Singapore company shall apply to ACRA to strike its name off the Register pursuant to Section 344 of the Companies Act. ACRA may approve the application if it has reasonable cause to believe that the company is not carrying on business.

If ACRA receives any objection after approval of the application has been granted but before the company has been struck off the Register, it will inform the company of the objection. The company is given two (2) months to resolve the matter. If the company is unable to resolve the matter after two (2) months, the striking off process will be terminated. The company will have to submit a new application again if it still wishes to be struck off.

Compulsory Winding Up
A Singapore company may be wound up by the court if it is insolvent, unable to pay its debts or when the court is of the opinion that it is otherwise just and equitable that the company is being liquidated. The company itself, its creditors, shareholders, the liquidator or judicial manager may initiate liquidation proceedings with the High Court.

The Court may appoint a liquidator to wind up the affairs of the Singapore company. Where no liquidator is appointed by the Court, the Official Receiver shall be the liquidator of the company. The liquidator will file the necessary notifications required under the Companies Act.
Contact Information