From Relocation to Registration: Making Your Business Dream a Reality in Singapore
Singapore is an attractive destination for people looking to live, work, and raise a family in a safe and prosperous environment. The country offers several benefits for foreigners who want to relocate there, such as:
Strong economy: Singapore has a highly developed and diversified economy that is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive in the world. It offers a stable business environment with low corruption and a highly skilled workforce, making it an attractive location for businesses to operate and individuals to work. Singapore maintains a thriving and modern economy, providing many international interests with a comfortable location for their Asian regional bases.
High standard of living: Singapore has a high standard of living with excellent healthcare, education, and public infrastructure. It is also known for its clean and safe streets, efficient public transport system, and vibrant cultural scene.
Cultural diversity: Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse population that includes Chinese, Malay, Indian, and other ethnic groups. This has resulted in a rich cultural heritage and a wide range of cuisines, festivals, and traditions.
Easy to do business: The country provides incredible business opportunities for expatriates. Singapore has a business-friendly environment with a low tax rate, minimal bureaucracy, and a strong legal system. This makes it easy for companies to set up and operate in the country.
Strategic location: Singapore is strategically located in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it an ideal hub for businesses looking to tap into the region's growing markets. It also has excellent connectivity with the rest of the world, with one of the world's busiest ports and a world-class airport.
Consequently, starting a business in Singapore has become a popular choice among entrepreneurs worldwide, thanks to its strategic location, favorable business environment, and ease of company registration. If you're considering starting a business in Singapore, this article will guide you through the process of company registration, residency options, opening a bank account, business licensing, and taxation in Singapore.
Company Registration in Singapore
One of the first steps in starting a business in Singapore is company registration. Singapore offers various types of business structures, but the most common and preferred option is private limited company incorporation. A private limited company is a separate legal entity from its shareholders and directors, which means that they are not personally liable for the company's debts and losses.
To register a private limited company in Singapore, you need to have at least one shareholder, one director, and a company secretary.
The process of company registration in Singapore is straightforward and can be completed online within a week if all the necessary documents are in order. The incorporation process in Singapore will be as follows:
Choose a company name: You will need to choose a name for your company that is unique and not already registered in Singapore. You can check the availability of a company name through the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) website.
Decide on the company structure: You will need to decide on the type of company structure you want to register and the number of shareholders. The shareholder and director can be the same person, and they can be foreigners or locals.
Appoint a local director and company secretary: All companies registered in Singapore are required to have at least one local director and a company secretary. The director must be a Singaporean citizen, a permanent resident, or a person who has been issued an Employment Pass, or EntrePass. The company secretary must be appointed within six months of the company's incorporation.
Register your company: You can register your company through the ACRA website using the BizFile+ portal. You will need to provide information such as your company name, registered address, company type, and details of the directors and shareholders.
Obtain necessary licenses and permits: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional licenses and permits from government agencies such as the Ministry of Manpower, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, or the National Environment Agency.
Open a corporate bank account: Once your company is registered, you will need to open a corporate bank account with a traditional or digital bank in Singapore. It is possible to open a bank account for a Singapore company in another jurisdiction.
It is recommended that you engage the services of a professional service firm or a corporate services provider such as Golden Harbors to assist you with the company registration process, as it can be complex and time-consuming. We can help you navigate the regulatory requirements and ensure that your company is set up correctly.
Residency Options for Business Owners in Singapore
As a business owner in Singapore, you have various residency options to choose from, depending on your business needs and personal circumstances. The most common residency options for business owners in Singapore are the Employment Pass, the Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass), and residency by investment.
The Employment Pass is a work visa that allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore. To be eligible for the Employment Pass, you need to have a job offer from a Singapore-based company and meet the minimum salary and educational requirements. The applicant must be a director or shareholder of a Singapore-registered company and have a recommended monthly salary of SGD 10,000. The EP is usually valid for up to two years and is renewable thereafter.
The EntrePass is a work visa designed for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a business in Singapore. To be eligible for the EntrePass, you need to have a business plan that is innovative, scalable, has the potential to create local employment opportunities, and has the ability to add value to Singapore's economy. The EntrePass is valid for up to two years and can be extended.
Residency by investment is another option for business owners who want to live and work in Singapore. This option requires you to invest a substantial amount of money in Singapore's economy, either through the Global Investor Program (GIP) or the Financial Investor Scheme (FIS). The applicant will be able to get permanent resident status right away by investing SGD 2.5 million in a new business entity or in the expansion of an existing business operation, in a GIP fund, or in a new or existing Singapore-based single family office. The approval of residency by investment is subject to the discretion of the authority.
Understanding of Singapore Passes and Work Permits
Singapore passes are frequently issued to foreign talents who are highly skilled in their field, have certain qualifications, and earn a minimum of S$5,000 per year, whereas work permits are issued to semi-skilled migrant workers from approved source countries and regions to work in specific sectors. To be eligible for the work permit, you need to have a job offer from a Singapore-based company and meet the specific requirements for your industry.
In Singapore, there are various passes available for foreigners who want to live and work in the country. The most common passes and work permits are the S Pass, Tech Pass, Personalized Employment Pass (PEP), and ONE Pass:
1. The S Pass is a work visa in Singapore designed for mid-level skilled workers. The applicant must meet certain criteria, including:
A) a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD 3,000;
B) relevant educational qualifications or years of work experience;
C) a job offer from a Singaporean company; d. the company's compliance with the quota and levy requirements for S Pass holders. The S Pass is typically issued for a period of two years and is renewable thereafter, subject to the company's compliance with the quota and levy requirements.
2. The TechPass is a new work visa designed to bring top technology talent to Singapore. To be eligible for the Tech.Pass, the applicant must meet certain criteria, including:
A) have a proven track record of at least five years of experience in leading and building tech companies or developing and deploying tech products with a demonstrable business impact;
B) be a founder, key contributor, or executive of a tech company with a minimum valuation of SGD 500 million or have raised at least SGD 30 million in funding;
C) be a holder of a patent in a tech-related field or have published a significant body of research work in leading academic journals or industry publications;
D) have an offer of employment from a Singapore-based company; or be a director or consultant of a Singapore-based company It is important to note that the Tech.Pass is limited to 500 applicants per year, and the application process can be competitive. Tech.Pass holders can apply for pass renewal after two years.
3. The PEP is a work visa designed for high-earners who want to work and live in Singapore. The PEP is unique in that it is not tied to a specific employer or job, which means that the PEP holder can switch jobs without having to apply for a new work visa. The PEP is also valid for up to three years and is non-renewable. To be eligible for a PEP, the applicant must meet certain criteria, including:
A) minimum fixed monthly salary of SGD 18,000;
B) possessing relevant qualifications, skills, and work experience;
C) having a good employment record and no criminal record;
D) not being unemployed for more than six consecutive months at the time of application;
E) not having been employed in Singapore with a fixed-term contract of less than a year;
F) not being a freelancer or self-employed in Singapore. It is important to note that the PEP is limited to a maximum of 3,000 holders at any given time, and the application process can be competitive.
4. The ONE Pass (Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass) is a multi-country work visa designed for foreign professionals. There are two different ways to apply for this pass:
Route determined by a salary criterion;
Route based on exceptional achievements.
To be eligible for the ONE Pass route based on salary, the applicant must meet both of the following criteria:
A) have earned a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000, or its equivalent in foreign currency, in the previous year; or will earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 under their future Singapore-based employer;
B) demonstrate that they have worked for an established company outside of Singapore for at least one year, or that they will be working for an established company in Singapore.
The applicant's previous outstanding achievements can also be used to apply for the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass Singapore. Candidates may apply even if they do not meet the above salary criteria if they have outstanding achievements in their areas of expertise. Before being considered for the outstanding achievement track for academia and research, they must submit a detailed CV (including their academic qualifications, professional experiences, and accomplishments), as well as a letter of endorsement from a local host research institution (i.e., autonomous universities or A*STAR).
Dependent Passes and Long-Term Visit Passes in Singapore
If you have family members who want to join you in Singapore, they can apply for Dependent Passes or Long-Term Visit Passes.
1. Dependent Pass (DP) is designed for the immediate family members of eligible work permit holders, including Employment Pass (EP), S Pass, and PEP holders. The DP allows the holder to live and work in Singapore without the need for a separate work visa. The validity of the DP is tied to the validity of the sponsoring work pass and is typically valid for up to two or three years, depending on the sponsoring pass.
To be eligible for a DP, the applicant must be the spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of the eligible work permit holder. The applicant must also meet certain criteria, including:
Providing proof of the family relationship with the sponsoring work permit holder;
Possessing a valid passport with at least six months of validity;
Submitting the required application forms and supporting documents;
Passing the relevant medical examinations and security clearances.
Once issued, the DP holder is allowed to study and work in Singapore, subject to obtaining the necessary permits and approvals. The DP holder is also eligible to apply for a Letter of Consent (LOC) to work without the need for a separate work visa if the employer is willing to sponsor the application.
2. The Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) is a permit issued by the Singapore government that allows foreigners to stay in Singapore for extended periods of time to visit or stay with their family members who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents. LTVPs can also be issued to the foreign spouses of Employment Pass or S Pass holders.
With a Long-Term Visit Pass, the following family members may enter Singapore:
unmarried disabled children over the age of 21;
Unmarried stepchildren under the age of 21;
Parents (only permitted for Employment Pass holders earning at least S$10,000 per month).
To be eligible for an LTVP, the applicant must have a family member who is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their application. The sponsor must also meet certain criteria, such as having a certain level of income and being able to provide adequate accommodation for the applicant. Additionally, applicants for LTVPs may be subject to other eligibility criteria, such as a minimum age requirement or a requirement to provide proof of their relationship with the sponsor. LTVPs are typically valid for a period of 2 years and can be renewed for up to 3 years at a time. LTVP holders are allowed to work in Singapore, but they must obtain a Letter of Consent (LOC) from the Ministry of Manpower before they can start work.
Opening a Bank Account in Singapore
Singapore has a robust banking system, and there are various banks to choose from, including OCBC, DBS, UOB, Citibank, HSBC, and Aspire. The process of opening a bank account in Singapore is straightforward and can be completed within several weeks if all the necessary documents are in order.
Here are the general steps to open a corporate bank account in Singapore:
1. Choose a bank: Research and choose a bank that suits your business needs.
2. Prepare documentation: Prepare the necessary documents, including:
Certificate of incorporation;
company seal and rubber stamp;
Board of directors’ resolution authorizing the opening of the account and the signatories to the account;
Identification documents of authorized signatories, such as a passport or NRIC (ID card).
3. Schedule an appointment: Contact the bank to schedule an appointment to open the account. It is possible to make online appointments.
4. Attend the appointment: Attend the appointment with the bank representative and bring all the required documents with you.
5. Complete the application: Fill out the application form and provide all necessary information to the bank representative.
6. Wait for approval: wait for the bank to review and approve the application. This process can take several days or weeks, depending on the bank and the complexity of your business structure.
7. Activate the account: Once the account is approved, the bank will provide you with the necessary information to activate the account and start using it.
It's important to note that some banks may have specific requirements or additional documents needed for opening a corporate account, so it's advisable to check with the bank beforehand to ensure you have everything you need.
Moreover, some banks may require a minimum initial deposit or ongoing minimum balance to maintain the account. For instance, traditional bank OCBC requires an initial deposit of S$1,000, monthly bank charges of S$10, and a minimum monthly balance of S$1,000, whereas digital bank Aspire requires no initial deposit, no monthly bank charges, and no monthly minimum balance.
Business Licensing in Singapore
Depending on your industry and business activities, you may need to obtain specific licenses and permits to operate your business in Singapore. The most common business licenses and permits in Singapore include the food and beverage license, retail license, and construction permit. To obtain a business license or permit in Singapore, you need to submit the necessary documents and meet the specific requirements set by the Singapore government. The process of obtaining a business license or permit in Singapore can take several weeks, so it's essential to plan accordingly.
In Singapore, the process of applying for a business license depends on the type of business activity and industry you are involved in. Here are the general steps for obtaining a business license in Singapore:
Determine the type of license needed: The first step is to determine the type of license needed for your business activity. You can visit the government website to search for the licenses required for your business.
Submit the application: Once you have determined the type of license needed, you can submit the application online through the same portal. You will need to provide information about your business, such as the company name, address, and nature of your business, as well as any supporting documents or certificates required.
Pay the fee: Most license applications require a fee, which can be paid online at the time of application.
Wait for approval: The processing time for a business license application can vary depending on the type of license and the complexity of your business activity. Some applications can be approved within a few days, while others may take several weeks or months.
Receive the license: Once your application is approved, you will receive the license from the relevant authority. Some licenses may require additional inspections or certifications before they can be issued.
Some businesses may require multiple licenses, and it is important to comply with all regulatory requirements to avoid penalties or fines.
Taxation in Singapore
Singapore has a favorable tax system, and the tax rates are relatively low compared to other countries. Taxation in Singapore is governed by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The tax system in Singapore is relatively simple and transparent, with low tax rates and a wide range of tax incentives and exemptions available to businesses.
Here are the main taxes that businesses need to be aware of:
Corporate Income Tax: Singapore has a flat corporate tax rate of 17% on taxable income. However, a Singapore company can enjoy a lower tax rate of 8.5% on its first SGD 200,000.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): GST is a tax on the supply of goods and services in Singapore. The current rate of GST is 8%. Businesses with an annual turnover of more than S$1 million must register for GST.
Personal Income Tax: Individuals who are tax residents of Singapore are subject to personal income tax on their income earned in Singapore as well as overseas income remitted to Singapore. The tax rates range from 0% to 22%, depending on the level of income.
Withholding tax: Withholding tax is a tax levied on certain types of income paid to non-residents of Singapore. The withholding tax rates vary depending on the nature of the income. The tax rates range from 0% to 22%.
Property Tax: Property tax is levied on all properties in Singapore. The tax rates vary depending on the type of property and its annual value. For owner-occupied residential properties, the property tax rate ranges from 0% to 4%, depending on the annual value of the property. For non-owner-occupied residential properties, the property tax rate ranges from 10% to 20% of the annual value of the property. For commercial and industrial properties, the property tax rate is 10% of the annual value of the property. There are also additional property taxes for certain types of properties, such as vacant land and properties with outdoor advertisements.
Stamp duty is a tax on documents relating to the purchase or transfer of properties, stocks, and shares. The stamp duty rates vary depending on the nature and value of the transaction. The tax rates range from 0% to 6%.
In addition to the above taxes, Singapore offers a range of tax incentives and exemptions to businesses, such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, which provides tax deductions or cash payouts for investments in productivity and innovation activities.
To comply with Singapore's tax laws, you need to keep accurate records of your income and expenses, file your tax returns on time, and pay the necessary taxes. If you're unsure about Singapore's tax laws, it's recommended that you work with a tax professional.
Start Your Journey To Singapore With Golden Harbors
Starting a business in Singapore can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. By understanding the processes of company registration, residency options, passes and work permits, opening a bank account, business licensing, and taxation in Singapore, you can make your business dream a reality.
One of the key advantages of working with Golden Harbors is our experience and expertise in the field. Our team has helped many individuals successfully relocate to Singapore and register their businesses there. We guide you through the remote process from start to finish. Register your Singapore company and apply for a residence permit with Golden Harbors.
Residence Permit Advantages
Fast application processing
up to 8 weeks
Global mobility and freedom
Visa-free travel to 193 countries, including the EU, UK, Canada, China, and the United States
International expansion: register your company and get access to Singapore free economic zones
Global mobility and freedom
The corporate tax rate is 0% for resident companies for the first three years and up to 9% for non-resident companies on their first $200,000 net profit. VAT: 8%
Low tax rates on personal income
Individuals are only taxed on income earned in Singapore at a variable rate between 0% to 22%. No tax on property and inheritance
Global mobility and freedom
Residence permit allows you to work, do business and study
Potential path to Singapore citizenship in 5 years
Residents can apply for Singapore citizenship after 5 years
Global mobility and freedom
Family members can apply for a residence permit together with the main applicant
No requirements on the duration of stay in the country
No minimum stay requirements to maintain and extend the status
Global mobility and freedom
Politically stable country in Asia;
The best workforce in the world;
The highest quality of life in Asia
Processing Time and Terms
Enter your estimated application start date for the Singapore Residence Permit and receive a clear timetable for each step
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Sign a service agreement, fill out an application form online, and pay service fees.
We incorporate a company for you.
We open a bank account in Singapore.
We compile the document package required for the program, and your application is submitted to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore.
We receive the in-principal approval (IPA) letter and you have to enter Singapore within 6 months.
We receive a notification letter and you register your fingerprints and have your photo taken.