Challenges of International Compliance for a Foreign Corporation in Singapore

Many business owners might feel pressurized when moving their operations to another country. However, is it right to be pressurized as there is A LOT that needs to be taken care of. All the regulations, laws, compliance issues, all of them need to be met in order to move the business entirely to the new country. This is where most businesses face trouble- international compliance. Compared to other countries, Singapore has a great ease of doing business rating, thanks to the flexible government regulations. What some may see as challenging compliance issues here, some might see as the easiest and the most convenient. Here are some compliance requirements that all businesses need to come up to, if they plan to expand their operations to Singapore:

 A Secretary

Each company planning to begin operations here must have a locally resident company secretary. The company secretary must be trained and qualified to handle all the functions, and must have enough local business experience to help the business comply with other requirements.

Local Resident Director

A foreign corporation setting foot in Singapore can have any amount of directors. However, at least one director should be one who is ‘ordinarily resident in Singapore’. This means that the person should be a citizen, permanent resident, or a person who has an employment pass. Anyone above the age of 18 can be appointed as a director.


Foreign companies planning to set up operations in Singapore must have a registered office, which should be open and accessible to public in normal working hours.

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Appointing Auditors

Each company should appoint an auditor within three months from the date of incorporation, unless it is exempted from audit specifications. In order to exempt audit requirements, a company should:

  • Have individual shareholders
  • Have less than 20 shareholders
  • Have less than a $5 million annual turnover

GST Registration

General Sales Tax is an indirect tax, expressed usually as a percentage, applied to selling price of services and goods, provided by GST registered business entities. GST registration is required if:

  • The company’s turnover is more than $1 million for the past 12 months
  • The company’s turnover will exceed $1 million during the next 12 months


Depending upon the nature of your operations, your company may or may not require a business license. If you are planning to enter the health sector, or tobacco industry, you might require securing a license from the respective Singaporean authority.

Accounting Records

Each company should be able to maintain accounting records for up to 5 years after the completion of transactions. These accounting records should include balance sheets, and profit and loss accounts to represent sales and other business transactions adequately.

Annual Filing

Each company must file annual tax returns with the Revenue Authority and annual returns with the Company registrar. So, are you planning to enter Singapore as a business or a company? You will need to come up to these compliance standards to make sure that you grow and develop as a business. If all these compliance issues seem challenging, be sure to contact us for help!