• How Can Foreigners Start A Business in Singapore

Foreigners can register a company and own 100% of its shareholding.

  1. You will need to engage a registered filing agent (such as a law firm, accounting firm or corporate secretarial firm) to submit the application in BizFile+ on your behalf.
  2. One of the directors/authorised representatives/general partners/managers must be a local resident.

Agents usually provide services, such as:

  • Registration of company;
  • Provision of Company Secretary;
  • Provision of local nominee director;
  • Filing Annual Returns with ACRA;
  • Maintaining and updating of information with ACRA; etc.

Foreign entrepreneurs or existing Dependant Pass (DP) holders who wish to start a business in Singapore will need to consider:

  • Setting up a company with an Employment Pass (EP) or
  • Applying for an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)

2021 Business opportunities in Singapore

Truth is, business anywhere is hard but having the right infrastructure, a supportive community, good financial, tax framework and planning definitely helps. Singapore having all of that is already a strong attraction to foreign investors.

Highlighting some business opportunities:

  • The tech industry is a given and Singapore is no exception. If you’re founding a startup, launchpads, accelerators, incubators, sandboxes, mentorship, venture capitalists- you name it, we have it. Read on about all things Startup Singapore.

  • Some popular businesses in consulting, lifestyle and services include home tutoring services, digital marketing, copywriting, cleaning service, and babysitting service.
  • Anything import-export, trading, shipping, logistics and supply chain management, Singapore is the “port of call” for you. Our dominance in the region is thanks to the elaborate infrastructure. we have in place, results in detailed and comprehensive procedures for businesses. To mention notable benefits, our network of over 50 comprehensive Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, many free trade agreements and the Investment Guarantee Agreements.

If you have assets, ideas or innovations to protect, Singapore’s strict enforcement of its strong intellectual property laws would be beneficial to you. Not to mention under the Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence patent scheme, what would usually take 2 to 4 years for others to procure, Singapore can do 3 months.

We have a whole article on business opportunities in Singapore.

 Incorporation checker

How to choose company type according to business needs

We’ll focus on the whys here and leave the elaboration in our article comparing different types on company structure.

First, let’s establish that a private company limited by shares is the way to go. If this is your first business, you can get straight to incorporation. We go into the comparison of sole proprietorship, partnerships and other; and talk about the steps to registering your company.

A quick overview on the requirements:

  • At least one local resident director who is a Singapore citizen, a Singapore permanent resident, or an EntrePass/Employment Pass/ Dependent’s Pass’s holder with LOC.
  • At least one Shareholder
  • S$1 paid-up capital

  • A physical local address
  • A company secretary

Who uses…?

Companies that….

Subsidiaries (Foreign Subsidiary Incorporation in Singapore)Want a separate legal entity because they are venturing into new industries or markets, and would like to keep legal liabilities separate.

Wholly owned (100%) subsidiaries also allow HQ to keep the ratio of their shareholdings fixed. For example, Shareholder A of 50% and Shareholder B of 50% in HQ will have the same ratio in the subsidiary.

Related companiesEnjoy flexibility in their structure. Shareholders and directors in the Singapore related company can be exactly the same as the main company. Whenever a need arises and they would like to have new shareholders or investors, onboarding is simple.
Representative office (Foreign Representative Office)Have little to no clients in the new market. Invoicing is still done by parent company. Once they have more clients, they can decide on setting up a more permanent establishment.
Branch (Foreign Branch Incorporation)Would not like to have a separate legal entity due to commercial or tax purposes. For example, a company might want to retain their tax residency status at the overseas HQ jurisdiction. Having a permanent establishment in Singapore through a subsidiary or another set up might complicate that.
Re-domiciliation (Foreign company Re-domiciliation to Singapore)Are larger in size (50 employees, S$10 million in total assets or annual revenue) and want to protect all their assets, branding and history, bringing it with them to make Singapore their new HQ.

Getting the right visa to run your business in Singapore

Next to setting up your company, you need to get the right visa to live in Singapore and run your business.

Employment Pass (EP) vs EntrePass

There will always be a debate over an EP or EntrePass for foreign business owners. We are advocates of the Employment Pass. Why?

1. Higher application success rate

A qualified individual for EP should have a tertiary or degree certification and a minimum monthly salary of S$4,500 (in accordance to their resume). An EntrePass candidate is intended for serial entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators or experienced investors whose business in Singapore that is venture-backed or owns innovative technologies. In comparison, the EntrePass is daunting.

2. EP is family friendly

If you’re bringing spouse or kids in, they can apply for dependent passes attached to your EP. The qualifying salary for the EP holder is S$6,000. However, if you’re on an EntrePass, you need a total annual business spending of S$100,000 and meet local employment requirements.

3. No specific requirement for renewal

The renewal of an EP is subjective by nature. The Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) looks at the company’s need for the EP holder and their capabilities of engaging him/her for another period. The EntrePass is has a progressive renewal criteria framework. By the 2nd year, you should plan to hire at least 3 full-time employees (FTE) or 1 local professional, manager or executive (PME). Your total annual business spending by then must be at least S$100,000.

“ We selected Paul Hype Page to help us incorporate our Singapore business entity and to secure Employment Pass for our staff. I was very impressed with the expert guidance the in-house corporate specialists provided to navigate the Incorporation and Employment Pass application process. Now that our staff is ready to relocate to Singapore and our company’s bank account is open, we can focus in growing our business. ”

EP vs Tech.Pass

The other hot new pass is the Tech.Pass. A new work pass initiated in 2021, the Tech Pass is available for top-notch foreign professionals and experts who are keen to launch businesses, head corporate teams, or become a lecturer in Singapore. Example: Top-notch e-commerce, AI, and cybersecurity foreign professionals and experts. While promising, it is still a new area and lacks case studies.

Paul Hype Page with 13 years of expertise in applying for EPs, we’ve accumulated a high success rate of 85%. Heavily attributed to our insights close working relations with clients. If your EP is important to you, call us for some planning.

Some difficulties to consider: Bank account opening

Alright, you’ve set up your company and may have gotten your visa settled. You need a corporate bank account next. Not long ago, back in 2018, bank account openings used to be form filling task and some administrative efforts. Now, there is strict enforcement of anti-money laundering (AML) frameworks and common reporting standards (CRS). Bank account openings have become a whole event.

Advise:
Best-case scenario with high success rates: You’re physically in Singapore to visit the banker OR you have an EP

Most of the times, directors are not in Singapore to open their accounts. While most banks support remote account openings now, the trouble is in It results in banks wanting to see tax substance in a company.

Common indicators of tax substance includes:

  • Local staff in Singapore
  • Physical office in Singapore

  • Local sales or suppliers in Singapore

It might be a chicken and egg scenario- how do you achieve all these before your bank account is even set up? We’ve written an article providing some solutions and describing common mistakes made in opening bank accounts. Take a look here.

Other things to consider after your incorporation

1. Licenses

Doing business in Singapore is generally so easy, most general consulting and service businesses don’t need a license. However, watch out for anything that might relate to specific industries like F&B, construction, finance and education etc.

2. Office rental

Co-working spaces are the trend now. Most of them concentrated in the city area.

3. Talent hiring

While hiring, act according to the Fair Consideration Framework of MOM which encourages local hiring before hiring foreigners.

4. Annual compliance

It’s relatively easy in Singapore to maintain your company. If your company doesn’t have specific taxes like goods and services tax (GST) or withholding tax (WHT), your compliance can be done just once a year. Make sure to consult with your accountants or company secretaries for this.

5. Living in Singapore

A very easily overlooked matter among the craze of setting up your business in Singapore. What’s the plan with the accommodation? What’s the transportation like? Do you need to convert your license? And most importantly post pandemic, do you need to be vaccinated? We have a whole category of articles to address these issues. Click here to read on.

Real challenges foreigners might face

Not all things are good- no matter what so many on the internet are claiming. Realistic problems you might face include:

1. Grants don’t apply to you

Local government grants generally have a requirement for 30% local shares in a company.

2. Other forms of financing are also difficult

Without an operational history, bank loans are difficult to get. If you’re founding a startup, the competition to obtain investments by venture capitalists are even more demanding.  

3. Visa renewal

Getting financing is difficult, but if your company is left dormant without revenue, it’s difficult to justify the need for you to stay in Singapore. Your visa is constantly hanging over your head.

All things considered, if you’re a foreign entrepreneur serious about starting your business in Singapore, having a local service provider heavily involved and supporting your operations would be a definite advantage. For 13 years, Paul Hype Page has been coming up with creative solutions for our client’s EP applications, bank account opening and financing. Join our family, drop us a call to talk about how we can help.

FAQs

Can anyone from any country receive an Employment Pass?2020-06-24T14:32:54+08:00

The current regulations regarding the Employment Pass do not bar anyone from receiving one on the basis of nationality. Anyone who meets all of the relevant criteria may receive it. Therefore, any eligible person from any country may receive an Employment Pass.

What Business entities exist in Singapore?2020-06-24T14:32:38+08:00

Those who are interested in starting a Singapore business may select one of several business entities. Among these are the sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership, private limited company, and limited partnership. Foreigners have additional options such as the representative office, foreign branch, and foreign subsidiary.

Can anyone from any country receive an Employment Pass?2020-06-17T15:53:05+08:00

The current regulations regarding the Employment Pass do not bar anyone from receiving one on the basis of nationality. Anyone who meets all of the relevant criteria may receive it. Therefore, any eligible person from any country may receive an Employment Pass.

What Business entities exist in Singapore?2020-06-17T15:52:48+08:00

Those who are interested in starting a Singapore business may select one of several business entities. Among these are the sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership, private limited company, and limited partnership. Foreigners have additional options such as the representative office, foreign branch, and foreign subsidiary.

Why are so many Government agencies related to Businesses in Singapore necessary?2020-06-17T15:51:52+08:00

Although the abundance of government agencies that cater to businesses in Singapore may imply that there is too much bureaucracy in the country, this is not the case. Each agency such as ACRA, the CPF, IRAS, and SSG has its own specific functions and serves the country’s businesses in a different way. These agencies work together to create favorable conditions for Singapore’s businesses.

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156 Discussions

  1. gerson August 28, 2017 at 7:27 am - Reply

    Dear paul,

    I am from Indonesia and i would start an IT company in SG. could you please give me the requirement for it?
    the minimum capital, the law, the taxes and also could you give me the cost for your service until my company can running.

    thanks

    • Paul Hype Page August 29, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Dear Gerson,

      We recommend that you consider our all-in-one Incorporation with Employment Pass package to help you get started. We would love to hear more about your company so we can better advise you on what to do. Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg for more details and charges.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  2. Shanil Muhammed August 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Hi, i am shanil from india. I would like to start a corporate training center in Singapore. Currently we have offices in india and UAE. Is it possible to provide necessary informations? And I am a UAE Resident Visa (Invester Visa) Holder. I just need to set up 3 staffs working office (minimal requirements) and bank account and licenses. Expecting ur reply

    • elise August 23, 2017 at 7:24 am - Reply

      Dear Shanil,

      All we need is your passport and proof of address, fill up our incorporation form and we will be able to set up your company within 2 working days. We would suggest our all-in-one Incorporation with Employment Pass package. More details about your company would be helpful, as we would be better able to advise from there.

      Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg and let’s talk more.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  3. Amit kumar July 29, 2017 at 5:00 am - Reply

    Hi , Paul ,
    I send mail to ur email I’d , kindly reply me asap, i given my contact number too,if possible then please contact me,I am waiting for reply with all details.thanks

  4. Abel Magayanes July 22, 2017 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Hi,

    I would like to set up a small business in Singapore.Please advise me what is the minimum capital required and also procedures
    For the same. I am from Philippines.. Thanks

    • Paul Hype Page August 2, 2017 at 3:10 am - Reply

      Dear Abel,

      Thank you for getting in touch. You’ve made the right choice choosing Singapore as a business destination, we are one of the easiest countries in the world to do business. The minimum capital to start a company in Singapore would be SGD$1. To proceed to the next step, we would need more details regarding the nature of your business to offer more specific advise.

      Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg . Have a great day ahead.

      Best Regards,
      Paul

  5. Amit kumar July 18, 2017 at 4:15 am - Reply

    Hi,this is Amit from India,actually I want to start a fabrications company in Singapore,I want to get all details about this,including the business place ,bcuz of that m kming to Singapore ,n which Visa will work for that,?or wat is the condition to get PR,N HOW MANY DAYS WILL TAKE A TIME FOR PROCESSING? PLEASE GIVE ME ALL THE DETAILS,,

    • Paul Hype Page July 21, 2017 at 7:49 am - Reply

      Dear Amit,

      Our Incorporation with Employement Pass package is the best solution for entrepreneurs looking to open their first venture in Singapore. It will be recommended to apply for Employment pass first and operate your business in Singapore for a while before you apply for PR (PR process may take from 6 months to 2 years depending on individual criteria)

      Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg if you need further assistance on securing Employment Passes. Have a great day ahead.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  6. Umar July 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am from pakistan, I want to start computer or grosery shop in singapor. Please tell me how can i get visa and how much investment i needed for it ???and how much time process will take

    • Paul Hype Page July 21, 2017 at 7:47 am - Reply

      Dear Umar,

      Our Incorporation with Employment Pass all-in-one package is the answer to help you get started in Singapore. My colleague will drop you an email shortly with more details and charges. Hope to hear from you soon!

      Cheers,
      Paul

  7. isaac clement asmaoah July 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    l, will like to set up a small business in Singapore. i am from Ghana. i can travel to Singapore without attaining a visa but not work visa. can you please advice me as to how to get the work visa and incorporation. please tell me how much will i spend in getting all the documents done for me.
    Again, let me know what will be required. Thanks.

    • Paul Hype Page July 21, 2017 at 7:46 am - Reply

      Dear Isaac,

      Thank you for getting in touch. May we recommend our Incorporation with Employment Pass all in one package if you’re keen on opening a company?

      My colleague will drop you an email with more information on the details and charges shortly. We hope to hear from you soon!

      Best Regards,
      Paul

  8. Alexander July 10, 2017 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    Currently I am a student in Singapore and I would like to open the company. Is it possible for in my situation?
    Thanks,
    Alexander.

    • Paul Hype Page July 11, 2017 at 1:09 am - Reply

      Dear Alexander,

      Perhaps you could tell us more about the kind of company you wish to setup? We would be able to advise you better once we have more details.

      Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg for more details and charges. Hope to hear from you soon.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  9. Abdulla July 8, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Hello,

    I would like to know the process and set up cost of a consultation company in singapore.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Abdulla

    • Paul Hype Page July 11, 2017 at 1:09 am - Reply

      Dear Abdulla,

      We would like to have a consultation session with you to better discuss your options and how we can help you set up your company. May I recommend our Incorporation with Employment Pass solution? I believe that would be the best approach for your business needs. My colleague will email you shortly with more details.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  10. Ahmad seyar May 28, 2017 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Please provide me information regarding business of mechanical garage in singapore I like to open mechanical garage business in Singapore.

    Thank You,

    • Paul Hype Page May 30, 2017 at 1:52 am - Reply

      Dear Ahmad,

      We would recommend you consider our incorporation solution package that allows you to setup your own business and apply for employment pass. Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg for more details and charges.

      Kind Regards,
      Paul

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