Regulated by The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), it is stated: “Foreign companies interested in exploring potential business opportunities may set up a Representative Office (RO) in Singapore before committing to a business venture. It allows a foreign entity to assess the business environment in Singapore before deciding to set up a permanent establishment.
A Representative Office in Singapore is a temporary set-up with no legal status so it cannot engage in any trading or business activities which yield a profit.”
If you are looking to incorporate a separate legal entity to for sales purposes, you should consider incorporating a private limited company instead.
Permitted Activities Under a Singapore Representative Office
The objective of a representative office is to test the market to see if there is any demand of the products or services. This is akin to doing market research in the country.
Here is a list of activities that this company type is allowed to engage in:
Conduct competitor and consumer analysis
Engage in market research to identify market gaps, supply and demand, pricing strategy
Network and build connections with key industry players and suppliers
Participate in trade shows in exhibitions
Prepare any documentations or do research for future company incorporation in Singapore
There are also limitations in terms of activities conducted by representative offices, such as:
Engage in business activities or sign contracts with any form of businesses
Issue invoices or receive any credit
Requirements to set up a Representative Office in Singapore
The requirements for a RO setup in Singapore are:
The sales turnover of the foreign company must be at least US$ 250,000;
The foreign company must be established for a minimum period of 3 years;
The proposed number of staff for the Representative Office should not exceed 5.
Documents Required to Start a Singapore Representative Office
The following documents must be submitted:
Completed Singapore representative office application
Copy of the parent Company’s Certificate of Incorporation or Registration Certificate, as the case may be
Copy of the parent company’s latest annual report and audited accounts
Duly endorsed undertaking to abide by the Terms and Conditions governing representative offices in Singapore