Frequently Asked Questions
Incorporation and company law
Can a foreigner incorporate a company in Singapore? Can a foreigner own 100% of the equity of a Singapore company?

Yes, and yes. Shareholders of a Singapore company can be any of the following:

  1. A local individual,
  2. A foreign individual,
  3. A local corporate entity, or
  4. A foreign corporate entity.

Any of these shareholders can own 100% of the equity of a Singapore company.

I am a foreigner and want to set up a company in Singapore. What are the minimum legal requirements for registering a Singapore company by a foreigner?

The legal requirements to register a Singapore company are the same for Singaporeans and foreigners. They are as follows:

  1. The company must appoint a qualified local company secretary,
  2. The company must appoint a local address as the registered address for the company,
  3. The company must appoint a local resident director, and
  4. The company must have a minimum share capital of S$1.
We are a foreign company and want to establish a subsidiary in Singapore. What are the requirements for registering a subsidiary company in Singapore?
A subsidiary company is simply another locally registered company with a corporate shareholder. Therefore the same requirements as listed above apply.
Will I have to be in Singapore to incorporate my company?

No. With our online system, we can incorporate your company without being in Singapore. We can perform all necessary tasks remotely.

However, please note that Singapore banks will require you to visit Singapore and meet with them face to face to open a corporate bank account. To establish a bank account, most of our customers plan a visit to Singapore after incorporating the company.

Can you explain the incorporation process step-by-step?

The procedure for incorporating a new Singapore company is quite straightforward. Our company registration guide provides a detailed overview of the process, the required documents, the steps involved, and the timeline for incorporating a company. If you decide to work with us, we will follow the process described in this incorporation flowchart.

I am a foreigner and I don’t have a person in Singapore who can act as the local resident director for my proposed company? How do I satisfy the local director requirement in this case?
You can use our Nominee Local Director service to satisfy this requirement. Most foreigners who set up a company in Singapore and are not relocating to Singapore use this option.
Can I appoint the local director and registered address for the company after incorporation of the company?
No. Singapore’s corporate regulations state that you can not register a company unless you provide details of the local director and registered address for the company. Therefore, you have to establish this information prior to incorporation.
Can we run the company from overseas or must I relocate to Singapore?

You are free to operate your company from overseas or from Singapore. Keep in mind that if you are a foreigner and wish to relocate to Singapore to run your company, you must obtain the appropriate immigration visa that will allow you to live and work in Singapore.

Can I act as the local director after I relocate to Singapore?
Yes, after you have obtained a valid work pass, you can appoint yourself as the local resident director for the company.
What are the reporting requirements for Singapore private limited companies? What do I need to report and how often?

In general:

  1. You must file an Annual Return with Singapore company registrar, ACRA.
  2. You must file an annual corporate income tax return with Singapore tax authority, IRAS.

For more details, see annual filing requirements for Singapore companies.

Is it a big deal if I don’t file these annual returns?

Yes. Although the government makes starting and operating a Singapore company very easy and straightforward, it expects all companies to comply with its regulations. Serious penalties can apply in case of non-compliance.

What is the approximate cost that I will incur for maintaining my Singapore company?

Your routine annual cost for maintaining your Singapore company will consist of:

  1. The annual cost of corporate secretarial services, such as company secretary, registered address, and nominee local director. This cost can vary between S$800 to S$3,200 depending on the specific services you need.
  2. The annual cost of accounting and tax filing services, such as bookkeeping, payroll, corporate tax filing. This cost can vary between S$500 to S$3,000 depending on the specific services you need.
Will I need to register my company for GST?

No necessarily. If your turnover in the past 12 months (or in the next 12 months) will exceed S$1 million then you are required to register for GST.

If desired, you can voluntarily register for GST at any time.

For more details, see our GST registration guide.

Will my company need to obtain any licenses before commencing operations?

For most industries in Singapore, you do not have to obtain a license before commencing operations. However, certain industries do require a license before commencing activities. Examples include employment agencies, financial services firms, travel agencies, restaurant business, etc. You can find more information here.

Can I register a Singapore-specific domain name after I register my company?
Yes, you can.
How does Singapore ensure that its companies are not used for Terrorism Financing or Money Laundering?
Singapore government requires corporate service providers to conduct “Know Your Client” (KYC) due diligence on every client before they register a company for the client. The KYC procedures are designed to comply with FATF’s AML/CFT guidelines.
Is Singapore on the OECD's list of "Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories"? Is it considered a tax haven by OECD or other such bodies?
No, and no. Singapore fully complies with OECD initiatives for preventing tax avoidance. It is not considered to be a tax haven by any international organization.
What information is publicly available about a Singapore company?
Singapore maintains a public register of all companies. The name, address, and ownership information of a company is available to the public through this register.
Can I nominate someone else as the director or shareholder of the company if I don’t want to be listed in public records?

Yes, you can. However, as part of the AML/CFT regulations, Singapore’s corporate regulations require the disclosure of all beneficial owners and controllers of a company in a private register. This register is accessible only to law enforcement agencies and not to the general public.

I have read the term UBO at a few places; what does it mean?

UBO stands for Ultimate Beneficial Owner.  This is a term that is defined as part of Singapore's Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regulations. Singapore’s corporate regulations require the disclosure of all beneficial owners of a company.

A UBO is an individual who benefits from the ownership of the company and has control over the company through voting power, but ultimately is not involved in the management of the company. Use of the terms “ultimately owns or controls” and “ultimate effective control” refer to situations in which the ownership or the control is not direct but is exercised through a chain of ownership or by means of control other than direct control.

What assistance does Singapore provide to startups?

Singapore provides one of the most welcoming environments for startups. Several tax benefits and cash grants are available to startups. Some examples include:

  1. Full tax exemption on the first S$100,000 of profits and 50% tax exemption on the next S$200,000 of profits for the first 3 years. Note that from Year of Assessment 2020 this incentive will be changed to 75% tax exemption for first S$100,000 of profits and 50% exemption on the next S$100,000 in profit for the first 3 years.
  2. A tax credit of up to 100% of the capital expenditure incurred for qualifying projects during the first five years (up to eight years in some cases).
  3. 400% tax deduction or allowance on expenditures that enhance productivity or innovation.
  4. Several cash grants available to startup in targeted industries.

For more details, see our article on business incentives.