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Registering a Company in Singapore

Singapore's buoyant economy has continued to attract foreign entrepreneurs to this South East Asian country for several years.

city_dayAccording to statistics published by the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower, during the first quarter of 2012 alone the number of new business registrations was over 14,500. Setting up a new business can be a daunting task, and much more so in a foreign country. So what are the steps required in order to register a company in Singapore?

Mandatory Requirements

Business registrations are handled by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

Anyone wishing to register a business in Singapore must ensure that the following requirements are met before starting the registration process:

  1. the company's must be unique and must not have been previously registered. Company names that resemble others in any way may be rejected by the Registrar and the fee submitted will not be refunded.
  2. a physical company address in Singapore must be provided. Businesses addresses can be commercial or residential, but not a P.O. Box.
  3. only the business owner is allowed to register sole propietorships and partnerships. If the business owner is not a Singaporean citizen or a permanent resident, an agent must be engaged to act on behalf of the company during the registration process.
  4. an appropriate SSIC code that describes the company's field of activity needs to be chosen from the list provided by the ACRA.
  5. the minimum shared capital required to register a company is S$1.
  6. private limited companies must have at least one director (who must be a permanent Singaporean resident) and between one and fifty shareholders. A company secretary will have to be appointed within 6 months of registration.
  7. those registering a company must provide the ACRA with a written description of the company's activities and with a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Proof of identity will also be required, and in the case of foreign entrepreneurs, additional information (such as reference letters and previous business profiles) may be required.

Timeframe and Costs

Companies owned by Singaporean citizens or permanent residents can be registered online and the process can take as little as 15 minutes, although the average timeframe is 24-48 hours. In some instances (such as in the case of public companies), the approval of other governmental bodies will be required before proceeding with registration. This can slow down the registration process between 2 weeks and 2 months. Foreign non-resident individuals must use an incorporation services agent in order to register their company.

The cost of registering a business depends on the business structure of the company. The cost to register sole propietorships, general partnerships, and limited partnerships is S$50. The registration fee for limited liability partnerships is S$150, and in the case of public limited companies it rises to S$300. This fee does not include company name registration, which must be paid separately at a cost of S$15.

Following registration, companies will be issued with an electronic certificate of incorporation. Hard copies are not required by Singaporean authorities, but may be obtained after paying the relevant fee (currently S$50).