Did you know that Singapore is the easiest place to do business in the world? This is according to a ranking by the World Bank. In fact, Singapore has been ranked first, seven times in a row since 2012. This is the premise in which many people are attracted to the country for business. Locals and foreigners alike enjoy a comprehensive yet concise system to incorporate a company in Singapore, with great ease. So, what are the steps to starting a business in Singapore? The following information sheds light; in addition, you will get to know the merits and demerits of starting a business in Singapore as well.
1. Business registration
The first step to company incorporation in Singapore. There are various statutory requirements that must be adhered to. To begin with, your company, just like all companies in Singapore must be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). If you have a foreign company whereby you want to establish a branch in the country, you need two agents, who are citizens of Singapore. These agents must also reside in the country permanently. Foreigners who have legal passes can also be considered. Your business registration will not need any government approval. In fact, foreigners can own their businesses a hundred percent; if they meet the laid down requirements. Banking and financial institutions will however need special approval from MAS or Monetary Authority of Singapore. To fully meet all the requirements in business registration, it is vital to familiarize yourself with the Companies Act of Singapore; this is the law that governs businesses in this regard.
2. Get a business name
Choosing a suitable business name is critical and in this regard, ACRA provides an online directory in which you can select available business names in Singapore. A few rules to keep in mind regarding names include not choosing names that are too close to existing brands or trademarks. Names that are offensive or those that are perceived to be obscene and abusive will also not qualify. Companies that are already established may retain their names in accordance with the regulations and guidelines.
3. Know the structure of your business
There are various options when it comes to business structures in Singapore. You can choose a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Partnership and Sole Proprietorship. If you are a foreign company that is looking to create a branch, you will fall under the Foreign Company section. Each and every structure mentioned above comes with its own set of requirements for eligibility. The most important thing is to choose a model of the structure that best suits your business. Keep in mind that companies or individuals who have questionable or criminal backgrounds may be rejected in accordance with the law.
4. Have a business location
For the registration process, you will need to provide a business location. In this regard, you need to know where you intend to operate from. Due diligence is the best way forward on this to get the most suitable location for your business in Singapore. Some people may register businesses that do not need a physical location to operate. In this case, providing the virtual addresses is crucial. Many providers who are professional will offer virtual addresses as needed. Those who choose to operate a home office will state the address as their physical location.
5. Get business permits and licenses
Once you have registered the business, there is a need for permits and licenses. These will be determined by the type of business you are conducting in Singapore. An occupational license is needed for those who provide professional services. These people include pilots, lawyers, doctors, accountants; among others. Those who establish travel agencies, private schools, childcare centers, spas and employment agencies will need to have a Compulsory License to operate their businesses.
6. Establish a business bank account
Finally, it will be beneficial to set up a corporate bank account in Singapore for your business. Most banks in the country that offer these accounts will have excellent features. Global fund transfers, financing and online banking are some of the best elements of a business account.
Pros and cons of starting a business in Singapore
There are many advantages of starting a business in Singapore as listed below.
- Excellent workforce that is highly talented
- Reasonable corporate tax rates
- Funding for business is available
- Immigration ease for expatriates
- State-of-the-art infrastructure and other amenities
- Very low crime rate
- Friendly environment with cosmopolitan population
- Singapore as a market is relatively small
- One must have long-term commitment to set up shop in the country
- There is need for cultural sensitivity while conducting certain businesses