About this guide
Singapore is one of the easiest places in the world to start a business. Although the process is simple and efficient, there are strict regulatory compliances required by the Companies Act. This guide gives you a quick overview of the requirements, process and timeline for company incorporations in Singapore.
Most Singapore company registrations are incorporated as a Private Limited Company. The company names would typically be suffixed with the abbreviation “Pte Ltd”.
Company Registration Requirements
All Singapore registered companies must observe the following minimum requirements:
- At least ONE resident director
- At least ONE shareholder
- Director and Shareholder can be the same person. We recommend at least 2 directors. This would serve well when opening bank accounts which sometimes which usually require 2 signatories.
- Company Secretary
Choosing a Business Name
Choose a unique business name that is approved by ACRA and any other relevant approving authorities. There are a myriad of rules and guidelines to choosing a suitable business name but here are the pertinent ones:
- Name must be unique and not similar to any other registered business entity
- Name cannot contain any obscenities or vulgarities
- Cannot use names that are reserved or restricted by the Government
- Use our online name availability check to verify the usability of your preferred company name.
We provide a easy to use online business names availability check to help you search for a suitable name that is available for use. You should also choose a name that has a suitable web domain address that is available. Our online tool allow you to search for both.
Define your principle business activity
During incorporation, you will need to provide the SSIC code that classifies your company’s business activity. Use our SSIC code search to identify the right code to use for your company.
Place of Business
All businesses are required to provide a Registered Business Address. A private residential or commercial address is required. P.O. Boxes are not permitted as a registered business address.
Documents required for Incorporation
The following documents are required for company registration:
- Company Name and SSIC code
- A brief description of the Business Activities
- Particulars of Shareholders, Directors and Company Secretary
- Registered Office Address
- Memorandum and Articles of Association (commonly referred to as M&AA)
- Scanned copy of Singapore NRIC (Front and Back)
- Scanned copy of passport
- Proof of overseas address (e.g. a utility bill or bank statement)
- Fully completed ECRA’s Know Your Client (or KYC) document
- Banks may also require their KYC documents in addition to bank opening forms
For Corporate Shareholders (if any)
- Scanned copy of Certificate of Incorporation
- Scanned copy of Business Profile
- Scanned copy of Memorandum and Articles of Association
- Proof of address
The Incorporation Process
ECRA will manage the complete process. Assuming all documents are in order, the company registration process can be completed within 1 day. Here’s an overview of the time taken for each task.
- The notification of approval or rejection of the preferred name usually received within an hour.
- If the approval needs to be referred to other approval authorities, then the notification may take a week or 2.
- Upon approval, names will be reserved for a period of 60 days. Incorporation should be completed within this period. Otherwise, an extension can be made for another 60 days.
Register the company
- Prepare all required documents duly signed and certified
- Upon completion, file the company registration with ACRA
- The registration process itself takes no more than 15-20 minutes. So the registration process essentially takes as much time as the directors/shareholders can complete, endorse and scan all required documents.
Certificate of Incorporation
Upon successfully registering the company, ACRA will generate an email notification stating the company registration number which serves as the confirmation of incorporation. If the printed copy of the official certificate of incorporation is required, it can be purchased for a fee which will be ready for collection at ACRA’s office the next business day.
Company Business Profile
The Company Business Profile is the official documentary proof of your company registration. A PDF copy of the business profile is made available for download for a nominal fee. The business profile contains the following:
- Company Name and Registration Number
- Previous names for the company (“formerly known as” if any)
- Date of Incorporation
- Principal Activities
- Paid-up Capital
- Registered Office Address
- Details of Shareholders, Directors and Company Secretary
The Certificate of Incorporation and Business Profile are the essential documents required for all key activities of the company (for e.g. opening corporate bank accounts, signing office lease agreements, subscribing to essential services like utilities and internet services). Generally the soft copies of both documents are sufficient.
Issuance of Company’s items
- Share certificates for each of the shareholders
- Statutory Registers
- Common seal
- Rubber Stamp (optional)
Opening Corporate Bank Accounts
You are now ready to open a bank account. You can open a corporate account at any of the local banks in Singapore or an overseas bank of your choice. Complete the required KYC (Know-Your-Client) documents and schedule a suitable time for you and your signatories to be present at the bank of your choice.
ECRA will register your web domain and setup your email and web hosting account within 1 business day.
Apply for Business Licences
Some business activities require licenses before operations can begin. Some examples are certain financial services, travel agencies, recruiting agencies, restaurants, educational institutions, importers/exporters etc. ECRA will manage these applications if necessary.
Goods and Services Tax Registration
All companies whose projected annual revenue is expected to be in excess of SGD 1 million must register for GST (sometimes known as a sales tax or value added tax). All GST registered companies are required to charge the prevailing GST rate (currently 7%) on all their invoices. The collected GST in turn is required to be remitted to the tax authorities after offsetting against outbound GST. GST registration is optional for companies who’s annual revenue is below SGD 1 million.
Advisory for Non-Residents
As a non-resident, you will need to consider whether you wish to relocate to Singapore. If you do not wish to relocate, it is entirely possible to just register your company and manage it from overseas. You may also freely visit Singapore as a normal visitor from time to time on a short-term basis where your physical presence is required (for example to open a bank account, sign contracts or attend meetings).
However, if you wish to relocate to Singapore, you will need to apply for a work visa. The 2 types of work visas are the Singapore Employment Pass and Singapore Entrepreneur Pass (also known as Entrepass). Upon approval of the work visa, you are allowed to act as the local resident director for your company.
Engage a professional firm
Regardless of your relocation option, you will need to appoint a professional firm (such as ECRA) to handle the company registration. ECRA will completely manage the incorporation and provide all the necessary compliance requirements in a fuss-free process.
Do I need to be present in Singapore for the Incorporation?
It should be noted that you do not need to be physically present in Singapore to register your company. The entire process can be done online through email with scanned copies of your necessary documents.
After incorporating, depending on the bank account you prefer, you may be required to visit Singapore and physically sign the bank account opening documents in the presence of the bank officers. The account opening takes no more than 15-30 minutes.
Glossary of Terms
Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA for short) is the Singapore government’s national regulator of business entities and public accountants. ACRA was formed as a statutory board on 1 April 2004, following the merger of the then Registry of Companies and Businesses (RCB), and the Public Accountants’ Board (PAB).
Company or Business Name
All companies must have a unique and approved name. The primary approval authority for all business names is ACRA. In some cases, additional approval may be required by various other agencies depending on the chosen name, nature and activities of the business and professional or industry licensing requirements.
A director is any individual named as an officer of the company. Directors must be above 18 years of age. Undischarged bankrupts are not allowed to be directors. Directors can be residents or non-residents. Although there is no limit to the number of directors a company may have, at least ONE must be a “resident director”. A resident director is defined as on of the following:
- Singapore Citizen
- Singapore Permanent Resident
- Employment Pass Holder
- Dependant Pass Holder
- A director can also be a shareholder though it is not necessary.
A shareholder is the owner of the company. A limited liability company can have any number of shareholders between 1 and 50. Shareholders can be an individual who can also be a director. Shareholders can also be another company or trust. Singapore companies are allowed to have 100% foreign shareholding or any percentage between local and foreign shareholding. Shares can be transferred between one individual or entity to another anytime after incorporation. New shares can also be issued anytime.
The Singapore Companies Act requires all companies to appoint a qualified company secretary. The company secretary must be an individual who is ordinarily resident in Singapore. Directors and shareholders can also act as the company secretary if they wish, except where there is only ONE director/shareholder.
Paid-up capital (also known as share capital) is the amount of money injected to the company by the shareholders for the purpose of starting up the company The minimum paid-up capital is $1 in any currency.
Registered Office Address
All companies are required to provide a Singapore address as the registered address of the company. The address can be a residential or commercial address. P.O. Box addresses are not allowed as the registered address.
Singapore Standard Industry Classification (or SSIC) is ACRA’s list of codes categorising all business activities. It assigns an SSIC code for each class of activity. This code for your company’s specific principle activity is required during incorporation.
Our company registrations start from S$450. We offer the same price for both Residents and Non-Residents.
Company and Business Registration packages For Residents
Company Registration packages for Non-Residents
Company Registration packages for Foreign Companies
- Subsidiary Company + Nominee Director
- Subsidiary Company + Employment Pass
- Branch Office + Nominee Agents
- Branch Office + Employment Pass
- Representative Office + Employment Pass