Singapore

Need expat info for Singapore?

Connect with fellow expats in Singapore
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Singapore guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Singapore

Starting a Business in Singapore

Securing a visa and registering your business are just two of the many things you have to deal with when starting a business in Singapore. Despite all the red tape, many expats in Singapore dream of being their own boss. We show you how to make it happen and where to start!
If you are willing to deal with all the paperwork, starting your own business in Singapore might be the right choice for you.
  • To start your own business in Singapore, you first of all need to get the right visa, the EntrePass. With the EntrePass you are allowed to be actively involved in managing the company’s operations.
  • The registration of your company in Singapore is not very complicated and usually doesn’t take too much time. But be aware that there will be a registration fee as well as a fee for your business name.
  • Various different taxes apply to company owners. It is advisable to get professional help from an accountant, especially in the beginning. 

 

Although expats often dream of being their own boss, starting a business in Singapore can be a nerve-wracking endeavor. Still, dealing with the extra workload is often worth it to follow your dream. This guide will give you some pointers on how to begin when starting your business in Singapore.

The First Step: Applying for Your EntrePass

Before starting a business in Singapore, you need to secure the right type of visa, an EntrePass. To be eligible to receive an EntrePass, you need to fulfill certain requirements:

  • You must be structured and registered as a Private Limited Company.
  • You cannot own more than 30% of the company’s shares.
  • Your organization should at least have 50,000 SGD paid-up capital.
  • The company cannot have been registered for more than six months at the time of application.
 

An EntrePass is particularly important if you plan on being actively involved in managing your company’s operations. For more information on the EntrePass, have a look at our article on work permits, or simply contact the Ministry of Manpower.

Registering Your Business

There are a variety of business structures in Singapore:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • limited partnership (LP)
  • company
 

In order to register your company in Singapore, you need to contact the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Two local agents who are legal residents of Singapore can act on your behalf when starting a business in Singapore. The registration process is fully computerized and therefore quite easy and should not take too long as long as you take care of the following points beforehand:

  • Find out if the name of your company is still available. The Singapore Network Information Center (SGNIC) can help you with that.
  • Find out the SSIC (Singapore Standard Industry Classification) code of your company.
  • Find a suitable business location.
  • Get all the necessary licenses and permits for your business.
  • If you are unsure about the details of the registration process, hire a professional to help you with starting a business in Singapore.
 

The registration fee will amount to approximately 300 SGD, plus 15 SGD for the approval of your business name. Once all this has been taken care of you can register your business online with ACRA. Furthermore, it is advisable that you register for the SingPass, a common password which you can use for different official online services when starting your business in Singapore. 

Taxes to Keep in Mind

Any type of income you receive is subject to income tax in Singapore. This is also the case when you are starting a business. However, there are other taxes business owners have to pay as well, such as Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is levied on the import of goods. The tax rates are as follows:

  • The income tax depends on the type of business.
  • The goods and services tax (GST) is 7%.
  • The withholding tax is 10-20% (depending on the purpose).
  • The property tax is 10%.
  • The stamp duty depends on the value of your transaction.
 

When starting a business in Singapore, it makes sense to get in touch with an accounting firm to help you with taxation and other financial details. That way, you will make sure to do everything right without losing your mind over it. Refer to our articles on Finance and Taxation for more information.

Want to Learn More? Further Resources

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

Expat Guide Singapore

Global Expat Guide