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Singapore Branch Office Registration Guide

by Olufisayo
Antrix Corporate Solutions Ltd
Singapore Branch Office Registration Guide

Singapore is an Asian powerhouse. It is one of the most technologically developed countries and has one of the strongest passports. Great living standards, high salaries, amazing perks, low crime rates, clean environment, highly skilled labor, less bureaucracy – is it any wonder why the World Bank ranks this tiny island as the second-best country to invest in?

However, the process to start a business in Singapore is not easy. There are a lot of hurdles to pass through which can be confusing for a first-timer or a foreigner. No matter how lucrative it seems to run a business in Singapore, you might end up failing if you don’t follow the proper guideline of registration.

That’s where WLP Group Singapore comes in to take away all your worry and smoothen your path to run a business or open an office in Singapore. To incorporate a company in Singapore will give you many opportunities.

How to register a business or office in Singapore?

As one of the country’s topmost professional firms specializing in offering excellent immigration, incorporation, accounting, and payroll services, we have been working with independent entrepreneurs and SMEs, since our inception in June 2017, to help them start a business in Singapore and incorporate a company in Singapore. Thus, we know the ins and outs of business setup in Singapore firsthand.

With this experience in hand, we have written this step-by-step guide for you.

A Reminder

If you’re a foreigner, please note that you are not allowed to register your business in Singapore by yourself. You will have to apply for a visa and work passes.

Step 1:

Choosing your business structure

Firstly, It is important to decide which business structure you want to follow when incorporating a company in Singapore

Sole Proprietor 

  • One owner with full command
  • No sharing of profit/loss
  • assets are not protected
  • Unlimited liability
  • No auditing required generally
  • No need to file yearly returns under ACRA
  • Annual renewal of registration required
  • The maximum tax rate for personal income is 22%

Private Limited Company 

  • The company is a separate legal entity.
  • Limited Liability protection.
  • For companies set up in 2020 and beyond, partial tax exemptions for companies running for three years.
  • The maximum Corporate Tax Rate is 17%.
  • Easy transfer of control through selling shares.
  • Maximum 50 shareholders.
  • Auditing Exemption is granted if certain requirements are met.
  • Can be either 100% local or 100% foreign or in between (minimum 1 local resident director required).
  • There are numerous annual compliances with ACRA.
  • Perceived superior in the public eye.

Limited Liability Partnership

  • Two owners and unlimited members.
  • The company is a separate legal entity.
  • Personal income tax of 22% (maximum) instead of corporate tax.
  • Must comply with numerous annual compliances with IRS.
  • Limited liability protection for partners’ personal assets unless they are responsible for losses incurred.

Step 2: Choose a suitable business name

Prepare a minimum of 3 business names before checking their domain availability on the ACRA website.

The name must:

  • Be distinctive and memorable.
  • Be within 4 syllables (if possible).
  • Not be crude or insulting.
  • Not be forbidden by the Finance Minister.

You’ll have to pay a small fee to book your name on the website. Remember that this booking is valid for 120 days, and you must incorporate a company in Singapore within that time.

Step 3: Prepare the necessary documents

To register with ACRA, you need documents to validate the following criteria:

  1. Profile describing the business activities in short.
  2. Company Director who must be local, at least 18 years old, and be financially solvent during the time of registration.
  3. Company Secretary who must be a local resident and be appointed within the first 6 months. Must be different from the director.
  4. An auditor must be appointed within the first 3 months of the incorporation date.
  5. Minimum 1 shareholder required.
  6. The minimum paid-up capital requirement is SGD $1.
  7. Identification documents of the employed personnel and shareholders.
  8. There must be a registered office address of a real physical location.
  9. Form the Company Constitution – an official document detailing all the rules of the firm and responsibilities to be followed by the employees and shareholders. It must be error-free.
  10. A foreigner must employ a nominee director (following the ACRA requirements) and use an incorporation firm to file the application online.

Step 4: Register with ACRA

Submit the documents to ACRA through BizFile+. This process is usually complete within an hour. You must pay a fee of S$300.

Step 5: Documents confirming the incorporation

  • An e-Certificate of Incorporation
  • CorpPass (business digital ID)
  • Unique Entity Number (UEN)
  • Business profile

Step 6: Post-incorporation tasks

  1. Open a business bank account
  2. Obtain a business license if necessary
  3. Register for GST (if your expected turnover exceeds S$1 million)
  4. Apply for a work pass if a foreign team member wishes to move to Singapore.

There are two to choose from:

  • Employment Pass
  • EntrePass

How can WLP Group help?

  • Provide full guidance along each step.
  • Protect you from making mistakes.
  • Assist with a yearly renewal of registration.
  • Advise you on the preparation of the documents and setup.
  • Submit the application online on behalf of a foreigner.
  • Provide digital services for business operations.
  • Provide numerous corporate services to assist firms with compliance to ACRA / IRS.

Conclusion

The Singaporean government has started a Global Investors Program to encourage successful entrepreneurs with minimum experience of 3 years to start a business in Singapore and obtain the coveted PR. For this, you must have at least SGD 2.5 million to invest.

Remember the perks the country has to offer, its strong diversified economy, and its close connection China. Also, investors get to enjoy some of the lowest tax bases offered in the world and can profit from several tax exemptions. Let these facts and our detailed guide conquer any hesitancy you may have to incorporate a company in Singapore.

WLP Group Singapore is right by your side for whatever you need. Contact us here for a free consultation or for any information required.

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