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Registering a Foreign Company in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide

19 June 2024

Editor: ET

Singapore is a global business hub known for its strategic location, robust economy, and business-friendly environment. If you are considering expanding your business operations into Singapore, it's essential to understand the different methods available for registering a foreign company and the requirements, steps, and fees involved.

Methods for Setting Up a Foreign Company in Singapore

Foreign companies can set up operations in Singapore through four primary methods:

  1. Transfer of Registration

  2. Setting up a Representative Office

  3. Incorporating a Subsidiary / Local Company

  4. Registering a Branch of a Foreign Company

1. Transfer of Registration

A transfer of registration allows a foreign company to transfer its registration to Singapore, effectively continuing its existence as if it had been incorporated in Singapore. This method is suitable for companies seeking to benefit from Singapore's regulatory framework while maintaining their corporate history and identity.

2. Setting up a Representative Office

A representative office (RO) is a temporary setup for foreign companies wishing to explore business opportunities in Singapore. An RO is not allowed to conduct business that generates revenue and is limited to activities such as market research and feasibility studies. This option is ideal for companies testing the market before making a full commitment.

3. Incorporating a Subsidiary / Local Company

Incorporating a subsidiary is a popular choice for foreign companies. A subsidiary is a separate legal entity, distinct from its parent company, providing limited liability protection and tax benefits. Subsidiaries are treated as local companies, enjoying the same benefits and responsibilities under Singapore law.

4. Registering a Branch of a Foreign Company

A branch is an extension of the foreign company and is not considered a separate legal entity. This means the foreign company is liable for the branch’s debts and obligations. While branches are subject to Singapore’s corporate laws, they do not enjoy the same tax benefits as local companies.

Requirements for Setting Up a Foreign Company in Singapore

The requirements for setting up a foreign company in Singapore vary depending on the method chosen. Here are the general requirements:

  • Company Name: Must be approved by ACRA.

  • Directors: At least one director must be a resident of Singapore.

  • Shareholders: A minimum of one shareholder (individual or corporate entity).

  • Registered Address: A local registered office address in Singapore.

  • Company Secretary: Appointment of a qualified company secretary within six months of incorporation.

  • Paid-up Capital: Minimum paid-up capital of SGD 1.

Steps for Setting Up a Foreign Company

  1. Choose a Business Structure: Decide whether to transfer registration, set up a representative office, incorporate a subsidiary, or register a branch.

  2. Register Company Name: Submit the proposed company name for approval via BizFile+.

  3. Prepare Necessary Documents: Depending on the business structure, prepare the required documentation (e.g., identification of directors and shareholders, company constitution).

  4. Submit Application via BizFile+: Complete the application process online through BizFile+, ACRA’s electronic filing system.

  5. Pay Registration Fees: Pay the applicable fees for company registration.

Fees for Registering a Foreign Company

The fees for registering a foreign company in Singapore vary based on the business structure and specific requirements. General fees include:

  • Name Application Fee: SGD 15

  • Registration Fee for a Local Subsidiary: SGD 300

  • Registration Fee for a Branch of a Foreign Company: SGD 300

  • Transfer of Registration Fee: Variable, based on the nature and size of the company

Registering a foreign company in Singapore can be a strategic move for businesses looking to expand in Asia. Understanding the requirements, steps, and fees involved is crucial for a smooth setup process. By choosing the right business structure and complying with ACRA’s regulations, foreign companies can benefit from Singapore’s dynamic business environment.

For detailed guidance and assistance in registering your foreign company, visit

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