Singapore company registration: A comprehensive guide
Registering a Singapore company? Here’s the only company registration guide you’ll ever need.
What do I have to know before I register my company in Singapore?
Before you register your Singapore company, you’ll need to be aware of these requirements:
- Your company name needs to be approved before incorporation.
- You need to appoint a minimum of one resident* director. An unlimited number of additional resident or non-resident directors can be appointed as well. Both resident and non-resident directors need to be at least 18 years old, not bankrupt, and free of any malpractice charges in the past.
- You can have anywhere between 1-50 shareholders, which may or may not be directors. Shareholders can consist of both local and non-local individuals or companies, and 100% non-local shareholding is allowed. After a Singapore company is incorporated, shares can be freely issued or transfered at any time.
- You need to appoint a qualified resident* company secretary within 6 months of your Singapore company’s incorporation. Sole directors and/or shareholders cannot act as the company secretary.
- You need to possess a minimum of S$1 worth of paid-up capital (also known as share capital) to register your Singapore company. This amount can be increased any time after your company is incorporated.
- You need to provide a local, physical Singapore address as the registered address of the company. The registered address can be either a residential or commercial address, but not a P.O. Box.
- Singapore-registered companies enjoy attractive tax exemptions and incentives. Your company pays less than 9% for the first S$300,000 you make in annual profits, followed by a flat rate of 17% flat thereafter. Singapore companies do not have to pay capital gains or dividend taxes. For further information on taxes, refer to our Singapore corporate tax guide.
*refers to a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or holders of Singapore work visas (EntrePass or Employment Pass)
I’m not a Singapore resident and I’d like to incorporate a Singapore company. What do I need to know?
Besides the general guidelines mentioned earlier, here’s some additional information that non-Singapore residents need to consider:
- You must engage a professional firm to register your Singapore company – under Singaporean law, non-resident individuals or entities cannot self-register a company.
- You are not required to obtain a Singapore work visa to incorporate a private limited company if you are operating your company from overseas. You can visit Singapore on a visitor visa when you need to attend to company matters on a short-term basis. However, in such cases, you will need to find a local director to fulfil the minimum one resident director requirement. We can elect a nominee local resident director on your behalf - visit our services page to find out more.
- If you plan to move to Singapore to operate your company, you are required to obtain an Employment Pass or Entrepreneur Pass, which will allow you to act as the local resident director of your company.
- All Singapore company incorporation and work permit formalities can be handled without you having to physically visit Singapore – unless you intend to open a bank account at a Singapore-based bank.
What documents are required to register my Singapore company?
To incorporate your company in Singapore, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Company name
- Brief description of business activities
- Shareholders' particulars
- Directors' particulars
- Registered address
- Company secretary particulars
If you are engaging the services of a professional service firm, they will typically require these documents from you in order to prepare the necessary paperwork:
- For non-residents: Copy of passport, proof of overseas residential address, as well as other Know-Your-Client (KYC) information such as bank reference letters, personal and business profiles, etc.
- For Singapore residents: Copy of Singapore identity card
- For corporate entity shareholder(s): Copy of registration documents, such as a Certificate of Incorporation and Constitution
Do note that officially-endorsed translated versions must be provided for any non-English documents.
How do I register my Singapore company - and how long does it take to do so?
The company registration procedure in Singapore is fully computerized by Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and can be done within the same day under regular circumstances.
To register your Singapore company, you’ll need to go through two distinct steps:
1. Name reservation
In general, new company names are approved or rejected within an hour. The exception to this is if the proposed name has certain words (such as bank, finance, law, media, etc.) that might require the review and approval of a corresponding external government authority – in this case, the name approval may get delayed by a few days or weeks.
To get your proposed company name approved quickly, make sure that the name:
- is not identical or too similar to any existing local company names
- does not infringe with any trademarks
- is not obscene or vulgar
- is not already reserved
An approved name will be reserved for 4 months from the date of application.
2. Register company
Once the name has been approved and any duly signed incorporation paperwork is in place, company incorporation can be completed in a couple of hours within the filing of the incorporation request. In some rare cases, authorities might request for additional information from shareholders or directors of certain nationalities.
How will I know when my Singapore company has been incorporated?
When your Singapore company has been incorporated, ACRA will send an official email notification to confirm it. The email notification includes the company registration number and is treated as the official certificate of incorporation in Singapore.
A hard copy of the certification of incorporation is no longer issued by default. However, if you need one, you can make an online request to ACRA after incorporation for S$50 per copy. Hard copy certificates of incorporation can be collected the next day from the ACRA office.
Besides the certificate of incorporation, you will also be able to obtain a PDF version of your company business profile by making a request online and paying a nominal application fee. The company business profile is usually available for download within an hour of the request and contains the following key details:
- Company name and registration number
- Previous names for the company, if any
- Incorporation date
- Principal activities
- Paid-up capital
- Registered office address
- Shareholders’ details
- Directors’ details
- Company secretary details
The email notification of incorporation and company business profile are sufficient in Singapore for all legal and contractual purposes, including the opening of corporate bank accounts, signing of office leases, subscriptions to telephone/internet services, etc.
Some of the other items you will almost certainly need upon registration of your Singapore company include:
- Share certificates for each of the shareholders
- Share register indicating shares allotted to each of the shareholders
- Company seal for the company
- A rubber stamp for the company
What do I need to do after successfully registering my Singapore company?
After successfully registering your Singapore company, you can open a corporate bank account in any of the major banks in Singapore such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citibank, DBS, OCBC, UOB, etc.
Many Singaporean banks require the physical presence of the company principals as part of the account opening procedure. If you are unable to visit Singapore, you should choose a bank that does not have this requirement. For more details, refer to our guide on opening a corporate bank account in Singapore.
You may also need to obtain one or more business licenses before you can commence your business operations. Business activities under this category include restaurants, educational institutes, travel agencies, financial services, import/export-related industries, etc. For more information on this, refer to our Singapore business licenses guide.
If the projected annual revenue of your company exceeds SGD 1 million, you need to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is known as Value Added Tax (VAT) or Sales Tax in other countries. GST-registered companies need to charge this tax (currently 7%) to their clients on the goods and services provided, and remit this amount to the tax authorities. For further details on GST, refer to our Singapore GST guide.
Finally, the Singapore Companies Act mandates certain annual filing requirements and formalities for incorporated Singapore companies. For more details on this, see our guide on annual filing requirements for Singapore companies.
Bookkeeping service refers to the service where bookkeeper records financial transactions according to double entry concept and classifies the transactions into purchases, sales, debtors, creditors, receipts, payments, assets and liabilities. It forms the initial stage of the whole accounting service and lays the foundation for other related services.
Double entry concept of bookkeeping means that there is a debit (left side) and a credit (right side) for each financial transaction in the account. Every transaction would have an effect on the left side and a similar effect on the right side resulting in an equal amount entered in each side (i.e. equal and opposite effect is recorded when there is a transaction). This means that the amount at the left side must always equal to the right side (i.e. debit = credit so that the accounts are balanced). As such, the total of all debit (left side) accounts will always be the same as the total of all credit (right side) accounts. This ensures the relationship of Assets (Debit) = Liabilities (Credit) + Equity (Credit) + Profits (Credit) is maintained. This practice requires the bookkeeper to enter a financial transaction twice – at the Debit and Credit side – which creates a self-checking mechanism and reduces the chances of error. If one side is entered incorrectly, the relationship or equation above will not be maintained. For example, if you buy goods with $400 cash, you would Debit Purchases with $400 and Credit Cash with $400. Similarly, if you sell goods for cash, you would Debit Cash and Credit Sales. Debit is denoted with “DR” and Credit is denoted with “CR” in the accounts.
Double Entry Principle
The following financial transactions would increase the Debit side for bookkeeping:
- Increase assets
- Increase expense
- Decrease liability
- Decrease income
- Decrease equity
The following financial transactions would increase the Credit side for bookkeeping:
- Decrease in assets
- Decrease in expense
- Increase in liability
- Increase in income
- Increase in equity
Bookkeeping work is gradually taken over by machines or computers where financial transactions are recorded digitally at source via ERP Software. For example, sales are capture at source when the bar code is scanned. Receipt is captured at source when payment is made via credit cards or Nets.
Our duty is to ensure financial transactions are recorded properly and in accordance with accounting principles. We approach bookkeeping and accounting services systematically and logically. It is our way to provide you with a peace of mind when there is any financial audit to be conducted.
With technological advancement, accounting software becomes a critical part of the bookkeeper. It automates many functions and integrate with information of other department for the purpose of financial analysis. It becomes an indispensable part of the accounting cycle.
Complying to accounting rules is just one part of the whole compliance process. Tax rules is another part which a business has to pay special attention. Our tax service would ensure that you comply with corporate tax, personal tax, withholding tax and goods & services tax rules in addition to accounting rules.
Besides tax, Companies Act and ACRA's regulation is another area which companies need to ensure compliance. We are a qualified filing agent under ACRA and have qualified individuals to assist you in complying with ACRA's regulation and Companies Act. Call us now for business & company registration and corporate secretarial service.
Payroll service ensures that you have paid and recorded the correct remuneration for accurate reporting of payroll cost of the employer and taxable payroll income of the employee.