Starting a company can be an exciting time. After all, you’re embarking on a whole new endeavor—you might end up with a new job, new income, and end up living in a new location. Of course, starting a company is also a great challenge; you need to get every part of your business up off the ground and running, in the right location, with the right people, at the right time. This can be daunting, to say the least.
The following will break down the steps you need to keep in mind regarding just one of these elements: the registration and legal incorporation of your company. In particular, we’ll focus on what that process looks like if you’re aiming to register your digital or on-the-ground company in Singapore.
Before we begin, it might be worth talking about why you might want to put in the time and effort to register your business legally. First and foremost, incorporating a company protects you. As the business owner, you’re liable to be sued if something goes terribly wrong. You might also end up going personally bankrupt if the company does poorly. Incorporating will protect you and your personal assets if things don’t go quite as well as you’d hoped.
A registered company acts almost like a person within the law. It can bring lawsuits, write contracts, be taxed, sell or buy property and product—it can even commit crimes. Incorporation also allows you to transfer shares in the business and raise investment capital. Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you might want to be able to accept outside investment to help get things going.
Depending on your business, clientele, and aims, there are a lot of locations that might suit your work. Singapore is quickly becoming one of many entrepreneurs’ favorite places to incorporate. Physically the country is connected to nearly every other place on earth with a solid infrastructure. Beyond this, Singapore often ranks at the top of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business reports because it’s simple and easy to set up businesses and protect intellectual property there. Even more alluring to many, the Singaporean tax frameworks and well-constructed trade agreements make the nation an excellent place to cut unnecessary costs. Furthermore, if you need employees on the ground working at headquarters, the workforce in Singapore is top-notch. Skilled labor pools, high productivity, quality immigration policies, and safe and healthy working conditions can all be found in the country.
One of the most wonderful parts of deciding to register your company in Singapore is that you don’t need to physically be there to do it. You don’t need a physical location at all; remote and digital companies are welcome. It turns out you need very few things to incorporate.
Once you know what your business is going to be about, you need to seek out:
- at least one shareholder (this could be you)
- a minimum of $1 capital
- a company secretary
- a resident director (meaning someone who lives in Singapore that will serve as director)
- an address in Singapore
If you don’t have the last three things lined up, there are services that will find these for you and pair you with ones that suit your business. Given how enticing Singapore is for registering businesses, many companies have sprung up that will help those abroad meet all these standards. You can expect a resident director to cost somewhere around $1500 a year and a secretary at roughly $300 per year.
Once you have everything you need, you can fill out the necessary documents and submit them to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, sometimes also called ACRA. You will need to be able to propose a business name in the documents and break down the aim of your new business. Once that’s filled out, you submit it.
Incorporating in Singapore, if you have everything ready to submit, it can be completed within a single day. This being said, some people’s applications need to be referred to relevant government agencies depending on their industry. If this is the case for you, it can take somewhere between two weeks and two months to get approval since different agencies have different processing times.
The above tips should help you get your business up and running legally in Singapore. It might seem like there aren’t that many steps, and we’d agree—that’s part of the reason entrepreneurs look to Singapore so often for their businesses.