Singapore is often considered one of the best places to do business, and it continues to be a popular choice for business investors. After all, the process of registering a business in Singapore is relatively easy and fast.
If you have your sights set on building your business in the hub of Southeast Asia, here is a step-by-step guide that takes you through the entire process of starting a business in Singapore.
Already started a business? Let’s dive into everything you need to know when you register your business in Singapore!
Why Do You Need to Register Your Business?
Anyone who wants to run a business for profit should register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). This will help to keep track of your business and make sure you’re complying with all the necessary regulations.
There are several benefits of registering a business with ACRA. Here are some of them:
- Your business is legitimate – your information is easily verified and customers can easily locate and do business with you.
- Your business can access Government funding and participate in government tenders, which gives you the opportunity to secure intellectual property or patents for new products and technology.
8 Steps to Register Your Business in Singapore
1. Pick The Suitable Business Structure
Choosing the type of business structure in Singapore is the most important part. There are three common business structures based on ACRA: sole proprietorship, partnership, and company. Each has its own benefits and considerations.
- A sole proprietorship is intended for business owners who run the business alone. This type is the simplest business structure. As sole proprietor, the business owner has full control over the business and its operations, and is personally responsible for all debts and legal actions against the business.
- Limited Partnership (LP) applies if there are at least two partners. In a Limited Partnership, the general partner is responsible for all actions including debts and other obligations. Meanwhile, limited partners are not responsible for debts and obligations beyond the agreed contributions.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) applies to businesses owned by two or more partners with different entities. These LLP partners are not personally responsible for the actions of other partners.
Choosing the right business structure sometimes requires extra research. Consider some of the questions below to help you determine one:
- What is the nature of my business?
- How many owners will there be?
- How much capital will I invest?
- What risks am I ready to take?
- What are my long term plans for this business?
- What are the pros and cons of different structures?
- What are my business needs?
- Is the business structure easy to set up, manage and close?
2. Decide a Business Name
Next, you need to decide on a unique company name. Be sure to choose different words or phrases. Also, you should set the company’s legal name differently from your trading name. Just be sure your trading name doesn’t infringe on copyright or create trademark issues. If you are considering a new business name, BizFile+ can help you make sure the name is not already being used by other businesses.
3. Decide a Business Address
ACRA requires a physical address during company registration. The registered address must be a verified and legitimate legal property within Singapore, whether by purchasing or renting. Your business location will be based on an approved physical address.
ACRA does not accept PO Box addresses or virtual properties as business locations. Only valid physical addresses will be accepted for your business idea, whether it is a small business or a corporation.
Although you could use the same address for both your business and residence, it’s a good idea to have a separate business address and residential address for professional purposes. If you choose to use your home address as a business address, you must obtain approval from the Housing Development Board (HDB) or Urban Redevelopment Authority.
If you want to keep your personal information private, you can submit an alternate address for a fee of $40. You will still have to submit your residential address for ACRA’s records.
4. Decide a Business Activities
The Singapore Business Registration Authority will require you to list two main business activities when setting up a company in Singapore. By knowing the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification Code for each activity, you will be able to save time during the registration process.
5. Check The Licensing Requirement
Once you have determined what kind of business you want to start, it’s worth checking to see if it requires a license. Many businesses, such as restaurants, employment agencies, financial services, and travel agencies, require a license to operate legally in Singapore. Some licenses have specific requirements, such as having a minimum amount of capital, meeting professional qualifications, etc.
6. Reserve Your Business Name
The important thing when registering your business is to make sure that the chosen name is still available. If the chosen name belongs to another company, you can apply for a new business name on ACRA Bizfile.
To access it, you can do the following steps:
- Go to Bizfile
- Click Explorer e Services
- Choose a business
- Finally, select Application for a New Business Name
After going through the steps above, you will be directed to fill out an online form and make a payment of $ 15 for the application. Then, ACRA will send approval via your email. The fee incurred is only for one-time registration. If ACRA does not approve the name, then you must re-register another name.
Here are tips to increase your chances of approval:
- Avoid choosing undesirable names. For example, business names are inappropriate for public consumption or professing a certain religion.
- Check whether the chosen name is identical to another reserved name. The point here is that the business name has been approved by ACRA but has not been registered because it is not yet a legal entity. This approval from ACRA usually takes a minimum of sixty days and a maximum of 120 days.
- Or it may identical to other registered business name(s)
- Avoid forbidden names by order of Singapore’s Minister of Finance. Currently, only the word “Temasek” is not allowed for registration.
How long does the approval process for your business name take?
- The application will be processed within 15 minutes after the application fee is paid.
- It will take up approximately 14 days to 2 months for an application to go through another agency if it needs approval or review. For example, If the intention of the branch of a foreign company is to set up a private school, the application will be referred to the Ministry of Education.
7. Register Your Business
Once your business name is approved, you can proceed to register your business entity in the ACRA BizFile. The application can be submitted online, and you must include the following documents as a requirement.
- Details of business activities
- Details of the shareholder(s) and shares
- Details of the company director(s)
- Details of the company secretary
- Details of the registered office
- Constitution of the company
The business registration process through BizFile is straightforward. Prepare to pay a fee of $300 for Enterprise, $100 for Sole Proprietor, or $100 for Partnership.
The complete information regarding prerequisites, and other supporting documents will vary depending on the type of your business structure. For more details, you may vist the GoBusiness website.
When everything is in order, ACRA will send you an email confirming that your company has successfully been incorporated. Additionally, you will receive the company registration number, an official certificate of incorporation.
Note that if you want a physical certificate, there will be a charge of SGD 50 and it will take approximately 3-5 working days.
8. Register a Corppass Administrator
To transact with government agencies in Singapore, you’ll need to create a Corppass Administrator account. Corppass is a single corporate digital identity that you can access using your personal Singpass. Each business entity can have up to 2 Corppass Administrators.
Corppass Administrators have access to managing users’ access to digital services, customizing access for individual users within the entity, and authorizing third-party service providers to transact on their behalf for selected digital services. There are two ways to register for a Corppass Administrator Account, via GoBusiness or via the Corppass portal.
Overall, registering a company in Singapore is comfortable. The country occupies the second-place spot in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings, and requirements for starting a company are relatively easy. The country’s pro-business environment makes it an attractive location for entrepreneurs.
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