If you’re looking to register a start-up company in Singapore, we’ve got some good news for you. Singapore is one of the easiest countries to incorporate your business in.
Here’s everything you need to know to register your business name and open your company.
How to register a company online in three simple steps
Step 1: Register a business name
Company registration starts with reserving your company name and getting ACRA’s approval. Typically, applicants receive the results of approval or rejection within a day. To increase the chances of company name approval, avoid business names that are:
Already reserved by another entity
Obscene or vulgar
Identical to any existing business in Singapore
Go to BizFile+ and type your desired name in the ‘Search’ bar to check if your proposed company name has already been reserved.
Step 2: Organise your documents
When your name is approved, organise your documents for the application process and ensure you have the right people to register your company. Use the lists below to check all requirements.
Step 3: Submit your application
Submit your application to ACRA via the BizFile+ portal. After your submission, your officers will receive an email from ACRA to endorse their appointment. They have 60 days before the application expires.
When this final step is completed, you will receive a unique entity number (UEN) to identify your business.
Requirements to register a company
Below are the eight legal requirements all business owners need to register a company in Singapore.
Company name: Every company name must be approved and registered with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). You can register your company name via BizFile+.
Financial year end: Decide your companies financial year end to determine when your corporate filings and taxes are due every year.
Directors: Companies must have at least one director residing in Singapore. Directors can be citizens, permanent residents or EntrePass holders.
Shareholders: Companies must have a minimum of one and a maximum of fifty shareholders.
Company secretary: Companies must have one appointed secretary within six months from the company registration date. This adult must be a resident of Singapore.
Auditor: Companies not exempted from audit must have an appointed auditor within three months of company registration.
Structure of your business & due diligence: Provide names, email addresses, phone numbers and identity documents of all stakeholders)
Registered local address: Companies must have a local registered address in Singapore. A P.O. box will not be accepted.
Initial paid-up capital: Companies must have a minimum of 1 SGD in initial paid-up capital.
Requirements to open a company as a foreigner
Foreigners can also register their company in Singapore without much effort. While there are slight differences in the requirements, the process remains swift and straightforward.
Here are a few additional requirements for foreign business owners.
Local director: If you have no intentions of moving anyone from your company to Singapore, you will have to appoint a nominee director who is either a Singaporean, permanent resident or EntrePass holder.
Registered filing agent: Foreigners cannot self-register their company in Singapore. To complete the application process, hire a registered and qualified filing agent.
Once your business is registered, you’ll need a few more post-registration deeds.
Certificate of incorporation: Upon successful registration, your company will receive this legal document along with its unique registration number from ACRA.
Company business profile: Fill out A PDF report with all the relevant elements of your business, such as the company name, registered office address, operating hours, principal business activities and paid-up capital. You can obtain this for 5.50 SGD via ACRA (Free for newly incorporated businesses).
Business licenses and permits: Companies need to apply for relevant licenses and permits if the nature of their business activities so requires.
Goods and Service Tax (GST) registration: Businesses with an annual taxable turnover of more than 1 million SGD need to register for GST.
Central Provident Fund (CPF) registration: All employers must be registered with the CPF and make monthly contributions to their employees as part of the country’s compulsory pension fund scheme. Mind that only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible for employer CPF contributions.
Customs registration: A customs permit or registration is required if your business moves goods through or to Singapore.
Company’s stamp: An official seal used to validate official business documents, including contracts, deeds and certificates.
Share certificates: An official document issued by the company to its shareholders, proving the members’ ownership of a company’s share along with the distribution of shareholding.
First board resolution: After completing the company registration process, all company shareholders must meet for the first board resolution. This is essential to document the company’s progress since day one of incorporation.
How to issue your first start-up shares?
When you register your company, you’ve got to decide on the number of shares, equity split and amount of paid-up capital.
This decision has a long-term impact on your company. And while it’s not irreversible, you better spend some time getting it right.
These are best practices for issuing start-up shares in Singapore:
The commonly accepted standard is 10 million shares. A big number of shares means it looks like you can offer a larger piece of the pie to employees. At the same time, it keeps the price per share low which makes the company look like a cheaper buy for investors.
Typically, the majority of the authorised shares goes to the founders. Some 20%, the option pool, is reserved for senior employees and consultants. The rest could remain unissued for future investors, employees etc.
The minimum amount of paid-up capital in Singapore is 1 SGD. However, there are some benefits to increasing this amount: More funds to engage in the company’s ordinary business, more favourable terms for debt capital fundraising and Singapore Business Federation membership starting from SGD 500,000 paid-up capital.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to register a company in Singapore?
Since registration is done entirely online through the BizFile+ portal, the application process only takes 15 minutes. As for the actual processing time, the application can be completed by the next day.
Companies with a unique business nature may need additional approval from relevant authorities, extending the application process. These businesses include real estate and defence-related companies.
What is the cost to register a company in Singapore?
According to ACRA, the registration fees are 115 SGD for a 1-year registration and 175 SGD for a 3-year registration.
To incorporate your business, a standard fee of 315 SGD applies. This includes the business name registration.
Once the registration has expired, business owners must renew their registration. A 1-year renewal costs 30 SGD, while a 3-year renewal costs 90 SGD.