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How to open business in Singapore

When it comes to incorporating a company in Singapore, the process is the easiest and fastest among all Asian countries. With a minimum share capital requirement starting from just 1 Singapore dollar, it's more than respectable. Most types of businesses do not require a license, and even if they do, the rules are transparent and simple. Additionally, taxes in Singapore are among the lowest in Asia.

Under the Companies Act, anyone over 18 years old, whether a resident of Singapore or a foreigner, can register a company in Singapore. For locals, the process can be completed in as little as 30 minutes from the comfort of their own home. For foreigners, the process takes longer as they need the assistance of certified registrars by law. However, with the help of a professional service, all formalities can be completed in 2-3 days.

Let's take a look at the simple steps needed to register a company.

1. Choose the right legal form of the company

Selecting the appropriate legal form for your company is crucial when starting a business in Singapore. For most businesses, a Private Limited Company (Pte Ltd) or Exempt Private Limited Company is the ideal choice. This legal form is very common in Singapore and is also suitable for foreigners. It is similar to a Russian LLC, with the exception that a Pte Ltd is a limited company, not a corporation. As a foreigner, you can be a 100% shareholder and owner of your company, and your liability is limited to the amount of the share capital.

If your company has no more than 20 shareholders, with no legal entities among them and an expected annual turnover of not more than ten million Singapore dollars (approximately USD 7,400,000), you are exempt from filing audited financial statements. This is a great option for start-ups, allowing you to minimize the cost of doing business while enjoying various tax benefits.

2. Choose a company name

The first step in registering a company in Singapore is selecting a company name. It is advisable to have at least two or three alternative names in case the initial name is unavailable.

3. Define business activities of the company

The next step in registering a company in Singapore is to define the business activities of the company. You must identify one or a maximum of two business activities that your company will be engaged in, both presently and in the future.

4. Research Singapore law and consult a local tax specialist

Conduct thorough research on Singaporean laws and regulations and seek advice from a local tax specialist. This is crucial to ensure that you do not miss out on the various opportunities available to small and medium-sized businesses in Singapore. The Singaporean government provides grants annually to support such businesses, and all registered companies in Singapore are eligible to apply for them, provided they meet certain requirements. Singapore invests in business innovation, automation, internationalisation, and staff training, and offers tax breaks for companies under three years old, simplified tax return preparation requirements, and a variety of business incubators.

5. Decide on the director, shareholders, local director, secretary and legal address of the company.

Decide on the company's director, shareholders, local director, secretary, and registered address in Singapore. Passport details of directors and shareholders are required, as well as a local director and secretary who are Singapore residents. The registration process is fully automated and can be completed within 2-3 days if all the necessary documents are ready and no additional approvals are required. Remote company registration is also possible, but it is recommended to use a reputable corporate service provider to avoid incurring unexpected costs. The selection of a local director should be carefully considered as this will determine the next steps, and it is important to review the Nominee Director Agreement carefully. Keep in mind that a local director is not a nominal unit when dealing with significant turnovers in the millions of dollars.

6. Opening a company bank account

When opening a company bank account in Singapore, the duration can range from one to three weeks, based on the chosen bank. It is mandatory to be physically present for the account opening process. Therefore, plan a trip to Singapore for 2-3 days. But the good news is, while in Singapore, you can not only register your company and open a bank account but also enjoy a vacation in one of the most attractive countries in Southeast Asia.