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Guide for Foreigners to start a business in Singapore

Singapore, being Asia’s Silicon Valley, has been attracting lots of founders to set up a business with its talent pool, advanced technology, and the government’s support. However, expanding businesses overseas, not to mention travelling, are difficult nowadays with the pandemic.  So how can you set up a business in Singapore with the current situation? Before we introduce you the way, let us look at the requirements for setting up a business in Singapore.

Key Requirements on setting up a business in Singapore

  • To have an Individual or Corporate Shareholder
  • To have paid-up capital of at least $1
  • To have a registered address in Singapore
  • To have a Company Secretary
  • To have a Singapore resident director

How to appoint a Local or Resident Director

In Singapore, the local ordinarily resident director role can only be held by someone who is a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or who holds an Entrepass work visa. The person must be over 18 years in age and of full legal capacity. An individual with undischarged bankruptcy cannot take this position.

However, foreigners must:

  • Appoint a local director.
  • Engage with registered filing agents to register for their company since foreigners cannot self-register themselves in Singapore.

Options when not having a resident director

Many foreigners, foreign entrepreneurs, and business owners who do not know any Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, or Entrepass Holders can just appoint a nominee director to solve the problem, and at the same time, not breaking the law. A nominee director is a Singapore resident who holds the position of director in the company, but does not involve in the business. The only responsibility they have is to comply with the law. You can always work with company incorporations like Techlinker Asia to utilize Local Nominee Director Services.

Registering a Company for a Foreign Individual

#1: Finalize the entity type (Private Limited, Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Partnership)

#2: Reserve a company name

#3: Have the Company Registration Documents ready

#4: Proceed with Company Incorporation

#5: Register with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)

#6: Get the Certificate of Incorporate

#7: Do post-incorporation formalities (License, GST, Open Bank Account)

#8: Manage ongoing compliance

Can Foreigners work in Singapore if they have a company incorporated in Singapore

A foreign individual who wants to work in Singapore must have a valid work visa (Employment Pass or Entrpass) which allows them to live and operate a business in its soil. Employment pass and EntrePass are issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) based on certain eligibility criteria.

Employment Pass, also known as EP, is a type of working visa issued to foreign professional employees, managers, and owners/directors of Singapore companies with a minimum salary threshold of S$4,500 per month and have acceptable qualifications.

Entrepreneur Pass, also known as Entrepass, is for eligible entrepreneurs who are keen to start and operate a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or possesses innovative technologies.

Tech.Pass is a new work pass administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB) aimed to attract highly accomplished entrepreneurs, business leaders, or technical experts to Singapore and provide them the flexibility to participate in a variety of activities that can contribute to the tech ecosystem.

Since the pass is valid for 2 years, the pass holder who meets the renewal criteria can apply for a one-time renewal for another 2 years.

To be eligible for the Tech pass, applicants must satisfy any two of the following conditions:

  • Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100mil annual revenue.

All of these passes are eligible to apply for Permanent Resident (PR) in due course. By having EP and TechPass, you are allowed to bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years to Singapore through Dependent Passes.

However, as an EntrePass holder, only when you meet the requirements on total annual business spending and local employment, could you bring your family with you.

Entrepass Singapore Citizen Company Registration Documents best for Startup Opening Incorporation ACRA

Start your company in Singapore with Techlinker Asia

With the trend of attracting more and more founders and investors to start up in Singapore, working in Singapore, or even opening your own company in Singapore sounds appealing. Need help with your expansion, especially during the pandemic? Don’t worry! With the experience and expertise in cross-border expansion, Techlinker Asia is here to guide you through the steps for starting your business in Singapore.


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