Singapore is certainly one of the most preferred business centers in the world. Having been regarded as the fourth major financial center globally is no mean feat. The island-state also provides a good environment for businesses to thrive in. It is welcoming towards foreigners such as American, British, Chinese, and more. It is known for being corruption-free, multicultural, and offers great government support. Entrepreneurs interested in investing in Singapore may either relocate their existing business or start a new business there. While working on setting up a new business, a foreign entrepreneur should apply for a Singapore entrepreneur pass – a business visa that permits entrepreneurs to move into Singapore before registering their company. EntrePass, as the business visa is popularly called, comes with many benefits such as favorable tax rates, unrivaled co-investing opportunities, effective and friendly business laws, and a quick and straightforward one-day business registration. All these give Singapore a top position on the global business map.
EntrePass application process
The EntrePass application is processed by the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Singapore, and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Once approved, the foreign investor can use the working permit for up to two years, but applies for first time EntrePass applicants. When the EntrePass expires, it can be renewed on application for up to three more years for the business. The preconditions for application of EntrePass include:
- The business must be legit.
- The venture must be registered as a Private Limited Company.
- 6 months must not have elapsed since the time of registration of the company.
- The foreigner applicant must own at least 30% of the shares of the business.
- The company’s minimum paid-up capital must at least be SGD$50,000.
The steps involved in starting a business in Singapore
The main steps involved while setting up a business in the business city-state are:
Incubation and development of an idea
This involves analyzing and considering if the intended business will appeal to a reasonable number of customers to make business-sense.
Selection of the business structure
There are a number of choices of business structures that Singapore offers, but the private limited company is the best for foreigners. The advantages of the private limited company include having liability limited to owners’ investment in the business, offers more credibility to lenders, tax incentives, and available ownership transfer options. The necessary steps must be followed while registering a business as a private limited company.
Settling on a business name
This is a crucial step in the whole process. The name must not be misleading, and not a replica of any other existing business name. A thorough search must be done to avoid picking an already registered name.
Getting an appropriate business address
The business must have a physical local address to which all documents will be sent. The business must operate from this address. The chosen building must have been approved for commercial use by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Working on business licenses
It’s advisable to get legal advice early in the formation of business with regards to the necessary licenses. This depends on the chosen field of operating, to avoid issues after registering with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Otherwise, all businesses must have licenses, and in case of operating in some special field, you must obtain authorizations from the various bodies concerned.
The investors must ensure their employees that may come from other countries have the relevant visas. The employees must get a valid Employment Pass which has two-year validity and is renewable as many times as necessary, subject to meeting the requirements.
Registering the business
Business registration is done on the online platform – Bizfile, which has been set up by ACRA. The registration can be done personally by the business pioneers, or else done by conracted agencies.
Some relevant government agencies in business formation
The following government agencies will be of much help while forming your business or when you are planning to expand:
- The Attorney-General Chamber’s – offer advice on what legal businesses to venture in, and other matters
- Monetary Authority in Singapore (MAS) – provide assistance and data on financial and accounting businesses
- The International Enterprise of Singapore – assists with any information concerning other industries
- The Economic Development Board – assists with information about suitable Singapore business locations, like the location of the business companies and offices. It provides important information on industrial parks and business locations to foreigners