Before setting up a new business in Singapore, an important decision is to decide what legal structure your business will take.  You can choose to operate your business as a private limited company, sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, branch office or representative office.  The most common and widely used business form in Singapore is a private limited company.

Singapore Incorporated Company

Singapore incorporated company includes private limited company and public company. A company may be registered as a private company if it does not have more than 50 shareholders. Otherwise, the company must be registered as a public company. A private limited company is the most common and widely used business entity in Singapore.

Below are the different company structures for a business/company incorporated in Singapore.

Business Structure


Legal status

Sole proprietorship

Single owner

Owner is personally accountable for all risks, debts and losses


2 to 20 individuals or companies

Partner is personally accountable for all risks, debts and losses

Partner can also be made accountable for losses incurred by other partners

Limited liability partnership

Minimum of 2 partner

Partners have limited liability but are personally liable for debts and losses resulting from their own wrongful actions.

Limited partnership

At least 1 general partner and 1 limited partner

General partner: unlimited personal liability

Limited partner: liable up to agreed investment


Private – maximum 50 owners

Public – unlimited owners

Separate legal entity

Exempt Private Company (EPC)

An Exempt Private Company (EPC) is a type of private limited company which has not more than 20 shareholders and its shares are not held by another company. An EPC is exempted from auditing requirement if its revenue does not exceed S$5 million. However, it is still required to prepare unaudited accounts, also known as compilation report for purpose of AGMs and filing with ACRA.

Foreign Company

A foreign company that wishes to register an office in Singapore may do so under any options listed below:


Subsidiary company

Representative office

Branch office

Entity name

Need not be same as parent company

Must be same as parent company
plus must include 'Representative Office'

Must be same as parent company

Allowed business activities

All business activities

Only market research or coordinating activities

Must be same as parent company


Same as private limited companies

Temporary administrative arrangement

Wholly owned by head office

Appointment of officers

Must appoint at least one local resident person

Must appoint a chief representative who will relocate from head office

Must appoint at least two local resident persons

Note: For representative office, it has to be renewed annually with maximum of 3 years