Guide to starting a Singapore business
Last updated on 18 May 2022
Quick tips to start your business
Looking to become a business owner? Singapore is a great place to start a company because of its pro-business environment.
Firstly, you need to decide on what sort of business you want to start. The various options are outlined in the table below:
|Type of business||Ownership||Legal implications|
|Sole Proprietorship||Single owner||Owner is personally accountable for risks, debts and losses.|
|Partnership||2 to 20 individuals or companies||Partners are personally accountable for all risks, debts and losses. Partners can also be made accountable for losses incurred by other partners.|
|Limited Liability Partnership||Minimum of 2 partners||Partners have limited liability but are personally liable for debts and losses that result from their own actions.|
|Limited Partnership||At least 1 general partner and 1 limited partner||General partner: has unlimited personal liability |
Limited partner: liable up to an agreed investment criteria
|Private Limited/Public Company||At least 1 resident director |
Private: maximum of 50 owners
Public: unlimited number of owners
|Companies are separate legal entities |
Owners have limited liability
|Variable Capital Company||Non-authorised schemes: |
At least 1 resident director
Authorised schemes: At least 3 directors
At least 1 director is a qualified representative or a director of its fund manager
|Separate legal vehicle for investment funds. Members have limited liability|
The biggest difference between the different types of businesses is in the liabilities.
If you are currently a sole proprietor or a partner in a general partnership, we recommend incorporating a company to convert your business into a limited liability company.
Incorporating a company can take between 15 minutes to two weeks, depending on the complexity. For other businesses that need the approval of other authorities, it may take up to two months.
Checklist for Incorporating a Company in Singapore
- A Proposed Company Name
Do a quick search of the name you have in mind, to ensure it is unique and if you can obtain an available domain name for your website. Try to include some description of your business activities in the name to help your marketing. Be mindful when using sensitive words such as “bank” or “university”.
- Business Activities
Each Company is permitted to have two principal activities which are based on the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC).
- Financial Year End (“FYE”)
The day and month your financial year starts and ends. Note that in deciding FYE, companies should consider whether the chosen date affects their eligibility to receive tax incentives.
- Company Constitution
A legal document that specifies the rules governing the relationship and activities of the company, its shareholders, directors and officers.
- Capital Information And Functional Currency
Information about share capital and the currency of the primary country your company operates in.
- Registered Office Address
This address must be in Singapore. Note that the address must be a physical local address and cannot be a P.O. Box.
- Director Details
A limited company in Singapore must have a director, with a local residential address. This means they should be a Singaporean Citizen, Permanent Resident or Employment Pass holder.
- Shareholder Details
The shareholder can be an individual or a corporate entity. 100% local or foreign shareholding is allowed. A director and shareholder can be the same or different person.
- Company Secretary Details
Includes contact details, identification documents and local address. Note that Singapore requires at least one local company secretary.
- Auditor Details
A company shall appoint an auditor within 3 months from the date of its incorporation, unless it is exempted from audit requirements under Section 205B, or 205C, of the Companies Act.
Need more help? Feel free to reach out to any of our specialists for incorporation services in Singapore and we will do our best to answer your questions and make your incorporation process a smooth one.