After my last post ‘Three Best Asian Countries to Start Your Business‘, I received several requests for more info on Singapore. So here it is!
There is a whole world for you to explore when it comes to business ventures in abroad. Characterized as one of the most industrialized countries in Asia, this country now hosts most of the successful businesses in the region. But, before you can do business here, you have to comply with certain requirements.
These are the things you need to understand and furnish before you can start a business in Singapore.
1. How to Get the Appropriate Visa
Before you can do business and even enter Singapore, you have to secure a visa. Although Singapore has opened its doors to the public which makes it easy for anyone to look for a business opportunity, you still have to visit the ICA or Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to secure a visa.
The requirements for this are the following:
- Duly accomplished Form 14 signed by the Applicant and the Local Sponsor (Take note: the Local Sponsor must be either a Singapore Citizen(SC) or a Singapore Permanent Resident(SPR)
- Duly accomplished Form V39I signed by the local sponsor
- You must have a letter of support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)
- You must also present your travel documents. For example: your passport which has at least 6 months of validity left. Also, you will need to submit a copy of the travel documents to ICA
- You should present your Disembarkation/Embarkation (D/E) card with a valid Visit Pass granted on entry into Singapore
- You must have the Local Sponsor’s Identity Card (a copy of the NRIC must be submitted to ICA immediately)
- You also need one recent passport-sized colour photograph ( this should be pasted on the top right-hand corner of Form 14) But, this must meet the following requirements:
a. The image must have be taken within the last 3 months
b. The photograph should be in color and must be taken against a white background with a matte or semi-matte finish.
c. The image should show the full face and without any headgear (any headgear worn for religious compliance is accepted, provided that the full features of the face will still be shown.
2. How to prepare the requirements
Now that you know how to apply for a visa, it is now time to make a checklist on the things that need to be done before actually starting your business in Singapore.
- Meet the eligibility requirements, see www.business.gov.sg.
- Check if the business name that you like is still available.
- Look for the SSIC code for your business.
- Search for a place to actually use for your business.
- Get the necessary licenses and permits.
3. How you should register your business
After securing a visa and completing the checklist, it is now time to actually register the business. This is where you have to determine what kind of business you want to set up. Are you putting up a branch office, representative office or a totally new company?
- Branch of a foreign company – Branch office must be registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulator Authority before it can do business. Also, you have to hire a professional firm to register in your behalf.
- Representative Office for banking and insurance – You need to register this with the Monetary Authority of Singapore and meet all their requirements.
- Representative Office for other industries – Here you need to register with the International Enterprise Singapore. Also, this is limited to only a few activities namely:
a. Market research
b. Feasibility studies
c. Liason tasks for the mother company
- New Company – You can incorporate a new company in Singapore. But, you must apply for an Employment Pass from the Ministry of Manpower.
Taxation in Singapore
Now that you have a glimpse on how to actually apply for a visa and register a business, it is now time to deal with taxation in Singapore. You see, like all other countries, Singapore has its own tax rates. But, you will be pleased to know that this country has excellent tax benefits for small to medium sized companies, provided that it was set up there in the first place.
For businesses that have earning of SN$300,000.00 the tax rate is only 17%. Also, if your company is just starting up, you can enjoy a tax exemption of 100% of SN$100,000.00 and 50% of SN$200,000.00. For more information on this, you can take a look at the chart in www.business.gov.sg. As for the capital gains tax, it is a surprising 0%.
Housing – How to find cost-efficient accommodation?
For foreigners who want to establish their businesses in Singapore, JTC Corporation and Contact Singapore are the recommended agencies. These agencies offer assistance in finding reasonable accommodation such as houses, apartments, and even office space for your business. These two organizations also provide assistance to all foreign students wanting to study in Singapore. They can also help you in terms of travel and cultural details.
Who to Ask for Assistance
If you still feel clueless about starting a business in Singapore, you can seek help from these two channels – Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs) and the Overseas Chambers of Commerce. The former, Enterprise Development Centres, is supported by the government of Singapore. It seeks to provide help for all foreigners who want to start their business in the country. This agency gives business updates and advisories.
The Overseas Chambers of Commerce, on the other hand aims to foster good economic relations among foreign investors. This agency encourages other countries to establish and promote their businesses in Singapore.
If you are in the lookout for a good business hub, Singapore is definitely a good choice. The government is supportive, plus the technology in terms of information, telecommunication and computing is one of the best in the world. After spending over a year here in Asia, I can vouch this is by far the easiest place to legally get your business set up.