Skip to main content

How to succeed in Singapore – five tips to boost your business

9 March 2022

Jennifer Lee

Corporate Secretarial Consultant

Jennifer Lee

Corporate Secretarial Consultant

Make an enquiry

Setting up a new business in Singapore – one of the world’s most supportive and dynamic places to do business – offers huge business and financial opportunities

Singapore is the best country in Asia to do business and the second best globally, according to World Bank rankings. The country is well connected and an established gateway to other fast- growing markets in the region. It is also served by a deep and varied talent pool.

Its business-friendly jurisdiction provides a combination of factors including political stability, a trusted legal system based on English law, high-quality infrastructure, openness to foreign talent and an attractive tax regime. This makes Singapore a hub for corporate and financial services activities.

1. Choose your business structure

Depending on your business needs, you can use a number of different company structures in Singapore. These include sole proprietorship, partnerships, limited partnerships, Limited Liability partnership (LPs)s, private or public companies, as well as variable capital companies (VCCs). All have different requirements, liabilities and funding structures. Businesses are licensed and regulated by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Local Singapore-registered companies may be eligible for tax benefits or rebates under government incentive schemes.

2. Decide if you want a branch office, representative office or inward re-domicile

As an alternative to being Singapore-based, a foreign company doing business in Singapore can set up a local branch. For legal purposes, the branch will be an extension of its head office incorporated overseas. This has liability implications for the main company.

It is also possible to establish a representative office, which can be registered in Singapore as a temporary arrangement, although such a structure cannot raise funds or solicit business.

Foreign corporate entities can also transfer their registration to Singapore (inward re-domiciliation) and become a Singapore company. Re-domiciliation will not affect the obligations, liabilities or rights of the foreign corporate entity.

3. Maximise government incentives

 Singapore’s business-friendly environment means new companies may benefit from tax incentives or rebates. To be considered for them, investors setting up in Singapore should have a business plan that can be sent to the Singapore Government for discussion.

If you plan to grow and expand your business entity in Singapore, you may qualify for incentives including the Pioneer Certificate Incentive (PC) & Development and Expansion Incentive (DEI). There are also tax relief schemes, depending on your business’s activities and income.

4. Apply for the right visas for your staff

Several visas and entry passes are available to individual foreign entrepreneurs and investors interested in setting up a long-term base in Singapore. Entrepreneurs can apply for the EntrePass, which is designed for foreign entrepreneurs setting up an innovative or tech startup in Singapore. This gives access to support, networking and funding opportunities.

Another option is to apply for Singapore Permanent Residence (PR) under the Global Investor Programme, or the Tech Pass, designed for established foreign tech entrepreneurs, leaders or technical experts. There is also a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) for high-earning professionals.

For your staff, the Employment Pass is available for skilled foreign workers while the Work Permit will allow semi-skilled and domestic foreign workers to work in Singapore.

5. Navigate the tax system

Corporate income tax is fixed at 17% for all Singapore entities, both tax resident and non-tax resident companies, and for Singapore-incorporated subsidiaries as well as branches of foreign companies.

Generous tax relief schemes are available to support new and growing companies. These include tax exemption on normal chargeable income of up to S$200,000 and up to 75% tax exemption of income for qualifying newly-incorporated companies for three years.

How Intertrust Group can help in Singapore

In Singapore, Intertrust Group has highly-specialised teams to guide companies through every aspect of setting up and running companies, trusts and investment vehicles with extensive knowledge of the region’s local rules and regulations.

One of the largest administrators in the market, we have been established in Singapore for more than 30 years and offer an end-to-end suite of administrative services for investors setting up a business in Singapore.

We offer the expertise required to navigate and manage complex regulatory and reporting requirements and have state of the art in-house proprietary technology, making it easy for business owners to establish themselves in Singapore.

 Why Intertrust Group?

  • Intertrust Group is a publicly listed company with 70 years’ experience in providing world-class trust and corporate services to clients around the world.
  • Our 4,000 professionals work together across 30 jurisdictions to offer an extensive global reach, deep local knowledge and an extensive international network to help clients achieve their strategic goals.
  • Intertrust Group provides a wide range of financial and administrative services to clients operating and investing in the international business environment. We help companies expand globally, offering support with restructuring, outsourcing and further developments.