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Company Incorporation in Singapore: A Quick Guide to Initial Requirements

Company incorporation in singapore

Singapore is an attractive location for investors looking to do business in Asia. For several decades, its economy has increased in strength and become more friendly to foreign investment. Today, investors are attracted by the fact the low levels of corruption, low tax rates, and the high standards of living. If this uniquely positioned country stands out to you as a great place to do business, consider these initial requirements for company incorporation in Singapore.

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Initial requirements for company incorporation in Singapore

The fact that Singapore is so friendly to international business means that setting up a company in Singapore is not necessarily an arduous process, but it does rely on being highly organized and on having the right support in the country itself. The initial requirements for most businesses include:

Getting approval of your company name

Before you can register a business in Singapore, you need to get formal approval of the company name. As with other countries, Singapore has certain requirements and restrictions that apply to naming a business. These are set by the Singapore Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and they stipulate that the name cannot be: 

    1. ‘undesirable’ (the name cannot be obscene or otherwise offensive)
    2. the same as a reserved or registered business name (names may be reserved for up to 120 days)
    3. prohibited by the Ministry of Finance (the only word not accepted for registration at the moment is ‘Temasek’ – the 13th and 14th century name for Singapore)

Appointment of a minimum of one resident director

In Singapore, it is permitted to have an unlimited number of resident or non-resident directors who are at least 18 years old, but at least one must be a resident. To qualify as ‘resident’, the director must be a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or a holder of a Singapore work visa (EntrePass or Employment Pass). Additional requirements include that the director is not bankrupt and is free of any malpractice charges.

Establishment of shareholders

Singapore companies must have at least one shareholder, and can have up to 50. The shareholders may be directors, or they can be any other local or foreign individual or company. If desired, 100% non-local shareholding is permitted. Once company incorporation in Singapore is complete, the shares may be issued or transferred at any time. 

Appointment of a resident company secretary

A resident secretary must be appointed within six months of your company’s registration in Singapore. Again, a resident is someone who is a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, or a holder of a Singapore work visa (EntrePass or Employment Pass). Importantly, sole directors may not act as company secretary – it must be a separate person.

Possession of share capital

There must be a minimum of 1 SGD paid-up or share capital in possession to register the company in Singapore. Many companies declare this share capital and then are free to increase it at any time after the company has been incorporated.

Registering a company address

A registered address is required for company incorporation in Singapore, and this can either be a residential or a commercial property address but may not be a PO box. 

How to get help with company incorporation in Singapore

For more information on company incorporation in Singapore and to get specific advice about your industry, contact the expert team at Horizons today. We can assist in all aspects of setting up a business in Singapore, and can advise on related matters including recruitment, payroll, employee management, tax and accounting, and other important legal matters.