Foreigners looking to start a business

What are the options for a foreign company looking to expand their business to Singapore?

According to ACRA (How-to Guides),

Foreign companies can set up operations in Singapore in four different ways:

  • Transfer of Registration [Re-domicile in Singapore]
  • Setting up a Representative Office
  • Incorporating a Subsidiary / Local Company
  • Registering a branch of a Foreign Company

A foreign corporate entity may choose to transfer its registration to Singapore (re-domiciliation). In doing so, the foreign entity will become a Singapore company and is required to comply with the Companies Act. Find out more about applying for re-domiciliation.  

Foreign companies interested in exploring potential business opportunities in Singapore may set up a Representative Office (RO) before committing to a business venture. It allows a foreign entity to assess the business environment in Singapore before deciding to set up a permanent establishment.

A RO is a temporary set-up with no legal status so it cannot engage in any trading or business activities which yield a profit.

An application to register a RO must be submitted to Enterprise Singapore. For more information on Representative Office, click here.

A foreign company can choose to be incorporated as a subsidiary (i.e. local company). The shares of the subsidiary can be held by the foreign company as the sole shareholder. As a local company, the subsidiary will have to comply with the statutory and disclosure requirements of the Companies Act.

For more information on incorporating a local company, click here

A foreign company can choose to set up a branch in Singapore. Unlike a subsidiary, the branch of a foreign company must have a locally resident authorised representative. The foreign branch must also comply with the statutory and disclosure requirements of the Companies Act. Click here for more information