Nature of sole proprietorships

What are the requirements for a sole proprietorship as a foreigner?

To own a sole proprietorship, you must be either a Singaporean citizen, Permanent Resident (PR), Employment Pass or EntrePass holder who is 18 years old and above.

Although it is highly not advised, foreigners can still apply for sole proprietorships in Singapore.

The Business Names Registration Act 2014 states that where an individual proprietor, all the partners of a firm or all the officers of a foreign company does not or do not reside in Singapore, the individual proprietor, firm or foreign company must appoint at least one authorised representative.

Hence, if you are an individual proprietor who does not reside in Singapore, you are required to appoint a local authorized representative, who must be ordinarily residing in Singapore, be at least 21 years of age and have full legal capacity.

Foreigners who opt to reside in Singapore to run their business will however go through a very stringent process for their work visa. Therefore, it’s recommended that all owners who want to manage their company’s operations and be present in Singapore seek approval from the MOM forehand, and perhaps obtain an Employment Pass or an EntrePass.

As a foreigner you don’t have a valid working visa, and if any of the proposed partners do not have a SingPass, it is highly disadvantageous for your business. The reason is that only an individual with a SingPass or CorpPass can proceed to submit any online business transactions, this means only legal residents in Singapore are able to do those. They must log in to BizFile+ using their identification number (NRIC or FIN) and SingPass/CorpPass.

Basically, what we are concluding is, a sole proprietorship is not a good option for foreigners setting up a Singapore business. Foreign business professionals should incorporate a private limited company instead, and it will be much helpful for the credibility and image of your business.