How to Set Up and Register an Offshore Company in Singapore

Singapore is one of the most popular destinations in the world for investor to set up and register an offshore company. This is due, in part, to the country’s pro-business environment, strong talent pool, and the many advantages it offers to businesses operating or looking to operate in Asia. In this article, we will outline some of the key steps involved in setting up an offshore company and an alternative way to legally bypass setting up an entity when forming a base of operation in Singapore. Read on to find out how to set up an offshore company in Singapore.

What is an Offshore Company?

An offshore company is often referred to as a company that is legally registered in a foreign jurisdiction. A Singapore offshore company is a business set up and registered in Singapore, often by non-residents, to engage in business outside the country.

Why Set Up an Offshore Company in Singapore?

There are several advantages that come with setting up an offshore company in the “Garden City”. Singapore’s business-friendly environment, multilingual workforce and attractive system are just some of the reasons. A business that is registered in Singapore as an offshore company, however, is controlled overseas and has no local operations, does not hold tax residency in Singapore. That means, it may be subjected to zero corporate tax1. Singapore is also well-known for being a financial, and recently, a startup hub in the region 2. These companies benefit from Singapore’s robust legal system and famous international trade networks. As a result, Singapore has become a beloved destination for foreign business to set up their offshore entities.

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Quick Guide to Setting up an Offshore Company in Singapore

Choose a Unique Name for Your Offshore Company

The company’s name must be unique, meaning it cannot be a replicate of an already existing company. It must also be in compliance with Singapore’s Companies Act. Furthermore, it is a requirement that The Company Registrar approves the company name before you go ahead with registration.

Choosing Your Offshore Company Structure

It’s always tricky to decide which company structure works best for you. We’ve compiled some questions to make the process all the easier for you:

  • How many owners will the company have?
  • What is the initial capital going into the company?
  • How quickly does the company plan to grow?
  • What are some of the company long-term goals?
  • What about short-term goals?
  • What are the main needs of the company?

Company Structure in Singapore

Singapore has a plethora of business entities that you can choose from when registering your business.

The following are the ones that are most commonly used:

  • Sole Proprietorship or Partnership
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Company

Registering Your Business in Singapore

The registration process for an offshore company in Singapore is relatively straightforward. You need to register both the company name and your business with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). There are a few documents that must be filed with the ACRA, including the articles of incorporation, the memorandum of association, and the shareholders’ agreement. There is also a registration fee that must be paid.

Depending on which company structure your business is following, the specific prerequisites may vary. However, in general, to register your company, you must appoint a local representative who should be a Singapore citizen, a permanent resident, or an individual holding an (Singapore Entrepreneur Pass) EntrePass work visa.

You will also need to appoint one local resident as a company director. The documents you need for incorporating your business include3:

  • Passport copies of directors and shareholders
  • Address proof of directors and shareholders
  • In the case of a corporate entity, particulars of the parent company
  • Registered office address
  • Proof of commencement date

Obtaining Business Licenses

Before starting business operations, you may need to apply for and obtain business licenses based on your business activities and domain. For example, trading, recruitment, and various other professions will require specific permits for you to legally operate in Singapore.

Opening a Corporate Bank Account

Once the business has been registered in Singapore, you will need to open a corporate bank account. This can be done at any bank in Singapore. The company will need to provide its registered address and contact information, as well as the name of the company director(s).

The company will also need to provide a copy of its Certificate of Incorporation. The bank may require the company to provide additional documentation. These include a copy of its business registration certificate or articles of association, Singapore ID card of directors, and contact details.

*This is intended as a general guide, for more information, study our Singapore Company Formation Guide or contact our Singapore Specialists now!

How to Legally Set Up Company Operations in Singapore Without a Business Entity

To sum up, Singapore is a great place to expand your business operations. However, if you’re looking to test the market, setting up a business entity may not be your best solution. Instead, you should consider using a PEO or EoR service which can help you save time and money when expanding your operations. The best part about PEO employment is that it allows you to quickly scale up or down before taking the plunge.

Set up a Company in Singapore with PEO

Want to learn how your business can benefit from using PEO? Contact our specialists to learn more our PEO service in Singapore and across Asia or visit our service page for more information!

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1 Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore – “Tax Residency of a Company/ Certificate of Residence

2 Source: Time.com – “Financial Firms Are Flocking to Singapore But Hong Kong Keeps Its Edge”

3 Source: GoBusiness.gov – Go Business Singapore – Step 4: Register your business