Starting a business in Singapore involves more than just having a solid business plan and the necessary funds. Singapore is a country with many rules and regulations. When it comes to starting a business, foreigners should bear in mind and abide by the proper protocols to avoid any unwanted run-ins with the law.
The first thing you should do before starting a business in Singapore is to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements. The eligibility list will require you to ensure that you are not bankrupt and have directors and shareholders in place amongst other requirements. The eligibility list can be checked on the following site, www.enterpriseone.gov.sg
Once you have determined your eligibility, you should register your company online with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). You should then secure an available (and permitted) company name and a viable location for your company to set-up. If your company requires a license, then you have to register for it accordingly. The registration for licenses can be done at the following website https://licences.business.gov.sg/
Following the completed registrations and licensing, you would want to secure the relevant manpower for your business. You can easily look for locals to hire on popular job sites such as JobStreet and JobsDB. Bear in mind that if you are hiring other foreigners, it is your responsibility to ensure that they possess the proper working permits. Hiring illegal workers will land you into trouble with the law, which might result in a heavy fine or jail sentence. There is also a quota as to the numbers of foreigners that you can hire in your company.
If none of the owners starting the company is considered by the government to be an “ordinarily resident” – meaning that none of the owners will be staying in Singapore in the long run to oversee the business – then it is a must that a local manager be appointed for the business operations. The local manager should be someone who is above 18 years old and either a Singaporean, a Permanent Resident, an Employment Pass Holder, or a Dependent Pass Holder.
Once you have assessed your eligibility and done the necessary registrations, you would be required to secure an EntrePass, which is issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The EntrePass, which is initially awarded up to two years, is meant for foreigners who are interested in starting up a business in Singapore. The EntrePass also enables the immediate family of the holder of the pass to live in Singapore for the duration of the business’ viability. Upon the successful second renewal of your EntrePass, you will be granted a stay period of up to three years.
The conditions of this pass require for the foreigner to have at least a 30% share in the company and the business should have a minimum paid-up capital of $50,000. The company that you plan to start should also be registered as a private limited company with ACRA. It is also important to note that at the point of application for the EntrePass, the company that you intend to start up must not have been registered for more than six months. It is ideal that you apply for the EntrePass as soon as you have successfully registered your company with ACRA.
In its bid to attract more foreign investors into the country, the Singapore government has also started up various initiatives to support investments. As such, it would be practical to look up the Economic Development Board (EDB), Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board (SPRING), International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), ACRA and EnterpriseOne for available schemes that might be able to facilitate your aim to start a business in Singapore.