You are only three steps away from creating and running your own company in Singapore. And the beauty is, it can all be done completely online from your home. No need to travel to Singapore, especially during these uncertain times.
So what are the three steps? What are the requirements, and which companies offer these incorporation, accounting, and banking services?
There’s actually quite a good choice of not only digital banks from Singapore but also international digital bank accounts for both business and personal use.
As for incorporation services, we put a spotlight on three local companies that will do that for you. You just need to provide the documents needed and pay for the service.
But first, let’s outline the key steps that you need to do on this exciting journey.
Steps to Set Up a New Business in Singapore
Opening a new company can be a stressful event, especially if you’re opening shop in a different country. Singapore has luckily made this process easy and time-efficient. Without the need to travel there and visit local administrators and to find an office. Heck, you don’t even need an office.
- Meet the official requirements
There are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through. Every company needs a Corporate Secretary, Nominee Director, and a business address. If you hire an agency, you won’t need to lift a finger. They’ll cut the red tape for you.
- Set up the company
Choose a company name, fill out all the required documents, pay the starting capital, and employ the required people. You can do it alone, or you can hire a company to do it for you.
- Open a bank account
To run a business in Singapore, you’ll have to open a local bank account. You can use one of the brick and mortar banks or you can open a digital bank account remotely.
You can’t run a business without a knowledgeable accountant. There are excellent local people that you could hire to do your taxes, or you could get an agency to do it for you for a small fee.
Now that we’ve laid out all the steps to open a Singapore company, let’s go through them, starting with online company incorporation.
Digital company incorporation
- Who can start a company in Singapore?
Any local or foreign person over 18 can register a company in Singapore according to the Singapore Companies Act. You don’t even have to be physically present in Singapore. You can do it from your home office or couch.
- How long does it take to open a company in Singapore?
Thanks to the local government and the fintech companies, the incorporation process is pretty straightforward and is usually completed within a day or even just a couple of hours.
- Corporate Secretary
Singaporean law stipulates that every company needs to have a Corporate Secretary. This has to be a Singapore resident, a certified expert that does all your paperwork like annual reports and other state compliances.
- Nominee Director
Another official requirement is to have a local person as a Nominee Director who will put their name on all your official papers and share the legal liability. This person won’t make any business decisions but will still be liable.
Both the Nominee Director and the Corporate Secretary can be provided to you by a company you hire to create a business in Singapore.
- Registered address
To have a registered Singaporean address is commonplace, of course. You can’t open a company without a physical address or a mailbox, at least. This is also provided for you.
The company will have to have at least one shareholder (you), and this person or persons doesn’t have to be a local resident.
- Paid-up capital
This could be critical for some entrepreneurs on a tight budget. The capital requirement when creating a company in Singapore is a minimum of S$1. Yes, one Singaporean dollar, which is around 75 cents in US dollars. You can probably find that much capital without going to the bank.
- Company name
This is the first step in the process. You’ll have to choose a unique name for your new company. To find out if your name is available, you’ll need to send a query to ACRA, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority in Singapore. It usually costs S$15, but incorporation service companies typically have this tool on their websites for free.
- Employment pass
For directors that want to relocate to Singapore, an Employment pass is a must. It grants you and your family a visa to live and work in Singapore. It expires after 1 or 2 years and can be extended.
Now that we know the typical requirements to open a company in Singapore, let’s find the best companies that can do this whole process for you.
- Tailor-made packages
- 100% online
- Business bank account
- Up to $50,000 in rewards
Aspire’s incorporation process can be done in a day if you have all the papers handy. You’ll also get their business account at the same time.
The whole process starts with you choosing a package and filling out the form. One of their specialists should then reach out to you to guide you through the process. Once your business has been incorporated, you’ll get your Aspire business account and you can make transactions straightaway.
- Packages for local directors:
- Kickstart (Incorporation only) – S$299 (USD 220)
- Kickstart Plus (Incorporation + Corporate Secretary) – S$480 (USD 355)
- Packages for foreign directors:
- Remote Startup (For Directors who want to work remotely) – S$2840 (USD 2,100)
- Singapore-based Startup (For Directors who want to work in Singapore) – S$2950 (USD 2,190)
Aspire is offering a tailormade solution to opening a business in Singapore from anywhere in the world. They will register your business, get you an Aspire business account, and access to corporate advisory, plus you’ll even get some incentive in form of rewards.
- All-in-one packages
- Company registered fast and online
- Accounting and taxation
- Transparent pricing
- Fast turnaround
Osome will make opening a company in Singapore a breeze. With their transparent prices, you’ll always know what you’re paying for and how much it will cost. The whole process is laid out on their website, and you can always talk with their advisors.
The whole process starts on their website, where you’ll pick a unique company name and choose your business activity type. They will then send you the Incorporation checklist where all the needed documents to open a business from scratch will be listed.
The prices vary greatly depending on if you’re a local or a foreigner. Locals can get incorporated for S$350 with Osome or S$600 if they need a Corporate Secretary.
For foreigners, two distinct packages cost much more because, as a non-resident, you must hire a local director:
- New company package – S$2,550/y (USD 1,890)
- Unlimited Company Secretary
- Nominee Director
- Registered address
- Company registration
- New company with Employment Pass S$2,650/y (USD 1,965)
- Unlimited Company Secretary
- Nominee Director for 6 months
- Registered address
- Company registration
- Employment Pass
Their packages cover all the mandatory government fees and the name-checking service. But the accounting services will cost you an additional S$800 (USD 594) per year. This includes a review by Chartered Accountant, monthly reports, a Xero account, and it covers monthly revenue under S$5k.
The whole process on Osome’s side takes only a couple of hours or even less once you’ve handed over all the required documents.
- Completely online service
- All-inclusive Accounting & Compliance packages
- A free & unlimited e-signature tool
- Up to $30,000 in rewards
Sleek markets its services to entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs, and investors. They offer an utterly paper-free solution to open your business. They took a different route and aren’t offering all-in-one packages. You get to pick and choose what service you need:
- S$35 Company Incorporation
- S$1,500/year Resident Director
- S$300/year Registered Address
- S$240/year Company Secretary (1 shareholder)
- S$75/month All-in Accounting & Compliance (up to S$2,500 expenses/m)
They’ll also work on your visa if you decide to relocate to Singapore. The Employment Pass will cost you S$980. For your family members’ visa, you’ll have to pay S$780 per person plus S$450 for a Letter of Consent.
We all know how much good accountants are important. You’ll be happy to know that Sleek is a certified Xero Platinum partner. They’ll manage your unaudited financial statements, bookkeeping and expense claims, CPF, and all your annual filing requirements.
As you can see, Sleek streamlines and takes the stress out of the whole Singapore incorporation process with a completely online application that can be finished in one day if the circumstances are right.
Why go to Singapore and sit down with a banker to open a bank account when you can open it online. We’ve gone with one local challenger bank and two international ones. All three players are established and offer solid accounts that you can open in just a few minutes if you have all the documents ready.
- Digital business account
- Open an account in 5 minutes
- Make payments in 50+ currencies
- Mid-market exchange rate
- Link to your accounting software
- Connect to Stripe, PayPal, Shopify, Lazada, Shopee
- Lines of credit and term loans
Coming back to Aspire, they offer a comprehensive service that covers not just incorporation but also accounting and banking. And the best thing is, you get a bank account automatically if you decide to open your company through them. Not only that, but Osomo also offers their customers an Aspire bank account.
Their bank account has no monthly fee and almost no other fees. If you’re not a solopreneur, you probably have a team of people working for you (and with you). For them, you can create their own logins and virtual cards and set specific access roles for each employee so there are no crossing boundaries.
Aspire is only offering a virtual debit card that is linked to your business account. There’s no physical card as of yet, but there are also no annual fees, minimum spending, or hidden charges. You’ll spend at the visa rate, with a 0.7% fee.
Aspire offers integration with third-party apps that make your everyday life easier. To help with accounting, Aspire app connects to your accounting software so you don’t have to manually match transactions.
It also connects your Aspire card to your mobile payments like Google and Apple Pay and you can receive payouts directly into your account from e-commerce and payment platforms like PayPal, Lazada, Shopee, Shopify, and of course, Stripe.
- No monthly fees
- Really cheap transfers
- Ability to invoice customers
- Spend anywhere with no hidden fees
- Xero integration
- Business Mastercard
- Receive and hold 55+ currencies
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is an extremely popular and truly international bank account. It’s a great option for businesses making transactions around the world and holding money in different currencies.
It can save your business plenty of money with its renowned low-fee transfers for paying freelancers, contractors, or importing from overseas.
To open a Wise business account, you’ll need to go to their website and enter your email, password, and your country. You’ll also need to get verified by using a photo ID, proof of address, and a photo of you holding that ID. You’ll then need to tell them more about your business and yourself.
Sending money with Wise, or making international payments is easy and similar to other financial institutions that do the same service. You’ll only need to have some basic information that you’ll have to share with Wise in order to successfully transfer the money.
Although you don’t need a physical card to spend money with Wise, it is handy to have one, to transfer the money successfully, and you can connect it with Google and Apple Pay. Team members can all have their own cards on your Wise Business account as well.
Wise business cards are customizable in a way that you can put a spending limit as well as turn on or off contactless, online, and in-store payments for each individual business card. That way, you can control your employee spending.
If you’re wondering how much does this cost, the first one is included in your setup fee of £16/€23/$31. Each additional card for team members is £3.
- Fast and reliable transfers
- Good customer support
- Easy to open online
- Major marketplaces supported
- Xero integration
A veteran in money transfers and payments, WorldFirst is going stronger than ever and more focused on business customers. If you want to save your business some money with competitively priced exchange rates, look no further than WorldFirst.
As a new WorldFirst customer, you will begin with a maximum FX fee of 0.5% when you open an International Payments Account and a maximum FX fee of 0.6% if you open an International Collection Account.
It’s free to open a WorldFirst account. Visit their website and click on sign up. You’ll need to enter the country you’re in, your name, email, username, phone number, address, and a password, for starters.
You’ll also have to fill in details about your company and directors. After that, a member of the WorldFirst team will call you to verify your ID and ask you for some documents that you’ll have to upload.
The whole process can be finished the same day if the team can verify you quickly.
Pros and Cons of running a Singapore company
Singapore has many things going for it, but it also has a few things that might impact your business. But only if you decide to actually “move in” and make a physical presence.
- Low and fixed corporate rate of 17%
- High legal security
- Talented workforce
- Funding initiatives
- Flexible immigration policies for expats
- Thriving economy
- Quality of life
Singapore is one of the best countries to open a business. Remote, digital, or brick-and-mortar. They have a competitive corporate tax rate that favors start-ups. With up to 75% tax exemption on their first $100,000 taxable income and 50% on the next $200,000.
There are also no taxes on capital gains, dividends, and inheritances. And Singapore also has an extensive network of Double Tax Avoidance treaties with more than 90 countries.
Opening a company in Singapore doesn’t mean that you might not be liable for paying taxes in your home country. Make sure to consult an accountant before you jump in.
For those of you that want to move into the country together with your new business, Employment Passes (visas) are readily available for the entire family as Singapore does have really flexible immigration rules for foreigners.
Once you’re there, you’ll find out that the quality of life is bar none and that the local workforce is extremely talented and modern.
Singapore takes the highest places in key social indicators such as education, healthcare, quality of life, personal safety, and housing, and has a home-ownership rate of 91%.
People of Singapore also enjoy one of the world’s longest life expectancies, have the fastest Internet connection speeds, and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
- Expensive retail and office space
- High workforce costs
- A relatively small pool of workers in some fields
When you’re a small island city-state, with a sprawling economy and limited space, you know what kind of issues you can expect to happen. Expensive and limited office and retail space are certainly one of them.
Life can be expensive as well and the workforce, although extremely talented, can get pricey and have limited numbers of workers available. Of course, if you’ll be running your company remotely, and not going to live in Singapore, you don’t have to worry about any of that.
The bottom line
Opening a business in Singapore, creating and running a digital company from your home in the US, Europe, or anywhere else in the world can be a fantastic opportunity to expand to new markets and Asia in general.
There’s very little red tape stopping you, and all the groundwork and “door knocking” will be done for you if you choose the right company. Why lose time on bureaucracy when you have bigger fish to fry.
Be sure to check out our other guides on opening a digital company in countries like the US or Portugal if you’re open to more possibilities. You can also find reviews of the best (and worst) digital banks in the US and around the world.
Adrian Volenik is a fintech enthusiast who loves testing and reviewing digital banking apps and financial products in general. How many digital banking accounts can one man have? Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.