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Epica Learn Series

How can a foreigner start a business in Singapore?

How can a foreigner start a business in Singapore?

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How can a Foreigner Register a Company in Singapore?

Singapore offers a business-friendly environment to both locals and foreigners. Its strategic geographic location, lower effective tax rates, lack of corruption, and straightforward company registration procedure attract thousands of foreigners every year to incorporate their businesses in Singapore.

All the businesses in Singapore need to register with ACRA, the Singapore Company Registrar. To register, they must fulfill specific statutory requirements.

Can a foreigner register a company in Singapore?

Singapore does not restrict foreign ownership in the company. 100% shares of a company can be owned by a foreigner. As a result of this provision, you as a foreigner can be whole owner of your company. You are not required to give any shareholding to any local person.

However there is a requirement, to have atleast one local director in your company. Briefly the compliance requirements of ACRA those must be fulfilled are:

  • Hiring a local director in the company
  • Providing a local physical address for business registration
  • Hiring a company secretary within the first six months of successful incorporation

The minimum paid-up capital can be S$1 that can be increased later.

It must also be noted that the local director and company secretary must be Singaporeans, PRs, EntrePass, or Employment Pass holders.

However many professional service firms like Epica, will be able to provide a Nominee Director service for your company, if you do not have a local director. This way you can satisfy the legal requirements and at the same time keep 100% ownership of your company with you.

Singapore Company Registration requirements

The business registration in Singapore is entirely online. All the documents are submitted to the ACRA's online portal, BizFile+. After submission, it generally takes a few hours for the application to get accepted.

This indicates that the company incorporation procedure does not take long when all the documents are provided.

Foreigner register - v

Company registration steps

Foreigners cannot self-register their businesses. They do not have access to SingPass and government systems. Therefore, it is imperative to take the services of a registered corporate firm.

The company incorporation is done in two main steps:

  • Business name registration
  • Registration with ACRA

Documents for identity verification other than registration must be provided as well.

Foreigner register - Documents required

Documents required for identity verification

The following documents are required for identity verification:

  • Passport copy
  • Residential address proof of the resident country
  • Personal and business profile
  • KYC details as asked by ACRA

If there is more than one shareholder, all of them must provide these documents.

Must use a Corporate Secretarial Firm

Foreigner register - Corporate Secretarial Firm

If you are a foreigner, and intending to incorporate a company in Singapore, you must engage a Corporate service firm for your registration. You will not be able to do this process on your own. This is because you will not have access to ACRA bizfile system, via singpass the way local residents have.

Acquiring the right work permit

Foreigners can choose from relocating to Singapore or operating the business from overseas.

Foreigner register - Relocation


To relocate, a foreigner must acquire either an Employment Pass or an EntrePass. Please note that approval of employment pass is subject to Ministry of Manpower decision.

Foreigner register - Business from overseas

Running the business from overseas

To run the business from overseas, a foreigner must appoint a local director or a local authorized representative in Singapore.

How a CSP can assist you

Foreigner register - Corporate Service Provider

Foreigners are required to hire a CSP (corporate service provider) to register on their behalf. A corporate service provider like Epica assists you through every step of Singapore company registration. We will file your registration application on your behalf. We will also help you to fulfill the ACRA's statutory requirements.

  • For a local director, we provide a nominee director service. In this service, a nominee director is appointed to take the company's local director's role.
  • Similarly, we provide a company secretary to help you fulfill the requirement of hiring a company secretary within six months.
  • A local address is also provided for company registration purposes. Usually, a small workspace is sufficient for operations.


Simply put, a foreigner needs to provide the required documents and hire a corporate firm to register a Singapore business. The foreigner must acquire the right work permit if he/she wants to relocate. Otherwise, one can run one's businesses comfortably from one's resident country.

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