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Epica Learn Series

A Guide to Singapore Registered Office Requirement

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What is the relevance of Registered address for the Singapore Company? Why is it required?

Singapore company registration is an easy and quick procedure. However, the potential business-owners must fulfill specific statutory requirements to register a company in Singapore. One such obligation for setting up a Singapore business is to have a registered office address in Singapore.

Registered office address as a statutory requirement for registration

A company cannot register in Singapore without a local registered business address. This address must be input into the electronic incorporation form that has to be submitted into the ACRA's online portal, BizFile.

This guide shall discuss the significance of a registered office address and registered office options for new and existing Singapore companies.

What is a registered office address in Singapore?

A registered office in Singapore is the company's address that is registered with ACRA during the company's incorporation. All types of Singapore government entities send their correspondence to this address.

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Legal Concept

Legal Concept

Every individual has an electronic address and means of communication (WhatsApp, email, mobile) through which you can reach them. For government records, every individuals address is also recorded on his / her NRIC in the Government database. This address is also available on the NRIC. Similarly, companies in Singapore are required by law to have a registered address. In case the public has any complaint, they can visit the company at its registered address. Also government correspondence, if any is sent to this address.


Legal Requirements

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Legal Requirements

A registered office address must fulfill certain legal obligations as required by Singapore law.

  • Must remain open for at least five hours during regular working days
  • Must be a physical address and not just a PO Box
  • A place where the company's records and registers are kept and available for verification at all times

People can visit the registered office address of a company to enquire anything about it. You must ensure that at least one person is available during office hours at your company's registered office address. He/she must ensure that no visitor goes unattended.

Also, communications and notices from different government bodies are sent to the company's registered address. These notices may include reminders for compliance with annual obligations, changes in government's policies, and new incentives.

Your bank will also send the correspondence to your company's registered office address unless instructed otherwise.

Register of Shareholders and Register of Officers must also be kept and maintained at the registered office.

Physical Office or Virtual Office: Which option is better?

All the companies that are willing to register a Company in Singapore have two options regarding the address:

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Physical Office

Physical Office

A physical office is an active and live office of the company. At least one administrative personnel is present in the physical office of the company. That person must attend all the official correspondence sent to the company and must act accordingly with them.


Virtual Office

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Virtual Office

Singapore offers the option of getting a virtual office to be used as a registered office address. A virtual office provides you a registered office address with various services you can choose from. Epica also provides a registered virtual office address with the following services:

  • A registered office address
  • Notify about mails
  • Forward mails
  • Dedicated fax to email
  • A dedicated telephone line

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Better option

Which option is better?

One of the most significant factors before choosing a registered office address in Singapore is cost. Due to land scarcity in Singapore, renting a physical office is extremely expensive. Though, companies that can afford a physical office space should definitely go for it.

However, it has been noticed on multiple occasions that the inexperienced administrative personnel ignored several crucial mails. For instance, IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) sends an e-services Access Code that is often ignored and misplaced because a company does not need them until they are required to file their Income Tax Returns and Estimated Chargeable Income.

A virtual office address is a relatively better option for almost anyone. It is best for foreign business entities that do not foresee the need for a physical office or want to minimize their incorporation cost.


Guide Singapore Registered Office - Better relatively

What makes a virtual office relatively better than a physical office?

There are multiple benefits of a virtual office as compared to a physical one. You can also opt for various services that are usually offered by your virtual officer service provider.

In addition to that, setting up a virtual office takes a shorter time to set up than a physical office. For instance, Epica can set up a virtual registered office for you in less than an hour. Hence, this option is considered way more convenient by most entrepreneurs and business owners.

Another advantage of getting a virtual office is its flexible cost. When you rent a physical office, the costs associated with leasing or renting are non-negotiable. However, a virtual office service's cost can be adjusted depending on your requirements and budget. Thus, new business owners and entrepreneurs can easily afford to invest in product development, marketing, growth, and expansion plans.

Things you must know about Singapore office rentals

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Central Business District

Singapore has a small land area. Therefore, renting an office in the CBD (Central Business District) is not budget-friendly for most new businesses. CBD is Singapore's center for all the financial and commercial activities and the best location for a physical office. However, leasing commercial office space in the CBD is a significant investment. You can expect the following average rentals in CBD:

  • S$10-12 per square foot per month for a grade A office location
  • S$8-9 per square foot per month for a grade B office location

Even for the areas outside the CBD, the rent prices start from S$4-5. Moreover, there could be specific restrictions or requirements that must be fulfilled by the business owners.

For instance, at many industrial park locations, the tenants may require you to invest a specific amount in developing leased premises. Additionally, there will be cost for renovation, installation of various utilities, investment into technology, and similar other expenditures. On top of that, a traditional office space lease in Singapore has a duration of three years. In that case, a company will also have to incur the extra cost of restoring the office to its previous form before the lease's expiration.

Accessibility is another concern for business owners in Singapore. Affordable office spaces are available in industrial parks, but they are not easily accessible due to being far from the city center.

Therefore, you must consider these points before opting for a registered physical office address in Singapore. A virtual office that is located in the CBD is much better in terms of affordability and accessibility.

Can I use my home address as an office address?

Singapore business owners can use their residential address as a registered office under the HO (Home Office) scheme. This scheme allows owners, tenants, or authorized occupants of Singapore's private residential properties to register with URA (Urban Development Authority). Similarly, owners, tenants, or occupants of HDB flats must register with HDB (Housing & Development Board) to transform their homes into small-scale offices.

You will need written consent from the homeowner before HO registration if you are not the owner.

After registration, a one-time permit is given. It is valid as long as you run your home office business. However, a permit can be revoked if the required conditions are breached.

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Qualification criteria for HO scheme

Qualification criteria for HO scheme

Various performance and restrictions criteria strictly keep the home office usage at a small scale to not create any inconvenience or cause disturbance to the neighboring residents.

  • Cannot hire more than two non-resident employees
  • Cannot generate smoke, noise, waste matter, odor, or dust
  • Cannot display an advertisement or business signage outside the residential property

Moreover, there are specific businesses that are prohibited under the HO scheme. These include:

  • Shops and retail activities
  • Trading businesses
  • Commercial schools (music, dance, language)
  • Catering
  • Employment agencies

Guide Singapore Registered Office - Disadvantages of Home office

Disadvantages of Home office

A home office is generally not recommended due to three prominent reasons:

  • You lose your privacy. A registered office address is available to the public. Hence, anyone can search for your home address, which may invite some unwanted guests to your home.
  • You must comply with ACRA's statutory requirement of minimum opening hours for a registered office. Your resident must be opened to the general public for at least five hours during a day.
  • As stated earlier, many business activities and business types are restricted under the HO scheme, making it not an ideal option for many business owners.

Conclusion

Having a registered office address is mandatory before applying for Singapore company incorporation. Cost and accessibility are the two most important factors when you search for office space in Singapore.

There are two great options to pick for a Singapore registered office address.

One comes with a Singapore company secretary. When you hire a company secretary from a registered corporate service provider like Epica, you can also get a registered office address. A company secretary will take care of all the compliances for your office and ensure that none of your crucial notices or correspondence go overlooked.

Similarly, a virtual office is an excellent option for entrepreneurs and business owners trying to minimize their initial business costs. A virtual office also provides you the freedom to travel (as per your business needs) without worrying about your company's office remains open or close.

You must still opt for the one that best suits your needs and budget. It would be best if you consider your business's needs, the nature of its operations, and the requirements of employees of your company. Sometimes, your needs can be fully satisfied even with a home office. However, it is not recommended.

Therefore, do adequate research and take all your business needs into account with your budget before choosing any one option.

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