A Comprehensive Guide to Business Incorporation in Singapore


Ready to turn your entrepreneurial vision into reality? Check out the essential steps and expert insights in our comprehensive guide to incorporating and registering a company in Singapore.

These are the essential steps to incorporating a business in Singapore:

  1. How to start a business in Singapore?
  2. How long does it take for a business incorporation?
  3. Choosing the Right Business Structure
  4. Legal Requirements and Eligibility Criteria
  5. Company Name Registration and Approval
  6. Appointment of Directors, Company Secretary, and Key Personnel
  7. Registered Office and Address Requirements
  8. Statutory Compliance and Reporting Obligations
  9. What Happens After Business Incorporation / Moving Forward

How to start a business in Singapore?

To embark on your entrepreneurial journey in Singapore, you should follow these essential steps:

  1. Choose your preferred business structure: Begin by selecting the most suitable legal structure for your enterprise.
  2. Complete company registration: Register your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Singapore’s official regulatory body responsible for overseeing business entities, public accountants, and corporate service providers in the country.
  3. Set up your corporate bank account: Ensure you set up a dedicated corporate bank account for your business transactions.

How long does it take for a business incorporation?

The timeframe for registering a Singaporean company can fluctuate, ranging from several hours to a few days. The primary factor affecting this timeline, especially when working alongside a company secretary, is the promptness with which each shareholder and director can provide their personal documentation (e.g., proof of identification, residential address) to the company secretary for verification.

Choosing the Right Business Structure

When incorporating a company in Singapore, you have the option to choose from seven different types of companies. It is important to specify the appropriate company type when submitting your company name application.

Private Limited Companies (Pte Ltd)

A private limited company, also known as a Pte Ltd. company, is a separate legal entity from its owners. It offers limited liability protection to shareholders, meaning their personal assets are generally not at risk. It is characterised by having less than 50 shareholders and not having its shares accessible to the public. A private limited company has more regulatory requirements and is subject to stricter compliance rules compared to other business structures. It is the most common structure for start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Sole Proprietorships (SP)

This is a straightforward business as it is owned and operated by a single individual who has complete control over the business. The owner assumes unlimited personal liability for all debts and losses. Apart from Singapore citizens and permanent residents, foreign individuals who hold a Dependant’s Pass, Overseas Networks & Expertise (ONE) Pass, or a Letter of Consent are eligible to register a sole proprietorship in Singapore.


A partnership is formed when two or more individuals (up to 20 partners) come together to run a business. They share the profits, losses, and responsibilities according to the terms of the partnership agreement. Partners can be personally liable for the partnership’s obligations.

Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)

An LLP combines features of both a partnership and a company. It offers limited liability protection to its partners, meaning their personal assets are not at risk. LLPs must have at least two partners, and they must file annual returns with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

Each company type has its own distinct features, requirements, and legal implications. The choice of structure depends on factors such as the nature of the business, the number of owners, liability concerns, tax considerations, and growth plans. Unsure which business structure suits you the best? Get in touch with our professional advisor or company incorporation service to determine the most suitable business structure for your specific needs.

Legal Requirements and Eligibility Criteria

To register a company in Singapore, individuals who are 18 years or older are required to have a minimum of S$1 in paid-up capital, also known as share capital. This initial amount can be increased at any time after the company is incorporated. Additionally, it is necessary to provide a local physical address in Singapore as the registered address of the company.

Company Name Registration and Approval

To legally operate a business in Singapore, it is mandatory to register your business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

When choosing a company name, it is crucial to ensure that it is not already in use and does not contain any prohibited or undesirable words (i.e. vulgar, obscene, or offensive words). You will be also required to specify the activities of your business by selecting the most appropriate Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code.

Once your business name application is approved, you must complete the incorporation process within 120 days from the date of approval.

Appointment of Directors, Company Secretary, and Key Personnel

Prior to submitting your company incorporation application, it is necessary to gather the personal particulars and contact details of the appointed officers. These include:

  • NRIC (National Registration Identity Card) and full name
  • Nationality
  • Contact information (telephone number and email address)
  • Residential address

The key officers of a company include:

Company Director:
A company director is responsible for managing the company’s affairs and defining its strategic direction. They must comply with the Companies Act by maintaining accurate records, preparing financial statements (if applicable), and fulfilling corporate filings and disclosures.

Requirements for a company director:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Legally capable
  • Singapore citizen, Singapore permanent resident, EntrePass or employment pass (EP) holder
  • Not disqualified from acting as a director (e.g., an undischarged bankrupt) in Singapore or elsewhere

Company Secretary:
Within six months of incorporation, companies must appoint a company secretary to fulfil administrative responsibilities and to keep the company compliant. The company secretary is responsible for various tasks, including maintaining registers and minutes books, preparing minutes of meetings, and ensuring directors and shareholders are aware of their statutory obligations such as filing annual returns.

Requirements for a company secretary:

  • Must be a natural person
  • Locally reside in Singapore

Do note that the sole director and company secretary cannot be the same person

Auditor (mandatory unless exempted):
Unless the company is exempted from audit (which is common for most start-up companies), an auditor must be appointed within three months of incorporation.

Registered Office and Address Requirements

When applying to incorporate a local company, it is mandatory to provide an office address. This registered office address serves as the official communication point for the company, where all correspondence and notices are directed.

To comply with regulations, all companies must ensure that their registered office address is accessible to the public for at least three hours during ordinary business hours on each business day, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

This requirement serves two purposes: enabling public communication with the office when necessary and facilitating the delivery of legal documents.

If you intend to run a small-scale business from your residential premises, you may utilise your home address as the office address under the Home Office Scheme. Before submitting your application to incorporate your company, it is necessary to obtain approval under the Home Office Scheme. This ensures compliance with relevant regulations and allows you to use your residential address as the registered office address.

Statutory Compliance and Reporting Obligations

Setting the Financial Year End Date
The financial year end (FYE) of a company marks the conclusion of its accounting period, during which the business completes its accounting cycle. This period provides valuable insights into the ongoing profitability of the company. Throughout the accounting period, transactions are recorded and reported through financial statements.

Selecting the appropriate FYE is crucial for financial reporting and planning purposes, as it sets the timeline for assessing the company’s financial performance and complying with regulatory requirements.

The accounting period can span either 12 months or over 52 weeks.

Annual Filing Requirements
Company directors have legal obligations under the Companies Act, including conducting annual general meetings and submitting annual returns.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Unless exempted, it is mandatory to conduct an AGM. AGMs serve as a means to keep stakeholders informed about your company’s financial status and future direction. They provide an opportunity for stakeholders and company officers to engage in meaningful communication at least once a year.

Annual Return Filing

Private companies are required to submit their annual return within 7 months after the financial year end.

Timely filing of the annual return is crucial as it ensures proper and timely disclosure to all stakeholders. It is important to note that all companies, including inactive and dormant ones, are obligated to file annual returns. Even if your company has been exempted by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) from filing income tax returns, as long as its status is “live,” the annual return must still be filed with the relevant authorities.

What Happens After Business Incorporation / Moving Forward

After incorporating your business, several important steps follow:

  1. Certificate of Incorporation: ACRA will send you an email notification confirming the registration of your company, along with the official Singapore Company Incorporation Certificate. This certificate includes your business registration number. If you require a physical copy, you can request one online from ACRA for a fee of S$50.
  2. Business Profile (BizFile): ACRA will provide you with a complimentary business profile for your new company. The business profile serves as the company’s identity card.
  3. Opening a Corporate Bank Account: Once your company is registered, you can proceed to open a corporate bank account. For more detailed information, refer to our concise guide on how to open a Singapore bank account.
  4. Business License Application: Depending on the nature of your business activities, you may need to apply for specific business licenses. This process is typically completed after registering your company but before commencing business operations. For an overview of the most common licenses in Singapore, consult our comprehensive guide.
  5. Goods and Services Tax (GST) Registration: If your business is projected to have an annual turnover exceeding S$1 million, you must register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). GST, also known as value-added tax (VAT) in many countries, is not mandatory if your annual turnovers are not expected to reach S$1 million. It is important to assess your business’s turnover and obligations accordingly.

Don’t let paperwork and legal procedures overwhelm you. Our dedicated experts are here to streamline your business incorporation process in Singapore. Contact us today and take the first step towards your entrepreneurial journey, pricing starting from $415!

Qualities of an Effective Company Secretary

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Imagine a bustling city where a company is like a well-orchestrated symphony. The executives and employees are talented musicians, playing their parts with skill and dedication. And just like a conductor who ensures harmony and synchronisation, the corporate secretary is vital in guiding and coordinating the company’s operations. From maintaining legal compliance to facilitating effective communication between stakeholders, the corporate secretary acts as the conductor, ensuring that all the elements of the company work seamlessly together to create a successful composition.

Imagine a company expanding its operations, venturing into new markets, and facing increasingly complex regulatory requirements. In such a dynamic business landscape, the role of a company secretary becomes crucial. A company secretary is pivotal in ensuring smooth operations, compliance with legal regulations, and effective corporate governance.

When fulfilling the crucial role of a company secretary in Singapore, having the right qualifications is paramount. According to Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), a corporate secretary must possess specific credentials to ensure competence and expertise.

These qualifications include at least three years of prior secretarial experience, recognition as a competent person under the Legal Profession Act, or being a member of esteemed professional associations such as the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Association of Singapore or the Singapore Institute of Company Accountants. With these essential qualifications, a company secretary can navigate the complex corporate landscape and ensure regulatory compliance.

We will explore the qualities that define an effective company secretary and how they contribute to the success of an organisation.

Profound Knowledge of Corporate Law and Regulations

A highly proficient company secretary possesses an extensive understanding of corporate laws, regulations, and compliance requirements. Their knowledge encompasses company formation, legal obligations, filing necessary documents, and maintaining statutory registers. By staying up-to-date with the latest legal developments, an effective company secretary ensures that the organisation operates within the boundaries of the law.

Exceptional Organisational and Administrative Skills

Organisational and administrative skills are paramount for a successful company secretary. They manage board meetings, prepare agendas, take accurate minutes, and maintain essential records. By efficiently handling these tasks, a competent company secretary helps streamline decision-making processes and ensures that all stakeholders are well-informed.

Strong Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful organisation, and a company secretary serves as a vital link between the board, management, and shareholders. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills enable them to articulate complex information, convey key decisions, and foster transparent relationships. A skilled company secretary promotes a harmonious and productive working environment by maintaining open communication lines.

Ethical Conduct and Integrity

Integrity and ethical conduct are non-negotiable traits for an effective company secretary. They handle confidential information, make critical decisions, and act as custodians of corporate governance. Demonstrating unwavering integrity, a company secretary ensures that ethical practices are upheld, and potential conflicts of interest are managed appropriately. Their commitment to ethical conduct instils stakeholder trust and safeguards the organisation’s reputation.

Strategic Thinking and Problem-Solving Abilities

A proficient company secretary possesses strategic thinking capabilities and can analyse complex situations. They anticipate potential risks, identify opportunities for improvement, and contribute valuable insights during decision-making processes. Moreover, their problem-solving skills enable them to navigate challenges effectively, ensuring the organisation’s long-term sustainability.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development

In an ever-evolving corporate landscape, a top-notch company secretary understands the importance of continuous learning. They actively seek opportunities for professional development, attend relevant seminars and workshops, and stay updated with industry best practices. By enhancing their knowledge and skills, the company secretary remains at the forefront of their field and brings valuable expertise to the organisation.

Adaptable and Resilient Nature

The business environment is dynamic, with frequent regulation changes, market conditions, and stakeholder expectations. An effective company secretary embraces adaptability and resilience to navigate through these challenges. They possess the agility to respond to unforeseen circumstances, adjust strategies accordingly, and mitigate risks efficiently. Their ability to adapt contributes to the overall stability and success of the organisation.

Beyond the Ledger: How Accounting Differs from Bookkeeping Services

accounting service singapore

Picture this: You’re the owner of a bustling bakery. Every day, your dedicated bookkeeper, Lucy, meticulously records every flour purchase, every sales transaction, and every dime that flows in and out of your business. She keeps your financial ship sailing smoothly, ensuring your records are shipshape. But when interpreting these numbers and making strategic decisions, you turn to your trusty accountant, Mark.  So what is the difference between their roles?

In financial management, two terms often go hand in hand: accounting and bookkeeping. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they represent distinct functions within the financial landscape. When it comes to managing finances, businesses rely on the expertise of both accountants and bookkeepers. Although related, accounting and bookkeeping serve different purposes in maintaining financial records and providing essential insights for decision-making. In this article, we explore their differences, purposes, and roles in managing business finances effectively.

The Scope of Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is like the foundation of a skyscraper, providing a solid base upon which the entire financial structure rests. It primarily involves tasks such as maintaining ledgers and the nitty-gritty that keeps your financial records in check. From managing invoices and reconciling bank statements to categorising expenses and tracking payments, capturing and categorising transactions systematically. Bookkeeping ensures that your financial house is in order.

Formal education is not required, but to be successful in their work, bookkeepers need to be meticulous and knowledgeable about key financial topics and their work is overseen by an accountant.

Bookkeeping functions include:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Maintaining accurate ledgers
  • Tracking accounts payable and receivable
  • Managing payroll
  • Reconciling bank statements
  • Generating financial reports

 The Essence of Accounting

Accounting, on the other hand, is a broader discipline that encompasses bookkeeping and extends beyond it. While bookkeeping focuses on recording and organising transactions, accounting involves interpreting and analysing financial data to provide meaningful insights and aid decision-making.

Accountants are financial professionals with a deeper understanding of financial principles, regulations, and reporting standards. They use their expertise to interpret financial data, provide financial analysis, and generate comprehensive reports for stakeholders.

Credentials play a significant role in determining the cost of hiring an accountant. To don the prestigious title of an accountant, individuals generally need a bachelor’s degree in accounting. However, for those without a specific accounting degree, a finance degree often suffices. Accountants who are Certified Public Accountants (CPA) possess advanced accounting experience.

 Accounting functions include:

  • Analysing financial data
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Conducting financial audits
  • Developing budgets and forecasts
  • Providing financial analysis and advice
  • Ensuring compliance with financial regulations

Key Differences Between Bookkeeping and Accounting

While both bookkeeping and accounting contribute to managing financial information, several key differences set them apart:


  • Focuses on recording and organising financial transactions
  • Primarily involves data entry and maintenance of ledgers
  • Emphasises accuracy and attention to detail
  • Provides the foundation for accounting processes


  • Analyses and interprets financial data
  • Involves higher-level decision-making and strategic planning
  • Requires a deep understanding of financial principles and regulations

In conclusion, bookkeeping lays the groundwork by diligently recording and organising financial transactions with precision and accuracy; accounting takes the information provided by bookkeeping and transforms it into valuable insights. Both roles are essential for maintaining financial health, compliance, and informed decision-making. Businesses can leverage the strengths of each function to optimise their financial management practices and drive success.