Setting Up a Private Limited Company in Singapore

Starting a business in Singapore can be an exciting journey, but also a daunting one. Aspiring entrepreneurs are faced with various considerations, from choosing a suitable business structure to complying with the legal and regulatory requirements. In this article, we will explore three key areas that are essential for running and growing a successful private limited company in Singapore: The basics, the advantages, pre-incorporation considerations, incorporation process, corporate taxation, employment pass and work visas, corporate governance and compliance. We will also discuss strategies for scaling your business and leveraging technology to drive innovation.

Understanding the Basics

What is a Private Limited Company?

A private limited company is a separate legal entity registered under the laws of Singapore. It is a popular business structure due to certain benefits and protections it offers. As a separate legal entity, a private limited company can own assets, enter into contracts, and sue or be sued in its own name, distinct from its shareholders. This structure provides limited liability protection to shareholders, meaning their personal assets are generally protected in the event of company debts or legal issues.

Advantages of a Private Limited Company

Limited Liability: Shareholders’ liability is limited to the amount they have invested in the company’s shares, protecting their personal assets.

Ability to Raise Capital: Private limited companies can raise capital by issuing shares to investors, allowing for potential growth and expansion.

Perpetual Existence: The company continues to exist even if there are changes in ownership or management.

Ease of Ownership Transfer: Shares can be bought or sold, allowing for easy ownership transfer without disrupting business operations.

Pre-Incorporation Considerations

Choosing a Suitable Company Name

When choosing a company name, you must adhere to guidelines and restrictions set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). The name should not be offensive, identical to an existing name, or prohibited by the Minister for Finance. It is important to choose a unique and meaningful name that reflects your business identity.

Shareholding and Ownership Structure

A private limited company may have a minimum of one and a maximum of fifty shareholders. Distribution of shares and ownership percentages can be determined based on each shareholder’s initial investment or agreed upon arrangement.

Appointing Directors and Company Secretary

A private limited company must have a minimum of one director who is a Singapore resident. Directors must be at least 18 years old and not bankrupt or convicted of any serious offenses. It is also mandatory to appoint a company secretary within six months of incorporation. The company secretary must be a natural person and either a Singapore resident or a permanent resident.

Incorporation Process

Registering the Company

The incorporation process involves several steps, including:

Choosing a business structure

Preparing the necessary documents, such as the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Registering the company with ACRA

Paying the required fees.

You can choose between online registration via the BizFile+ portal or offline registration through professional service providers.

Minimum Paid-Up Capital Requirements

As of March 2021, Singapore has eliminated the requirement for a minimum paid-up capital. This change allows companies to be incorporated without a specific amount of initial capital. However, it is advisable to allocate sufficient capital to support the initial operations and growth of the company.

Registered Address and Office

A private limited company must have a local Singapore address as its registered address. This address will be used for official correspondence and must be accessible during normal business hours. Companies have the option to use their own physical office, engage the services of a virtual office provider, or utilise a coworking space.

Post-Incorporation Obligations

Annual Filing Requirements

Private limited companies need to fulfill annual filing obligations with ACRA. These include:

  • Filing annual returns with financial statements within 7 months of the end of the financial year.
  • Appointing an auditor (unless exempted) within three months of incorporation.
  • Maintaining proper accounting records and documentation.

It is crucial to comply with filing deadlines to avoid penalties and potential legal consequences.

Corporate Taxation

Singapore has one of the most competitive corporate tax rates in the world, with a flat rate of 17% on chargeable income. This rate applies to both local and foreign companies without distinction. Newly incorporated companies may enjoy tax exemptions for the first three years on their chargeable income, subject to certain conditions. For example, newly incorporated companies are eligible for a full tax exemption on the first S$100,000 of chargeable income and a partial tax exemption on the next S$200,000 of chargeable income for the first three consecutive years of assessment. This exemption can amount to significant tax savings and provide a boost to the company’s cash flow.

Employment Pass and Work Visas

If you plan to hire foreign employees, you will need to navigate the process of obtaining work passes or visas. The eligibility criteria and requirements differ based on the type of work pass needed. The most common type of work pass is the Employment Pass, which is for professionals, managers, and executives who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$4,500 and meet other requirements. Other types of work passes include the S Pass for mid-level skilled employees and the EntrePass for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and operate a business in Singapore. It is advisable to engage the services of a professional employment agency that can guide you through the application process and ensure compliance with the relevant regulations.

Corporate Governance and Compliance

Maintaining accurate records, conducting regular board meetings, and adhering to corporate governance standards are essential for the smooth operation and compliance of your private limited company. It is important to have a well-structured governance framework to ensure transparency and accountability. For example, companies must maintain proper accounting records and prepare financial statements in accordance with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards. Companies must also conduct annual general meetings to discuss and approve key matters, such as the financial statements and the appointment of directors and auditors. Failure to comply with corporate governance requirements can result in penalties and legal consequences.

Scaling Your Business

When looking to scale your business, various funding options are available, such as bank loans, venture capital, or angel investors. To attract investors or secure funding through government initiatives, develop a solid business plan that showcases your unique selling proposition, target market, competitive landscape, and growth potential. You should also demonstrate a clear understanding of the financial risks and opportunities associated with your business. It is advisable to seek the advice of a financial advisor or business consultant who has experience in raising capital and structuring funding deals.

Digital Transformation and Innovation

Leveraging technology to streamline operations, enhance customer experience, and drive innovation within your company is crucial for staying competitive in the market. Technology can help you automate repetitive tasks, reduce operational costs, and reach customers through digital channels. For example, you can implement cloud-based solutions that allow your employees to access data and systems from anywhere, anytime. You can also use data analytics to gain insights into customer behaviour and preferences, and personalise your marketing campaigns accordingly. Embracing innovation and experimentation is also essential for staying ahead of the curve and disrupting established business models.


Starting and running a private limited company in Singapore requires careful planning, execution, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. By understanding the key areas covered in this article, such as corporate taxation, employment pass and work visas, corporate governance and compliance, scaling your business, and digital transformation and innovation, you will be better equipped to handle the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. Aspiring entrepreneurs are encouraged to seek personalised business consulting services that can provide tailored advice and solutions for their specific needs and goals. With the right mindset, resources, and support, you can achieve success and make a positive impact on the Singapore business ecosystem. Get in touch with us for all your business incorporation needs, let us help you so you can focus on growing and expanding your business.