Singapore is already well-known for the ease with which it does business, its low-tax policy, and its first-rate infrastructure. In addition, encouraged by its government’s backing and the availability of private capital, the city-state is well on its way to become Asia’s hub for incorporating start-ups. You’ve decided to take the plunge and register your business in Singapore. Incorporation in Singapore is an important milestone, but the paperwork involved can seem daunting. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered in this article. Applying to ACRA, Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, need not be stressful if you go in prepared. Follow our handy do’s and don’ts guide for hassle-free company registration.
Within a week, you’ll have your business up and running. You’ll breeze through the application process and be ready to hit the ground running. But first, let’s make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Do your homework, gather the necessary documents, and avoid common mistakes. With the right preparation, applying to ACRA can be a walk in the park. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to take your business to new heights in one of the world’s leading financial hubs.
Do’s To Get Approval Smoothly From ACRA
- Do Your Research on Business Entity Types
Homework on the different business entities is key to hassle-free incorporation in Singapore. The entity you choose determines everything from your legal obligations and tax liabilities to the amount of control you maintain.
Sole proprietorship is simple but risky. You have full control but also unlimited liability. Not ideal if your business will have significant risks or debts. Whereas Partnership also provides full control but liability is shared between partners. Requires a partnership agreement to outline ownership, responsibilities, and dispute resolution. Difficult to dissolve if partners disagree. On the other hand, Private limited company is most popular. Offers limited liability and separate legal entity status. However, more complex to set up and administer. You’ll need at least one shareholder and director, annual filings, and compliance with ACRA regulations.
The entity you choose depends on your priorities, risks, and long-term goals. Do extensive research on the obligations and consider consulting a professional to determine what is right for your unique situation. The last thing you want is to end up with an entity that doesn’t serve your needs or exposes you to unnecessary liability risks. Put in the work upfront and you’ll be smoothly sailing through the ACRA application process.
- Do Check if a Company Name Is Available
One of the first things you’ll need to do is check if your desired company name is available for registration. This can be done on ACRA’s website. Simply enter the name you want and ACRA will search their database to see if it’s taken or available. If it’s available, you can proceed to reserve the name for 60 days while preparing the rest of your application. If it’s taken, you’ll need to brainstorm some alternatives. Try different variations like adding “SG” or “Pte Ltd” to the end of the name. You can also tweak spellings or combine words. Company names are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserving the name will prevent others from taking it while you get the rest of your paperwork in order.
- Do Submit Your Application via BizFile+
The easiest way to submit your application for company incorporation in Singapore is through ACRA’s BizFile+ portal. This online filing system allows you to complete the entire application process electronically without having to submit physical documents.
Register for a BizFile+ account and log in to get started. You’ll need to provide some basic information about your proposed company like the company name, address, share capital amount, and shareholder details. Have all your supporting documents ready to upload like scanned copies of NRICs or passports for all directors and shareholders, as well as a copy of the lease or proof of address for your registered office address.
Double check that all information entered is correct before proceeding to payment. Incorporation fees can be paid immediately via credit/debit card, bank transfer or PayPal. Fees typically range from $300 to $1,200 depending on the type of company. Once payment is made, your application will be processed by ACRA.
Using BizFile+ ensures an efficient application process with minimal hassle. ACRA officers may contact you to request for additional documents or clarification on certain matters before approving your application. But when done right, BizFile+ allows you to get your business up and running in no time.
- Do Make Payment for the Incorporation Fees
To successfully incorporate your business in Singapore, paying the required fees is an essential step. The fees for setting up a private limited company currently is $315 which may seem like a small price to pay for peace of mind but failing to pay can lead to penalties and delay your application.
The easiest way to pay your ACRA incorporation fees in Singapore is online using your SingPass or CorpPass. You can pay via credit or debit card, or internet banking. Be sure to make payment under the name of your proposed company to avoid confusion. Print or save the payment receipt as proof of payment.
After making payment, you must upload proof of the transaction when submitting your ACRA application online. Double check that all details are clearly visible before uploading. Paying your ACRA incorporation fees on time and following the proper steps to provide proof of payment will ensure your application is processed easily without unnecessary delays.
- Do Have a Local Resident Director
For incorporation in Singapore as a foreigner, you must appoint a local resident director. This is required under the Companies Act and make sure your company has a local representative. Don’t just appoint any Singaporean as your director. Look for someone with experience serving on boards of directors, preferably for companies in a similar industry as yours.
Once you’ve found a suitable candidate, discuss their role and set clear expectations before finalizing the appointment. Clarify decision-making authorities and the types of decisions that require their approval. Put all of this in writing to avoid confusion and conflict later on. Don’t expect a director to serve on your board for free or for a token amount. Their role comes with significant responsibilities, so provide fair compensation. Industry standards suggest at least $3,000 to $5,000 per month for an experienced resident director.
Appointing a knowledgeable and engaged local resident director is well worth the investment. With the right person in this role, you’ll navigate the challenges of setting up a company in Singapore with confidence.
- Do Respond Quickly to Any Queries From ACRA
Once you’ve submitted your application to ACRA, their team will review all the details to ensure everything is in order before approving your company’s incorporation in Singapore. During this process, ACRA may contact you for clarification or additional information. It’s critical that you respond to any queries from ACRA quickly.
ACRA will specify a deadline by which you need to respond, usually around 7 to 14 days. Set a reminder for yourself as soon as you receive the query so you have plenty of time to gather any requested information or documentation. If anything in ACRA’s query is unclear or confusing, don’t hesitate to contact them to ask for clarification.
Provide ACRA with high quality, accurate information and ask clarifying questions as needed. Your professional, cooperative response will help get your new company up and running as quickly as possible.
Don’ts To Avoid Facing Rejection & Delay From ACRA
- Don’t Skimp on Professional Help
Don’t make the mistake of trying for incorporation of your business in Singapore on your own to save money. The process is complex with many legal requirements, and cutting corners could end up costing you more in the long run. Hiring an incorporation specialist or corporate secretarial company is well worth the investment.
With an expert handling the paperwork, you can focus on getting your business. They will file key documents like the Memorandum and Articles of Association, as well as forms like Form 45 and Form 49, on your behalf. They are experts in ACRA’s rules and regulations and can ensure all paperwork is properly filed. This minimizes the chances of errors that lead to delays or even rejection of your application.
- Don’t Use a Name That’s Already Registered
When choosing a company name in Singapore, make crystal clear of anything already registered or trademarked. Copying an existing name will only lead to legal trouble and rejected applications down the road. Do your own homework and search the ACRA register to ensure your desired name isn’t taken. You can check name availability on ACRA’s BizFile+ website. Search not just for exact matches but also for similar names that could potentially cause confusion. It’s best to have a few options in mind before starting the registration process.
Coming up with an original, appropriate company name is an important first step in the registration process. Put in the work to find a name you love, that is available, and meets all of ACRA’s guidelines. If your first choice gets rejected, don’t get discouraged, go back to your list of options and try again. With some patience, you’ll find a winning name to get your new Singapore company kick off to the right start.
- Don’t Submit an Incomplete Application
When applying to ACRA, double check that you have filled in all required fields in the application form. Leaving any fields blank will only delay the processing of your application and incorporation in Singapore. Go through each section carefully and provide the necessary details. Not missing any details or required documents will set you on the path to smooth company incorporation in Singapore. The last thing you want is for ACRA to return your application due to any deficiencies, so be thorough and double check everything before submission.
- Don’t Miss the Deadline of Filing
As eager as you are to get for your business incorporation in Singapore, don’t rush through the ACRA application process. Carefully review the requirements and take your time to ensure all information is accurate before submitting. Once ACRA has approved your application and you’ve paid the registration fees, you’ll receive your Unique Entity Number (UEN). Congratulations, your company is now officially incorporated. However, there are still a few more steps to complete to remain in good standing and potentially you never want to miss important deadlines.
- Register for taxes within 30 days. As a newly incorporated entity, you must register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) and income tax with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) within 1 month of ACRA approval.
- Open a corporate bank account. You’ll need a business account to handle company financial transactions, pay taxes, and more. Most major banks in Singapore offer accounts tailored to small businesses and startups.
- Hold your first board meeting. Within 2 months of incorporation, you must hold an inaugural meeting of the board of directors to appoint officers, adopt bylaws, and address any other business matters.
- File your first annual return. All companies must file an annual return with ACRA within 7 months of the end of their financial year.
Don’t be late with deadlines to avoid potential legal consequences like fines, suspension of operations or even striking off. Stay on top of ongoing compliance requirements to keep your company in good standing.
You’ve come this far in your entrepreneurial journey, don’t let the final administrative step of registering your business with ACRA trip you up. Do your homework, gather the necessary documents, and apply with confidence.
Don’t risk the headache of navigating ACRA’s complex rules yourself. Seek help from a Company Incorporation Service for corporate secretarial services and you’ll be on your way to hassle-free incorporation in Singapore, allowing you to channel your energy into building your new Singapore business. An investment in professional help now will save you time, money, and frustration down the road.