Start a small business in Singapore – what do you need to consider?
For the past few decades, Singapore has been drawing in business from across the world. This tiny little port nation doesn’t have much in the way of natural resources, but through a combination of laissez-faire economic policies, it’s managed to establish itself as a hub for global commerce. On a host of measures, it leads the region – and so if you’re looking to relocate to the Pacific, or to spread your existing venture there, then it’s worth considering.
Establishing a business in Singapore is easier than it is in other nations. But there are still a few factors to consider; some of them cultural, some of them administrative. For example, Singapore has a network of more than fifty trade agreements which, among other things, will prevent you from being taxed twice.
Let’s take a broad-perspective look at the process of establishing a presence there.
How do I get into Singapore?
To get into the country in the first place, you will need a passport with more than six months left to run on it. The authorities might also be picky if your passport is in poor condition, or has pages missing.
A visa isn’t necessary for stays of ninety days or less – which means that your preliminary reconnaissance in the country should be fairly straightforward. For those traveling frequently to Singapore, there’s the Frequent Traveller Programme. To quality, you’ll need to have visited twice over a two-year period. Biometric scans at the airport may help you to get through even more quickly.
While the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, there are stringent controls in place to keep Covid-19 out of Singapore. This comes in the form of a PCR test seventy-two hours before departure from the UK, a twenty-one-day period of quarantine following arrival, and a trio of tests spaced out over that period. If you’re struggling to navigate the system, or simply don’t have the time and energy to devote to immigration, then it might be worth appointing a specialized immigration lawyer. They’ll be able to worry about these things on your behalf!
What are the legal requirements for starting a small business in Singapore?
Whether you’re setting up a business in Singapore, or just a foreign branch office, you can do so through the country’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
There are also various government agencies worth talking to, depending on which sector you’re going to be focussing on. Financial institutions, for example, might contact the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
One option that’s sure to appeal to traveling entrepreneurs is the EntrePass. This will grant you permission to start a business in the country, and it’s available to entrepreneurs whose businesses are less than six months old.
There are three categories of people who are advised to get hold of a pass of this kind: entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. Depending on your background, it might be worth focussing on one of these three at the expense of the others when making your application.