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Step-by-step guide to business registration in Singapore

Is spending more time at home making you reflect upon your life? Have you toyed with the idea of setting up your own business, and now have more business capital after one year of not travelling? Well, do it!

Singapore is ranked tops for ease of doing business. So, if you have the right business partners and a sound business plan, there’s no reason not to try.

Let’s go into the steps of setting up your own business.


How to register a business in Singapore

There are various business types in Singapore, so the first thing to do would be to choose which entity you want to register your business as: 

  • Limited Liability Company (Pte Ltd or LLC)

  • Sole Proprietorship

  • Partnership:

    • General Partnership

    • Limited Partnership

    • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

The most popular option in Singapore for businesses is “PTE LTD” — private limited company. This is because such companies are able to scale and grow, and shareholders are not liable for debts and losses beyond their share capital. In order words, business dealings do not have personal risks. 

But, if your business is still small and you intend for it to remain as something like a side hustle, you may go for proprietorship or partnership. Partners, or a sole proprietor, are taxed with personal tax off their individual income. Such structures are not required to pay corporate tax.

Then, you gotta name your new business. Choose something that has never been used before. You can conduct a quick search on BizFile+ to check. Also avoid vulgar, obscene or offensive words.

Then register your business name via BizFile+. The name application costs $15, and approved names will be reserved for 120 days. 

For private limited companies, you will also need to appoint a director of full legal capacity, at least 18 years old, a Singaporean Citizen, PR, or EntrePass holder.

EP holders will need to have a letter of consent from the Ministry of Manpower.

You’ll also need to appoint a secretary within six months from its incorporation date.

Now, if you have a commercial or industrial address ready, no problem. Provide that business address and you’re good to go.

But if you are operating your small business from your home, which is pretty common these days, take note of these few guidelines, from ACRA.

  • If you are planning to conduct small-scale business from your home, you may use your residential address as the business address under the Home Office Scheme. 

  • For HDB flat addresses, you must seek approval from the Housing Development Board (HDB). 

  • For private addresses who want to apply for the Home Office Scheme, you must seek approval from Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Registering your business is easy peasy. It only takes 15 minutes for your business to be approved. How’s that for efficiency? Use your SingPass to log in to BizFile+ system.

All proposed business owners, such as partners or authorised representatives, must endorse their consent before the business can be registered.

Pay the registration fee, and your registration will be approved within 15 minutes (for sole proprietorships and partnerships).

Do take note though, if your business application has to be reviewed by relevant authorities, it will take longer—between 14 and 60 days.

How to register a home based business in Singapore

Did you know, if you want to operate a business out of your home, you actually don’t need a license? However, you need to comply with strict guidelines.

  • Your business cannot employ more than two people.
  • Your homes must remain primarily as a place of residence. This means no excessive noise, smell, or any other disruptions to your neighbour.
  • Your business must be small scale.

HDB Home Office Scheme: You can use your flat to operate an approved business with up to two non-resident staff, or to run the administrative functions of your business. You need to register with ACRA.

HDB Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme: Informal small-scale business from home, such as baking, tuition, sewing, and freelance journalist/artist/photographer

Renewing your business registration

A business registration is valid for a period of one or three years. You will have to renew your business, 60 days before the expiry date.

The fee is $30 for one year, or $90 for three years. Terms and conditions apply for the three-year renewal option. 

There you have it! Your first steps to have your own business.

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