Whether you’re planning to start a business to fulfil your entrepreneurial dreams or are going down the self-employment route due to unforeseen circumstances, you can take heart that Singapore is one of the easiest places in the world to start a business. This article will guide you through the administrative steps you need to take to set up your business properly.
The first step to setting up a business in Singapore is deciding on the business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, limited partnership or company. All businesses then have to be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Finally, businesses will have to follow certain procedures once registration is complete.
Registering your business with ACRA
Regardless of its structure, all businesses have to be registered with ACRA. For registration of sole-proprietorships, partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships, the person registering must be an owner. For the incorporation of a company, all the directors, the company secretary and shareholders must be Singapore NRIC holders, Employment Pass holders or Dependant Pass holders. Otherwise, a professional service firm must be engaged.
If a firm is not engaged, a business can be registered by submitting an online application via BizFile (http://www.bizfile.gov.sg). The registration can be done at home, from your office or at kiosks at ACRA. You need to have a SingPass in order to use BizFile, and this can be obtained at https://www.singpass.gov.sg or at SingPass counters.
Registration or incorporation is usually approved within 15 minutes of payment, unless the application needs to be referred to other authorities. In such cases, approval takes between two weeks and two months.
Things you need to do after registering your business
Once registration is confirmed, the business should print the registration number on all letterheads, invoices, bills or other documents used for the purposes of the business. Registration should be renewed on time via BizFile. ACRA should be informed immediately via BizFile if there are changes in business particulars, or if the business is ended.
For Limited Liability Partnerships, the manager must make an Annual Declaration to ACRA stating whether the business is able or unable to pay its debts as it becomes due in the normal course of business. The first Annual Declaration must be made within 15 months of the date of registration. Companies should appoint a company secretary within six months of incorporation. The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company must be held within 18 months of the date of incorporation. An auditor must be appointed within three months of the date of incorporation, and annual accounts must be audited and filed with ACRA within one month of the AGM.