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How to Start a Business in Singapore


Singapore has become one of the many business epicenters in the Asian continent. Identified as one of the most business-friendly nations in the world, Singapore maintains a strong free market and an adaptive central banking system. For anyone seeking out new opportunities or wanting to launch a business in foreign land, Singapore is the place to be.

In 2013, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index ranked Singapore as the best country in the world to do business, even ahead of Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United States. Starting from a manufacturing base, the country has slowly transformed into a technologically advanced economy – its hotel and tourism industry is also a model to mimic.

Although the country promotes a free market mantra, it can be best described as a minimal mixed economy because the government does intervene regarding macroeconomic management and major elements of production, such as land, labour and capital resources.

See also: Top 5 Richest People in Singapore

For those interested in launching a business in Singapore, here are five important tips to follow:

1. EntrePass

When establishing a business in Singapore, the single most important thing to do is to apply for an EntrePass, a work pass for foreign entrepreneurs who would like to launch a company in Singapore, which are valid for up to two years, and renewals can be for up to three years.

2. Registration

Domestic entrepreneurs can register their business online at Bizfile through the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority. Foreign companies can speak with three government agencies (depending upon what industry the business is affiliated with):

  • Monetary Authority of Singapore: Banking, finance and insurance
  • Attorney General’s Chambers: Legal
  • International Enterprise Singapore: All other industries

Singapore has published a brief summary that is meant to promote doing business in the country:

“Global businesses will find it advantageous to site their headquarters in Singapore. Strong trade and investment makes Singapore the most competitive Asian country and the world’s easiest place to do business.

By situating their international HQs here, companies benefit from Singapore’s network of over 50 comprehensive Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements. They also gain from Singapore’s many free trade agreements and the Investment Guarantee Agreements. Companies can always rely on protection of their ideas and innovations through Singapore’s rigorous enforcement of its strong intellectual property laws.”

Additional information can be viewed on Enterprise One, a business directory and reference section to peruse, which also lists important information, such as who to contact, what forms are needed, which governments must be visited and what latest industry updates have been announced. It also offers various tips and information.

3. Visa

Whether you’re attending a two-day conference or on the lookout for business opportunities, visitors need to apply for a visa for entry into Singapore. There are others types of visas, too, including for multiple journeys and extended visits. It should be noted that when applying it is crucial to have a Letter of Introduction from a Singapore-registered company to be submitted with your application and to check Singapore overseas missions in your nation on a visa requirement for permission to enter the country.

4. Employee Compensation Insurance

According to Section 23(1) Section 23(1) of the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), Chapter 354, of Singapore, every Singapore employer is required to sign up for employee compensation insurance. By signing up for one or more approved insurance policies the business is insured “against all liabilities which the company may incur under the provisions of this Act in respect of any employee employed by the company unless the Minister, by notification in the Gazette, waives the requirement of such insurance in relation to any employer.”

5. Employment

Singapore has a lot of pride in its workforce as its talent pool consists of educated and hardworking workers. In order to locate potential employees in the labor market, businesses can take a look at its “labor market” or visit Enterprise One. It is also suggested to peruse the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) training programs. Work passes is also a good resource.

Wall Street likes to point to China and Japan as the major economic centers for making money. However, Singapore has proven to be the place for investments, free markets and business for a couple of decades now. As Economy Watch wrote, Singapore’s economy grew out of necessity after languishing in the depths of poverty for so many years.

Have you ever worked or started a business in Singapore? What was your experience like? Your thoughts and comments below please.

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