What are Singapore’s Guidelines for Opening Foreign-Owned Offices?


Many offshore companies choose to set up an office in Singapore due to its tax laws and strategic location. Some businesses just want to expand in a developed Asian country.

Whilst there are other reasons, foreign businesses need to be aware of certain rules and legal requirements before they can operate in the Garden City. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has provided several guidelines for those who wish to take advantage of Singapore’s favourable business environment.

Business Requirements

Three government agencies can accommodate foreign companies’ plans of establishing a regional office, according to the MOM. Banking, finance and insurance firms should contact the Monetary Authority of Singapore, whilst law firms and those from other industries should coordinate with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and International Enterprise Singapore.

Singapore likewise enforces strict rules on workplace safety issues. You can comply with this requirement by having a complete set of tools and resources, including identification labels for office facilities. If you already took care of this, the next step would involve deciding how you want to enter the country as a corporate entity.

Types of Offices

A branch office or a local company comprise some of the entry points for overseas companies. The first option refers to an extension of the parent company in Singapore instead of a separate legal entity. The second one involves the creation of a local subsidiary.

Representative offices serve as another option, although these have no tax-residence status. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, so consult a corporate lawyer to find the best choice.

These requirements only scratch the surface of what you need to do before setting up an office in Singapore, although a successful office establishment will be likely rewarding given the country’s status in the business world. Be sure to comply with the regulations to avoid any legal problems.