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How to Set Up a Branch Office in Singapore

How to Set Up a Branch Office in Singapore
Choosing the right legal structure for your foreign company in Singapore is crucial. On this page, you will learn about the distinctive features of a Singapore branch office. one of three key options available to foreign entities. This guide will help you understand the setup, taxation, and statutory compliance requirements for a foreign branch office registered in Singapore.

Setting Up a Singapore Branch Office

Singapore Branch Office

A Branch Office in Singapore is an extension of a foreign parent company registered outside of Singapore. The purpose of a Branch Office is to facilitate operation and revenue generation in Singapore for the foreign parent company. It is considered a non-resident for tax purposes and, therefore, not eligible for tax incentives and exemptions available to Singapore private limited companies.

Requirements for Setting Up a Branch Office in Singapore

  • 1 Corporate Shareholder
  • 1 Singapore Resident Agent
  • A Registered Office Address in Singapore

The Singapore Companies Act does not permit foreign companies to self-register a Branch Office. You can engage InCorp, Singapore’s leading specialist in the registration of companies with ACRA, to assist you with the registration of a Branch Office at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). We can set up your Branch Office in less than 24 hours if you have all the required documents ready.

What You Need to Know Before Registration

Name: The Branch Office’s name must be the same as the parent company. ACRA must also approve the name before the Singapore Branch Office can be registered. ACRA will reject a proposed name for incorporation if:

  • It is identical to another existing business name
  • It is undesirable
  • Names or trademarks which are similar to established names such as Coca-Cola and Temasek

Shareholders: The parent company must own 100% of the Branch Office.

Resident Agents: The Singapore Branch Office must have at least one agent who is “ordinarily” a resident in of Singapore. A Singapore resident agent can be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident or holder of an Employment Pass or Dependant’s Pass.

InCorp can assist you in the application for of an Employment Pass for the foreign management staff member relocating to Singapore to run the Branch Office operations. The management staff member can act as the local agent for the Branch Office upon approval of his Employment Pass application.

There is no limit on the number of additional local or foreign agents a Singapore Branch Office can appoint. The agent must be at least 18 years of age and must not be bankrupt or convicted for any criminal malpractice in the past.

Company Secretary: A Singapore Branch Office is not required to appoint a Company Secretary. It is, however, highly recommended to have a Corporate Secretary to help stay in compliance with the statutory regulations.

Registered Address: Every business registered in Singapore is required to have a registered office address. The registered address must be a physical address and cannot be a PO Box. The Use of a residential address is allowed for certain types of businesses.

Taxation of Singapore Branch Office

A Singapore Branch Office is considered a non-resident company for tax purposes.
Non-resident companies are not eligible for tax incentives for new start-ups or resident companies, and therefore, most foreign companies prefer to set up a Subsidiary Company rather than a Branch Office.

Employment Passes for Branch Office Employees

Work Visa for Staff: Foreign corporations that plan to relocate their management staff to Singapore to run their new Singapore Branch Office setup must apply for an Employment Pass.

Branch Office without Relocating any staff: Foreign corporations that do not intend to relocate foreign staff members to Singapore to operate the Branch Office can engage InCorp’s Nominee Agent Service to appoint one local agent to fulfil the registration requirement.

Procedure and Timeline for Singapore Branch Office Registration

Procedure Responsibility Average Timeline
1 Complete our full detail online form to expedite the  branch office incorporation process Client 10 minutes
2 Send us passport copies (or IC for Singaporeans) of proposed directors and corporate shareholders for Singapore company & make payment for the services Client Depends on you
Upon completion of the above, we will
1 Reserve company name InCorp 10 minutes
2 Prepare necessary incorporation documents InCorp 30 minutes
3 Sign and return incorporation documents Client Depends on you
    Upon completion of the above, we will
1 Incorporate the company with Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore InCorp 20 minutes
2 Prepare company documents for bank account opening and handover to the client InCorp 15 minutes

The Registration Process With ACRA is a Two-step Process:

  1. Name approval
  2. Branch Office registration

ACRA does not allow foreign companies to self-register. You can engage InCorp to assist you in registering your Branch Office.  You need not be in Singapore for the registration of the Branch Office. The approval process takes approximately 1-2 days provided all documents are in place.

Opening of a Corporate Bank Account

Once the Branch Office has been incorporated, you may open a corporate bank account with any of the local or international banks based in Singapore and, in some cases, overseas.
If you are unable to come to Singapore, you may choose a bank that allows the opening of a corporate bank account without your presence. Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC are two of the international banks that allow you to open a bank account without having to be in Singapore.

Post Incorporation – What You Need to Know

Licenses and Permits: Some business activities in Singapore are subject to regulation by government authorities. Even if your business firm has been registered you cannot begin operation unless you have the necessary approval or license from the relevant government authorities.

Private schools, video companies, travel agencies, liquor distributors, money lenders, banks, financial advisers, childcare centers and importers, wholesalers, and retailers of liquor licenses are some examples of business that need permits to operate.

Registered Office Hours: You must have a registered office address, and the office must be open to the public for a minimum of three hours per day during normal business hours on weekdays.

Registration Number: Business registration number issued by ACRA must be on all letterheads, invoices, billings, or other documents used for official business communications.

Customs Registration: If your business activities involve import, export, and transshipment in and out of Singapore, you will need to register your Branch Office with the Singapore Customs and obtain a CR Number or commonly known as Custom Registration. The central registration number is mandatory for Singapore companies or organisations engaged in trading activities.

Singapore Goods and Services Tax Registration: Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a tax on the supply of goods and services in Singapore and on the import of goods into Singapore. Goods exported from Singapore and international services provided from Singapore are exempt from GST. The current rate is 9% (w.e.f. 1st January 2024).

All Singapore businesses must register for GST if their annual taxable revenue is more than S$1 million or if they are currently making taxable supplies and the annual taxable revenue is expected to be more than S$1 million. The business is expected to register for GST within thirty days from the time it is deemed liable.

You may also choose to register for GST voluntarily. Approval for voluntary registration is at the discretion of the Comptroller in IRAS. Once approval is given, you must remain registered for at least two years.

Registration of Singapore Central Provident (CPF): The Central Provident Fund or CPF is a compulsory pension fund scheme in which the employer and employee contribute a percentage of the monthly salary to the fund. CPF contribution by the employer is mandatory for all local employees who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents earning more than S$50 a month.

The maximum CPF contribution rate for employer and employee is 17% and 20%, respectively and can be lower depending on certain factors such as employee age, permanent resident status, etc. CPF contribution for foreign employees is not required.

Ongoing Branch Office Statutory Compliance Considerations

Once your Singapore Company is incorporated, you must comply with the statutory requirements set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

FAQs on Singapore Limited Liability Partnership Registration

  • Branch offices in Singapore can be set up via BizFile+ which is managed by Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Singapore. Setting up a branch office in Singapore is as simple as completing the s373 application form and attaching it to the transaction recorded on the ACRA Bizfile+ portal. InCorp makes the branch office setting up process in Singapore simple for you.
  • According to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Singapore, the Singapore branch of a foreign company is regarded as an extension of that company rather than a separate legal entity. The parent business of a branch office business, unlike a Singapore subsidiary, is implicitly accountable for all of the branch office’s obligations and liabilities.
  • There are four ways for foreign corporations to set up a business in Singapore: Registration Transfer Incorporating a Subsidiary / Local Company Creating a Foreign Company’s Branch Establishing a Representative Office Subsidiary A subsidiary can be formed by a foreign corporation where it can be the only stakeholder in the subsidiary’s shares. The subsidiary, as a local corporation, will be subject to the Companies Act’s statutory and disclosure requirements. Branch In contrast to a subsidiary, a foreign company’s branch is required to have a locally based authorized representative. The Companies Act also requires the foreign branch to follow certain statutory and transparency obligations. Representative Office (RO) A Representative Office (RO) allows a foreign company to analyze the business climate in Singapore before opting to establish a permanent presence. Because a RO is a temporary entity with no legal status, it is prohibited from engaging in any profitable trade or business activity.
  • If a foreign branch’s head office has been liquidated or is in liquidation, it must cease operations in Singapore. If the company’s headquarters has been dissolved or is in the process of being liquidated, the foreign branch’s authorised representative must file a “Notice by Authorised Representative of Foreign Company of Liquidation or Dissolution of Company ” via the ACRA Bizfile+ portal. The authorised representative must file a “Notification by Foreign Company of Cessation of Business‘ ‘ via the ACRA Bizfile+ portal if the foreign company’s local branch in Singapore has closed.
  • A Branch Office in Singapore is an extension of a foreign parent company registered outside Singapore. The purpose of a Branch Office is to facilitate operation and revenue generation in Singapore for the foreign parent company. It is considered a non-resident for tax purposes and, therefore, not eligible for tax incentives and exemptions available to Singapore private limited companies.
  • To set up a Singapore branch office, you will need:
    • 1 Corporate Shareholder
    • 1 Singapore Resident Agent
    • Local Registered Office Address
    You will not be able to set up a Singapore branch office independently and will need to engage a professional corporate service provider to assist you.

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