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Can I Start A Business in Singapore While Living in the US?

18 September 2023
Grof Writer
8 Minutes Read
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Thinking to start a business in Singapore but not sure how? Look no further! The allure of Singapore has transformed it into a coveted destination for those driven by entrepreneurial aspirations. Now, Singapore stands as the top choice on the global stage for enterprises of all scales. 

Why does Singapore serve as an optimal launchpad? Mainly, it is because Singapore boasts a lack of barriers to starting your own business. Today, let us delve into the reasons behind Singapore's distinction as the quintessential choice for commencing a business, even while residing in the US or other countries. 

 

Why Singapore is the Ideal Business Hub for Foreigners 

 

Singapore's strategic location and business-friendly policies render it a compelling choice for entrepreneurs and investors worldwide seeking to establish a business. Starting a business in Singapore includes advantages like strategic positioning, favourable tax framework, robust infrastructure and political stability. With a flourishing trade and investment environment, Singapore holds the distinction of being the world's most accommodating locale for foreign business endeavours. 

 

How to Start a Business While Residing Outside of Singapore? 

 

Although it may seem complicated, the process can unfold seamlessly in the right direction. A foreigner can register a corporation and possess 100% of its shares without any problems, just like a native Singaporean. To tap into this opportunity, you must adhere to the following procedures required to register as a foreigner with a Singaporean corporation. 


  1. The first step is to select a distinctive company name that complies with Singapore's naming guidelines. Pro tip: Use our free tool to look out for your perfect name! 
  2. Appointment of Company Directors and Shareholders: Singaporean companies may appoint foreigners to the positions of directors and shareholders. However, one of the directors must be a Singaporean citizen, possess an EntrePass, or both. You must appoint a local resident director (authorised representative) to manage the company or business. 
  3. Registered location: Your business must have a physical place in Singapore to be registered. This address will be used for correspondence from the government and legal matters. 
  4. Share Capital and Ownership: Ascertain the initial share capital and ownership split. Singapore's 100% foreign ownership policy simplifies starting and operating a firm for foreign nationals. 
  5. Draft a memorandum and articles of association detailing the firm's internal rules, organisational structure and operating principles. 
  6. Submit application via Bizfile+: Singapore's business registration authority is the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Through ACRA's online site, you must submit all required papers, including the company's charter and the names of its directors and shareholders. 
  7. Approval and Incorporation: ACRA will examine your application after submission. A Certificate of Incorporation and an official email will be sent to you after your application has been accepted. Congratulations, your business has now obtained formal registration! 

 

With the right tools and resources at your disposal, launching a business in Singapore can be seamlessly achieved from the comfort of your own home. Reach out to us to discover how we've streamlined the process, making it hassle-free for you! 

 

What If I Would Like to Relocate to Singapore? 

 

For business owners who would like to relocate to Singapore, you must either apply for EntrePass or Employment Pass in order to start a business in Singapore. 

 

Entre Pass Requirement 

 

This work pass is designed for serial entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators, or experienced investors aiming to operate a venture-backed or technologically innovative business in Singapore. It is open to individuals of all nationalities and citizens. 

 

To be eligible, you should have either started or intend to establish a private limited company that is venture-backed or involved in innovative technologies, registered with ACRA. If your company is already registered, it must be less than 6 months old when you apply. Alternatively, if not registered, you can do so after receiving the outcome of your application. 

 

To qualify, you must meet any of the innovative criteria outlined for entrepreneurs, innovators, or investors listed below. While not all criteria for each profile need to be met, having more qualifications can strengthen your application. 

 

Entrepreneur 

  1. Your company has raised $100,000+ from a recognised source like government, VC, or angel investor. 
  2. Your company is in a recognised Singapore Government incubator or accelerator. 
  3. You have strong business experience and a track record of launching scalable ventures, aiming to operate an innovative tech or venture-backed business in Singapore. 

 

Innovator 

  1. Hold registered intellectual property (IP) rights, registered with an approved national IP institution that offers a competitive edge. 
  2. Engage in ongoing research collaboration with a Singapore Government Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). 
  3. Possess outstanding expertise in a relevant domain for your tech or venture-backed business. 

 

Investor 

  1. A strong record of accomplishment in investing in and driving the growth of highly scalable businesses. 
  2. Plans (i.e., quantum, period and pipeline) to invest in other local innovative or tech startups. 
  3. At least 8 years experience as a senior management professional or executive in a large corporation that can help to scale up local innovative or tech startups. 


Important Note 

The following businesses are not eligible for an EntrePass: 

  • Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts. 
  • Bars, nightclubs, karaoke lounges. 
  • Foot reflexology, massage parlours. 
  • Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses. 
  • Employment agencies. 
  • Geomancy business. 

 

Employment Pass 

After successfully incorporating your company in Singapore, you have the option to join as a director alongside a nominee director. Subsequently, you can follow the standard procedure to apply for an employment pass under your company. Once your employment pass gets approved, you can transition from the nominee director role and take on the position of a "local" company director upon your relocation to Singapore. 

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 To qualify for the Employment Pass (EP): 

  • Hold a job offer in Singapore (which can involve incorporating your company there). 
  • The role offered must be managerial, executive, or specialized. 
  • Possess suitable qualifications: a relevant degree, professional certifications, or specialized skills. 
  • Earn a fixed monthly salary starting at $5,000 (increasing progressively with age). 
  • As of September 1, 2023, pass a point-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). 

 

For first-time applicants, the EP is granted for up to two years, extendable to three years upon renewal. Exceptional tech professionals with sought-after skills may qualify for a five-year pass. Consider these durations as you plan your stay and optimize your EP eligibility. 

 

Government Assistance for Foreign-Owned Businesses 

 

Recognizing their importance, many governments worldwide have established various assistance and support programs to facilitate setting up and growing foreign-owned businesses within their borders. 

 

Government assistance for you to start a business in Singapore comes in several forms, each tailored to address these enterprises' specific challenges and opportunities. 

 

Types of Government Assistance: 

  1. Financial Incentives: The government often offer financial incentives, such as tax breaks, grants, subsidies, and low-interest loans, to foreign-owned businesses. These incentives aim to reduce the financial burden of establishing or expanding operations in a new country. 
  2. Regulatory Simplification: Streamlining bureaucratic processes and reducing regulatory barriers can make navigating legal and administrative requirements easier for foreign-owned businesses. 
  3. Workforce Development: Some governments offer training programs and partnerships with educational institutions to ensure a skilled workforce that meets the needs of foreign businesses. 
  4. Export and Trade Support: Foreign-owned businesses can benefit from government programs facilitating export opportunities and international market access, promoting economic growth through increased trade. 

 

What To Do After Incorporation? 

 

If you are ready to start your business in Singapore as a foreigner. Different conditions will apply to other industries. Here are the steps to start your business, but most entrepreneurs will need to manage the following: 

  • Obtain a business license through 
  • Tax Planning and Accounting 
  • Payroll 
  • Data Protection 
  • Immigration and Relocation - appropriate legal residency and employment status 

 

More questions? We can guide you at Grof! 

 

Starting a business in Singapore may seem to be daunting for you, but no worries, Grof can help you set your business up. Singapore is a friendly location that allows all entrepreneurs to live their dream. Collaborating with legal, financial, and business experts can guide you to turn this transcontinental business dream into reality. So, if you have the vision and determination, do not let the miles discourage you, even if you are a foreigner. 


At Grof, we specialise in guiding you through the entire process of establishing your business, all done remotely. Our services extend to facilitating a dedicated business account for your trading activities and assisting you in managing work pass applications if you are considering relocation. Let us kickstart your entrepreneurial journey – schedule a call with us and turn your dream into reality today! 

 

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Your Ultimate Singapore Incorporation Checklist
Explore crucial dos and don'ts, along with essential tips for a successful company registration when establishing your foothold in Singapore!
Your Ultimate Singapore Incorporation Checklist
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Explore crucial dos and don'ts, along with essential tips for a successful company registration when establishing your foothold in Singapore!
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