So, how much does it cost to register a company in Singapore?
If you are new to the Singapore business ecosystem and have been researching about setting up Singapore companies, chances are you have come across numerous details on what is needed and a wide variety of price ranges.
Our guide below can help you understand some of the requirements and processes involved.
The Minimum Requirements for Incorporating Singapore Companies
Let’s talk about what is required to incorporate a company in Singapore before we talk about the costs associated with each element.
For a comprehensive overview of the incorporation process, see our company registration guide. Here, we’ll focus on the five minimum requirements for incorporating a private limited company in Singapore: one director, one secretary, one shareholder, one registered address and minimum paid-up capital of $1.
1. Company Secretary - As specified under Section 171 of the Singapore Companies Act, you will need to appoint a qualified company secretary within 6 months of your company formation. If your firm has only a sole director or shareholder, then you will need to appoint a separate natural person to be the firm’s company secretary.
2. Appointment of Directors - For your Singapore company registration, you will need a minimum of one resident director, who is either a local citizen, a Singapore permanent resident, or a person who has a valid employment pass. If you are a non-resident company without any local people to appoint as resident director, you could find a nominee by yourself, use a nominee director service through professional corporate secretarial firms, or appoint your own Singapore-hired staff as your firm’s director should that fit your needs.
3. Shareholders - Singapore private limited companies may have a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 50 company shareholders. Shareholders can be an individual, another legal entity such as your BVI company, or a trust. 100% non-resident shareholding is allowed for Singapore private limited companies.
4. Registered Office Address - Can be any commercial or residential address in Singapore. PO Boxes are not allowed.
5. Paid-up Capital - The minimum paid-up or share capital is $1, meaning you need minimal investment to start up a company in Singapore. You always have the option to start with $1 and increase it any time after incorporation.
These requirements could cost you money before you start your own company.
Note to Non-Resident Entrepreneurs:
As a Singapore citizen, you can incorporate your business on your own by logging into the BizFile+ portal using your SingPass ID and going from there.
However, a non-resident entrepreneur without a SingPass ID will need to work with a corporate secretarial firm or corporate service provider.
The cost of setting up a company in Singapore using these services will vary depending on:
The incorporation packages the firm offers
Provision of a local nominee director if the non-resident entrepreneur can’t appoint one themselves
Add-on services such as HR and Payroll, tax and accounting, and so on
The business structure that you want to register as (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, private limited company, etc.)
The type of company you're setting up (e.g., the branch office of a foreign company, holding company, subsidiary company, offshore company, etc.)
Detailed Breakdown of Secretarial Costs by Types
Ok, we have mentioned so many factors and requirements above. Which cost should you focus on first?
The answer is company secretary - because it is required by every entity!
If you already have a contact who has the professional knowledge to perform all relevant duties of secretary for your business, you may appoint them with consent.
For the majority of us, we might have to engage a professional firm. Also, keep in mind that non-resident companies and entrepreneurs must engage the services of a professional service provider. Why? Because you don't have a Singpass ID to set up the company by yourself!
There are 3 main factors driving costs of professional service firms - Compliance, Servicing and Administration:
1. Ongoing Compliance Costs for Corporate Secretarial Firms
The Companies Act stipulates that corporate secretaries perform a pre-screening for Directors and Shareholders before your firm is incorporated. Every year, depending on your company’s risk profile, a corporate secretary is responsible for monitoring the company’s key personnel to help prevent money laundering and combat terrorist financing. For instance, a Refinitiv World-Check Risk Intelligence would cost anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000+ per annum.
To ensure the professionalism of secretarial firms in Singapore, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) requires firms to be registered as “Registered Filing Agents”, where they have to adhere to statutory guidelines and be re-qualified every two years.
Professional firms would need to pay for licensing that costs $200 per annum, be externally audited of their KYC (i.e., client onboarding) processes, and attend regular exams to ensure compliance.
With a typical small to medium sized firm having 3-5 directors or shareholders, you could reasonably assess the compliance cost to be about $200 per annum per company inclusive of licensing and professional exams.
2. Cost of Professional Knowledge or Servicing
Your fees for company secretaries will vary depending on your needs (e.g., advisory of the best corporate structure to save tax, regular change of shareholding structure, among others) and the qualification levels of the service provider.
In Singapore, corporate secretaries may be chartered with the SAICSA after fulfilling the required years of experience and taking professional exams. The median salary of a mid-level corporate secretary possessing enough knowledge to handle annual compliance is around $3,500 per month. For a senior level, a chartered secretary’s salary would hit $5,000 - $7,000 a month depending on the size of the firm. If we assume each company secretary could serve 100 clients (without forgetting your filing deadline!) a year, it would be reasonable to estimate the ‘cost’ of professional knowledge adds up to about $500 per annum.
3. Administrative Costs
This is the most straightforward. These are typically disbursement costs of filing annual returns, EGM, special resolutions, change of Directors or shareholders, etc, that would cost anything from $50-200. Other usual services provided by corporate secretaries include the provision of company chop and seal, which would typically range from $100-200.
What range of prices should you expect in Singapore?
By now, you should have a decent idea of what adds up to the company registration cost! Taking into account the minimal necessary expenses of a proper corporate secretarial firm that does the job, you could expect the breakeven cost to range from $600-700 per company per annum.
If you have shopped around enough, we are sure you have seen a good range of prices, from as low as $300 to as high as $3,000. There are multi-national, well-specialised firms like a multi-national legal firm incorporating a Singapore subsidiary for a US-listed company that could justify the higher prices. On the other end of the spectrum, there are numerous smaller but less organized firms that are cutting corners on service delivery, customer experience, or even outsourcing your work to unfamiliar jurisdictions like Malaysia or India.
Ultimately, your decision depends on the kind of service you are looking for.
For a good balance between reliability and cost, we would recommend a range of $800-1,500 as a starting place for firms looking for good service and sound advice. This range sits just slightly above the breakeven cost of $700 – On one hand, it doesn’t break the bank, on the other hand, it is a better assurance of the quality of work delivered.
Is it worth the higher cost for more personalized corporate services?
This is a very common question among our clients, and a fair one when evaluating all service-based businesses. While we would assume outsourced corporate service providers would get the basic annual filing done, there are subtle but important differences to evaluate when choosing a service provider:
1. Is there someone looking after your needs?
This is important but commonly overlooked. A great comparison is retail banking vs priority and private banking. Sometimes as a client, you may not know the best financing or investment option until a dedicated bank relationship manager points out or recommends it to you. Similarly, in the corporate services space, vendors with dedicated account manager support could provide better advice on the best business structure fitting your needs, advise on the available government grant options, or provide relevant answers to your specific query.
Lately, there are more AI or app-based corporate services providers offering good value and cost savings to startups. However, on the flip side, you should expect more personal involvement when dealing with problems or government agencies. Ultimately, you would have to get back to your rationale for outsourcing in the first place.
2. Is the solution customized to your specific needs?
Have you ever been frustrated by a bank officer refusing to waive your credit card annual fee? The issue is that the bank is providing a commoditized product in the credit card space and thus trying to sell you “packages”, but not offering real solutions to your problems. Unfortunately, it’s similar in the corporate services sector.
We’ve had frustrated customers who transfer from other providers as their former provider lacks the needed flexibility when dealing with customer queries. This varies from assisting with bank account opening to giving pointers about local licensing rules. Lower cost carriers tend to struggle with cases that require real problem-solving ability as they are playing the volume game and have to promote the “packages” they have.
3. Is there extra value-added other than compliance?
Finally, it may be worth considering the extra support a personalized corporate service provider can offer. For example, facilitating introductions to local networks or governing bodies to give your business a head start.
Most service providers in Singapore may focus only on the core outsourcing functions but provide little consulting or extra advice post incorporation. For non-resident companies navigating a new jurisdiction and market, it may come in handy to link up with a local partner who could provide some support down the road.
The Big Question: Do-It-Yourself or Engage a Professional Firm?
Finally - Is it worth incorporating your company with a professional firm? We have business-owner friends who ask this honest question.
Our recommendation is consistent – If you are a first-time business owner dipping your toes into the business world, it’s worth being more cautious and trying to DIY everything. But for most others, this is probably not good advice.
If you’re considering the DIY option, the Singapore company registration cost charged by ACRA is S$315 if you do it yourself via BizFile+ portal.
Company name application fees: S$15
Company incorporation fees: S$300
If you’re considering engaging a professional firm: although the cost of setting up a company in Singapore is higher (around $800-1,500 per annum) the benefits far outweigh the costs, taking into account the following:
the time-cost saved
the peace of mind of meeting statutory deadlines (In Singapore, a late filing of annual returns would cost you fines ranging from $200-500 depending on how long you are late for), and
having professional help in drafting corporate resolutions is invaluable.
Get in touch!
Now you know what affects Singapore company incorporation pricing.
The best way to really decide as to whether or not you want to work with these company incorporation service providers is to get in touch with them and talk to them about what you need from them.
Here at Piloto Asia, our doors are always open for inquiries and we’ll be more than happy to provide more information about our services and how we can help you set up your company in Singapore.
Interested in our Singapore company incorporation services? Receive a FREE QUOTE by filling up the form below!
Our staff will be more than happy to assist you with your business endeavours here in Singapore.
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