In this page, you will learn about the distinctive features of a Singapore branch office. This guide will help you understand the setup requirements, taxation, and statutory compliance of a foreign branch office registered in Singapore. For more information about the different setup options for foreign corporate entities, please read our guide on Singapore Company Formation for Foreign Companies.
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.
Setup Requirements for Branch Office in Singapore
- 1 Corporate Shareholder
- 2 Singapore Resident Agents
- A Registered Office Address in Singapore
Singapore Companies Act does not permit foreign companies to self register a Branch Office. You can engage Rikvin, Singapore’s leading specialist in registration of companies with ACRA, to assist you with the registration of a Branch Office at Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). We can set up your Branch Office in less than 24 hours provided you have all required documents ready.
What you need to know before Registration
Name: The Branch Office 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 the purpose of incorporation if:
- It is identical to another existing business name
- It is undesirable
- Names or trademark 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: Singapore Branch Office must have at least two agents who are be “ordinarily” residents in Singapore. Singapore resident agents can be Singapore citizens or permanent resident; or holders of Employment Pass or Dependant’s Pass. Rikvin can assist you in the application of Employment Pass for the two foreign management staff members relocating to Singapore to run the Branch Office operations. These management staff members can act as the local agents for the Branch Office upon approval of their Employment Pass applications.
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 Company 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. Use of residential address is allowed for certain types of business.
Memorandum and Articles of Association: The parent company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association must be lodged with ACRA. Memorandum specifies the activities in which the company may engage whereas the Articles of Association specifies the rules governing the internal management of the company.
Taxation of Singapore Branch Office
Non-resident companies are not eligible for tax incentives for new start up 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 Corporation that plans to relocate their management staff to Singapore to run their new Singapore Branch Office setup must apply for Employment Pass. For more details, please refer to Singapore Employment Pass (EP).
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 Rikvin’s Nominee Agent Service to appoint two local agents to fulfill the registration requirement.
The registration process with ACRA is a two-step process:
- Name approval
- Branch Office registration
ACRA does not allow foreign companies to self-register. You can engage Rikvin to assist you in registering your Branch Office. It is not necessary for you to be in Singapore for the registration of the Branch Office. The approval process takes approximately between 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 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 you having to be Singapore.
ONGOING Branch Office STATUTORY COMPLIANCE CONSIDERATIONS
Once your Singapore Company is incorporated, you must comply with the statutory requirements set by Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). For more details, refer to our Post Incorporation guide.