A Representative Office provides a foreign company interested in establishing operation in Singapore an avenue to assess business opportunities in Singapore market. It is also ideal for a foreign company that is interested in promoting its brand and to work with its local agents and distributors. It is a short-term setup (for up to three years), and it is not permitted to engage in commercial revenue-generating activities such as concluding contracts and opening of Letter of Credit.
Taxation of Singapore Representative Office
A Singapore Representative Office cannot engage in commercial revenue-generating activities, and therefore need not file for annual tax returns. However, income earned by the staff of the Representative Office including the Chief Representative is subject to Singapore personal income tax.
Singapore Representative Office Registration Requirements
- Sales Turnover of the foreign entity must be > US$250,000
- No. of years of establishment of the foreign entity must be > 3 years
- Proposed No. of staff for RO should be < 5 people
What you need to know before representative office setup
Name: The Representative Office name must be the same as the parent company.
Shareholders: The parent company must own 100% of the Representative Office.
Chief Representative: Singapore Representative Office must have at least one representative who can be Singapore resident or foreigner staff member. Rikvin can assist you in the application of Employment Pass for the chief representative relocating to Singapore to run the Representative Office operations.
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.
Business activity which cannot be registered by IE Singapore for Representative Office: The following sectors such as educational institutions, schools, colleges, venture capital, financial institutions, fund management, banks, insurance, car leasing/fleet management, travel/manpower/labour agents, etc. do not fall under the purview of IE Singapore.
Registration of a Singapore Representative Office
Rikvin is Singapore’s leading specialist in registration of companies. We can set up your Representative Office within 5 working days provided you have all required documents in order.
Upon approval of the application of your Singapore Representative Office, Rikvin can also assist you in the application of Employment Pass for the Chief Representative who plans to relocate to Singapore to run the Representative Office operations. The approval process by Ministry of Manpower of Singapore is approximately 3-5 weeks.
Approval and Renewal Information
International Enterprise Singapore takes about 5 business working days to approve each application. Once approved, it will send a Letter of Approval via email. The registration is valid for one year and subject to an annual renewal.
International Enterprise Singapore sends out a renewal notice two months prior to the expiry of the registration. It is mandatory for the renewal to be completed seven days before the expiration date. A representation office must upgrade to a Branch Office or a Subsidiary Company after a period of three years.
Opening of a Corporate Bank Account
Once the Representative 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.
Post Registration – What you need to know
Registration of Singapore Central Provident (CPF): The Singapore 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 14.5% 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.
Registered Office Hours: You must have a registered office address and the office must be open to public for minimum of three hours per day during normal business hours on weekdays.
Registration Number: Business registration number must be on all letterheads, invoices, billings or other documents used for official business communications.
Custom Registration: If your Representative Office plans to import and export of product samples in and out of Singapore, you will need to register with the Singapore Customs and obtain a CR Number or commonly known as Custom Registration.