Why Move Your Company to Singapore?

Moving your company and its business operations to Singapore can be beneficial for a number of reasons.

Singapore is one of the top destinations for business, ranking 2nd amongst 190 economies on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index. This index measures reforms in 10 areas of business activity in 190 economies. The business activities include obtaining construction permits, getting electricity connections, access to credit, paying taxes, cross-border trade and enforcing contracts.

The country also ranks highly on other indexes - it was named the 2nd "most innovative country" by Bloomberg (2021), 54th out of 153 countries on Global Gender Gap Index (2020) by the World Economic Forum, the 5th best place to live by Forbes (2020) and more.

It is easy to see why Singapore is an attractive place for a foreign company looking to start up or relocate!

Why should you move your foreign company here? Well let’s take a look


Singapore has a stable political environment

Singapore's reputation as a politically stable country is well known. It ranked 13th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. This index measures the quality of democracy by evaluating five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

Singapore ranked 3rd on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (2020), which evaluates how corrupt a country’s public officials are by collecting data. Singapore has a low level of corruption and was named the least corrupt country in Asia.

This political stability is a draw for foreign corporate entities because it means there won’t be any drastic changes in the laws, once you move your company to Singapore.

The United States Embassy to Singapore described why moving to Singapore is a good idea: "Singapore may have been one of the early adopters of U.S.-style capitalism, but the government is by no means a free-market nirvana. The state continues to play a very active role in guiding and regulating Singapore’s economy through the implementation of various long-term plans."


Singapore has a strong economy with plenty of opportunities

The Singapore economy is one of the world’s most robust. The World Bank stated that Singapore has a strong, growing economy with low unemployment and high productivity.

In 2019, it also ranked 1st in the WEF's Global Competitiveness Report from a survey of top executives from each country.

If foreign businesses move to Singapore, they have plenty of business opportunities to take advantage of. ConvergEx Group chief market strategist Nick Colas shared his outlook on moving companies to Singapore: "I would never underestimate the determination of an entrepreneur in Asia, where countries like China, India and Indonesia are still growing at rates that might not be sustainable over the long term but will surely make them interesting right now. That's why moving to Singapore makes sense for the world's risk-takers."

Singapore has a pro-business environment that can help foreign companies move here with their day-to-day operations. For example, it was named by Bloomberg as one of the best places in Asia to find high-quality staff who are affordable.

Another perk, according to the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) survey is that moving companies can benefit from generous government grants of up to 100% for investments in qualified activities.


Singapore is a hub with global markets' opportunities

Singapore is a major shipping and air freight hub. Because of this, companies that move to Singapore can ship their products to and from Asia, Europe and beyond.

They can also benefit from moving their operations to Singapore because the country is a financial hub: over 200 banks operate in Singapore and it's among the most ideal location for companies to do business through banking facilities such as letters of credit, foreign exchange controls and trade financing.


Singapore is the gateway to the ASEAN market

asean market

Singapore is the business gateway to doing business in ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. Businesses that move here will be able to take advantage of doing business with all the 10 member states, which include Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and more.

Being a part of ASEAN is a huge advantage for doing business because the Southeast Asia international business community promotes free movement of goods and services, which will help your company grow.

As noted by Investopedia, "ASEAN countries and their populations are growing and becoming wealthier than ever before. That means more spending power for goods and services, thereby creating a demand for products and services across all industry sectors."

ASEAN's GDP was US$2.5 trillion in 2017, accounting for 7% of the global economy. The ASEAN economy is expected to grow to US$4.1 trillion by 2024.


Your company will be able to take advantage of the low taxes in Singapore.

singapore corporate tax

Singapore has a competitive corporate tax rate of 17% and it doesn't have a capital gains tax.

There are also various tax benefits, double tax agreements and reliefs that moving companies can take advantage of.

For example, moving companies that are able to increase the productivity or revenue of qualifying investments in plant and machinery will be eligible for income tax exemptions on their incremental profits for up to 10 years.

The Singapore government offers financial support for companies that invest in R&D activities.

Singapore also has other financial incentives for companies, allowing them to take advantage of government grants.


Singapore strongly enforces Intellectual Property laws so you can protect your IP

IP singapore

You can rest easy knowing that the country has a strong track record for protecting intellectual property. Some countries have no laws for any intellectual property protection. The immediate solution to this is to move your company to Singapore.

Furthermore, doing business in Singapore would allow your company to avoid issues with legal jurisdiction. In the case of disputes, you can arrange for international arbitration easily. Your company will also benefit from doing business in Singapore by having access to international arbitration procedures.

Singapore does have a world-class arbitration facility in the Asia Pacific region. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre or SIAC is one of the largest arbitration institutions in the world. About 2500 cases have been filed annually recently, and about 3,000 international arbitrations are underway at any given time.


There are many benefits for your company when you move to Singapore. It is home to an English speaking workforce and provides access to global markets through its free trade agreements.

singapore workforce

One major perk to choosing Singapore is the availability of an English speaking workforce. This is mainly due to Singapore's efforts to become a global hub, particularly in finance and banking. As such, doing business in Singapore gives your company easy access to the Asia-Pacific marketplace for trade, travel and tourism. Furthermore, you can hire skilled and educated employees. Singapore was ranked the fifth-best country for women by Forbes and it is a developed country that provides affordable labour.

Another advantage of doing business in Singapore is its free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries. The FTA with Australia has been active since 2004, and the one with New Zealand started in 2009. Singapore has also negotiated FTAs with Chile and ASEAN countries. This means doing business in Singapore might not require working through additional hoops for reduced tariffs or preferential market access.

(Note that doing business in Singapore would likely require getting work permits for foreign employees.)


You can enjoy a high quality of life when you move your company to Singapore. This city offers excellent educational institutions and healthcare facilities, as well as great shopping centres, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

orchard road singapore

Living in Singapore also give you and your family access to a high quality of life. Singapore has excellent transport infrastructure so moving around is always a breeze. There is also no lack of excellent international schools and healthcare facilities. These are key considerations when you are deciding if your family should relocate to Singapore with you. There is vibrant nightlife and no lack of restaurants, shopping and entertainment in this tiny island state.


If you want the benefits of doing business in Singapore, but don't know where to start or what your options are, let us help you start your relocation process by providing more information about how we can assist you today.

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Personal data protection is a hot topic right now. With the recent Facebook scandal, many people are starting to ask themselves how they can protect their personal information from being sold without their knowledge.

7 Tips for Personal Data Protection

Personal data protection is a hot topic right now. With the recent Facebook scandal, many people are starting to ask themselves how they can protect their personal information from being sold without their knowledge.

Here, we will discuss 7 tips for businesses that want to increase customer trust and prevent any future scandals like this one.

1. Make sure your employees are aware of the company's data protection policy.

Employees need to know how they should handle customer data. Make sure employees are fully aware of your company's data protection policy so that they can follow it properly. This will help prevent costly mistakes from being made and avoid putting the business at risk for a potential fine or lawsuit.

In Singapore, a breach in the Data Protection Policy Act may cause you to be liable for a fine of up to $1 million dollars or 10% of your annual revenue whichever is higher.

2. Install strong firewalls to block outside threats.

Your business's firewall is one of the first lines of defence against hackers. A strong, up-to-date firewall will block outside threats and ensure that your data stays safe. This gives you peace of mind knowing that no external threat can access your system or cause damage to it.

3. Encrypt all sensitive information before it is sent out over the internet.

When sending sensitive information over the internet (for example, with email), make sure it is encrypted. This will prevent any unwanted parties from gaining access to your data and using it for their own personal gain.

Email is not 100% secure. Make sure you encrypt all sensitive information before it's sent out.

Don't click on any suspicious links in emails, even if they look like they are from someone you know. This could be part of a phishing attack and you may end up giving away personal or business information.

4. Limit who has access to sensitive data, including customer records and financial information.

Only give employees access to the information they need in order to do their jobs. This will prevent any unauthorized use of sensitive data and keep your business safe.

Limit who has access to customer records, financial information, etc., so that only those who absolutely need it can gain access.

Don't store passwords with personal or company files.

5. Make sure to update any software on devices regularly.

Software updates are crucial when it comes to keeping your devices safe. These software updates often include patches for security holes that hackers can exploit, so they're extremely important to keep up with.

Don't ignore or postpone updating devices and any installed software! Patches can be downloaded from the official websites of operating systems (such as Windows).

6. Use strong passwords - never use words that are in the dictionary or anything related to you

The best passwords are random combinations of letters, numbers and special characters. They should be long (minimum 12-15 characters) and not contain anything that can personally identify you or relate to your business.

A password manager is a good option for those who find it difficult to create strong, unique passwords themselves. Password managers generate complex passwords for you and save them so that all you have to do is remember one password.

Strong passwords are important for both individuals and businesses! Don't use words that can be found in the dictionary or any similar word related to your business/name.

Don't share sensitive information over email. If there's something you need to discuss with someone, call them instead.

Don't use the same passwords for multiple accounts and websites! If a hacker gets ahold of one password, they can access your whole online presence.

Avoid using public WiFi if you're visiting an unfamiliar location or going to a place where sensitive data is being handled (for example, in hospitals). Public WiFi networks are not secure and can allow hackers to access your devices when you're on them.

Don't leave any laptops or other portable devices with sensitive data unattended in public places! Hackers often install keyloggers (keyboard trackers) that will record everything typed on the device, including passwords and credit card numbers. There is software designed specifically for this.

7. Create a data protection policy for your company

Create a data protection policy for your business that specifies the use of personal and sensitive information. This will prevent any violations regarding its usage, as well as ensure you're acting within legal boundaries of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) of Singapore.

In fact, all organisations, including sole proprietorships are required to designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO) whose job is to ensure the organisation complies with the PDPA.

Data protection policy compliance is important for any organisation. We can help you implement a data protection policy for your company so that all of the information you collect from customers is handled responsibly and in accordance with PDPA standards.

Contact us today to learn more about our suite of products designed specifically to protect customer data while helping your business thrive.



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The Different Taxes A Company Has To Pay In Singapore

The Different Taxes A Company Has To Pay In Singapore

In Singapore, the taxes a company is liable to pay can be generally be broken down into 5 types.

Here’s a general overview of the 5 types of taxes you should be aware of when setting up a company in Singapore.

1. Corporate Income Tax

Corporate income tax is the income tax payable on the profits earned by a company. The corporate income tax rate in Singapore is fixed at a flat rate of 17%. However, there are many tax incentives and partial exemptions available to qualifying companies.

2. Goods And Services Tax (GST)

A company that has revenue of S$1 million or above for the preceding year must apply to be GST registered. As a GST registered company, it is then compulsory to charge output tax on the goods and services supplied.

GST is 7% standard rated. For exports and prescribed international services, these are 0% rated.

The purchases, the company may be able to claim on the GST paid to suppliers.

While the GST is fixed at 7% currently, it has been announced by the government that there is a plan to revise the GST to 9% in the future.

3. Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is due when there is a transfer of unlisted shares or real property to a company. For the purchase of unlisted shares, the stamp duty payable is 0.2% of the consideration or valuation whichever is higher.

For the purchase of real property, the stamp duty payable is:

  • 1% on the first $180,000
  • 2% on the next $180,000
  • 3% on the balance thereafter

For the purchase of residential property valued at more than $1 million, 4% is levied on the amount in excess of $1 million.

Do note that companies buying residential properties are also required to pay an additional buyer stamp duty (ABSD) of 25% on the value of the property. There is also seller stamp duty payable for residential properties if the company sells within a stipulated time frame.

4. Property Tax

During the ownership of the property, the company has to pay yearly property tax. For non-residential properties, the property tax is a flat rate of 10% levied on the annual value of the property. For residential properties owned, it is a progress rate of 10% to 20% levied on the annual value.

5. Personal Income Tax

Personal income tax is levied on the income of individuals. A company only has to take note of this if it is bearing the tax on behalf of its employees.

Personal income tax for a tax resident in Singapore ranges from 2% to 22% with the first S$20,000 exempted.


Need help with accounting and taxable matters for your company? We have a team of qualified accountants ready to assist you. Talk to us today!


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How To Start A Home Based Business (HBB) In Singapore

How To Start A Home Based Business (HBB) In Singapore?

There is an increasing number of entrepreneurs in Singapore choosing to kick start their business as a home-based business, also commonly known as HBB. While we commonly associate home-based business with something to do with food such as baking cakes or cookies, it can also be a suitable set-up for freelance copywriters, home-based tuition teachers etc.

Why start a home-based business?

The great thing about a home-based business in Singapore is that compare to working out of your home, you need up chalk up expenses from office or shop rental, which can be a great drain on your expenses as you are starting. Instead, the monies saved can be channelled to greater use such as marketing. In fact, nowadays, online presence is equally important if not more important than having a physical location.

What do you need to look out for?

Of course, when you embark on starting your home-based business in Singapore, there are certain limitations imposed by the authorities that you need to take note of:

  1. You cannot employ anyone from outside the household.
  2. There must not be any display of signages or advertisements outside the residential premises.
  3. The running of the business does not cause extra human traffic to the place of residence.
  4. No noise, smoke, smell, effluent or dust nuisances or danger should be posed to the surrounding residents.
  5. No loading and unloading of goods via vans and trucks.
  6. The business activities must be in compliance with the rules and regulations of other authorities.
  7. If you are staying in an HDB, it cannot be used as the business registered address. Private residential addresses are allowed.
  8. There must not be a material change to the use of the premise. It should still be primarily used for residential purposes.

Some common home-based businesses in Singapore are (but are not limited to) baking, hairdressing, media freelancers and sewing. Do note that massage services are not allowed!

Ready to get started? Here are a few steps you should consider.

Register Your Business

Give your business an awesome name! More importantly, you should consider the business structure you wish to adopt. Will it be a sole proprietor or a private limited company? It may not seem that important now but it may affect how you can scale your business going forward. I have written an article comparing the pros and cons of having a company versus a sole proprietorship in Singapore. 

You can get hands-on with the registration of your business or you can also seek help from a licensed ACRA filing agent here in Singapore. Some corporate secretaries will also provide the use of a registered address as well as accompanying accounting services if required.

Depending on your trade, you may also be required to obtain certain licenses or permits before being able to operate. For example, if you are in the food business, you might be required to follow the food hygiene rules and regulations set forth by the Singapore Food Agency.

Plan Your Operating Budget

It will be foolish to dive headlong into the business without some basic resource planning. How much do you need to set aside for the purchase of equipment to run your trade? What is the advertising budget you need to allocate in the initial phase of the business? Do you plan to pay yourself? How are you going to price your products and services? How much start-up capital are you planning to have?

As the age-old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

E-Commerce / Website

To me, having an online presence is a must-have in today's society. The website doubles are a platform for you to tell the world about your passion and business. It is also a salesman cum order taker working 24/7 for you.

If you are a retailer, having an e-commerce site is a must. You can either do it on major platforms such as Lazada and Shopee which gives you a lot of traffic but you never really own your customer base, or you can consider building your own branding. You no longer need to have a degree in web design to build an e-commerce shop or website for yourself. Platforms such as Wix and Shopify are so simple to use and the monthly subscription is rather affordable for a startup.

If you require a high degree of control over your ownership of your IP and customisation, consider engaging an experienced web designer to build your website from the ground up.

All the best of luck with your upcoming venture!


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Additional 40% Wage Subsidy For F&B Businesses Till 13th June 2021

Additional 40% Wage Subsidy For Businesses

Due to the increased rate of Covid-19 infection, dine-in will be disallowed at all food establishments. This will be in effect from 16th May 2021 till 13th June 2021. In view of the impact on F&B businesses, there will be an increment of the wage subsidy via the current Jobs Support Scheme (JSS). The wage support for salaried workers in F&B establishments will be increased from 10% to 50% during this period.

The 50% wage support for local employees is up to $4,600 gross monthly wages. Self-employed individuals who make voluntary CPF contributions for themselves and their local employees will also qualify for the support.

On top of the wage subsidy for F&B Businesses, there will also be a one-month rent waiver for F&B tenants of government agencies who do not qualify for the enhanced JSS.

For private commercial tenants, the Government urges the landlords to provide support to their tenants during this difficult period.

The basis of JSS

The JSS provides wage support to employers to help them retain their local employees during this period of economic uncertainty. JSS payouts offset local employees' wages and help protect their jobs. Employers must act responsibly in using the payouts, taking reference from the tripartite advisory on salary and leave arrangements. Where there is evidence of irresponsible and unfair treatment, employers may be denied employment support (including JSS) and have their work pass privileges curtailed.

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Professional Conversion Programme

Professional Conversion Programme - Get Funding To Offset Salary When Hiring New PMETs

In addition to the Jobs Growth Incentive which helps to lower the hiring costs of locals, companies may further tap on the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) when hiring Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) to further reduce their salary expenses.

There are several types of PCPs and for this article, we will be focusing on the Place-and-Train (PNT) and Redeployment / Job Redesign (JR) Re-skilling. 

The place-and-train is where the PMET is hired by a participating company before undergoing training to take on the new role. JR is for companies undergoing internal restructuring. The existing PMETs might be rendered redundant due to the restructuring, the JR programme is to retrain and redesign the Job scope of these PMETs.

Benefits of The Professional Conversion Programme

In a nutshell, the PCP aims to encourage companies to be open to the possibility of hiring PMETs who are mid-career switchers.

WSG recognises that the PMET may not have all the necessary skillset required for the new job role. Thus, they are offering to help companies co-share up to 90% of the salary payable to the new hire. In return, the companies must commit to a structured plan in order to retrain and re-skill the new PMET hire.

The funding support from PCP is stacked on top of the Jobs Growth Incentive if the company is eligible.

Who Is Eligible For Professional Conversion Programme?

To enrol on this programme, the PMETs and companies must meet the following requirements:


  • Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • At least 21 years of age
  • Have graduated or completed National Service for at least 2 years
  • The new job role must be substantially different from the previous one
  • Of no relations to shareholders of the hiring company
  • Not shareholders of the hiring company
  • Not ex-employees of the company or related entities


  • Registered or incorporated in Singapore
  • Must offer employment with remuneration in line with the market rate
  • Commit to the PCP training requirements
  • Be cooperative with WSG or its appointed partner on the required administrative matters related to PCP
  • For applications for redeployment/JR Re-skilling PCPs, companies are required to submit details of their business transformation plan for evaluation by the appointed programme partners.

Funding Support From PCP

This funding support will be given to companies directly. The balance salary and course fees shall be borne by the companies.

Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents below the age of 40

  • Salary Support - Up to 70% of monthly salary for PCP training duration (up to a maximum of S$4,000 monthly)
  • Course Fee Subsidy - Up to 70% course fees (subject to cap)
  • In-House Training: Up to S$15 hourly

Singapore Citizen Trainees Above 40 or Long Term Unemployed Singapore Citizen Trainees

  • Salary Support - Up to 90% of monthly salary for PCP training duration (up to a maximum of S$6,000 monthly)
  • Course Fee Subsidy - Up to 90% course fees (subject to cap)
  • In-House Training: Up to S$15 hourly

Get Funding Support For Your Next Hire In Singapore

If you would like to effective use the grants available to help you offset hiring costs, do feel free to get in touch with us for a non-obligatory consultation.


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Enhanced jobs growth incentive Singapore

Enhanced Jobs Growth Incentive - Up To 50% Salary Support For All New Local Hires.

Following the budget announcement in 2021, the government has confirmed the extension of the Jobs Growth Incentive for a further 7 months from February 2021 to September 2021.

What Is Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI)?

The jobs growth incentive in a job creation initiative by the government to promote the hiring of locals. (Locals refers to Singapore citizens and Singapore permanent residents).

When the employer increases their local hires over the period in February 2021, the employer is eligible for a support of 25% (or 50% for mature local hires aged 40 and above, persons with disabilities or ex-offenders) of the first S$5,000 gross monthly wages payable to the new local hires.

The S$5,000 gross monthly wage cap will be further increased to S$6,000 for mature local hires aged 40 and above, persons with disabilities or ex-offenders starting March 2021.

The JGI support will be for up to 12 months for non-mature local hires and 18 months for mature, persons with disabilities or ex-offender local hires. The count starts from the month of hire.

If the employer fails to retain their existing local employees during the qualifying period, their JGI payout will be reduced.

Who Is Eligible for Jobs Growth Incentive?

In order to be eligible, the employer must fulfil ALL of the following:

  • The employer is created on or before 15th February 2021
  • There must be an increment in the total local workforce
  • Increase in local employees earning of gross wages of at least S$1,400 per month

The employer must continuously fulfil the above criteria and make CPF contributions timely in order to get the full JGI payout.

How Do I Apply For JGI Payout?

The employer need not do anything. The inclusion and payout is automatic. JGI payouts will start from March 2021, payable in 10 trenches till Jun 2023.


Looking for local hires for your company? Before you start, know all the various hiring grants you might be eligible for! Come talk to us today!

For all HR matters, be sure to engage the help of a MOM licensed employment agency.


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Letter of Consent Application To Be Discontinued

Letter of Consent Application To Be Discontinued From 1st May 2021

Starting from 1st May 2021, all dependent pass holders in Singapore who wish to gain employment will have to apply for an applicable work pass, e.g. employment pass, S pass or work permit. This will be a major change from the prevailing practice. Currently, dependent pass holders can obtain employment with an approved letter of consent (loc) from the Ministry of Manpower.

Dependant Pass Holders Of Letter Of Consent Allowed To Work Till Expiry Date

Dependant pass holders with an existing letter of consent can continue to work till the date of expiry of the letter of consent. After which if they wish to continue, they will have to transit to the applicable work passes. The terms and conditions when applying for the passes will apply as per normal.

Letter Of Consent Holders Who Are Business Owners May Be Exempted

If the dependant pass holder with a LOC is a business owner, the above rule may not apply and he or she can continue to run their business. However, the following 2 conditions must be met:

  1. The dependant pass holder is a sole proprietor, partner, or company director with at least 30% shareholding in the company; and
  2. The business hires at least 1 Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident. It pays at least the prevailing qualifying salary (currently at S$1,400) and receives CPF contributions for at least 3 months.

Dependant pass holders who currently do not meet the above criteria can continue to run their business on their existing LOC until its expiry. They can also apply for a one-off extension of their LOC until 30 April 2022 when renewing their dependant pass. Thereafter, they will need to meet the criteria stated above in order to renew their LOC. Another option is to obtain an applicable work pass to continue working in Singapore.

Dependant pass holders who wish to start a business can apply for a LOC, as long they fulfil the criteria above.

Further details will be released on 1 May 2021.

If you need to apply for a letter of consent, do get in touch with a licensed employment agency in Singapore to assist you.


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Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant

Singapore based companies looking to expand their operations overseas can tap on the market readiness assistance (MRA) grant.

If your business is eligible, you can get support up to 70% of eligible costs, capped at S$100,000 per company per new overseas market. The cost will cover 3 main areas of overseas

  1. market promotion of up to S$20,000
  2. business development of up to S$50,000
  3. market set-up of up to S$30,000

Eligibility Criteria

To apply for MRA, your company must fulfil the following:

  1. The company is incorporated in Singapore
  2. The company must have at least 30% local shareholding
  3. Group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million; or company’s group employment size of not more than 200 employees
  4. Applicant must not have more than S$100,000 in overseas sales within intended target overseas country in each of last 3 preceding years

You can apply for as many MRA as you require. Your company may also apply to open several new markets at the same time. However, do note that the same expenses claimed via another grant will not be eligible for MRA reimbursement.

The Market Readiness Assistance Grant will be valid till 31st March 2023. Claims are disbursed on a reimbursement basis.

Getting Ready To Apply

It is important to note that the company should first make the application for MRA before signing any contract or commencing any form of work.

The services the company are claiming should be provided by an unrelated external third party.

The vendor should have a good track record of past completed projects to show. You need to detail the vendor's work scope, deliverables with the accompanying cost breakdown. An expected timeline of completion and milestones should also be listed.


If you are interested to find out more about how to best tap on the Market Readiness Assistance Grant, we have a team of qualified management consultants that are ready to assist. Get in touch with us today!



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How To Start An Import and Export Business In Singapore?

How To Start An Import/Export Business In Singapore?

As one of the busiest trading hubs in the world and the gateway to Asia, Singapore is probably one of the prime locations to start an import/export business.

Let us explore how you can get started doing an import/export business in Singapore.

Start A Trading Company

The first thing on the agenda will be to register and start a company in Singapore with ACRA. This is a rather straightforward process and if you are not familiar, you can always engage an ACRA registered filing agent to help you with the incorporation of a new company. The important thing to note is that under the company’s business activities, choose the relevant SSIC code which best describes your business.

Open An Account With Singapore Customs

Once you have your company successfully set up, you will receive the UEN number of the company. With this, you can then log onto the website of Singapore Customs to apply for a customs account.

With the account is ready, you may then start to apply for custom permits. You can either opt to do it yourself or to engage with the help of a declaring agent. As the procedure can be rather troublesome, most businesses will pay a declaring agent and have the work cut out for them.

It is also a must for the company to have ready an operating bank account whereby the custom duties or penalties will be paid from directly.

Importing Goods Into Singapore

When importing goods into Singapore, you need to make a declaration to Singapore Customs.

This is done by first obtaining a customs import permit. Do check if your goods being imported are controlled items as additional clearance will be required.

Goods imported into Singapore for consumption will be subjected to Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 7% as well as duties payable on selected items (intoxicating liquors, tobacco products, motor vehicles and petroleum products).

Exporting Goods Out of Singapore

To export goods out of Singapore, you must make a declaration and obtain a customs export permit. GST and duties are not levied on export goods.

You should also need to check if the goods you are exported are controlled items. If so, you will be required to get additional clearance before you can export.

Transhipping Of Goods via Singapore

Tranship refers to the movement of goods between 2 places via Singapore as an intermediate port of call. As the goods are not for consumption in Singapore, GST does not apply to them.

Nevertheless, you will still need to obtain the necessary custom permit and check for controlled items status before you can proceed.

Certificates Of Origin

The certificate of origin helps to confirm the origin of the goods exported. For many businesses, the Singapore label helps to give consumers confidence in the product.

Certificates of origin are issued by Singapore Customs or any of the approved organisations. There are a set of rules that you must adhere to before receiving the certificate of origin. Making a false declaration is an offence under the Regulation of Imports and Exports Act (RIEA).

Can Foreigners Start Import/Export Business in Singapore?

The simple answer is yes. There are no additional conditions upon foreigners for wanting to start an import and export business in Singapore.


The above article serves to give a general overview of starting an import/export business in Singapore. There are a lot more intricacies involved due to the varying nature of different goods. The good thing is you can always pay for freight forwarders or agents to handle the customs applications. If you wish to start your process, do check with us today to find out more!


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