Singapore Company Incorporation

Setting up Representative Office in Singapore by Foreign Company

Foreign Companies that wish to register an office in Singapore can choose to setup a Subsidiary Company, a Branch Office or a Representative Office.

Note that most foreign companies prefer to register as a subsidiary company in Singapore.

Comparison – Subsidiary vs Branch office vs Representative Office

Overview of Representative Office

Foreign companies whom wish to explore the viability of doing business in Singapore, may set up a Representative Office (RO) in Singapore. A RO will allow a foreign company to study the business environment in Singapore prior to making any investment. However, an RO is only temporary and is subject to renewal.

Your RO can only carry out the following activities:

  • market research
  • feasibility studies
  • liaison work on behalf of parent company

Your RO MUST NOT conduct any of the following: activities (directly or on behalf of the parent company)

  • trade in goods/services (including import or export)
  • lease warehousing facilities
  • lease office(s) to other establishments for a fee
  • enter into business contracts
  • issue invoices/receipts
  • open/receive letters of credit
  • provide services for fees

If you wish to ship, transship or store goods in Singapore, you should get your parent company to appoint a local agent or distributor. You cannot use your RO to carry out these activities.

If you wish to carry on operations in Singapore, you should register a branch office or incorporate a company with ACRA (Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority).

ROs in banking and insurance

  • You need to register with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
  • You will need to meet the guidelines or requirements laid out by MAS.

ROs in all other industries

  • You need to register with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

Requirements and Application Procedures

All new applications must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • Softcopy attachment (in English or an official English translation) of the parent Company`s Certificate of Incorporation
  • Softcopy attachments of the parent company`s latest annual report and audited accounts
  • In the event that softcopy versions of the above requested documents are not available, the applicant can submit hardcopies to IE Singapore HQ after filing the online application. If the applicant is unable to provide the above requested documents, the applicant can write in to IE Singapore to seek for waiver and provide a set of the company brochures and self-declare the needed information.
  • Copy of passport and/or identity card of local agents
  • Proof of address of local agents (example: latest utility bill, phone bill, etc.)

Application for Renewal

For applications for renewal, you are not required to submit the parent company`s latest annual report and audited accounts but IE Singapore has the right to request for it, if necessary.

Compliance With Laws

The ROs registered with IE Singapore must comply with the Terms and Conditions as stipulated by the Board.