According to the nation-state’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Singapore ranks as the world’s second most attractive jurisdiction for “ease of doing business,” behind only New Zealand.
For this reason, among many others, Singapore is a popular choice for foreign businesses seeking footholds in the Asia-Pacific region. If you are considering opening a satellite office for your firm in Singapore, or relocating your home office to this small nation-state, take these steps in the coming weeks.
Find Local Service Providers
Before you begin trading in Singapore, vet and contact local firms whose services you expect to require once you’ve established your presence. Such firms might include accountancies found through the Singapore Institute of Chartered Accountants, law firms, logistics partners, and local trust and corporate services providers such as Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust. With a list of trusted partners, you can hit the ground running as soon as you’re ready to begin doing business here.
Find and Arrange Suitable Premises
Office space is quite dear in this densely populated jurisdiction. For this reason, many smaller firms seek out “flex space” or virtual offices in Singapore. If you expect to entertain clients at your office, however, it may behoove you to invest in a dedicated space. If you plan to scale your Singapore operation quickly, likewise.
Complete Your Business Registration
Before you can legally do business in Singapore, you must complete and file a business registration with local authorities. This can be done through the Singaporean government’s Bizfile system, though you should consult with a local business services provider to ensure your registration is free of errors or omissions.
Obtain Proper Licensure, If Required
Certain types of firms may require state licenses to operate legally in Singapore. Consult with the Singaporean government and a local business services provider to determine whether your business is likely to require such licensing. Obtaining proper licensing may increase your market entry costs somewhat, but fines and penalties for non-compliance are far costlier.
Connect With Local Business Development Agencies & Representatives of Your Home Government
Your home country likely has diplomatic representation on the ground in Singapore. Perhaps more importantly for your business endeavors, your homeland’s business community may also have an active presence here. If your business is based in the United States, for instance, you can turn to the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore for help navigating local regulations and business practices.
Connect With Potential Clients and Vendors on the Ground
As you would at home, begin building a local network as soon as you’re in-country. Look for trade shows, professional networking events, and other opportunities to meet potential clients, vendors, and service providers.
Obtain Proper Visas and Work Authorization
Work with a local immigration or business law firm to ensure that you and your employees have proper work and entry authorization. Running afoul of local labor laws is perhaps the surest way to jeopardize whatever momentum you’ve built at your Singapore office.
Here’s to a Successful Singapore Trade
With proper planning and meticulous compliance, doing business in Singapore is a rewarding and potentially lucrative experience. Here’s to a successful trade in the Asia-Pacific region’s most business-friendly market!