Incorporation

7 Steps for Foreigners to Set Up Companies in Singapore

There are many reasons why it has become so popular to establish an operating legal entity in Singapore. Here's one more; you can get set up a business without setting foot on our sunny island. Follow our steps to set up your Singapore entity from anywhere in the world!

Singapore is starting to be known as the “Delaware of Asia”, named after the most popular state in the United States for startups and foreign companies to set up and gain a foothold into North America. We believe that Singapore is an even better version of Delaware, given the rate of growth in the Southeast Asian region.

According to a Chinese saying, it takes the right timing, the right location, and the right person to succeed. You know Singapore is a good option today, but who should you work with? Thanks to the technology that powers Lanturn, and our local nominee director services, you can now register a company with us online. 

Wait, what is a local nominee director?

To set up a business in Singapore, the regulatory authorities require the provision of a director, who is ordinarily a resident in Singapore.

At the point of incorporation, this person has to be a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident. Have a friend who can act as that nominee director? Great. Need help finding one? No problem, Lanturn regularly assigns professional nominee directors to our clients' companies, who act their virtual “pro” on the ground.

From signing resolutions to attending bank meetings, this person will be your new best friend. For your peace of mind, we have standard agreements in place to ensure the working relationship and decision-making process is well understood. If you plan to move to Singapore and get a work visa later, you can always become the local director when that happens.

Ready to walk through the registration process, and set up shop in Singapore? Here's what it will involve.

Some important details

Lanturn is regulated by ACRA, and we take our compliance obligations very seriously. If you incorporate a company with Lanturn, all your directors and shareholders are required to go through a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process. Once you’ve used our tool to complete all the steps in the incorporation process, all directors and shareholders will get an email asking for all the documents necessary to complete our KYC checks.

For directors, we follow ACRA guidelines and require a face-to-face meeting or video-call within 3 months of incorporation to ensure compliance with ACRA. Lanturn is a technology-driven company but we pride ourselves on adhering to the highest standards of compliance and providing seamless customer service. While technology is in place to make processes more efficient, it is still necessary for us to have some face time.

OK, onwards to the first steps!

Step 1) Check the availability of the company name you’d like to use

This is just a simple search. Simply input the name you’d like to use for your company, hit 'Check Availability' and we can tell you right away whether the name is taken. If it is, repeat this process until you find a name that’s not in use by an existing company.

Step 2) Reserve the name with ACRA

Should the name be available, hit 'Reserve'. Then provide further details about the company. When that happens, we will attempt to reserve the name with ACRA, which has final say on all names. If ACRA rejects the name you’ve chosen, we will reach out to you directly to seek a new name and try again. Once you’ve chosen a name that ACRA approves, you have exclusive rights to use the name for 60 days. 

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Complications may arise and rejection may occur, if the name you choose is similar to existing companies based in Singapore. That said, if you have strong reasons to use the proposed name, we can help you file for an appeal with ACRA. Do note that the final decision to approve lies with ACRA. Don’t forget, successfully registering for a name does not necessarily guarantee a trademark on the name. Need more clarifications? Just give us a call.

Step 3) Submit the particulars of your new company

Now that the most emotional step (naming your company can feel like naming a baby) is out of the way, it’s time to describe what your company will do! That will help us recommend the ACRA industry codes that most closely reflect your company’s proposed activities.

Once you’ve described your company and chosen your industry, enter your first financial year end, which has to be less than 12 months from the date of incorporation, and your registered business address. The address needs to be a location that’s easily accessible during regular office hours. If you choose to use Lanturn’s address as your registered business address (for S$30 a month), we will scan your mail and upload it to your Lanturn portal for easy access.

Step 4) Add the directors

As mentioned earlier, every private limited company or sole proprietorship in Singapore requires at least one local director. For the purpose of incorporation, this person must be either a Singapore citizen or a Singapore permanent resident.

If you have your own local director, hit ‘Add Director’ and enter their details. They will get a notification informing them they are being nominated as a director and asking them to verify their particulars and submit KYC documents.

To use our nominee director service, check the box to add the option to your cart.

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Lanturn works with a range of third-party professional directors who can act as your nominee local director. Apart from the service fee we charge for this service, we will also collect a $2,000 refundable deposit. The deposit will only be used in situations where the management is uncontactable for a prolonged period of time, and the company's basic compliance obligations are not being met. We will then need to proceed to strike off the company with ACRA and IRAS (Singapore’s tax department). Rest assured there will be plenty of warnings before we get anywhere close to reaching this unfortunate and unlikely scenario. But it can happen.

Pro tip: After the company has been incorporated, foreigners working in Singapore on employment passes sponsored by the company can assume the local director role.

Step 5) Add your shareholders

This is where you can add individual or corporate shareholders for your company. Our incorporation tool automatically sends an email to shareholders, notifying them of their proposed allotment. They will also get instructions on how to verify their details and upload KYC documents.

Step 6) Create an account and checkout

You’ve reached the final step before checkout! Create an account by either entering your details or signing in with your Google account.

Confirm everything, enter your credit card details (secured by leading global payment gateway Stripe), and you're done! Soon after, you’ll get a call from us, and once your directors and shareholders have submitted all the information ACRA require, your company will be incorporated in no time at all!

Step 7) Status tracking

Once you've confirmed your details and completed the checkout, you will be redirected to the Lanturn portal, where you can track the progress of the company incorporation—namely, status of the name reservation, and the responses from your proposed shareholders and directors requesting KYC documentation. Note: The requests for KYC documentation will be sent automatically from our system.

Now you can move on and do what you want - start making business plans! If you want more info or would like some assistance, don't hesitate to speak to someone on our team. We're happy to help!

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