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Employment and Business Start Ups

Singapore - Self-Employment and Business Start Ups

For those wishing to start a business in Singapore, GuideMeSingapore is the foremost Singapore-focused business information portal. It is targeted at those who wish to explore business incorporation or relocation to Singapore.

Purchasing land or buildings in Singapore can be difficult for foreigners since permanent residents and foreigners are only allowed to buy apartments that are in buildings that are at least six stories high, in a development approved as a condominium development, or any non-residential, commercial or industrial property. If you wish to purchase landed residential property or any vacant land zoned for residential use then you must seek prior approval from:

Controller of Residential Property Land Dealings (Approval Unit)
Shenton Way #27-02, Temasek Tower
Singapore 068811
(+65) 6323 9853

It can be difficult for foreigners to start a business in Singapore without a lot of capital upfront. Most foreigners come to Singapore with an employment pass and those who do come with the intentions to start a new business do so with a large investment.

To register your business you can file online at Bizfile through the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority at http://www.acra.gov.sg. You might also need help with banking, finance issues, legal issues and insurance. For these needs, you can visit the Monetary Authority of Singapore at http://www.mas.gov.sg.

There are some organizations that might be able to assist you in starting your business endeavors. The Economic Development Board, for instance, provides investor support in Singapore. The Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board falls under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and was developed to help companies find support in management development, funding, and marketing. In addition, it is the national standards and accreditation body. Enterprise One is a portal that has been designed to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Not only does it have information on government services, it also has how-to guides.

Economic Development Board: http://www.edb.gov.sg/edb/sg/en_uk/index.html Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board: http://www.spring.gov.sg International Enterprise Singapore: http://www.iesingapore.gov.sg Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority: http://www.acra.gov.sg EnterpriseOne: http://www.business.gov.sg

If you hold a Dependent Pass you may set up your own business. Most people choose to start as a sole proprietor since costs are reasonable and the administrative process is simple. It only takes around 2 weeks for the process, from start to finish.

Register Companies and Business
10 Anson Road
# 05-01/15 International Plaza
Singapore 079903
Tel: 6 227 8551
Fax: 6 225 1676

For some fields, there are special licenses and restrictions. This is particularly true in the medical field so you’ll want to be aware of these. The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) is a non-profit organization that helps small and medium sized businesses in Singapore. You can visit their website at: http://www.asme.org.sg

If you are self-employed then you must continue to pay social security taxes if you are a United States citizen. In Singapore, you must also contribute to Medisave if your net trade income is above S$6,000 per year.

Some expats also take over established businesses as a fast way to become self-employed. This can help you have a built-in client base and will revoke the need to start from scratch, saving you time and money.

When it comes to immigration issues, the EntrePass is available for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Singapore. These applications are jointly assessed by MOM and the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Singapore. If your application is approved then you will be issued a pass for up to 2 years. If your business passes the renewable criteria then it will be re-granted for 3 more years. If you are using the EntrePass then be aware that you must make a minimum investment of S$50,000. However, if you are moving to Singapore under the Employment Pass scheme then there isn’t a minimum investment mandated by the Singapore authorities. Instead, it will depend on the size of your business, the number of staff you intend to employ, the location, etc. There are other costs associated with starting a business, however. These include the company incorporation fees and other licenses (food shop, liquor, etc.) where applicable.

Some accounting firms specialize in small business start-ups. Having a certified accountant is important and finding one that has a background in business start-ups can be invaluable. Since setting up a business is different for citizens, foreigners, and permanent residents, it is advised that you visit the ACRA website: http://www.acra.gov.sg

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.