Choose your legal structure in Singapore


How to establish a subsidiary in Singapore, set-up a company, launch a start-up, and use Singapore as a regional basis to develop in Asia.


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With more than 40 setting-up projects dealt by the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore each year, we are a major actor in the setting-up of companies and subsidiaries in Singapore. We are following closely to the regular evolutions in the setting-up process implemented by the Singapore authorities and we are able to effectively serve the French companies, with customised services perfectly adapted to their needs.


Different legal structures exist, that is why it is sometimes difficult to decide which one is the most appropriate for setting-up in Singapore.


The budget allocated to set-up and for the business development in the region are important aspects to take into account in the setting-up process.


Firstly, it is necessary to decide whether you wish to create a structure, to engage in a joint-venture or to acquire an existing structure.


The choice between the different solutions depends on many aspects:

  • Time and financial investment that you are ready to provide: the joint-venture is a tricky operation which requires a lot of efforts.
  • Your commercial capacity to develop the joint-venture and acquisition may limit the commercial risk, unlike the set-up which implies a specific investment in business development.
  • The group’s international strategy: it can determine the process to enter the targeted countries. Some groups proceed only with acquisition.


To set-up your own entity, you have the choice between many types of structures. The most common are the Representative Office (RO) and the Private Limited (Pte Ltd). A few companies choose the Branch to retain control on the structure. However, the Branch can only perform activities which strictly comply with the parent company’s corporate purpose and presents many constraints: a shared responsibility with the headquarters, only one corporate name, local taxation, tax benefits are not applicable.


The Representative Office or the Private Limited appear to be the simplest and the most common structures.


The Representative Office is a simple and temporary structure of 3 years maximum without any legal entity. It acts as a gateway to study the market in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The time required to create a RO is on average of 2 to 4 weeks.


Unlike the Representative Office, the Private Limited has the necessary legal capacity. It is equivalent to the French SARL and limits the responsibility of its stakeholders who are not liable for more than the amount they have subscribed for. It is a lasting legal entity which can expand the company’s commercial activity in the region. On average, 4 to 6 weeks is needed for the set-up of the Private Limited.


To help you choose between the two structures, we invite you to think about the following statements which are the most adapted to your situation:

  • The company wishes to develop step by step and to study the potential market before considering a definitive set-up.
  • The company wants to start from the beginning a sustained commercial activity and to recruit quickly new staff members.


In the particular case of entrepreneurial projects like freelance, a foreigner with a Dependant Pass used to create a Sole Proprietorship and apply for a LOC (Letter Of Consent, a necessary work permit for the Dependant Pass holders) to work in it. Since 2016, it is not possible anymore. Alternatives exist and depend on the context: create a Private Limited, open a Representative Office for the company you wish to represent, be hired  in a company already established…



"We managed to be guided through the different steps including the necessary preparation of legal documents, the company’s registration under the right services, the opening of a local bank account and of course the importance of the work permit applications for our foreign employees."

Frédéric Charles, Managing Director, Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmétique Singapore



For your setting-up projects, the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore advises you to make the best choices according to your situation. Each year, we support major groups, SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), start-ups and future entrepreneurs in their set-up and management projects of companies or subsidiaries in Singapore.


We rely on a network of trustworthy and known partners, each one has his own speciality to answer to all kinds of situations. Whether your priority is account management, with or without the legal part, requirement of a French speaking contact or even a decision to develop in Asia, we can help to identify the most appropriate partner for your needs.


Of a French and Singaporean culture, answering with total transparency and objectivity, we propose a complete offer of high value-added services. You will appreciate our reactivity and our availability, our strong and updated local legal knowledge to efficiently contribute to the development of your company in Singapore.



"The French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore has been really useful and readily available before the setting up of our subsidiary in Singapore as well as in its daily work with the domiciliation service. Explanations have always been clear and that allowed us to open peacefully our first subsidiary."

Pauline Jubin, Executive Vice President, Shift Technology



Please contact us for a personalised study of your project to set up and run a company in Singapore. It includes the choice of the legal structure, timing and budget.





Incorporated companies organised by size (2016/2017)

s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Start-Up s'implanter asie singapour entreprise 200 - 999
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise 1 - 19 s'implanter asie singapour entreprise 1,000 - 2,499
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise 20 - 49 s'implanter asie singapour entreprise >2,500
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise 50 - 199    



Incorporated companies organised by sector (2016/2017)

s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Certification s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Aviation
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Health s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Consulting
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Furniture s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Entertainment
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Research Equipment s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Education
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Computer Software s'implanter asie singapour entreprise Financial Consulting
s'implanter asie singapour entreprise IT market