Singapore is the fifth largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world, according to the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2015. FDI flows into Singapore amounted to USD65 billion in 2015.
Singapore ranked first in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings for the 10th year in a row. Singapore's strengths were highlighted in the following topics: Dealing with Construction Permits, Protecting Minority Investors and Enforcing Contracts. The report highlighted that resolving a commercial dispute through the Singapore District Court can take just 150 days, the shortest time recorded worldwide. Furthermore, efficient dispute resolution is paired with good institutions (such as specialised courts), effective case management and sophisticated court automation tools.
Key facts about starting a business in Singapore:
Singapore's attractiveness as a business destination can be attributed to a number of factors, including its strong and efficient legal system, its competitive tax regime and the ease of doing business. Nevertheless, in order to make an informed decision, it is critical to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Singapore may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist depending on the industry in which a company operates.
Singapore has four national languages: Mandarin, Tamil, Malay and English. However, English is the lingua franca of business. Business in Singapore is formal and businesses tend to be hierarchical. Due to the climate, business attire is less formal than that typical of many Western countries.
A handshake is the typical business greeting and business cards will usually be presented after initial introductions. Punctuality is critical. Gifts are generally not exchanged as part of business interactions.
Those looking to establish a business in Singapore may look across Asia for alternative options. However, Singapore can be differentiated on the following factors:
Despite the myriad strengths of Singapore as an investment location, as a highly open economy, it is vulnerable to global economic downturns. Amidst the continued slowdown in China and waning growth momentum in the US, growth in the economy is likely to remain slow over the next year.
This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Singapore, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Singapore. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.
Please note that the Country Guides may only be available in English.
|1||BizFile (Business Register)|
|2||Inland Revenue Authority|
|4||Immigration and Checkpoints Authority|
|5||Intellectual Property Office|
|6||Personal Data Protection Commission|
|7||Economic Development Board|
|8||Ministry of Manpower|
|1||UNCTAD World Investment Report|
|2||Doing Business Rankings|
|4||Global Competitiveness Report|
|5||Free Trade Agreements|
Download Country Guide - Singapore (3.73MB, PDF)
This document is issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, Singapore Branch (HBAP SGH) (the Bank). This guide is a joint project with Grant Thornton. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business to anyone in any jurisdiction. It is not intended for distribution to anyone located in or resident in jurisdictions which restrict the distribution of this document. It shall not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or further distributed by any recipient. The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this document, the Bank and Grant Thornton makes no guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness, and under no circumstances will the Bank or Grant Thornton be liable for any loss caused by reliance on any opinion or statement made in this document. Except as specifically indicated, the expressions of opinion are those of the Bank and are subject to change without notice. The materials contained in this document were assembled in January 2016 and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.
Grant Thornton refers to the brand under which the Grant Thornton member firms provide assurance, tax and advisory services to their clients and/or refers to one or more member firms, as the context requires. Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL) and its member firms are not a worldwide partnership. GTIL and each member firm is a separate legal entity. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL does not provide services to clients. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. This publication has been prepared only as a guide. No responsibility can be accepted by GTIL for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication.
HSBC retains all responsibility for the translation of the content of this guide. In the event of any discrepancy or inconsistency between the English and translated versions of this Guide, the English version shall apply and prevail.