Understanding the Role of a Representative Office in Singapore

Published by Beaufort.SG

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I. Introduction to Representative Offices

A Representative Office is a temporary setup that foreign companies establish in another country. In Singapore, these offices serve as a non-commercial liaison between the parent company and its potential clients and partners in the local market.

II. Purpose and Functions of a Representative Office

A Representative Office in Singapore mainly conducts market research, liaison activities, and facilitates the parent company’s operations without carrying out any profit-yielding activities.

III. Benefits of Setting Up a Representative Office in Singapore

Setting up a Representative Office in Singapore can offer numerous benefits. This includes understanding the local market better, establishing business contacts, and promoting the parent company’s products or services without a significant financial commitment.

IV. Regulations for Establishing a Representative Office in Singapore

The regulations for establishing a Representative Office in Singapore are relatively straightforward. These offices cannot engage in profit-generating business activities, their staff size is limited, and they must renew their registration annually with the local authorities.

V. How to Set Up a Representative Office in Singapore
  1. Determine Your Eligibility: First, ensure that your business meets the necessary criteria for setting up a Representative Office, which includes being a well-established foreign company with good track records.
  2. Submit the Necessary Documents: Prepare and submit the required documents to the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore or the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), depending on your industry.
  3. Register Your Office: Upon approval, register your office with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore.
VI. Limitations of a Representative Office

While a Representative Office can provide valuable insights and connections, it has its limitations. It cannot engage in business contracts, cannot provide services or goods for a fee, and its existence is typically limited to a maximum of three years.

VII. Conclusion: Is a Representative Office Right for Your Business?

A Representative Office can be an excellent step for businesses looking to explore the potential of the Singapore market without making a significant investment. However, its limitations mean that it should be part of a broader market entry strategy, rather than the end goal.

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