Establishing A Representative Office In Singapore

Establishing A Representative Office In Singapore

Being an owner of a business, you’d be looking to establish a representative office in Singapore. If you’re still confused, don’t wait anymore to know about this. First, answering why to have an RO here? Unlike a subsidiary/branch office, an RO wouldn’t have any legal status. Rather, it will be viewed just as a liaison. This is the preferred option when you’re actually looking for any budding opportunities to grow your business in Singapore. This would help in probing the opportunities ahead of making any large-scale investment. Know about the process here…

Just an Extension:

It’s to be remembered that with an RO, you can’t perform any business-related activities to yield profits. This is nothing but an extension of your existing business with no legal statuses. Your RO will be restricted from signing contracts, negotiations, or involvements in trades. Also, it couldn’t lease any warehouse. The things you can do with your RO include:

  • Market research
  • Feasibility studies
  • Information collection
  • Building contacts
  • Handling enquiries
  • Participating in expos and trade fairs

When can you establish one?

Any foreign business that wishes to establish an RO in Singapore must exhibit a turnover of 250,000 US$ or more. It should be at least 3 years old. The RO should have a headcount of < or = 5 workers.

So, what documents are essential? Requirements include a completed application, main business’s registration certificate, latest annual reports, audits, and endorsements. Remember, all these must be in English. If not, translation to be enclosed. I’d say if your plans are on the horizon of the country’s RO system, you’ll not have any issue in getting the approval. However, at times, you’ll be asked to provide additional papers so as to clarify any doubts with regards to the application.

What’s the processing time?

Normally, it would take around a week for RO application to be processed by the corresponding personnel. This timeline starts from the time of submission. If any further clarifications are asked for, then it could be delayed by one/two weeks extra.


After approval, this registration will be effective for a year. After this, it should be renewed. Two months before this, you’ll receive a renewal notice. The renewal should be done one week before expiry. The maximum number of times you can renew your RO is three as it’s just an interim arrangement. Within this timeline, all the RO’s are recommended to be upgraded as subsidiary/branch. So, we can say this is a preliminary step in opening a branch/subsidiary.

What other things?

The name of the RO should be the same as the main business. It should be completely owned by your main business. This should have at least one representative, either a native or foreigner with EP. Your RO should have a registered physical address. A few businesses are allowed to use residential address too! There are some businesses which cannot establish an RO in the country. So before applying, check for eligibilities.