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FAQ For Representative Office (RO) In Singapore

A detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) with your burning queries about using the Corporate Service Provider, Purpose, Restrictions, Application, Specific Industry Sectors, Supporting Documents, Registration, Processing, Renewal, Work Pass for Representatives and De-Registration of Representative Office (RO) in Singapore.

FAQ About Corporate Service Provider

Is the Corporate Service Provider allowed to register with Enterprise Singapore on and behalf of our RO?

 

  • Yes, the Corporate Service Providers can register with Enterprise Singapore to submit the application or renew on and behalf of your RO as a client to CSP.
  • Ensure that the CSPs are duly registered their entities with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to serve their corporate clients.

 

FAQ About Purpose / Restrictions / Applications

1

What is the purpose of an RO?

  • An RO is a temporary facility provided to foreign companies to study the business environment in Singapore. It must comply with activities on market research and feasibility studies.

2

What are the application modes available?

  • All new and renewal applications are to be submitted online to Enterprise Singapore’s website at https://roms.enterprisesg.gov.sg.
  • For online renewal application, all basic information submitted in your last application will be populated for any updating.

3

Can an RO of foreign commercial entity remain as RO indefinitely even when the RO is strictly a cost / service / support centre or conducting activities within the RO scope?

  • No.
  • An RO may operate in Singapore for a maximum of three (3) years from the RO’s commencement date, provided the RO is renewed annually after evaluation by Enterprise Singapore.
  • You may also upgrade your RO to a permanent establishment any time prior to the expiry date to continue your activities in Singapore.
  • Parent companies which intend to remain as cost/service/support centres (after being ROs here) are required to register their business/operations with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) at http://www.acra.gov.sg even if they do not intend to carry out commercial transactions.

4

My company was registered with Enterprise Singapore as a Representative Office (RO) in the past. Can I apply to re-register as RO?

  • No.
  • If you wish to have a presence in Singapore, you are required to incorporate an entity with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore.
  • The privilege of RO is only once.

 

FAQ About Industry Sectors under Enterprise Singapore

5

Which are the sectors under the purview of Enterprise Singapore?

  • Enterprise Singapore registers Representative Offices (ROs) from the manufacturing, international trading, wholesale, trade and trade-related business sectors.
  • Other sectors such as banking, finance, insurance, legal, etc. come under the charge of other statutory authorities in Singapore.
  • The ROs registered by Enterprise Singapore must comply with all the Terms and Conditions governing it.

6

If the foreign company’s business is outside the purview of Enterprise Singapore, who should they turn to if they wish to register a representative office in Singapore?

  • For the banking, finance, financial exchanges and insurance sectors, they may approach the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
  • For foreign law practice applying for a representative office, they may approach the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).
  • All other foreign entities may register/incorporate a branch office/company with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

7

Do Foreign Government Trade Promotion Agencies, which are interested in setting up Representative Offices, have to register with Enterprise Singapore?

  • Yes.
  • Enterprise Singapore is the authority to approve the establishment of a Foreign Government Trade Promotion Representative Office.
  • You are required to attach (i) an official letter outlining (a) the functions/activities of your parent organization, (b) your proposed RO activities, and (c) your proposed RO Chief Representative name and staff strength; and (ii) the latest Audited Accounts of the parent organization, if available.
  • Enterprise Singapore reserves the rights to request for additional information and/or supporting documents, when necessary.

 

FAQ For Existing Companies About Supporting Documents (Certificate of Incorporation / Audited Accounts)

8

Do I need to obtain certification or notarization by a competent person (lawyers) on all supporting documents, including the Certificate of Incorporation?

  • This is unnecessary as Enterprise Singapore accepts photocopies of supporting documents.

9

Do I need to provide all supporting documents in English, if they are in other languages?

  • Official English translation of the parent company’s Certificate of Incorporation (applicable to new applications only) is required. English translation of Annual Reports/Audited Accounts is required only upon Enterprise Singapore’s request.

10

Are Audited Accounts required for renewal application?

  • No.
  • Audited Accounts are not required for renewals but Enterprise Singapore has the prerogative to request for your parent organization’s latest Audited Accounts, if necessary.

11

Why does Enterprise Singapore still require the latest Audited Accounts when the turnover and net profit/loss figures are also sought?

  • The latest Audited Accounts are required to allow Enterprise Singapore to process the new application and for verification purposes.

 

FAQ For Newly incorporated subsidiary companies About Supporting Documents (Certificate of Incorporation / Audited Accounts)

12

My company is newly incorporated and unable to provide the latest Audited Accounts. Can we still apply?

  • You may submit your application together with the Ultimate holding/parent company’s/major share holders’ latest Audited Accounts for consideration.

All new application of foreign commercial entity must fulfill the following criteria:

  •      –   Sales Turnover of the foreign entity must be > US$250,000
  •      –   No. of years of establishment of the foreign entity must be >= 3 years
  •      –   Proposed No. of staff for RO should be < 5 people

 

FAQ About Name and Address / Leasing premises of RO

13

What would happen if the name of the RO/parent company is the same as that of a local company?

  • Enterprise Singapore will seek the advice of the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) before accepting the name for registration.

14

Can the RO apply for a name, which is different from its parent company?

  • No.
  • The name of the RO must be the same as the parent company.

15

What do I have to do if my parent company’s name has been changed?

  • You have to notify Enterprise Singapore through online portal at https://roms.enterprisesg.gov.sg (select ‘Profile Amendments’) within one month after the change.
  • The notification of name change must be accompanied by a copy of the parent company’s Certificate of Change in name (in English or official English translation).

16

Is an RO allowed to sign a lease for its local office premises?

  • Yes, as long as leased space is meant only for the RO’s use.

17

Can an RO register its local address at a residential/private (non-approved office) apartment and use it as its office premises?

  • You will have to seek Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) approval for changing of the use of private residential property.
  • The Housing & Development Board (HDB) does not allow ROs to use HDB residential address as its business address since the business would not belong to the Home Office applicant.

18

What happens if an RO leases part of its premises to another establishment? What kind of action(s) will Enterprise Singapore take against it?

  • The RO should not lease its office to other establishment(s) for a fee. This breaches Enterprise Singapore’s Terms and Conditions.
  • A RO failing to comply with the stipulated Terms and Conditions may be de-registered.

 

FAQ About Registration, Processing & Renewal

19

How long the registration is valid?

  • The new registration is valid for one year.

20

Is RO renewable?

  • Yes, it’s renewable for each year.

21

How long will it take to approve my application?

  • Processing will commence only upon the submission of a completed form, and supplemented with any additionally requested supporting documents and information.
  • The typical processing time is about five (5) working days.

22

Must the RO provide the figures for Authorised Capital, Paid-up Capital, Sales Turnover and Business Spending in Singapore according to the currencies stated in the application form?

  • Yes.

23

Why are some figures such as Authorised Capital, Paid-up Capital and Sales Turnover required to be stated in US currency and others like Business Spending in Singapore currency?

  • Enterprise Singapore requires the currency in US Dollars where the money earned/turnover is at the parent company’s country. This is to facilitate the applicant to simply state the currency with which the transaction was carried out.
  • Enterprise Singapore requires the currency in Singapore Dollars where the money spent by the RO is in Singapore.

24

Can a foreign company use its country’s currency when declaring turnover and net profit figures?

  • No. The foreign currency must be converted into US currency at the rate standing at the time of completing the form.

25

Will there be any notification to remind me to renew my RO?

  • The 1st renewal notification will be sent to the Account Registration Owner by email, at the earliest, two (2) months before the expiry of your RO.
  • A final email reminder will be sent to the Account Registration Owner and the RO’s HQ authorized personnel on the expiry date of your RO.
  • If there is no response from the RO or its HQ within seven (7) days from the date of the final email reminder, Enterprise Singapore will proceed to de-register the RO.
  • Please note that it is the responsibility of the company to renew your RO at least seven (7) days before the expiry date of the current approval.

26

Will there be a UEN issued to my RO?

  • An RO will have a UEN as its identification number. All entities in Singapore, including Representative Offices (ROs) registered with Enterprise Singapore, will be issued with a UEN. For more information on UEN, please visit http://www.uen.gov.sg.

27

What is UEN in Singapore?

  • The Unique Entity Number (UEN) is the standard identification number of an entity.

 

FAQ About Staffing strength / Representatives of RO

28

Can a distributor/agent, a service provider, a secretary or a friend/3rd party of the foreign company/organization represent the RO as the appointed representative/staff?

  • No, the appointed representative must be either a staff from the HQ of the parent company/organization or a Singapore employee of the parent company/organization.
  • The appointed representative’s main function is to represent the parent company/organization.

29

How do foreign expatriates obtain Employment Passes (EPs)?

  • Employment Pass application forms can be obtained from the Ministry of Manpower.

 

FAQ About Upgrading / Closure / De-Registration of an RO and Rejection of Applications

30

Will Enterprise Singapore de-register the RO if its parent company is dormant?

  • Yes, Enterprise Singapore will de-register the RO.

31

Will Enterprise Singapore give reasons for rejecting an application to register an RO?

  • Enterprise Singapore reserves the right not to provide any reason for rejecting an RO application.

32

How to I close/de-register my RO?

  • Authorised CSP, the Chief Representative or the parent company can submit a ‘Change Status’ request online at http://roms.enterprisesg.gov.sg.

 

FAQ About General Admin

33

Why is my RO registration number/approval letter required by the bank to open a bank account?

  • This is a requirement set by the bank for opening a bank account. Please check with the banks for more details.

34

How do I apply for phone/fax lines for my RO?

  • You can apply for business phone and fax lines  together with a copy of Enterprise Singapore’s RO approval letter

 

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