Professional Assistance of Visas and Immigration
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Singapore Representative Office
Foreign businesses looking to explore opportunities in Singapore or in the region can consider setting up a Singapore Representative Office (RO). Learn more about the requirements for setting up a representative office in Singapore.
What is a Representative Office?
Unlike the Branch Office or the Subsidiary, the Representative Office is not considered a traditional corporate organism with a distinct legal entity. For this reason, this form of business can be used only for non-profitable activities such as studying the market, building connections and establishing groundwork before launching a profitable activity. This business form’s purpose is solely for research and development of the market prior to launching a new company based on the data gathered.
What is the difference between the Branch Office and the Representative Office? There are several differences between the two business forms. Firstly, in terms of legal nature, the Branch Office is considered an extension of the foreign parent company (same legal entity), while the Representative Office has no legal entity at all. Second, the Branch Office is able to gain profit but the Representative Office is a non-profit organization. Lastly, the Branch Office is only free from corporate tax from profits outside of Singapore. The profits gained in Singapore through the Branch Office business will be subjected to taxes. This is in contrast to the Representative Office where taxes are waived fully.
A Singapore representative office (RO) are only allowed to engage in the following type of activities for market research or feasibility studies:
- Gather and Collate information about markets and clients
- Carry out market research to collect information regarding product demand, price expectation and end user requirements
- Research information regarding the process of setting up a more permanent entity in Singapore
- Build business contacts and handle service or product inquiries
- Participate in trade shows and exhibitions