What are the application criteria, ongoing requirements and restrictions for a representative office (RO)?
According to Enterprise Singapore (Representative Office),
All new applications of foreign commercial entitles 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
According to Enterprise Singapore,
1. The RO must confine its activities strictly to conducting market research and feasibility studies on the viability of setting up a permanent entity in Singapore, inclusive of the following:
- Collect information about markets, competitors and/or customers.
- Conduct research on the demand for the product and/or service.
- Gather information on business regulatory requirement for subsequent set up of permanent entity.
- Cultivate trade contacts and handle product enquiries.
- Participate in exhibitions and trade shows.
2. The RO must be represented by staff from its own HQ or Singapore staff. Enterprise Singapore Board has the discretion to determine whether the number of staff employed in the RO is reasonable.
3. Enterprise Singapore must be notified one month prior to any changes to the registered RO and proposed/existing staff as set out in the application for registration/renewal of RO in Singapore.
"An approved RO of a foreign commercial entity may operate in Singapore for a validity period of one year only from its commencement date. An extension of RO will only be granted on a case-by-case basis, and is subjected to approval for up to a maximum of three years. ROs which decide to continue their presence in Singapore thereafter should register their operations with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of 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."
Source: Enterprise Singapore (FAQs)
Also note that ROs are not separate legal entities from their foreign parent companies.
Source: Singapore Legal Advice