Comparison Branch Office vs Subsidiary Company vs Representative Office

There are three options for foreign companies who are interested in establishing a business presence in Singapore:

  • Representative Office
  • Branch Office
  • Subsidiary Company

Below is a summary of each option, and depending on the business needs of a foreign company, each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Types Subsidiary Company Private Limited Representative Office Branch Office
Entity Name Need not be the same as parent company Must be the same as parent company Must be the same as parent company
Allowed Activities Can conduct all business activities Can only conduct market research or coordinating activities Must be the same business activities as the parent company
Suitable For For local or Foreign Companies who wish to expand their operations in Singapore For Foreign Companies who wish to set up temporary vehicle in Singapore to conduct research and act as liaison office For Foreign Companies who wish to expand their operations in Singapore
Disadvantages Continuing Compliance Obligations eg Financial Reports, Audit, AGMS, etc It is a temporary vehicle and cannot generate revenue Continuing Compliance Obligations eg Financial Reports, Audit etc
Ownership Can be 100% foreign or locally owned No Ownership No Ownership
Separate Legal Entity Yes No No
Cap on Number of Members Yes, max 50 Not Applicable Not Applicable
Minimum Setting up Requirement One shareholder , which can be foreign or local individual or corporate shareholder AND must have at least one resident director Must appoint a Chief Representative who will relocate from headquarters Must have two Singapore Resident Agents
Limited Liability Yes No No
Need for Audited Accounts Yes No Yes
Filing of Accounts with ACRA and IRAS Yes No Yes
Annual Filing Must file audit report of the Singapore subsidiary Not Applicable Must file branch office’s as well as parent company’s audit reports
Tax Treatment Taxed as Singapore resident entity, local tax benefits available Not Applicable Taxed as non-resident entity, local tax benefits not available
Cessation of Business upon Death of a Member/Partner No. Equity shares go on in perpetuity Not Applicable No
Validity Period Perpetually until deregistered This is a tempoarary Setup. It is intended not to last more than 3 years Perpetually until deregistered
Normal Registration Time 3 hours 3-5 days 3 hours
Appointment of Officers Must appoint at least one local resident director Must appoint a Chief Representative who will relocate from headquarters Must appoint two resident agents
Governing Body ACRA & IRAS International Enterprise Singapore ACRA & IRAS
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