5 minutes

Business Expansion Into Singapore: Singapore Subsidiary vs. Branch Office

Singapore Subsidiary

Expanding your business into Singapore, a thriving business hub in Asia, can be a strategic move to access new markets and opportunities. However, choosing the right business structure for your expansion is crucial. In this article, we will explore the key considerations between setting up a subsidiary or a branch office in Singapore and help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Singapore as a Business Hub

Singapore’s Strategic Location 

Singapore’s strategic location in Southeast Asia plays a pivotal role in its appeal as a business destination. Situated at the crossroads of major global trade routes, it offers unparalleled access to burgeoning markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Its proximity to economic giants like China and India, as well as its connectivity to Southeast Asian countries, makes it an ideal choice for businesses seeking to expand their footprint in this dynamic part of the world. This strategic advantage in geographical positioning facilitates efficient trade, logistics, and market access, making Singapore a favoured hub for international business operations.

Pro-Business Environment 

Singapore’s pro-business environment is well-known globally. The city-state consistently ranks high on ease of doing business indexes due to its efficient regulatory framework, protection of intellectual property rights, and transparent legal system. These factors create a fertile ground for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. In addition, the government actively supports businesses through incentives, grants, and initiatives aimed at promoting research and development, making it an ideal destination for companies looking to thrive in a conducive and pro-business ecosystem.

Economic Stability

The city-state’s economy is known for its resilience and consistent growth, providing a secure foundation for companies looking to expand. Singapore’s political stability and strong financial sector contribute to its robust economic performance, mitigating the risks associated with global economic fluctuations. As a global financial hub, Singapore attracts investment and talent, further bolstering its economic stability. This stability, coupled with a business-friendly environment, makes Singapore an attractive destination for businesses seeking a secure and prosperous base for their operations in Asia and beyond.

Singapore Subsidiary Setup

A subsidiary in Singapore is a separate legal entity from its parent company. It enjoys limited liability, meaning that the parent company’s assets are protected from the subsidiary’s liabilities. This separation allows for greater autonomy and independence.


  • Limited Liability: Shareholders are not personally liable for the subsidiary’s debts and obligations.
  • Independent Legal Entity: A subsidiary can own assets, enter contracts, and sue or be sued in its name, providing legal autonomy.


  • Complexity: Setting up a subsidiary can be more administratively complex and costly than other options. 
  • Cost: There are initial and ongoing costs associated with maintaining a subsidiary, including compliance and reporting expenses. 

Singapore Subsidiary Registration Process

Registering a subsidiary in Singapore involves several steps, including selecting a company name, appointing directors, and registering with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). 

Taxation Considerations

Subsidiaries are subject to Singapore’s corporate tax rate, which is currently at 17%. Additionally, they may benefit from tax incentives and exemptions based on their business activities.

Singapore Branch Office Setup

A branch office in Singapore is an extension of the parent company, not a separate legal entity. It operates under the parent company’s name and has no limited liability, meaning that the parent company is fully responsible for its debts and obligations.


  • Simplicity: Setting up a branch office is straightforward and involves less administrative complexity. 
  • Cost-Efficiency: Branch offices generally have lower setup and maintenance costs compared to subsidiaries. 


  • Unlimited Liability: The parent company is personally liable for the branch office’s debts and legal obligations.
  • Limited Independence: Branch offices have limited autonomy and cannot enter into contracts or own assets in their name.

Singapore Branch Office Registration Process

Registering a branch office in Singapore involves appointing a local authorized representative, providing the certificate of incorporation/registration and constitution of the parent company, and obtaining approval from relevant authorities. Its directors must be the same as that of its parent company.

Taxation Considerations

Corporate service providers are specialized in providing company secretarial services, and they have streamlined processes in place to ensure that their clients receive timely and efficient service. This can help businesses improve their productivity by freeing up time and resources that can be redirected towards core business operations. 

Key Factors in Decision-Making

When deciding between a subsidiary and a branch office, consider the following factors:

Nature of Business

The nature of your business and your expansion goals will influence your choice of structure. If you intend to carry out a different business activity for your Singapore entity, your only option will be a subsidiary, as a branch office must have the same business activities as its parent company.

Liability and Risk Tolerance

Subsidiaries provide a safeguard through limited liability protection, where shareholders’ personal assets are shielded from the subsidiary’s obligations. This structure is ideal if you seek to minimize personal risk. In contrast, Singapore branch offices do not enjoy this protection, and the parent company assumes unlimited liability for their obligations. Assess your risk tolerance accordingly and whether you prefer limited liability or are comfortable with unlimited liability.

Control and Autonomy

Subsidiaries in Singapore operate as independent legal entities, offering a high degree of autonomy. They can make decisions, enter into contracts, and manage assets independently, granting greater control over operations. In contrast, Singapore branch offices operate as extensions of the parent company and have limited autonomy. They typically cannot enter into contracts or own assets in their name, necessitating centralized decision-making.

Taxation Strategy

Consider your taxation strategy, as both structures have different tax implications. Note that a branch office is considered a foreign company, hence does not enjoy the tax exemptions of a local company like a subsidiary.

Compliance Requirements 

Understand the compliance and reporting requirements for each structure. A subsidiary is required to prepare their financial statements and file it in the XBRL format with ACRA, while a branch office will need to lodge its own accounts together with that of the parent company during its annual filing.

How Premia TNC can help 

The decision between setting up a Singapore subsidiary or a branch office is a critical one that requires careful consideration of various factors. By understanding the advantages, disadvantages, and specific requirements of each structure, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business expansion goals. Remember to consult with professionals, such as Premia TNC, who are familiar with Singapore’s regulatory landscape to ensure a smooth and successful expansion journey.

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