Which is an ideal jurisdiction for company incorporation? Singapore and Hong Kong have been dominant players in the Asian region, vying for the position of "the best place to do business." But the crucial questions are, which of these jurisdictions have an edge over the other? Is incorporating a business easier in Singapore or in Hong Kong?
Minimum Statutory Requirements:
- Singapore: a local registered address (commercial or residential but no PO Box), a local resident director, a local resident and qualified company secretary, a shareholder (individual or corporate), minimum paid up capital of SGD 1.00 (no authorized capital required)
- Hong Kong: a local registered address (commercial or residential but no PO Box), a director (local or foreigner), a local resident company secretary (individual or corporate), a shareholder (individual or corporate), minimum paid up capital of HKD 1.00 + authorized share capital of HKD 10,000 represented by 10,000 ordinary shares of HKD 1.00 each
- Singapore: 1 working day
- Hong Kong: 4-7 working days
- Singapore & Hong Kong: 100% foreign ownership allowed
- Singapore: Current corporate income tax rate - 18%. However, corporate income tax rate effective 2010 - 17%. Note: The effective tax rate is much lower - below 9% for profits up to SGD 300,000 and capped at 18% for profits above SGD 300,000
- Hong Kong: Current corporate income tax rate - 16.5%
Fees for company incorporation with Companies Registrar:
- Singapore: SGD 315
- Hong Kong : HKD 1,720 + capital fee of HKD 1.00 for every or part of HKD 1,000 of the nominal share capital (capped at HKD 30,000)
Fees for company registration with tax department:
- Singapore: Nil
- Hong Kong - HKD 2,450 (1 year registration certificate) or HKD 6,550 (3 year registration certificate)
Annual Filing Requirements:
- Annual returns along with audited annual accounts must be filed with Companies Registrar within one month of the Annual General Meeting.
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore by 31 October each year.
- Note: Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and exempt private companies (not more than 20 shareholders and shares are not held by another company) with an annual turnover of less than SGD 5 million are exempt from audit requirements for both annual returns and tax returns. These companies can file unaudited accounts.
- Annual returns must be filed with the Companies Registry once in every calendar year (except in the year of incorporation) within 42 days after the anniversary of the company's date of incorporation. Private limited companies are exempt from submitting accounts along with the annual return.
- Tax returns along with audited accounts must be filed with the Inland Revenue Department by 31 April each year. The auditor must be a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants and must hold a practicing certificate. Dormant companies (i.e no accounting transactions for the financial year) and small corporations (i.e total gross income does not exceed HKD 500,000) are exempt from audit requirements and can file unaudited accounts.
Susan Jain is a public relations consultant at Janus Corporate Solutions Pte. Ltd, a leading professional services firm specializing in Singapore company formation, work permit, taxation and related services. For more info on related topics, see Singapore Company Registration and Singapore Tax guide.