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Selling products in Singapore using offshore (HK) registered company

Discuss your views about Singapore business & economy, current policies & issues, starting a business in Singapore.
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Re: Selling products in Singapore using offshore (HK) registered company

Postby BBCWatcher » Mon, 15 Aug 2016 4:57 pm

With a few key assumptions:

1. Your Employment Pass is not artificial or somehow contrived -- that you're really doing the job in Singapore for which the EP was granted;

2. Your employer in Singapore knows about and has no problem with your outside work (some do, and some even claim intellectual property rights over whatever you're doing);

3. You're paying any/all taxes owed on that income (including to IRAS);

4. The Hong Kong-based e-commerce activity would ordinarily be legal and proper in Singapore even if you were not physically located in Singapore;

then the activity you describe is "probably" OK. However, out of an abundance of caution (and to protect yourself) I recommend asking the Ministry of Manpower for their assessment.

rudic.niko@gmail.com
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Re: Selling products in Singapore using offshore (HK) registered company

Postby rudic.niko@gmail.com » Mon, 15 Aug 2016 7:17 pm

Thank you for your response.
1-3 are all clear. My biggest concern is doing business (selling products) in Singapore without being a Singapore registered company. I wrote to ACRA to verify if such business setup is fine and MOM to check how this would affect my current EP.
I will update with answers for anyone thinking of doing the same.

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Re: Selling products in Singapore using offshore (HK) registered company

Postby Strong Eagle » Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:11 pm

I don't think it will fly at all. You apparently own and are the managing director of the Hong Kong company.

You are present in Singapore. People in Singapore can work for offshore companies without a work permit if and only if, the company provides no products or services in Singapore. But, your company does. And you, as owner/director, would need a work permit. It's the director part that gets you... you are managing your company and need a work permit. But, you already have one, EP does not permit you to work for another company, so no go.

"e-commerce store here with no physical presence in Singapore, apart from the warehouse.". That's a rather physical presence, wouldn't you say? Almost certainly, you're going to need a Singapore entity to conduct the business of the warehouse. Goods don't magically appear and disappear. Someone will be handling the imports, customs, and taxation, if any (you?). Someone will be handling the distribution of the product to the buyer. You'll need a legal entity to file yearly tax reports.

Foreign companies set up subsidiaries in Singapore in one of two ways. They create a Pte Ltd, wholly owned by the foreign company (better), or they create a branch with no stock (not as good). Either way, a non citizen or PR would require a work permit, which would be applied for by the company.

You would never qualify for an EntrePass but you could set up a Pte Ltd and have it apply for an EP for you... except for the fact that you already have one. MoM evaluates such requests on a case by case basis... if you are running a successful business, have the experience, have the necessary financial resources to make it go, your chances of making it happen are pretty decent.

Finally, consider what would happen if you could work in the manner you wish to. One million people from the sub continent on DP's and LTVP's would suddenly have foreign entities that they own/work for. They'd be renting a warehouse or a store front in their own names, and they would be conducting business in Singapore without a legal entity and without a work permit.

It aint going to happen.

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Re: Selling products in Singapore using offshore (HK) registered company

Postby BBCWatcher » Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:23 pm

There's another option. Clearly there are lots of foreign (non-Singaporean) Web sites offering goods for sale to buyers in Singapore. Including some huge ones like Amazon, AliExpress, Gmarket, and eBay (as examples). And Qoo10, Lazada, and others in Singapore that have both onshore and offshore suppliers. That's one possible approach, to just pick one of the preexisting marketplaces that already sell into Singapore and go with them. Without the warehouse or directorship. I'd still pass the idea past MoM for an assessment, though.


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