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Working in Singapore for a UK Company

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Geraint-Jay
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Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Geraint-Jay » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:45 am

Hi all,

I am looking for some general advice about relocating to Singapore and continuing employment with my current UK based company. I work from home often and we travel quite a bit so we would be hoping to do some more business in South East Asia.

As I understand, all I need to do is ask my employer to pay my salary gross and then I can pay taxes in Singapore. Is this correct?

Could anyone advise what type of working permit or tax regulations that I would need to consider once in Singapore?

As long as I pay my salary taxes each month, then will I have any issues moving to the country permanently?

My partner (we're both British) will be joining me in Singapore and will seek a full time employment in Singapore.

Apologies if this question has been asked already, new here so trying to find my way around the forum.

Many thanks,

G

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Strong Eagle
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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 1:25 am

You have two issues to deal with, and of the two, legal residency is the more pressing issue for you.

You have the following choices to be able to legally reside in Singapore.

  1. Be a citizen (aint gonna happen for you)

  2. Be a permanent resident (PR - very likely will never happen for you)

  3. Be working in Singapore on an employment pass (EP - means that you must be working for a Singapore registered business with a legal and physical presence in Singapore).

  4. Be on a dependents pass (DP - you can legally reside in Singapore because you are the spouse or a child of a person holding an EP)

  5. Be on a long term visit pass (LTVP - you can legally reside in Singapore because you are the spouse or a child of a Singapore citizen or PR)

Leaving out citizen or PR for the moment, because that is most definitely not going to be your status, your choices are to work for a Singapore company, or be a dependent of someone else who has legal authority to reside in the country.

You can probably see that you have a large hole in your plan. As stated, you don't have any legal right to reside in Singapore, and therefore, any and all other plans are meaningless. Solutions:

  1. Your UK company forms a Singapore legal entity (most likely a wholly owned private limited), and you go to work for that Singapore entity. Now you get your EP and live and work in the country legally.

  2. Get married to someone who already has legal authority to live in Singapore, get a DP or LTVP, and now you can work in Singapore, subject to the restrictions I note below. Permit me to parenthetically add that you used the word "partner" and not "spouse" in describing your SO. Please note the the UK does not recognize common law marriage; hence, Singapore will not recognize a UK common law marriage; hence, even if your partner gets an EP on her/his own, it's not going to do you any good... you cannot get a corresponding dependents pass because you are not legally married.

Now, here is the deal about working for a foreign company while legally resident in Singapore.

IF the foreign company has no legal presence in Singapore, and IF the foreign company provides no goods or services in Singapore, then you can work for that foreign company, get paid into your Singapore bank account, pay Singapore personal income taxes, and not require any kind of a Singapore work permit (EP or LOC - letter of consent - while on DP or LTVP).

A great example would be if your were an accountant for the company... you could process transactions, produce financial reports and returns, all from the comfort of your Singapore home.

IF you are living in Singapore, and you were drumming up business for the company in other countries through travel, you might qualify per the above. Touch anything in Singapore (and that includes holding yourself out as the Singapore "branch" of the company), however, and you'll need to be working for a legally resident business in Singapore and you'll need that EP.

Geraint-Jay
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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Geraint-Jay » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 2:45 am

Hi SE,

Thanks for your quick and very comprehensive reply. This is very clear.

Funnily enough, we are due to get married in the summer of 2019 and were hoping to relocate shortly after our wedding. So with that in mind, I suppose I have a couple of options if I want to stay with my current employer. Please correct me if I have misunderstood.

B) Either get a DP via my spouse who will need to have a job and therefore an EP. My concern with this route is that the ultimate goal is for my company to do business in Singapore and other parts of SE Asia. We are a consultancy so work with companies mainly across EU but we do business all over the world. Given the restrictions that you've noted, then it sounds like my only option is...

A) Start a limited company in Singapore and get an EP, which could be possible as we're a small agile company.

I suppose my next question is do you have any good sources of information that I can use to find out a bit more about starting a small company/ office for foreign company in Singapore and then becoming a resident director of that company? I will need to convince my boss of the benefits of creating a Singapore office for the company.

If I decide to go down this route, i.e set up a company, apply for an EP and my spouse obtaining an EP to work also, are you able to give an idea of how long the process might take? Our time-line is aiming for Sept 2019 so we have time to put the wheels in motion but I have no idea when we would need to start applications.

Thanks again for your help
G

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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 7:31 am

Your best bet will be to start a company. I've written in many threads about starting a company; you should do a search on my handle for more information.

You will be better off having your company form the company and have it owned as a wholly owned subsidiary. I say this because every last plonker from the subcontinent and elsewhere tries to backdoor themselves into Singapore by starting a company and then hiring themselves. The Ministry of Manpower is wise to such tricks and has cracked down very seriously on anyone wanting to form a pte ltd so that they can get an EP.

You stand a better chance if it's an established foreign firm setting up the company... at least a bit more gravitas, and with a foreign company it's possible to apply to have you be the local director, and presto, you get your EP.

As for companies to set this up... google "incorporation in Singapore" and get a slather of companies wanting to help you out. You don't really need them, as most of them offer rented directors for people trying to setup their companies for themselves.

With the foreign company being the owner and holding at least a couple of non-resident board spots (with you being the resident director), any reasonably competent CPA can act as the agent to get you incorporated. You can PM me for the name of a CPA I used in the past... she can set this up... she won't do the rented director thing.

Again, the key is that you are not forming your company, with you as shareholder, your foreign company is opening a Singapore branch and wants you as local director. This is a large and important distinction in getting what you want.

The process is very quick, most of it can be done online, and a competent CPA will ensure that all the documents are filed, the minute books set up, and all the other minutiae that goes along with setting up a pte ltd. I'm taking 2 or 3 days without complications.

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PNGMK
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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:30 am

Another option apart from Pte Ltd is for the UK company to register a "Representative Office" or
"Branch Office". The link below has an excellent table breaking down all the issues.

https://www.guidemesingapore.com/busine ... rep-office
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Geraint-Jay
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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Geraint-Jay » Fri, 10 Aug 2018 9:09 pm

Thank you both for the really useful information.

@Strong Eagle I may come back to you at some point for your CPA contact once I have established a plan. Much appreciated.

G

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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Geraint-Jay » Fri, 07 Sep 2018 6:46 pm

Hi Strong Eagle,

I have a follow up question on this as I have dug a little deeper into the requirements following setting up in Singapore.

If I were to set up the afore mentioned subsidiary with myself as the resident director and the main company will remain in the UK, as a foreign employee living in Singapore with an EP, am I required to contribute to CPF? Or is this only a mandatory requirement for Singapore Citizens?

I suppose this makes my argument more or less financial viable depending on what is required.
Many thanks

G

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PNGMK
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Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby PNGMK » Fri, 07 Sep 2018 8:09 pm

No only PR or citizens are required to contribute.
IANAL. IANACPA. IANA Teacher.
Arrested? Lawyer Up
International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
School advice? Avoid for profit schools
Tax advice? CPA
Pay me $5k for 100% success filling in PR form!

Geraint-Jay
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Posts: 5
Joined: Fri, 10 Aug 2018

Re: Working in Singapore for a UK Company

Postby Geraint-Jay » Fri, 07 Sep 2018 9:04 pm

Hi PNGMK, thanks for your quick reply. That's what I thought, thanks for confirming.

G


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