Branch Vs Subsidiary In Singapore: Best Business Structure

Want to set up a business in Singapore? Explore the advantages of choosing between a branch vs subsidiary in Singapore. Learn which option suits your needs best in this insightful article. Consult with our experts to register your business in Singapore today.


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    Singapore is a well-liked place for international businesses wishing to operate in Southeast Asia because of its pro-business climate and advantageous location. However, prior to commencing, you had to select between creating a subsidiary company and opening a branch office. Each alternative has unique benefits and drawbacks, so the optimal decision will rely on your particular business objectives.

    Understanding the Key Differences

    • Legal Structure: A branch office has no own legal status; rather, it is an extension of the main corporation. Conversely, a subsidiary is a distinct legal entity registered as a private limited company (Pte. Ltd.) in Singapore.
    • Liability: The debts and liabilities of its branch office are entirely the responsibility of the parent firm. Conversely, a subsidiary provides limited liability protection. The assets of the parent firm are typically protected from the liabilities of the subsidiary.
    • Taxation: Since branch offices are regarded as non-resident businesses, they might not be qualified for Singapore’s alluring tax breaks. If properly formed, subsidiaries may be able to claim resident company status and take advantage of programs such as the corporate tax exemption program for newly incorporated businesses.
    • Compliance and Registration: The process of registering a branch office is usually less complicated than that of creating a subsidiary. Nonetheless, both organizations must continue to abide by regulatory obligations.

    Benefits of a Branch Office in Singapore

    Leveraging Brand Recognition and Reputation

    By operating under the well-known name and authority of the parent firm, a branch office can help to build client trust and commercial relationships.

    Streamlined Operations and Centralized Control

    Keeping a branch office allows for direct supervision and centralized decision-making, which gives the parent firm more control and streamlines management.

    Advantages of a Subsidiary Company in Singapore

    Limited Liability and Risk Protection

    A subsidiary acts as a separate legal entity, shielding the parent company’s assets from potential liabilities incurred by the Singapore branch.

    Access to Tax Incentives and Benefits 

    Singaporean resident businesses are eligible for a number of tax breaks, such as lowered corporate tax rates and exemption plans.

    Increased Operational Independence 

    A subsidiary gives it more latitude in day-to-day operations, which makes it easier for it to adjust and react to local market conditions.

    Which Option is Right for My Business?

    The optimal choice depends on several factors:

    1. Business Size and Risk Tolerance: Smaller businesses with a lower risk profile might find a branch office sufficient. Established companies seeking asset protection may prefer a subsidiary.
    2. Industry Regulations: Certain industries in Singapore may have specific requirements for foreign business presence. Research any regulatory limitations beforehand.
    3. Long-Term Goals: If you envision a significant and independent presence in Singapore, a subsidiary might be a better long-term strategy.

    Business registration process

    • Setting Up a Branch Office in Singapore: The process involves registering with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and obtaining any necessary licenses for your business activity.
    • Incorporating a Subsidiary Company in Singapore: This requires registering a new Pte. Ltd. company with ACRA, appointing directors, and complying with ongoing corporate governance regulations.


    Choosing between a branch office and a subsidiary in Singapore requires careful consideration of your company’s specific goals and risk tolerance. While a branch office offers a simpler setup and leverages existing brand recognition, it exposes the parent company to greater liability and limits access to tax benefits. A subsidiary, on the other hand, provides limited liability protection, potential tax advantages, and operational independence, but involves a more complex setup process.

    Ultimately, the best structure depends on your long-term vision for your Singapore presence. Weigh the pros and cons carefully, and look for expert advice to make sure you select a choice that will position your company for success in Singapore.


    Yes, it’s possible to convert a branch office into a subsidiary, but the process can be complex and involve tax implications. 

    Generally, subsidiaries incorporated in Singapore are not subject to any restrictions regarding foreign ownership. Nonetheless, there may be restrictions on foreign equity participation in certain businesses.

    In addition to filing yearly reports with ACRA and, depending on the industry, possibly obtaining company licenses, both businesses must adhere to Singapore’s accounting rules. As distinct legal companies, subsidiaries are subject to additional corporate governance regulations.