Starting a Shipping Company in Singapore

Staff Writer

December 20, 2022

What’s in the article?

The shipping industry is a steadily increasing field that remains largely unaffected by economic straits as the world becomes more globalised. Opening, owning, and operating a shipping business in Singapore can be a lucrative venture, but will require a number of permits and licenses necessary to conduct business operations in the country.

In this article, we present the reasons why Singapore is an ideal location for shipping businesses, how to set up and incorporate your shipping business, and what shipping companies need to know when managing their business.

Why Start a Shipping Business in Singapore?

Singapore is a known global hub for trade and business, so it makes sense for shipping companies to register within the country. Not only is Singapore open to international maritime trade, the country has a glowing reputation for having sophisticated port facilities, and shipping-related support services.

Freight forwarding is a large industry in Singapore as the geographical location of the country enables it to become a stepping stone to enter the Asian and Southeast Asian markets. Shipping services to and fro the country maintains increasing demand, even after the global pandemic.

Starting your own shipping company can be a worthwhile endeavour. In fact, Singapore has set up a Maritime Sector Incentive (MSI) to support and encourage the growth of shipping companies through financial grants and other incentives.

How to Start a Shipping Company in Singapore

While Singapore is open to shipping businesses incorporated within the country, its government sets rules and regulations to ensure that the company operates within legitimate business practices. Thus, shipping companies are often required to obtain multiple licences before they can operate in the country.

Step 1: Incorporate Your Company

The first step in setting up your company is company incorporation. To do this, you will need to create an account on BizFile+, and register under the business category that your shipping business falls under. You will also need to submit supporting documents as required:

  • Name of the company - must not be similar to an existing business, or contain prohibited words;
  • Name of vessel;
  • Details of the resident director and shareholder - must have at least one resident director/shareholder;
  • Details of the company secretary;
  • Business plan;
  • Required licences and permits;
  • Local office address;
  • At least SGD1 minimum paid up capital.

Fill out the application form for incorporation, and submit the supporting documents needed for approval. Once submitted, you will need to pay the incorporation fee of SGD300 for the application to push through.

Step 2: Apply for Licences

Some licences are required prior to incorporation, and some permits can be obtained after the company has set up. It is important to know the kinds of permits and licences you will need to maintain a successful shipping business. The Maritime and Port Authority may require one or more of the following permits for any approved international shipping enterprise:

  • Ship Sanitation Control Certificate
  • Port Limit Manning Licence
  • Ship Station Licence
  • Port Clearance Certificate
  • Ship Registration Certificate
  • Harbour Craft Licence
  • New Vessel Permit (for new ships)
  • Licence to Operate Radio Communication Equipment
  • Others

Depending on the nature of your own business operations, you may need to acquire multiple business licence permits. Obtaining these permits will ensure smooth-sailing when it comes to importing and exporting goods.

Step 3: Find a Suitable Location

Next, you will need to find a suitable location for your company. This refers to the premises that will become the office space of your company. There are multiple office spaces you can rent out in Singapore, but for any commercial business that allows customers to enter, you will need a proper fire safety plan, as well as planning permission.

Step 4: Hire Staff

Hiring staff to work on your vessel will require you to apply for a port limit manning licence, while office personnel will not need similar permits. All foreign workers must have a worker's permit as well, and all personnel on your vessel should be properly trained for their jobs.

Step 5: Ensure Compliance

Lastly, you will need to ensure that your business complies with the rules and regulations of Singapore. Permits are often valid for one (1) year, and must be renewed at the end of that period. Renewals will entail an inspection of your past activities to determine whether you comply with regulations of the country, so best to ensure compliance.

Go Far with WealthBridge

WealthBridge is your partner in company incorporation in Singapore. Shipping companies can be challenging to keep track of as there are multiple aspects that you need to consider. Having our team handle the corporate side of things will help make managing the company more convenient. Our corporate services team will assist you in setting up your business.

Go far with WealthBridge, and ensure that your company stays on track! Contact us today for more information.

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