Non-Resident Companies

Tax Residence Status of a Company

Companies that are tax residents enjoy certain tax benefits including tax breaks on foreign income. A company is a tax resident in Singapore when the control and management of the company is exercised in Singapore.

Determining Tax Residency of a Company

A company is either a tax resident or a non-resident of Singapore. In Singapore, the tax residency of a company is determined by where the business is controlled and managed.  The residency status of a company may change from year to year.

A company is a tax resident in Singapore when the control and management of the company is exercised in Singapore. “Control and management” is the making of decisions on strategic matters, such as those on company policy and strategy. Where the control and management of a company is exercised is a question of fact. Typically, the location of the company's Board of Directors meetings, during which strategic decisions are made, is a key factor in determining where the control and management is exercised.  

Conversely, a company is a non-resident when the control and management of the company is not exercised in Singapore.

Do note that the place of incorporation of a company is not necessarily indicative of the tax residence of a company.

Foreign-Owned Investment Holding Companies

Foreign-owned investment holding companies1, with purely passive sources of income or receiving only foreign-sourced income are generally regarded as non-residents  because these companies usually act on the instructions of its foreign companies/shareholders.  

However, they may still be treated as Singapore tax residents if they are able to satisfy IRAS that certain conditions have been met. For details on the conditions, refer to Applying for COR for Foreign-Owned Investment Holding Companies.

1 A foreign-owned company is a company where 50% or more of its shares are held by foreign companies/shareholders.

Non-Singapore Incorporated Companies and Singapore branches of foreign companies

Non-Singapore incorporated companies and Singapore branches of foreign companies are controlled and managed by their foreign parent and are, therefore, regarded as non-residents.

However, they may still be treated as Singapore tax residents if they are able to satisfy IRAS that certain conditions have been met. For details on the conditions, refer to Applying for COR for Non-Singapore Incorporated Companies

Foreign Professionals and Foreign Firms

Foreign Professionals

Foreign professionals are considered non-resident when they are in Singapore for less than 183 days in a calendar year. Non-resident professionals are individuals exercising any profession (i.e. persons other than employees) of an independent nature under a contract for service and includes:

  • a foreign expert who is either invited by government bodies, statutory boards, or private organisations to impart their technical know-how or expertise in Singapore;
  • a foreign speaker/academic conducting seminars or workshops;
  • Queen's Counsels;
  • Consultants, trainers, coaches; and
  • an individual who operates through a foreign firm

Foreign Firm

A foreign firm is defined as an unincorporated body of two or more persons who have entered into a partnership with a view to carry on business for profit and whose principal place of business is outside Singapore.

Foreign firm does not include foreign universities, foreign clubs and associations, foreign government and foreign government bodies.

Non-Resident Public Entertainers

Public Entertainers

Public entertainers include:

  • Stage, radio or television artistes (e.g. singers, dancers, actors) and musicians; and
  • Athletes (all sportsmen in any sporting events or tournaments e.g. golfers, tennis players, horse jockeys, racing drivers, runners).

A public entertainer performing in Singapore can be exercising a profession, vocation or employment.

Non-Public Entertainers

Those who work behind the scenes such as crew, choreographers, directors in the entertainment scene or horse trainers, coaches, personal trainers for sporting events will not be treated as public entertainers.

Residency of Public Entertainers

The public entertainer is treated as non-resident if he is in Singapore for less than 183 days in a calendar year.

Non-Resident Directors

Non-Resident Directors

A company director who is physically present in Singapore for less than 183 days in the year preceding the Year of Assessment (YA) is a non-resident director.  The remuneration of a non-resident director is subject to withholding tax.

For details, please refer to Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Directors .

Executive Directors

A non-resident director may also take on an executive role (for example, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and Managing Director) and is involved in the daily running of the business operations. The remuneration derived by a non-resident director in his capacity as an executive director is not subject to withholding tax.

To understand the tax obligations of foreigners in Singapore holding the position of executive director, please refer to foreigners working in Singapore .

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