Singapore vs Hong Kong for Doing Business in 2024

Singapore vs Hong Kong for Doing Business in 2024

Hong Kong is a special place to do business, there is a culture among the English common law and a solid legal system from the rest of China. It is also one of the key components of Asia’s financial hub, hence, it is a city where many companies come to set up their operations to cater to the entire region.

On the other hand, Singapore is another city-state of Asia that is generally seen as the next stage of Hong Kong. As Hong Kong, it is a significant financial center, which operates under the English common law system, so that any court in the world can enforce contracts. This is why it is a perfect option for transnational companies that want to be able to do their business anywhere.

For that purpose, let us move on and explore the differences and benefits of doing business in Hong Kong and Singapore to help you choose the location that best suits your business needs.

The differences and benefits of doing business in Hong Kong and Singapore

Ease of doing business

Singapore vs Hong Kong have their pros and cons when business is considered for both countries.

Hong Kong Ease of Doing Business

Hong Kong has the most open economy in the world, according to the World Bank. The process of starting a new business is not only simple. It is easy to purchase property, employ staff, and operate a business. The protection of private property is very strong, and entrepreneurs are able to get finance easily. These factors make business start up easier than it could be elsewhere.

Moreover, local authorities have been allocating resources to help businesses develop for many years. They provide low tax, deregulation and red tape.

Besides this, the local authorities have been dedicating their resources to healing the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the last known decades. They do that through low taxes, reduced regulation and They bring us low taxes, less regulation, and fewer administrative procedures.

Singapore Ease of Doing Business

Singapore is a great choice for those who want to start their own business. It provides small businesses with substantial government support in the form of grants and tax exemptions. Here is also the home of the world’s busiest port so that the goods can be transported easily and at low cost to and from here to anywhere in the world.

The regulations can be stringent and permits could take weeks or even months to obtain. However, the country is a safe place, crime rates are very high.

Ease of doing business in Singapore vs Hong Kong

Hong Kong is famous for duty-free imports and exports. Singapore is a global trade gateway and an offshore banking destination for foreign investors with cheap financing and also an easy export to the ASEAN borders.

Company Incorporation

Both Hong Kong and Singapore are very good locations to incorporate businesses due to their favorable geographical locations, developed infrastructures and favorable business environments. Though similar, each jurisdiction is characterized by unique considerations for prospective business people. Things to consider are legal and regulatory frameworks, taxation policies, market access, business culture, and distance to target markets. By considering these factors, entrepreneurs are able to make well-informed decisions that are suited to the specific requirements and aspirations of their business.

Hong Kong Company Incorporation

Setting up your company in Hong Kong is relatively easy. Although there is no charge for business registration with the government, there are costs for getting some documents. These may entail fees for registration for a business certificate and other relevant paperwork. Moreover, if you decide to hire the services of a professional company or agent to help with the incorporation process, there will be service fees to pay.

You will also have to name a director. Directors manage the company’s daily activities. The only concern is that they should be at least 18 years old, but there is no necessity that they should have been staying in Hong Kong for any specific period. Directors of Hong Kong companies may be foreigners without any restrictions of residence. Nevertheless, if you pick directors who live outside of Hong Kong, you will need to take into account logistical considerations and probable fees for their appointment.

Singapore Company Incorporation

Registering a limited liability company (LLC) in Singapore will require a valid passport, proof of residence in Singapore, and three personal references. Further, a power of attorney form should be completed for someone else to act on your behalf and be stamped when filed. Upon filing you will be issued with a Certificate of Incorporation stating the details of your company.

As for directorship, one director must be a resident of Singapore or a permanent resident. In case you don’t have a local director, you will have to appoint a nominee director, which will entail extra costs. Each director has to be over 21 and should have a residency in Singapore of at least one year. The usual board is usually made up of at least one director.

Company Incorporation in Singapore vs Hong Kong

The decision between incorporation in Hong Kong or Singapore, brings out certain key considerations. Hong Kong enjoys easier and economical set up but does not require directors to be residents. On the other hand, Singapore provides strong governmental assistance, numerous tax agreements with other countries, and qualified labor. However, it requires a local director which complicates things and increases the price by a little.

Corporate Taxation

Regardless of the country in which you will be conducting business activities, you should understand the corporate taxation system for your business.

In this part, we’ll analyze the tax frameworks of Hong Kong and Singapore for you to better understand the implications and advantages of setting up a business there.

Hong Kong Corporate Taxation

Technically, corporate taxes in Hong Kong are 0% for any business carried out outside of the Hong Kong borders. Nonetheless, for activities performed within Hong Kong, a two-tiered corporate tax is applicable.

For Hong Kong-incorporated companies, the tax is 8.25% on assessable profits not more than HKD 2 million, while for companies with profits above HKD 2 million, the tax is 16.5%.

Unincorporated companies are subject to the same assessable profit levels. Nevertheless, the taxes are 7.5% and 15%.

So, if you generate sales in Hong Kong, you will be required to pay taxes on those sales. The counter balance for this tax is that there are also no VAT or Foreign Exchange Controls in place for businesses in Hong Kong.

Singapore Corporate Taxation

Singapore’s corporate taxes are 17% that have slightly higher than in most of the other countries. Corporation income tax is profit based rather than revenue based. For instance, a company making HKD5 million (USD 735,000) a year would pay no tax on the first HKD2 million (USD 280,000) and 30% on the balance of HKD3 million (USD 420,000).

Nonetheless, that does not imply that your business will be taxed twice. But, Singaporean companies are not subject to income tax on their foreign earnings, similar to Hong Kong. To qualify for this exemption, you must meet specific requirements. Similar to Hong Kong, Singapore exempts foreign-sourced income from income tax, but only if the income has already been taxed in the country where it was earned (at least 15% tax rate).

In this segment, we will discuss the legal regimes of Hong Kong and Singapore. We will be paying more attention to foreign ownership, investor protection, and taxation policies.

Since 2011, Hong Kong has been considered the best place to initiate a business by Forbes. The city is attractive to entrepreneurs due to the stable legal environment, low taxes, and easy reach of international markets. There are not many restrictions on the foreign ownership and many multinationals operate in the country.

Nevertheless, the city does not provide minority shareholders with a lot of safeties.They’re often excluded entirely. There is no legal recourse for foreigners if a local shareholder takes control of the company, and even in the event that they are successful, they may not be able to recover damages.

In 2014, the World Bank awarded Singapore the title of the best destination for doing business. The laws of the country are meant to ensure that the investors are protected and to promote entrepreneurship. Non-residents are allowed to own 100% of a company without the liability of the capital gains tax. And in case they want to dispose of their shares, they can sell them as they wish.

But the foreigners can only hold 25% of the company without being taxed extra. This restriction is for both individuals and joint ventures. It is inapplicable to sole proprietorships and partnerships.

Banking Infrastructure

For a business to grow and expand, a robust banking infrastructure is essential as it provides the financial services and support that are required for smooth operations.

In this part, we will analyze banking systems of Hong Kong and Singapore, by such criteria as opening a business bank account, digital financial services solutions, and support for international and local transactions that will help you to select the right banks for your business.

Hong Kong Banking Infrastructure

The banking system of Hong Kong is strong and developed, and therefore, it is a good option for business. The process of opening a corporate bank account in the city is generally simple with international and local banks available to suit your business requirements. Hong Kong banks offer all-inclusive services for international transactions, including attractive foreign exchange rates and effective wire transfer services.

Singapore Banking Infrastructure

In the same way, Singapore has a well developed and reliable banking sector. Opening a corporate bank account in the city-state is usually hassle-free and businesses have the opportunities to get a wide variety of financial services, such as multi-currency accounts, and efficient international wire transfers. In addition, Singapore has been actively encouraging the use of fintech solutions and digital banking, thereby improving the banking experience for businesses in the city-state.

Ease of Doing Business Index

The Ease of Doing Business Index helps understand how business-friendly is a specific country according to the related parameters. Let’s make a comparison between Hong Kong and Singapore as far as their rankings are concerned and view what they have to offer business owners.

Hong Kong Ease of Doing Business Index

Hong Kong tops the top business environment among the major economies, in the pattern of the Doing Business Index. The province offers a wide variety of services, including banking, insurance, and electrical. Opening industries’ bank accounts and providing free shipping for most of the products sold online in less than 48 hours are other advantages that it offers.

Singapore Ease of Doing Business Index

Singapore has been placed the second in ranking of the index. It is widely known as one of the safest investment spaces and one of the easiest places one could establish a business. It is also an extremely competitive market, from a selling point of view thereby making it easier for the buyers to get the goods.

Workforce Quality

The strategy of any business to prosper and have a competitive edge in the modern marketplace highly depends on the level of competence and the variety of the workforce. Trend lets us move to the division of Hong Kong and Singapore workforces that are progressing companies from several sectors.

Hong Kong Workforce Quality

Providing financial services within the world is one of the core functions of Hong Kong. Therefore, it is a place where recruitment teams from different countries can get their dream employees. In terms of statistics released by the International Monetary Fund, the population of Hong Kong is 7.4 million of which 2.6 million are students. This is about twice the proportion of the student population in Switzerland (1.2 million) who had the opportunity to get the same access to these higher education institutions. The tight connection that is between Hong Kong’s population and studying courses in Finance and business can be seen in most of its community who often graduated from these courses. Nonetheless, the breeze of change is blowing for our amazing graduates who are building a future for themselves in engineering and other STEM fields with help from the governments at the local level.

Singapore Workforce Quality

The majority of workers in Singapore consist of immigrants. The figure is doubled as half of the country’s population is born in the silat or outside of Singapore. But this number easily falls into much lower values once the comparison with other countries is executed. Statistics indicate that only 1.9% of Singaporeans are non-citizens. Singapore is very proud to be a tech hub for a lot of big companies which is why IT and software development offices are uplifting here. While Google’s Asia HQ is in Singapore, many large firms are also moving to this country-state every year.

Economic Landscape

Evaluation of prospects for the enterprise’s growth and its chances to make a fortune requires adequate knowledge of the regional economy. Let’s have a glance at the main factors and areas of the economy in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Hong Kong Economic Landscape

Finance, Trade, and Tourism are economic pillars of Hong Kong’s economic foundations. The city has long been the global hub for trading in such commodities as cotton, sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, rubber, fruits, and steel. It’s well known for housing some of the busiest ports around the globe.

Singapore Economic Landscape

The engine of Singapore’s economy represented by its prosperous service sector is the primary driving force. A statement worth considering is that around 80% of the country’s gross domestic product is accounted for by the private sector. The specific sectors are retail, hospitality, food, healthcare, transportation and telecommunication.

Immigration policy

Immigration policies have a strong influence not only on the country’s competitive external environment but also on the national business environment and workforce. Let’s discover how the immigration policy shapes the business environment in each country.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong provides no limit to persons coming in. The territory must issue visas to all foreigners if they wish to generate income or attend educational institutions. In contrast to the immigration plans of many countries, Hong Kong has a flexible and perfect policy on this issue. When foreigners come to Hong Kong under the condition that they get a visa that the Hong Kong government has specified, they can do the job or study. Moreover, different kinds of Hong Kong visas are also offered, including employment visas, investment visas, and dependent visas, as national requirements are different.


Similarly, immigration to Singapore is subject to certain restrictions. Visitors from specific countries are asked to obtain a travel permit so that they can get access to the country. Moreover, depending on the needs of our workforce, certain quotas limit the number of approved foreign workers admitted into our country per year.

Quality of Life

While business environments are different, quality of life influences your business decisions a lot since a good environment is at the core of company development.

Hong Kong Quality of Life

Hong Kong has long been an international financial and commodities center with mainland China as a gateway for international businesses. Together the modernized infrastructure and undefiled environment make the city comfortable to live in. It has been noted for its high rating in the quality-of-life surveys conducted in many countries around the world. Although only 25% of the city area is urbanized, parklands and mountain trails make up the rest of the treasures out of which people can find peace and be far from the hustle of the town.

Singapore Quality of Life

Although not the most luxurious place for those used to Hong Kong’s way of living, it has a higher standard of living compared to other cities. It is one of the safest cities in the world and it is going to give you a nice background where you can easily relax and have a comfortable chill after a long day of work.

Singapore vs Hong Kong Quality of Life

Singapore is renowned for its safety and comfort, whereas Hong Kong provides a blend of urban and natural landscapes.


Choosing between Hong Kong Vs. Singapore for your company depends on the unique needs and goals your organization has. Both city-states have pros and cons and also each of them offers special services, in particular, for definite business areas.

Singapore offers a safer environment, a more tech-friendly policy, as well government that is supportive of small businesses while Hong Kong has an open economy, a bigger banking system, and a growing financial industry. It therefore becomes apparent that you prioritize the factors that are most critical to you.

Through the analysis of these criteria, you will be able to choose the most suitable for your long-term company purposes and prepare for success in the dynamic and highly competitive Asian markets.

How Can FastLane Help You?

If you are considering the best place for your business in 2024 between Hong Kong and Singapore, the best place to start is to talk to an experienced agency that can help decide and walk through the process.

At FastLane, our team of experts has helped many companies with our corporate services like company registration, visa application, taxation, accounting, and audit. Working with FastLane can help you speed up the process and can help you avoid confusion or mistakes that can cost you time and money. 

FastLane can also act as your Hong Kong company secretary – stepping in to help you through various aspects of business registration and legalization in Hong Kong. For companies who are just getting started operating in Hong Kong, having a professional and experienced firm at your side can help you avoid the pitfalls that many new companies or businesses fall into.

Contact us and find out how our services can help you!