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Company startup: Malaysia VS Singapore

Company startup:

Malaysia VS Singapore

In today’s global economy, choosing the right location for a new company is as critical as the business idea. Entrepreneurs have many options, each offering distinct benefits and challenges. Malaysia and Singapore emerge as highly appealing destinations for startups. Malaysia’s growing economy, diverse market, and strategic ASEAN location offer prospects in Southeast Asia’s dynamic markets. Conversely, Singapore’s strong legal framework, business-friendly policies, and status as a financial hub make it a gateway to Asia and beyond.

Selecting between these environments involves weighing factors like regulatory frameworks, taxation policies, ease of operations, and availability of capital and skilled labor. Fastcorp assists entrepreneurs with the complexities of establishing businesses in Singapore. This analysis highlights key considerations for starting a business in Malaysia versus Singapore, helping business owners make informed decisions aligning with their strategic visions and goals.

Regulatory and Legal Requirements for Company Registrations

Navigating regulatory and legal landscapes is essential when setting up a company, with significant variations between countries. For entrepreneurs, understanding the regulatory frameworks of Malaysia and Singapore is key.


Singapore’s company registration process is streamlined and efficient, facilitated by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Entrepreneurs can swiftly register their business online through BizFile+, provided all documentation is prepared. Singapore’s legal requirements are clear and concise, needing minimal documentation, including a company name, business activity description, shareholders and directors details, and a registered office address. This simplicity, combined with pro-business government policies and a legal framework protecting investors, makes Singapore attractive for business incorporation. Singapore’s legal system, based on English Common Law, offers clarity and reliability for international businesses, contributing to its high ease of doing business ranking.


Malaysia presents a different but equally compelling regulatory environment. Company registration in Malaysia is managed by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). While the process is more detailed than in Singapore, it remains straightforward for those familiar with local requirements. Necessary steps include checking the company name’s availability, submitting incorporation documents, and complying with specific sectoral licences where applicable. Malaysia’s legal system, also based on Common Law, incorporates local conventions, which may need additional navigation for foreign entrepreneurs.

The contrast in regulatory ease between Malaysia and Singapore often guides entrepreneurs’ decisions. Singapore offers an expedited and transparent route to company registration. Malaysia’s larger, diverse market provides unique opportunities, albeit with a potentially more intricate setup process. Fastcorp assists businesses in exploring these avenues, ensuring a seamless and effective setup process.

Tax Implications for Businesses

The tax regime of a country significantly impacts its appeal as a business hub. Malaysia and Singapore provide contrasting environments. These differences are crucial for entrepreneurs when choosing between these Southeast Asian nations for their business ventures.

Corporate Tax Rates

Singapore: Singapore’s corporate tax rate is 17%, among the lowest globally. New startups enjoy full tax exemption on the first S$100,000 for three years. Additional incentives for R&D reduce the tax burden further, fostering innovation and growth.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s corporate tax rate is 24%. For SMEs, the rate is lower for the first RM 600,000. Targeted incentives for industries like manufacturing, green tech, and halal products support growth. Simplified tax compliance eases administrative burdens, though incentives are less extensive than Singapore’s.

Ease of Tax Compliance

Singapore: Singapore’s tax system is efficient and transparent, minimizing compliance burdens on businesses. The government provides clear guidelines and support. This efficiency contributes to Singapore’s high ranking in global ease of doing business indexes.

Malaysia: Malaysia has simplified tax compliance but remains more cumbersome than Singapore. Businesses may face complex regulatory requirements and procedures. Ongoing reforms aim to improve compliance ease and make the tax system more business-friendly.

Tax Incentives

Singapore: Singapore’s extensive network of DTAAs, stable tax policies, and various incentives for startups and R&D make it an exceptionally attractive location for business incorporation and expansion. The city-state offers a comprehensive range of tax incentives to support business growth, particularly in innovation and technology sectors.

Malaysia: Malaysia offers targeted tax incentives geared towards specific sectors, such as manufacturing and green technology. These incentives aim to drive growth in key areas, though the breadth and depth of incentives may not match Singapore’s. Despite this, Malaysia’s tax environment supports business growth with strategic incentives for certain industries.

Comparative Attractiveness

Singapore: Singapore’s tax regime is transparent, stable, and offers comprehensive incentives. This attracts international entrepreneurs and startups. Low tax rates and extensive incentives support business expansion and innovation.

Malaysia: Malaysia offers a supportive tax environment with strategic incentives for certain sectors. This makes it viable for specific industries. Its attractiveness depends on the business’s industry and growth plans, with substantial support for targeted sectors.

Ease of Doing Business

Navigating the business landscape of a country involves understanding its bureaucratic, administrative, and regulatory environment. The ease of doing business in a country is crucial for entrepreneurs and investors worldwide. Singapore and Malaysia present contrasting scenarios, each with unique advantages and challenges.


Singapore consistently ranks at the top of global ease of doing business rankings. This is due to its streamlined regulatory framework, efficient administrative procedures, and proactive government support. The city-state is renowned for its straightforward company registration process, completed within hours through an integrated online platform. This efficiency extends to permits, property registration, credit, and cross-border trading. Singapore’s legal and regulatory framework minimizes red tape, facilitating smooth business operations. This makes it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs looking to set up or expand in Asia.


Malaysia has made significant efforts to improve its ease of doing business, aiming to attract more foreign investment. The country offers a relatively simple company registration process, though not as quick as Singapore’s. Malaysia is working on reducing bureaucratic hurdles and streamlining administrative procedures. However, businesses may still face challenges related to compliance and regulatory approvals. Despite these challenges, Malaysia’s growing economy, strategic location within ASEAN, and sector-specific incentives make it appealing for business setup.

Comparative Analysis:

The ease of doing business in Singapore and Malaysia differs due to Singapore’s cohesive policy environment and regulatory clarity. Singapore has an efficient legal system, while Malaysia continues to reform and improve its business environment. Singapore offers a highly efficient and business-friendly ecosystem. Malaysia provides strategic location, market potential, and competitive costs.

Fastcorp’s Role:

Fastcorp leverages Singapore’s business ecosystem and strategic location, aiding clients in capitalizing on the city-state’s efficiency and stability. For those considering Malaysia, Fastcorp provides insights into navigating the local business environment. This ensures a strategic approach to company setup and expansion in the region.

Skilled Labour, Infrastructure, and Market Opportunities

Skilled Labour: Availability and Cost

Infrastructure Quality

Market Opportunities

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Skilled Labour: Availability and Cost

Singapore: Singapore’s labor market is highly skilled, ideal for finance, technology, and high-value sectors. Heavy investment in education ensures a steady supply of talent. However, labor costs are significantly higher than in many other countries, including Malaysia.

Malaysia: Malaysia offers lower labor costs and a sizable pool of skilled workers, especially in manufacturing, IT, and services. The country has improved workforce quality through education and training, though it may not match Singapore in high-tech industries. The diverse, multilingual workforce benefits businesses serving the broader ASEAN market.

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Infrastructure Quality

Singapore: Singapore has world-class infrastructure with efficient transportation, advanced telecommunications, and cutting-edge technology. This supports seamless business operations and global connectivity. High-quality office spaces further enhance Singapore’s appeal for corporate setups.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s developing infrastructure offers modern transportation and improving telecommunications. The government’s Economic Transformation Programme upgrades infrastructure, attracting businesses. Urban centers like Kuala Lumpur and Penang have robust infrastructure, though quality varies across regions.

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Market Opportunities

Singapore: Singapore is a gateway to Asia, offering access to markets in ASEAN, China, and beyond. Its strategic location and free trade agreements provide unparalleled regional and global market access.

Malaysia: Malaysia offers significant opportunities for businesses targeting the ASEAN region. Its strategic location and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) provide access to a larger market. Malaysia’s diverse economy presents opportunities across manufacturing, services, and commodities.

Accessing Funding, Capital Markets, and Investment Opportunities

Navigating the intricate world of funding, capital markets, and investment opportunities is a pivotal aspect of establishing and scaling a business. Malaysia and Singapore offer contrasting landscapes that cater to diverse strategic financial needs and objectives for startups and established enterprises alike.

Access to Funding and Investment

Singapore: Singapore’s robust economic policies, transparent legal system, and stable political climate attract investors. As a global financial hub, it provides access to venture capital, angel investors, and government grants for startups and growth-stage companies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) supports fintech and innovation through initiatives like the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) scheme, fostering a conducive environment for new ventures.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s startup ecosystem is gaining momentum, supported by government initiatives like the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and growing interest from venture capital and angel investors. While not matching Singapore’s financial hub status, Malaysia offers substantial funding opportunities in digital technology, e-commerce, and biotechnology. The government provides various grants and funding schemes for entrepreneurship and innovation. However, accessing venture capital and international investment can be more challenging in Malaysia.

Capital Markets and Financial Support

Singapore: Singapore’s capital markets are highly developed, offering companies a platform for raising capital through public listings. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is known for its efficiency and global reach, serving as a premier listing location. The ease of listing, combined with Singapore’s favourable tax regime and robust regulatory environment, appeals to businesses considering an initial public offering (IPO).

Malaysia: Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (Bursa Malaysia) provides a viable platform for companies seeking public capital. While Bursa Malaysia may not match SGX’s international visibility, it offers a supportive environment for domestic listings. Malaysia’s growing economy and focus on innovation attract both domestic and international investors. However, companies may encounter a more localized investor base.

Strategic Considerations

Singapore: Singapore’s position as a global financial center offers distinct advantages in terms of international investment and capital market activities. The country’s well-developed financial ecosystem provides businesses with numerous funding opportunities and a mature market for capital raising.

Malaysia: Malaysia presents growing opportunities within a vibrant local ecosystem, supported by governmental efforts to boost innovation and entrepreneurship. While the financial market may be less mature than Singapore’s, Malaysia’s strategic location and supportive policies provide substantial growth potential.

Global Rankings at a Glance



Singapore’s Rank

Malaysia’s Rank



Political Stability



World Population Review


World Competitiveness Ranking





World Competitiveness Ranking





Index of Economic Freedom



The Heritage Foundation


Global Talent Competitive Index





Corruption Perceptions Index



Transparency International


Corruption Perceptions Index



Transparency International


Ease of Doing Business Report



World Bank


Best Countries for Business





Trade Openness Country Ranking



The Global Economy

In the comparative analysis of starting a company in Malaysia versus Singapore, we’ve examined essential differences across regulatory frameworks, tax regimes, ease of doing business, availability of skilled labor, infrastructure, market opportunities, and access to funding. Singapore’s stature as a streamlined, pro-business environment provides clear advantages with its regulatory transparency, attractive tax benefits, and strong protection of intellectual property. On the other hand, Malaysia, with its significant market size, growing startup ecosystem, and competitive labor costs, presents unique opportunities for businesses looking to scale and tap into the diverse ASEAN market.

Entrepreneurs weighing options between these environments must consider various factors such as business requirements, sector specifics, and strategic growth plans. Singapore’s prime location and business-friendly policies position it as a leading hub for innovation and financial services. Malaysia’s resource-rich landscape and government incentives offer valuable prospects for startups and SMEs aiming for regional engagement and growth.

Fastcorp excels in guiding businesses through the process of setting up in Singapore. Leveraging deep insights into the advantages and challenges of both Malaysia and Singapore, Fastcorp assists entrepreneurs in navigating the intricacies of company formation and expansion in Singapore. This helps businesses capitalize on the city-state’s vibrant ecosystem for unparalleled success.

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