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Singapore Profile

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Brief Fact File
Capital Singapore
Currency Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Language(s) Mandarin 35%, English 23%, Malay 14.1%, Hokkien 11.4%, Cantonese 5.7%, Teochew 4.9%, Tamil 3.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.8%, other 0.9% (2000 census)
Local time GMT + 08:00
Telephone code 65
Major cities

Singapore is a successful free market economy and enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and per capita GDP compared to the big four West European countries. The economy relies heavily on the exports, mainly electronics and manufacturing. The country is noted for its role as a regional centre of banking and finance. The key areas for a long-term growth are banking, hi-tech manufacturing and tourism. It is a regional hub. 40% of the exports are re-exports. Singpore is a member of WTO, ASEAN and APEC. The main trading partners are Malaysia, the United States, Japan and Hong Kong.

Major Exports:
  1. Machinery And Equipment (Including Electronics)
  2. Consumer Goods
  3. Chemicals
  4. Mineral Fuels
  5. Crude materials
  6. Food
  7. Beverages and tobacco
  8. Animals and vegetable oils
Major imports:
  1. Machinery And Equipment
  2. Mineral Fuels
  3. Chemicals
  4. Foodstuffs
  5. Beverages and tobacco
  6. Crude materials
  7. Animal and vegetable oils
Business Practices

Business Dress
Men should wear a shirt and tie and women should wear a dress or skirt and blouse. Suits and coats should be worn to official functions.

Communication Guidelines
  1. Personal relationships are the cornerstone of all business relationships.
  2. Business is a matter of being tied into the proper network, which is the result of long-standing personal relationships or the proper introductions.
  3. Relationships take time to develop.
  4. One must be patient as this indicates that his/her organization is there for the long-term and is not looking only for short-term gains.
  5. Always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others as this leads to the harmonious relationships necessary within business.
  6. Rank is always respected. The eldest person in the group is revered.
  7. Most of them are soft-spoken and believe a calm demeanour is superior to a more aggressive style.
Business Hour
8.00/9.00 am to 5.00/6.00 pm - Offices (Saturdays 11.30 am to 1.00 pm)
Note:- Government offices are usually open from Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings.

Visiting this Country

Business Visa Rules for Singapore
Business visitors fall under the "Visit Pass" category. Usually, it is given upon arrival. The inviting company should ideally furnish a letter in support of the Business Visit Pass detailing of the business visit and should undertake the maintenance and repatriation of the applicant.

Allowable Activities as a Business Visitor
The allowable activities of business visitors are typically limited to the following:
  1. To attend any business meetings or discussions
  2. To attend any seminars or "fact-finding" meetings.
Special Note regarding Short-Term Activities

If any services are being provided in Singapore, it is likely that an Employment Pass is required. For short-term assignments of less than a month, it is possible to apply for a Short-Term Employment Pass. If the Short-Term Employment Pass application is lodged with the Ministry of Manpower upon the applicant's arrival in Singapore, it generally takes 3 working days to process (instead of the usual 3 to 4 weeks processing time). However, a Short-Term Employment Pass is not extendable.

Maximum Period of Stay as a Business Visitor

Usually, a business visit pass is issued for an initial period of 14 to 30 days on arrival, but it can be granted for up to 90 days at the discretion of the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (the "ICA"). Extension can also be sought from the ICA in Singapore prior to the expiration of the current visit pass. Approval is at the sole discretion of the ICA.

Entry Visa

Depending upon the nationality, an entry visa may be needed prior to arrival in Singapore. Foreigners should confirm with their local Singaporean consular post to confirm if their travel documents require entry visas.

An entry visa application can be submitted to the Singaporean mission that has jurisdiction over the applicant's place of legal residence. The following are the basic requirements for business visitors submitting an application for an entry visa and they are subject to change or modification by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority:
  1. The applicant must have a residence and an employer outside Singapore.
  2. The applicant must be traveling to Singapore for a defined, limited pre-set period and have pre-determined plans.
  3. The applicant must not receive compensation from sources within Singapore.
  4. The applicants period of intended stay must be consistent with his/her intended purpose of the trip.
  5. Individuals who are traveling to Singapore to receive training should apply specifically for a training pass.
  6. Technically, individuals providing training to employees of the local entity or third parties, even for a single day, must obtain an Employment Pass.
Public Holidays
Festival Date Detail
New Year's Day 1 January  
Hari Raya Haji January Date varies, based on Islamic Calendar
Chinese New Year 9 February-10 February Date varies, based on Lunar Calendar
Good Friday March Date varies
Labour Day/May Day 1 May  
Vesak Day May Date varies, based on Buddhist calendar
9 August National Day  
November Deepavali Date varies
November Hari Raya Puasa Date varies, based on Islamic Calendar
25 December Christmas  

Travel Tips
  1. Tipping is not a way of life in Singapore. It is discouraged at hotels and restaurants where a 10% service charge is included in the bill.
  2. Electricity is 220-240 volt of 50Hz. Many hotels provide transformer to convert it to 110-120 AC, 60Hz.
  3. Customs do not allow cigarettes, cigars and tobacco unless for personal consumption.
  4. Singapore is among one of the crime-free country. The streets are usually safe. However, occassional pickpockets and purse snatchers do exist. No specific area is crime prone but avoid dark and secluded streets.
  5. If possible, eat at food courts. It is adventurous and relatively economical.
  6. Drink water from the tap. It is safer and cheaper.
  7. For alcohol, do drink early. Many pubs have happy hours which have significantly reduced the costs.
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