Singapore as a Payroll Processing Center for Companies in ASEAN

Posted by Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Dezan Shira & Associates

Editor: Bradley Dunseith

Located in the heart of South East Asia, Singapore is an attractive destination for centralizing payroll processing and wider regional HR functions for companies either entering ASEAN markets, or expanding their current operations. Singapore is well connected with all ASEAN member states and offers digital and communication infrastructure at global standards.

The high volume of regional headquarters already operating in Singapore makes the city-state an even more attractive destination for centralizing payroll.  Additionally, Singapore’s unique history makes the city-state well equipped to maneuver the cultural worlds of South East Asia, Europe, and North America – an important skill when collecting information from offices in Asia and communicating the information to regional and overseas headquarters.

Professional Service_CB icons_2015 RELATED: Payroll and Human Resources Services from Dezan Shira & Associates

The Singapore advantage

Singapore’s bustling port and airport offer efficient and reliable connectivity throughout South East Asia.  Strategically located, Singapore is never more than an hour and a half ahead or behind other ASEAN member states – making same-day communication between regional staff and offices elsewhere in ASEAN practical.

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Singapore as a guide to ASEAN

Singapore has a history of facilitating cross-cultural trade and commerce. A former British colony, the island-republic has served as an important trading hub and port for much of South East Asia. Now, Singapore’s port is the second busiest in the world. Most residents in Singapore are at least bilingual in two of the four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English.

Regional proximity and strong business and political relations with its neighbors lend Singapore-based companies a deeper understanding of the legal and regulatory landscapes of ASEAN states. Centralizing payroll processing in Singapore allows professionals with in-depth knowledge of ASEAN regulations to ensure a company delivers timely and state-compliant pay to its diverse workforce.

Technological advantages

Using new technologies to input and organize payroll information increases levels of transparency and efficiency; digitizing payroll systems makes information easier to access and faster to process. Singapore has the best digital connectivity among all ASEAN states, making it the best provider of tech-based payroll solutions.

Perhaps more important than efficiency when a company considers digitizing its payroll system is security. Singapore has robust cyber security laws, reliable digital infrastructure, and a technically proficient labor pool. Centralizing payroll in the city-state minimizes the risk of personal information being stolen or lost.

English as a language of business

English is the main working language in Singapore. Having a payroll team fluent in English makes communication with head offices outside of ASEAN states easier and more efficient. Fluency in English also means a stronger paper trail which a foreign manager can understand when examining work in case of disputes or discrepancies. Companies centralizing their payroll processing in Singapore will not face the same linguistic hurdles common in other ASEAN states.

Efficient business environment

While labor costs in Singapore are typically higher than in other ASEAN states, the standards of quality are also much higher. Singapore boasts world renowned universities and business centers. Its existing financial infrastructure and higher wages has created a competent workforce with an internationalist perspective.

Singapore, furthermore, is a politically stable country. Its own regulatory landscape favors transparency and pro-business efficiency, meaning that the government is unlikely to enact laws which create difficulty or confusion in processing a foreign company’s payroll.

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Why choose Singapore?

Singapore’s government has a history of business-friendly policies and is one of the most stable regimes in South East Asia. Singapore boasts world renowned universities and its work force is highly skilled – meeting international standards in terms of quality and reliability. As Singapore is already a business and technology hub of Asia, the city state offers exceptional digital and communication infrastructure. Similarly, Singapore has recently passed robust cyber-security laws and has the existing capacity to offer protection from digital hacks.

While labor costs in Singapore are relatively higher than in neighboring countries, centralizing payroll processing in the city-state can save a company money in the long term. Choosing Singapore as a payroll processing center minimizes communication gaps and frees up management to focus on expanding and strengthening their ASEAN operations.

This article is an excerpt from the June 2017 issue of ASEAN Briefing magazine, titled “Payroll Processing and Compliance in Singapore” In this issue of ASEAN Briefing magazine, we discuss payroll processing and reporting in Singapore as well as analyze the options available for foreign companies looking to centralize their ASEAN payroll processes.We begin by discussing the various regulations that impact salary computation, and tax and social security calculation in Singapore. We then explore the potential for Singapore to emerge as a premier payroll processing center in ASEAN. Finally we consider the benefits of outsourcing payroll – both Singapore-based and ASEAN-wide – to a reliable third-party payroll processing provider.

About Us

ASEAN Briefing is published by Asia Briefing, a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. We produce material for foreign investors throughout Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, Russia, the Silk Road & Vietnam. For editorial matters please contact us here and for a complimentary subscription to our products, please click here.

Dezan Shira & Associates provide business intelligence, due diligence, legal, tax and advisory services throughout the ASEAN and Asia. We maintain offices in Singapore, as well as Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, and maintain Alliance offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila as well as throughout China, South-East Asia, India and Russia. For assistance with ASEAN investments into any of the featured countries, please contact us at or visit us at

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