• Working in Singapore

    The Expatriate guide to working in Singapore

    Sign up Now

Working in Singapore


Singapore's high speed economy is built upon trade and development, thought the newly arriving expat should carefully abide by the many social rules and protocols.


Doing Business

Doing business in Singapore can take some adjusting for newly-arrived expats as many social rules and customs should be learned and used to prevent from offending business partners. 

Singapore is a major expat destination and business hub in Asia. Many expatriates from western countries are taken by surprise when they realize that the business culture in this country is a lot more formal than what they are probably used to. Observing a strict chain of command and keeping others from “losing face” are essential aspects. Although as a foreigner you will get away with a lot, you should at least know the basics of doing business in Singapore.

Careful, don't offend!

When doing business in Singapore, it is important that you avoid direct body contact, especially with members of the opposite sex. While it may be completely acceptable for you to pat someone on the back or put a hand on someone’s shoulder, this gesture might make your Singaporean business partners very uncomfortable. Pointing with a finger and displaying the sole of your shoes is considered very rude in Singapore. Try to gesture instead of pointing with your palm up and refrain from crossing your legs.

Keep in mind that some of your Indian or Malay business partners are Muslims. You should try to hand over items with your right hand only as the left hand is used for personal hygiene and therefore “unclean”. It is also important to respect the personal space of others when you are doing business in Singapore. Singaporeans like to keep their counterparts at arm’s length and might back away if you come too close. 


    Business is based on relationships.
    Cool the jets - initially things move slowly as a connection is established.

    Shipping from USA to Singapore

Singapore Business Facts

English is the main language, although Chinese dialects are occasionally used. 

LEARN THE LANGUAGE - Take the initiative and learn the local language. Doing so will help you gain respect among the locals.

From 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. People sometimes work half-days on Saturdays.
Mostly formal, but the warm climate means a suit jacket is unnecessary in many situations. Wear a dark suit for first meetings, after which long trousers and a shirt are acceptable outside the banking and finance sector. For women, skirts should cover the knee.
A handshake is appropriate when you greet business associates. Offer your business card formally with both hands. Address colleagues as Mr or Ms until told otherwise and always show respect to senior associates and older colleagues.

Take your time to get to know your business partners. Relationships are highly valued and your patience will be rewarded. Use proper protocol when meeting business partners, shake the right hand, not the left, study their business card when its given to you and treat it with reverence.

We have put together a collection of resources intended to help Expat Business People, including: Language Software,Professional Clothing & Attire, Business Cards, and more.


Exchanging Business Cards

While business cards are a simple necessity in other country’s business cultures, in Singapore, there is a whole ritual surrounding them. First off, the perfect time to exchange business cards is after the initial introduction. Present them with both hands and your name facing your business partner. If you are doing business with Chinese people, it is a good idea to have one side of your card translated into Mandarin.

After you have received a business card from your business contacts, make sure to examine them carefully for a moment. Then place them in a business card case. The respect with which you treat your partner’s business cards (and your own for that matter) is a reflection of how you will treat the business relationship. That is why you should never write on business cards. Don’t crumble or wrinkle them and don’t shove them carelessly in your pocket.

Business Meetings

When you organize a business meeting with a prospective employer or business partner in Singapore, you should make sure to schedule your appointments at least two weeks in advance. It is important that you make a formal request and include a list of your team members and their expertise. If you are getting in touch with a company for a first time, try to get a referral from someone. This will increase your business partners’ trust in you and will make it easier for you to get an appointment. When suggesting a time and date, try to avoid major public holidays in Singapore such as the Chinese New Year when most businesses are closed.

Always try to be punctual or even a little bit early, and be prepared for a short period of small talk before the actual negotiations begin. It is important that the most senior member leads the way. That way, your Singaporean counterparts can keep track of the hierarchy and seat you accordingly. Your presentation should always be accompanied by top-notch material which should be well-structured and informative. Make sure to encourage your business partners to ask questions and respond positively.


When it comes to business negotiations, a lot of the things we have mentioned on the previous page still apply. It is incredibly important to be respectful of hierarchies within a company you are doing business with.  Thus, you should also present your own team accordingly, with the most senior employee leading the way. Never raise your voice, get aggressive, or push your business partners to reach a decision as this will not bring you any positive results. In Singapore, business is done at a rather slow pace, and you should try to be patient. By the same token, it is important to make a respectful pause before answering a question.

Because Singaporeans are always afraid of “losing face”, communication is very subtle. Pay attention to your business partners’ body language and tone to figure out what they are actually trying to say. A “yes” does not always mean yes, and a “no” will most likely never be uttered directly. In a nutshell, you should try to be polite and professional, but also honest. Although they avoid conflict in the meeting room, Singaporean business people are tough negotiators when it comes to deadlines and such. It is always a good idea to draw up a list of compromises you are willing to make in order to seal the deal. Read our guide to culture in Singapore for more information.
American eBox Membership

Open up a world of possibilities with an American eBox Expat membership. Whether for personal or business, your eBox gives you access to the USA without stepping foot on her shores.

Access the leading shopping sites in the USA:,,, Costco, Sams Club,, Apple, Ralph Lauren, Macy's


When you combine all your parcels into a single export shipment, you can save up to 85%. We offer package consolidation as a courtesy and understand that offering customers an economic international freight consolidation service means greater savings and satisfaction among our family of members, and your happiness is our highest objective. You can count on us to give you the most cost effective shipping solution available.
We provide a repackaging service to all our customers to save them money on shipping costs. Repackaging reduces the dimensional weight of packages and helps ensure that their items are not damaged during transport. Our experienced staff take extra time to ensure that all of our customers' merchandise is properly packaged for international shipping.
Merchant won't accept your non-US credit card? If not having a payment form accepted by your chosen retailer has you stressed, relax because we are here to help. Let us buy your items for you. Our concierge service allows our customers in 220+ countries to shop from a large number of US merchants who ship strictly to the United States and/or do not accept international credit cards.
Take advantage of our FREE 30 day storage and consolidate multiple orders into a single economical shipment. We offer customers a unique eBox within our warehouse where your items are stored together until you tell us to forward packages on your behalf. FREE 30 Day eBox storage means greater freedom and maximizes your cash spend.
American eBox is recognized within the industry as a pioneer and innovator in the parcel or package forwarding industry, credited and acknowledged on Wikipedia. As the founder of the 3PPF industry and chair-member of the IFPFA and member of IATA, FIATA, and NVOCC, American eBox strictly adheres to best business practices, ethical and responsible stewardship of member assets, and meaningful industry participant leading and serving with industry associations for the betterment and health of the parcel forwarding industry.

Expat Mail & Package Forwarding Service

Our mission to serve your international shipping needs with understanding, integrity and wisdom.  We're here for you.

We make the transition to Expat life a lot easier. Need mail scanned? Need mail & parcels forwarded? NO PROBLEM, we'll can take care of it.

We strive to be the Expat's back office manager and personal assistant. Need a little help?

The Benefits of American eBox
Warehouse Management System

Our warehouse management uses cutting edge warehouse management systems & software to optimize the efficiency of our warehouse.

Learn More >
Expedient Order Processing

Processing shipments quickly and efficiently is critical. Our systems & processes are designed for maximum customer satisfaction.

Learn More >
Consolidation = BIG Savings

When you combine all your shipments into a single shipment, customers can save up to 85%.

Learn More >
Package Forwarding Service & International Shipping Partner
Repack For Greater Savings!

Did you know that we offer a repackaging service to reduce the size and weight of your shipment? 

Learn More >
ZERO Stress Assisted Purchasing

Merchant won't accept your payment method? No problem, let us know what you need and we'll pay for it.

Learn More >
30 Day FREE Storage

Take advantage of the 30 Day Free storage to collect more orders and save on shipping costs.

Learn More >
American eBox is your Gateway to the USA