Licensing 101: Your Guide to Business License Procurement in Singapore

Licensing Business in Singapore

A business licence pertains to a permit (metaphorically speaking, a “go signal”) issued by a government agency allowing a certain enterprise in Singapore to undertake the business operations for which it was established.

Different Types of Licences

Compulsory Licence

This is the type of licence which must be procured even before a business can start its business operations. To illustrate, a Child Care Centre licence must first be secured by a childcare centre prior to commencement of operations.

Occupational Licence

This licence is required in the exercise of one’s profession. For instance, accredited professionals like accountants, lawyers, doctors and architects must first procure an occupational licence to be allowed to practice their profession.

Business Activity Based Licences

These are licences that are required only for certain business activities. To illustrate, a convenience store that intends to sell liquor must first secure a liquor licence.

What Business Licence Do I need for my Business?

As a general rule, majority of enterprises can carry out their business operations in Singapore without having to procure a permit or a business licence from governmental agencies, so long as their company registration has been formally filed and approved by ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority), also known as Singapore’s registrar of companies. There are, however, certain business entities which are subject to more stringent regulations, thus, required to secure State approval in the form of a business licence or permit, prior to commencing their operations.

Here are some industry-specific licences which would require the procurement of a permit from the Singaporean government before the conduct of business:

  1. Retail Business

    For retail selling, licence requirements depend on goods or services sold to the public. The following are the required business licences for specific retail businesses:

    • For supermarket retailers, a Supermarket Licence is necessary pursuant to the Environmental Public Health Act. This ensures that handling of food supplies (raw or cooked food) is at par with acceptable food hygiene standards.
    • For telecommunications retailers, secure a Dealer’s Class Licence with the Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which must be notified of the location of the intended retail outlets to be put up in Singapore.
    • For retailers of Chinese Proprietary Medicine, secure a Wholesale Dealer’s Licence for Chinese Proprietary Medicine (CPM) from the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore (HSA)
    • For retailers of Pharmacy or drugstores, a license in the form of Certificate of registration from the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore (HSA) is necessary.
    • For cosmetic products retailers, secure a cosmetic products Notification from the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore.
    • For retailers of liquors, secure a liquor licence from the Liquors Licensing Board.
  2. Food and Beverage Business

    If you are intending to put up a restaurant or any enterprise related to food and beverages, here are the possible licences you might have to procure:

    • For retail of F & B (food and beverage) products, a Food Shop License must be secured from the National Environment Agency (NEA). This is mandated under the Environmental Public Health Act.
    • When importing processed food products and food appliances, an application for Registration Number with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is required.
    • Liquor license and tobacco license may likewise be required if engaged in the retail sale of those products while undertaking an F&B business.
  3. Travel Agency

    If an enterprise falls under the definition of a travel agency designated in Section 4 of the Travel Agents Act (which normally deals with the sale or arranging of tour packages and selling of tickets), a Travel Agent’s Licence must be applied with the Singapore Tourism Board.

  4. Child Care Centre

    The agency in charge of overseeing the establishment of child care centres in Singapore is the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). Thus, those entities seeking to establish a child care centre must forthwith file their application for a child care centre license from said agency.

  5. Educational institution

    The government has more stringent requirements for businesses setting up an educational institution or providing educational services. This is because there may be one or more licences needed to be procured from different government agencies. For an academic school, registration with the Ministry of Education and Council for Private Education is required. Other recommended certifications are the procurement of EduTrust certifications and Singapore Quality Class (SQC) certifications.

  6. Employment Agency

    For enterprises engaged in job placement and recruitment of laborers, obtainment of an Employment Agency License from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is imperative.

Why Hire Corporate Services Singapore to Complete your Business License Requirements

Singapore company incorporation specialist

Applying for a business license with Singapore’s government agencies can be a complex process if you do not understand the statutory requirements. The timeframe for the completion of the application may take a few days to a few weeks and depending on what business you are intending to put up, you may have to secure different permits from several government agencies, some of which will require you to personally submit your application to their offices. If you do not wish to burden yourself with these regulatory compliances, hire the services of professional incorporation specialists who are well versed in handling business license applications. We can take care of your licence and incorporation needs, that way you can focus on growing your business in Singapore. Talk to us today!

Posted in Company Incorporation.