Guide to Business Licenses and Permits in Singapore

Business Licenses Permits Singapore

Before setting up a business in Singapore, take note of the various compliance requirements and processes for companies in Singapore, and check if it is necessary for your business to obtain a license or permit. Although most businesses will not require licenses or permits, some industries such as private education, trading and hospitality are regulated by approving authorities and will require a business license. Here is your guide to some of the most common industry-specific business licenses in Singapore.



Setting up a business goes beyond just incorporation and choosing the right corporate structure. If you are setting up a construction company, there are several permits that you will require. To hire foreign workers, you must apply for work permits with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). If you wish to provide professional engineering services, your company must be licensed by the Professional Engineers Board (PEB). In addition, if your project requires you to park equipment on roads in order to conduct soil investigation or excavation works, you must obtain a Permit for Road Occupation Management from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).


Food & Beverage

To run a restaurant in Singapore, you must apply for a mandatory Food Shop Licence from the National Environment Agency (NEA). You will also need to comply with NEA’s Code of Practice of Environmental Health. To bring in foreign-sourced ingredients, you will need to be registered with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA). Restaurants serving liquor must be licensed by the Liquor Licensing Board. Halal certifications can be applied with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).


Financial Services

If your business engages in activities such as fund management, securities or futures trading, you will need to apply for the Capital Markets Services License. Financial advisers who provide advice on investment products must apply for a Financial Advisers License. However, if you are a bank or insurance company, you are exempted from obtaining these licenses as your entity would have been separately regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).



Depending on the nature of the products you are selling at your retail outlet, you may have to apply for relevant licenses. For example, if you wish to operate a supermarket, you must apply for a Supermarket Licence as mandated by the Environmental Public Health Act. If you wish to run a pharmacy, you will need a Certificate of Registration of a Pharmacy from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). A Telecommunications Dealer’s Licence must be obtained from the IMDA if you wish to sell telecommunication products.


Private Education

Whether you are starting a childcare centre, preschool, language school, driving school or a private academic institution, there are mandatory licences that you must obtain. Childcare centres, preschools and academic schools must be registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE), while a Childcare Centre License is required for childcare centres and some preschools. EduTrust Certification – a quality assurance scheme administered by the Committee for Private Education (CPE) – is recommended for all private education institutions in Singapore.



To print or publish newspapers or newsletters in Singapore, you will require a Newspaper Permit from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). A Printing Press License is mandatory if you plan to operate a printing press, while online news sites must be registered with the IMDA as well. If you are setting up a radio station, you will need a General Radio Communication License.



Depending on the nature of your business, your shipping company must obtain the relevant permits before commencing operations. For example, to operate your vessel within Singapore’s port, you will need a Harbour Craft Licence. To operate your vessel beyond Singapore’s port, you will need a Port Clearance Certificate. If you are transporting passengers or goods, your vessel will need a Ship Registration Clearance. A Port Limit Manning Licence is also required if you have crew on board. These licences may be obtained by applying to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).



Upon incorporation, you must register with Singapore Customs in order to obtain import and export permits. These permits can be applied online via the TradeNet website. However, if you are trading in controlled goods such as endangered species, fruits, vegetables, meat, weapons, films, pharmaceuticals or video games, check on the item’s licensing requirements prior to importation or exportation. For instance, in order to import plants, you will require a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin as well as a Cargo Clearance Permit (CCP) from the AVA. To important video games and films, you must have your import permit endorsed by the IMDA.


Travel and Hospitality

To operate a travel or ticketing agency or provide sightseeing tours, you must obtain a Travel Agency Licence from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). This license must be renewed every two years. If you are setting up a hotel, you need a Certificate of Registration and Hotel-Keeper’s License. Your hotel must also obtain the necessary approvals from relevant authorities such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Fire Safety Bureau of Singapore and the Building Construction Authority (BCA). In addition, a Swimming Pool License must be obtained from NEA for any swimming facilities.


Engage a One-Stop Corporate Solutions Provider

While establishing a business in Singapore is relatively easy and straightforward, there are business licensing procedures and regulations to comply with. Instead of navigating through the various licenses and permits on your own, it is a good idea to engage a professional corporate services provider who can help you save your valuable time and resources.

At Corporate Services Singapore, we help businesses be effective at governance. Our services extend beyond the keeping and maintaining of statutory books and registers to helping you stay ahead of the various statutory compliance deadlines and requirements. To keep up with the latest regulatory updates, give us a call at 6602 8286 or email us at today.

Posted in Company Incorporation.