• Singapore Business License

Registering a business in Singapore is a relatively fast and easy process that can be done as fast as within a day. However, applying for business licenses in Singapore is much more complicated with each industry having their own specific licenses before the business can be fully operational.

Let’s figure out the importance of business licenses, the procedures of obtaining your business license, and industry deep-dive on the specific licenses required!

What Is a Business License & Why Is It Important?

Once you have successfully registered your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore, the next step is to obtain and apply for business permits and licenses pertaining to the industry your business is in.

As more local and foreign small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are born out of Singapore, the government requires businesses to apply for permits and licenses to understand and regulate business activities. There are plenty of governing agencies for various industries to apply licenses, and this may be confusing, especially for foreign-owned companies.

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TIP: Not sure what licenses and permits your business may need? Reach out to us for a free consultation, and we’ll be able to advise accordingly!

Understanding the business licensing needs for each industry is crucial before you operate your business as failure to comply with such regulations can lead to expensive fines and affect future business operations.

Industries That Require Business Licenses

The number of business licenses differ from industry to industry, and most even do not require any license to operate! For industries that require business licenses, they include:

  • Retail

    Even in the retail industry, there are different licensing requirements based on the products sold. For instance,

    • Liquor – issued by the Liquor Licensing Board
    • Pet Shop – issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA)
    • Pharmacy – issued by the Health Sciences Authority in Singapore
    • Telecommunication – issued by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)
  • Construction

    Starting a business in the construction industry can be a challenge with the requirements of applying for numerous business licenses and permits by different authorities. More importantly, you will need to be registered with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for work permits before hiring.

ADVISE: When applying for employment passes for your foreign workers, do note of the requirements and reasons of rejection. Alternatively, reach out to us on WhatsApp for higher chances of securing the employment pass!
  • Trading

    Obtaining your import and export permits via TradeNet will be the next step after incorporation. If you plan to trade products such as vegetables, films, pharmaceuticals, or video games, there is another set of licenses to apply for.

    However, there are some prohibited and controlled goods that cannot be imported into Singapore.

  • Spa

    With more Singaporeans pampering themselves as travel is limited, spa services can be a lucrative sector to venture into. In order to do so, you will need a Massage Establishment License to offer services like foot massages, manicure treatments, and other related services.

  • Financial Services

    Thinking of setting up a fund management or securities business? The Capital Market Services License will be required, except for selected entities such as banks, individuals who are employees of banks, and more. If you’re incorporating as a financial advisory firm, then a Financial Adviser License is needed.

    Read the full guide on obtaining business licenses in the financial services!

  • Food & Beverages

    Opening a restaurant or F&B establishment will require business owners to apply for the Food Shop License from the National Environment Agency (NEA). If you’re a Halal establishment, you can attain the certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

    Certain licenses and permits may or will be required depending on the nature of your F&B establishment. These include a Liquor License, Halal Certification, Goods and Services Tax (GST) registration, and a License for Importing Food Ingredients, among others.

  • Publishing

    Another industry that requires quite a number of business licenses is the publishing industry. Examples of licenses to apply for include Newspaper Permit from Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for newsletters printing and publishing, Printing Press License for operating a printing press, and more.

  • Shipping

    Habour Craft License is required for shipping companies to operate their vessels within Singapore’s port, and Port Clearance Certificate will be needed for operating beyond Singapore’s borders. Other business licenses include Ship Registration Clearance, Port Limit Manning License and more.

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TIP: If you’re looking to start a shipping company, learn more about more the industry in Singapore and the grant available by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore!

Procedures of License Application

After knowing some of the types of business licenses required for various industries, the next step is to apply for them. Every industry and every application have their own unique process, hence, there is no one standard procedure for license application.

Let’s illustrate an example:

Application of a Business License for a Recruitment Firm

Application of a License for an Event

Starting A Business in Singapore

While it can be confusing, business licenses in Singapore are important if you would like to set up a company in Singapore that falls within the list of industries that require a license. There are plenty of business opportunities in the growing industries within Singapore that entrepreneurs and business owners can tap into.

We’re here to help with your company incorporation! Reach out to us today to incorporate your business or have questions regarding business licenses.

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FAQs

How many business licenses do I have to apply?2021-09-14T17:18:19+08:00

The number of business licenses required is dependent on your nature of business.

Can a S Pass holder Register a Business?2020-06-24T16:49:12+08:00

The terms and conditions as stated on the S Pass will determine if the S Pass holder is allowed to register a businessThose who are unsure should consult the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

What does a Foreigner have to do before Registering a Business in Singapore?2020-06-24T16:48:53+08:00

A foreigner needs to apply for an Employment Pass (EP) to register a business and act as the local manager of the business. To do so, the foreigner must also have a Singapore residential address. Proper approval from ACRA is, of course, required. 

Although it is possible for a foreigner to use other valid work passes before registering a business in Singapore, it is much simpler and more manageable for foreigners to do so if they use the EP for this purpose. 

Do all Singaporean Companies require Business Licenses?2020-06-24T16:48:31+08:00

Many companies in Singapore require additional business licenses before they may begin business operations. However, this is not necessarily true of every company in Singapore. This is because the licenses required, if any, differ from industry to industry.

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10 Discussions

  1. Veni July 16, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Paul, I’m planning to join a partnership with my fren who own an eyelash extension shop. Currently I’m holding an EP, in the MNC company, I knw if i give up the EP, I’m difficult to get the PR as I’m also planing to re-apply for it after the 2 times rejected.

    • Tiwi July 22, 2020 at 11:31 am

      Hi Veni
      While maintaining your current EP, you can apply for a new EP under the new company. Only once your new EP is approved, will your original EP be cancelled. Alternatively, if your friend is a Singaporean, they can incorporate the company under their name. You can also submit your PR application using your EP with the MNC currently, or under the new company that you are setting up. Please contact us via Paul Hype Page to discuss further.

      Thank you for your question.

      Warm regards
      Paul

  2. SO TENG SEONG June 7, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Hi Paul,

    I looking to set up a vending machine business in Singapore. The goods i going to selling which supplier from oversea. I have yet to register any license and business entity, so what kind of license should I apply for?

    • Kumaran Tiwiyah July 17, 2019 at 8:17 am

      Hello Teng Seong,

      It depends what kind of products you are selling, different license applies. For example if it is food, You may apply the license online from Singapore Food Agency’s website.

      You will need to setup a company before you can apply, We will be able to assist you in company incorporation. Contact us should you need more assistance.

      Paul

  3. feroze ali October 8, 2017 at 7:36 am

    helo
    am looking to setup a trading company in singapore to export goods from singapore to middle east (kuwait)
    please give more details about how to open a limited company to export goods from singapore to kuwait

    thanks
    with regards
    Feroze ali

    • Paul Hype Page October 9, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Hi Feroze,

      Our company specializes in helping entrepreneurs like yourself set up a business quickly and efficiently in Singapore through our all-in-one Incorporation with Employment Pass package. Our dedicated team will contact you regarding the information that you need. In the meantime, please contact us paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg if you have any further queries you would like us to assist with.

      Cheers,
      Paul

  4. Paul Moor May 25, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Hi! We are going to incorporate in Singapore as transport broker. We will provide intermediary services in transportation and logistics. Can your company help us to incorporate and obtain licenses if needed?

    • Paul Hype Page May 30, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Dear Paul,

      We are happy to be of service. Our Corporate Specialists can provide you with a smooth one stop solution from incorporation to your business setup. Do drop us an email at paulhypepage@php-cpa.com.sg for more details and charges. We look forward to working with you!

      Cheers,
      Paul

  5. Rasika Nuwan Jayasundara March 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Hi sir,madam
    I am Rasika and from srilanka.my business type is telecommunication.my srilankan shop name is SG Mobile.I am buying some items from sg and selling in my country.please I want to know how can I get business licence in sg..last time my wife worked there as a nurse past 4 years.she still planning to work in future.so can I open new shop in sg?waiting for your best response.thank you

    • Paul Hype Page March 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Dear Rasika,

      The best way will to setup a Private Limited company in Singapore. We will need more details from you about what kind of licenses you need to advise more. Do drop us a note via CONTACT US page.

      Paul

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