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!
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.
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:
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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 foreignerto 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?Tiwi2020-06-24T16:48:31+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.