Most businesses don't require any sort of licensing to carry out their activities in Singapore, but they do need to get themselves registered with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). Here's a guide to Singapore business licenses and permits.

Singapore Business License

Not all, but there are certain business activities which require a business license in Singapore.

The license is a permit issued by the Singapore government, or the relevant regulatory body that allows you to conduct a specific type of business. In order to apply for a business license in Singapore, the company must be first be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

In general, it may take between two weeks to two months to get a business license or permit depending on the type, which consist of:

Running a Retail Shop

This highly depends on the nature of goods and services sold. Different types of store trading different products has different types of license requirements.

Opening a Hotel in Singapore

In order to start a hotel in Singapore, you will need to have a Certificate of Registration and a Hotel Keeper’s License which you have to get from the Hotels Licensing Board.

Opening Your own Recruitment Firm

It is becoming a major business now where businesses outsource their recruitment activities to an external party. It can be a very lucrative business if you are able to attract the right type of talent. But in order to do that, you will first need to obtain an Employment Agency License.

Joining the Tourism Industry

Opening a tour agency gives you the chance to promote Singapore to the world. Prior to applying a travel agency license from the Singapore Tourism Board, you will also need to fulfill certain requirements before you can obtain the license.

Financial Services Institution and Agency

The Securities and Futures Act and the Financial Services Act has a modular licensing model, which states a financial intermediary only needs to hold a single license, whichever one is more suitable for the intermediary’s activities.

There are two licenses available: 

  1. Capital Markets Services License or
  2. Financial Advisers License.

If you’re a financial intermediary, you’ll need one of these two licenses in order to conduct your business in Singapore.

These licenses allow the intermediary to conduct one or several types of regulated activities: property fund management, asset/portfolio management, investment advisory services, securities dealing and futures trading, advising on corporate finance measures.

Venturing into the F&B business

Being in the food industry is always. Whether you are operating a restaurant, a café, a bar or even a cake shop, you will need to obtain a Food Shop License.

If your establishment sells alcohol, you will need to obtain liquor license.

Starting a Shipping Company 

Harbour craft license and port clearance certificate are two of the many things you will need before utilising the Singapore and international ports. If you are planning to transport dangerous goods, you will need to seek approval and obtain the necessary license for that too.

Want to Start business in Singapore
Want to Start business in Singapore

Running a Real Estate Agency

Requirements include being a Singapore citizen or PR, experience of at least one year in a real estate agency and have more than 50% ownership of the real estate agency. All submissions should be sent to IRA’s House Agents Licensing Unit.


Being an Event Organiser

There are licenses for many different concerts and events depending on the nature and capacity of it. If you are planning to organize outdoor concerts or events that involves fireworks display, alcohol, and also loud music, then relevant license will be required for this.


Opening an Education Institution

Opening up an institution of learning in Singapore is tougher, simply because there are a lot of controls which you will need to get through before you can actually start your business. Therefore, before you venture into this business, you will need to go through the Ministry of Education and obtain relevant types of permit and license.


Starting a Telecommunication Company

Info comm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) monitors businesses involved in the telecommunications industry. From supplying communication lines or providing Internet services, you will first need to seek the approval and licenses IDA.


Opening a Publication

From books, magazines, newspapers and any sort of periodical, you will need to have a newspaper permit and/ or printing press license and online publishing before you can embark on this journey.


Setting up a Hedge Fund 

You will be exempted from requiring a license if you are planning to run a small hedge fund. All other funds are required to have either the Capital Markets Services License or a Financial Advisers License, in order to conduct one or more of the regulated financial services.


Start a Trading Company

Singapore plays an important role in the import/export trade market, due to its special geometric position in Southeast Asia. However, before you embark on this, you will need to register with the Singapore customs and apply for the relevant license and permits forehand.