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Start a Hotel Business in Singapore

How to Open a Hotel in Singapore

How to Start a Hotel Business in Singapore

Does This Guide Apply to Hotels only?

Although this guide is titled ‘How to Open a Hotel in Singapore’, the information presented here is applicable to all sorts of establishment that are in the business of providing accommodation to tourists or people who travel, either for leisure or business. Examples of other establishments that fall under this category are hostels, backpacker inns, lodging or boarding houses, guest houses and so on.

Are There Any Perks to Opening a Singapore Hotel?

Singapore is both one of the top convention/international city in the world as well as a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. That means there are many tourists and travelers visiting the beautiful island-state every year, and unless it’s for a stop-over, they’re going to need accommodation. Economic forecasts predicts around an 8% growth in the in the hotel and restaurants sector, and it has become a very robust and financially healthy industry. The good thing about Singapore is that it receives so many different sorts of tourists and travelers, all with different budgets, thus there are ample opportunities for all types of tells, whether they be 5-star luxury hotels, boutique hotels, modest hostels or backpacker lodgings.

What Registration or License Will I Need to Be Able to Run a Hotel in Singapore?

You’ll need two things: a Certificate of Registration and a Hotel-Keeper’s License. The Certificate of Registration is required for you to use the premises as a hotel while the Hotel-Keeper’s License is a requirement for managing the hotel. Both of these are obtain from the Hotels Licensing Board. This applies to all the other establishments that offer accommodation to tourists and travelers, e.g. guest house, hostel, etc.

How Do I Go About Getting These Certificate and License?

There are certain conditions that have to be fulfilled before applying for the Certificate of Registration and Hotel-Keeper’s License.

We’ve outlined the 7 conditions you’ll have to fulfill below:

  • Incorporate your Business – The first step is to register the hotel as a Singapore company, business or limited liability partnership. You’ll need to register at ACRA, (Singapore Companies Registrar).
  • Approval of Premises – The premises that you’ve chosen for your hotel must be approved by the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority). The approval will be in the form of a written approval and it is an approval of the use of the proposed premises to run and operate a hotel.
  • Appointment of a Hotel-Keeper – You will have to appoint a suitably qualified CEO or General Manager to take care of the hotel’s administrative affairs.
  • Advertising the Application – After you’ve submitted the application for a Certificate of Registration, you then have 14 days to advertise the application (in a prescribed format) in two newspapers: The Straits Times (an English daily) and the Lianhe Zaobao (a Chinese daily).
  • Clearance from NEA – NEA is the National Environment Agency, and you’ll have to apply to either one of two certificates from their Planning and Development Department: a Clearance Certificate (Temporary Occupation Permit) or a Compliance Certificate (Certificate of Statutory Completion).
  • Approval from Building Construction Authority – You’ll need to obtain either a TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit) or CSC (Certificate of Statutory Completion) from the Building Construction Authority of Singapore.
  • Approval from Fire Safety Department – You’ll need to obtain either a TFP (Temporary Fire Permit) or FSC (Fire Safety Certificate) from the Fire Safety Bureau of Singapore.

Once you’ve fulfilled all these conditions, it’s time to move on to the actual application procedure:

Applying for the Certificate of Registration and Hotel-Keeper’s License:

  • Ensure that you complete and submit the application form to the Hotels Licensing Board. You’ll also need to submit the following supporting documents with your application:
  • Cover Letter which indicates the estimated date of the hotel’s commencement of operation
  • Written approval grant from URA (Urban Development Authority).
  • Copy of the advertisement that was published in The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.
  • Resume of the proposed hotel-keeper
  • Copy of all the approvals, permits and certificated from the various agencies mentioned in the pre-requisites section above.
  • How Long? – Successful applications will usually be processed within 3 weeks, assuming that there are no objections after 14 days from the date of the advertisement in The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao. If successful, the applicant will receive the Certificate of Registration and the Hotel-Keeper’s License
  • Fee and Validity? – The licenses fee is SGD 100, payable upon issuance. The license is valid until December of every year, renewable on an annual basis. There is also an annual registration fee, which will be between SGD 200 – SGD 400, the amount depending on how many rooms you have in the hotel.

Some of the Possible Licenses I May Need When Opening a Hotel in Singapore

So What Are Some of the Possible Licenses I May Need When Opening a Hotel in Singapore?

The licenses you need depend on what services you offer in the hotel. We now outline a couple of the most common licenses that hotels have to apply for.

Non-Residential TV Licenses

Your hotel needs it if you: Operate or have broadcasting apparatus (that can receive broadcasting signals) in the premises. This includes PCs which are enabled to receive TV programmes.
Who issues this license: MDA, the Media Development Authority of Singapore
Pre-requisite for applying: The hotel must be registered as a Singapore company, business or limited liability partnership.
Application Procedure: Submitting an application form to the MDA. Paying a license fee of SGD 110 per TV set. If 90% or more of the hotel’s rooms have TV sets, the annual license fee drops to SGD 82.50 per TV set. Successful applications can take 5 working days to be processed; license will then be issued, valid for 1 year.

Public Entertainment License/Arts Entertainment License

Your hotel needs it if you: Hold any ad-hoc entertainment within or directly outside the premises, in an area which is accessible by the public, regardless of whether it is free or paid entry. Examples: karaoke shows, dance shows, fashion shows, etc.

Who issues this license: Singapore Police Force

Pre-requisite for applying: You must obtain the approval of all relevant authorities. Example: you must have approval from URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) to allow the premises to be used for such an event.

Application Procedure: Submitting an application form, and depending on your event, any supporting documents. Some examples are: Finalized set of synopsis and scripts (for plays and play readings), Photograph of each exhibit (for art exhibition) and Program Schedule, Layout Plan of stage, Original Song Titles plus lyrics (for dance shows, variety shows or rock/pop concerts). You’ll also have to pay a license fee as applicable. Successful applications can take 1 week to be processed (or 8 weeks if it is for an Arts Entertainment License, usually needed for performing arts); license will then be issued, valid for the duration of the event.

Public Establishment License

Your hotel needs it if you: Organize any sort of public entertainment at your establishment. Examples of establishments requiring this license: cafes, lounges, pubs, karaoke bars, etc.

Who issues this license: Singapore Police Force

Pre-requisite for applying: You must obtain the approval of all relevant authorities. Example: you must have approval from URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) to allow the premises to be used for such an event.

Application Procedure: Submitting an application form. You’ll also have to pay an annual license fee, which can range from SGD 260 to SGD 1200; the exact amount will depend on the entertainment provided at the establishment as well as the operating hours of your establishment. The license will normally be valid for the duration of 1 year.

Copyright Permit

Your hotel needs it if you: Play or reproduce copyrighted music and/or video. You must have the permission from the copyright owners before you can use their copyrighted work.

Who issues this permit: Since there are a lot of copyright owners out there, they are usually represented by a Collective Management Organization, such as COMPASS (Composers and Authors Society of Singapore), which represents composers and lyricists. You can learn more about the various Collective Management Organizations by visiting the IPOS’s (Intellectual Property of Singapore) website.

Pre-requisite for applying: Prepare a full list of any copyrighted material you’re going to be playing or reproducing.

Application Procedure: Submitting an application form to the relevant Collective Management Organization. Paying the permit fee if applicable. Successful applications can take 2-3 weeks to be processed license will then be issued.

Other Licenses & Approvals You May Need Depending on Your Hotel’s Operations

Some Other Licenses & Approvals You May Need Depending on Your Hotel’s Operations

There are several other licenses and approvals that you may require, depending on your hotel’s operation. Here is a very brief list of some of them:

  • Massage Establishment License – You’ll need this license if your hotel also runs a space which offers massage services, manicure/pedicure treatments and foot-reflexology services. Obtain from the Singapore Police Force.
  • Swimming Pool License – If you’re going to be operating a swimming pool within the hotel grounds. Obtain from NEA’s (National Environment Agency) Environmental Health Department.
  • Tobacco Retail License – This license is a must if you sell any tobacco products on the hotel premises. Obtain from the Health Sciences Authority.
  • Money Changer’s License – You’ll need this license if you’re operating a money changer that buys/sells foreign currency in your hotel. Obtain from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
  • Halal Certification – You can make your hotel more attractive to Muslims by obtaining the Eating Establishment Scheme (this certifies that the restaurants in your hotel serve halal food) or the Food Preparation Area Scheme (this certifies that your hotel has a halal kitchen). Obtain from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, also more commonly referred to as MUIS.
  • License to Operate a Food Processing Establishment – If you’re going to be operating a food establishment in the hotel, one that manufactures, processes, prepares and packs food the for the purpose of distribution to wholesalers and retailers, then you’ll need this license. Obtain from AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore).
  • Registration to Import Food and Food Appliances – If your hotel plans to import food products and/or food appliances into Singapore, you’ll need registration. Obtain from AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore).
  • Petroleum/Flammable Materials Storage License – If you store petroleum or any flammable materials (including Liquid Petroleum Gas), you’ll need this license (unless you’re specially exempted from it). Obtain from the SCDF (Singapore Defense Force) and the FSSD (Fire Safety & Shelter Department).
  • Permit to Buy, Store and Use Hazardous Substances: You’ll need this if you intend to buy, store or use hazardous substance for use in your hotel’s cleaning and laundry activities. Obtain from NEA (National Environment Agency of Singapore),
  • Advertisement License – if you use outdoor advertisement signs.
  • General Radio Communication License – if you plan to transmit or receive messages using radio-communication.
  • Localized Private Network License – if you provide localized private network services. Example: you provide walkie-talkie services, within a localized area.
  • Localized Radio Communication License – get this if you plan to operate transceivers, alarm systems, wireless data systems (like wireless LAN) and any other radio-communication equipment that has been authorized by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
  • Wide-area private Network License – if you provide wide-area private network services. Example: you provide walkie-talkie services, within a non-localized area.
  • Approval for Premises – You’ll need this if you plan to make alterations/additions to a conservation building. Obtain from URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore).
  • License to Discharge Trade Effluents – Apply for this license if your hotel generates trade effluents and discharges it into a watercourse, like an open drain, for example.
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Paul Hype Page & Co. is an ACRA-certified business adviser. Our team of seasoned professional can help you set up a company in Singapore very quickly and easily following all legal entities, and offer you sound advice on how to make it successful too.

What Are The Guidelines For Foreigners to Start a Business in Singapore4

In addition to business registration, we’ll also guide you how to:

  1. Write a business plan – Learn how to write a compelling business plan by accessing our sample business plans, or other helpful market research information
  2. Perform market research – Understand your business market, learn how it can enhance your business growth, and how to properly conduct a market research for your business
  3. Corporate Secretary Services – If you are registering a company in Singapore, you will need a Corporate Secretary. Corporate compliance in Singapore is a complex legal requirement for all Singapore registered companies. Our company secretarial team helps our clients and their officers to fulfil their statutory obligations in an efficient manner.
  4. Manage your finances – We’ll offer you the best resources and information to help you fully understand all financial concepts and teach you how to perform basic accounting tasks like budgeting, bookkeeping, financial analysis, among others

To further aid you, we have provided here a resource area with industry specific information and other industry resources to help you successfully start and run your business.

  1. Singapore Business Opportunities 
  2. Singapore Business Licences
  3. Singapore Tax Planning
  4. Singapore Company Incorporation
  5. Singapore Company Yearly Statutory Requirements
  6. Singapore Working Visa Guide

By Eric Eio
Managing Partner of Paul Hype Page & Co.

Eric was awarded an ACCA graduate in 2000 and also graduated from University of Sydney with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Accounting. Since graduation, he had worked in Big 4 as an auditor , including a one year overseas stint with Ernst & Young, Shanghai in 2005. He left his last appointment as an Audit Managerial position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Singapore in 2008 before setting up his own Certified Public Accountant Practice – Paul Hype Page & Co. His firm is being selected to be one of the advisory panel for Singapore top 500 SME.