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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 Only Apply to Hotels?

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

Read on for more information which will aid in the creation of a hotel business plan in Singapore, be it for a Singapore business hotel, hostel, guest house, or any other provider of accommodation.

Are There Any Perks to Opening a Singapore Hotel?

Singapore is both one of the leading cities for conventions 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 predict around an 8% growth in the in the hotel and restaurants sector. Thus, the hospitality industry has become a very robust and financially healthy industry. Singapore benefits from the arrivals of many different sorts of tourists and travelers, all with different budgets. This means that long-term marketing strategy, potential customers, customer services offered, and target market will differ from hotel to hotel. Thus, there are ample opportunities for all types of accommodation, whether they be five-star luxury hotels, boutique hotels, business hotels, modest hostels, or backpacker lodgings.

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

A Certificate of Registration and a Hotel-Keeper’s License are needed. The Certificate of Registration is required for its bearer to use the premises as a hotel while the Hotel-Keeper’s License is a requirement for managing the hotel. Both of these are obtained from the Hotels Licensing Board. This also applies to all the other establishments that offer accommodation to tourists and travelers, such as guest houses and hostels.

How Do I Go About Getting The 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 seven conditions to be fulfilled below:

  • Incorporation of Business – The first step is to register the hotel as a Singapore company, business, or limited liability partnership. This requires registration with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • Approval of Premises – The premises chosen for the hotel must be approved by the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority). The approval will be in the form of a written approval; it is an approval of the use of the proposed premises to run and operate a hotel.
  • Appointment of a Hotel-Keeper – A suitably qualified CEO or general manager must be appointed to take care of the hotel’s administrative affairs.
  • Advertising the Application – After submission of the application for a Certificate of Registration, the applicant will 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. Either one of two certificates from their Planning and Development Department must be received: a Clearance Certificate (Temporary Occupation Permit) or a Compliance Certificate (Certificate of Statutory Completion).
  • Approval from Building Construction Authority – Either a TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit) or CSC (Certificate of Statutory Completion) from the Building Construction Authority of Singapore is required.
  • Approval from Fire Safety Department – Either a TFP (Temporary Fire Permit) or FSC (Fire Safety Certificate) from the Fire Safety Bureau of Singapore is required.

Once these conditions have been fulfilled, the application process may begin.

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

  • A completed application form must be submitted to the Hotels Licensing Board. The following supporting documents must also accompany 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 certificates from the various agencies mentioned in the pre-requisites section above.
  • Duration of processing – Successful applications will usually be processed within three 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.
  • Fees and validity – The license fee is S$100 and is payable upon issuance. The license is valid until December of every year and is renewable on an annual basis. There is also an annual registration fee of between S$200 and S$400. The amount depends on how many rooms are in the hotel.

Some of the Possible Licenses Needed When Opening a Hotel in Singapore

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

The licenses needed depend on each hotel service offered. The following are some 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 via Internet access.
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: Submit an application form to the MDA, then pay a license fee of S$110 per TV set. If 90% or more of the hotel’s rooms have TV sets, the annual license fee drops to S$82.50 per TV set. Successful applications can take five working days to be processed. The license is valid for one 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 entry is free requires payment. Examples: karaoke shows, dance shows, fashion shows

Who issues this license: Singapore Police Force

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

Application Procedure: Submit an application form, and depending on the event, any supporting documents. Some examples are: finalized sets of synopses and scripts (for plays and play readings), photograph of each exhibit and program schedule (for art exhibitions), layout plan of stage, original song titles, and lyrics (for dance shows, variety shows, or rock and pop concerts). You’ll also have to pay a license fee if necessary. Successful applications can take one week to be processed (or eight weeks if it is for an Arts Entertainment License, which is usually needed for performing arts). The license is 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

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: Submit an application form, then pay an annual license fee, which can range from S$260 to S$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 one 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 may use their copyrighted work.

Who issues this permit: Copyright owners 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 to played or reproduced.

Application Procedure: Submitting an application form to the relevant Collective Management Organization, then pay the permit fee if applicable. Successful applications can take two to three weeks to be processed before the license is issued.

Other Licenses and Approvals Required Depending on the Hotel

Other Licenses and Approvals Required Depending on the Hotel

There are several other licenses and approvals that may be required depending on the hotel’s operations. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Massage Establishment License – This license is needed if the hotel runs a space which offers massage services, manicure or pedicure treatments, and foot reflexology services. To be obtained from the Singapore Police Force.
  • Swimming Pool License – The operation of a swimming pool within hotel grounds requires this license. To be obtained from NEA’s (National Environment Agency) Environmental Health Department.
  • Tobacco Retail License – This license is required to sell any tobacco products on the hotel premises. To be obtained from the Health Sciences Authority.
  • Money Changer’s License – This license is needed to operate a money changer that buys and sells foreign currency in the hotel. To be obtained from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
  • Halal Certification – Hotels can become more attractive to Muslims if they have 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). To be obtained from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, more commonly referred to as MUIS.
  • License to Operate a Food Processing Establishment – The operation of a food establishment in the hotel that manufactures, processes, prepares, and packs food the for the purpose of distribution to wholesalers and retailers requires this license. To be obtained from AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore).
  • Registration to Import Food and Food Appliances – Required for hotels that import food products or food appliances into Singapore. To be obtained from AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore).
  • Petroleum/Flammable Materials Storage License – This license is needed for the storage of petroleum or any flammable materials (including liquid petroleum gas) unless the person involved has received a special exemption. To be obtained from the SCDF (Singapore Defense Force) and the FSSD (Fire Safety & Shelter Department).
  • Permit to Buy, Store and Use Hazardous Substances: Required to buy, store, or use hazardous substances for use in the hotel’s cleaning and laundry activities. To be obtained from NEA (National Environment Agency of Singapore),
  • Advertisement License – Required for the use of outdoor advertisement signs.
  • General Radio Communication License – Required for the transmission or reception of messages via radio communication.
  • Localized Private Network License – Required to provide localized private network services.
  • Localized Radio Communication License – Required 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 – Required to provide wide-area private network services.
  • Approval for Premises – Needed to make alterations or additions to a conservation building. To be obtained from URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore).
  • License to Discharge Trade Effluents – Needed if the hotel generates trade effluents and discharges them into a watercourse.
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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.