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Start a Singapore Publishing Business

How to Start a Singapore Publishing Business?

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What Does a Publishing Business Do?

A publishing business publishes written material: books, magazines, newspapers and any sort of periodical.

Are There Any Perks to Starting a Singapore Publishing Business?

The literacy rate in Singapore is very high, coming in at 94.4% in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2009 Report. With this high literacy rate and strong continuous demand from the public for high quality publications, it’s a good bet that a publishing business in Singapore could do extremely well. Throw in the relative ease of setting up a company, good IP protection and excellent human resources, it’s no wonder that a lot of key industry players like McGraw-Hill Education and Cambridge University Press have decided to set up shop in Singapore.

The NAC (National Arts Council of Singapore) has also introduced the Publishing Grant Scheme. Under this scheme, any local or foreign publishers who wish to publish and/or translate literary works and critical writing on the arts by Singaporean authors can apply for grants that offer up to SGD 20,000 per financial year. The purpose of this grant scheme is to support the publishing of original literary works from Singaporeans. To check out which publishers can quality for the grant, as well as the application procedure for submitting the grant proposal, visit the NAC website.

What Is the First Step towards Setting up a Publishing Business?

Step towards Setting up a Publishing Business 1

The first step towards conducting business as a publishing business in Singapore is to incorporate a company.

Step towards Setting up a Publishing Business 2

Once you’re done with incorporating your business, it’s time to head out and find suitable premises. There are a variety of office options in Singapore; just find the one that best suits your publishing business’ needs and budget. If you are going to use your residential property as an office, you’ll need to seek approval from the URA (Urban Development Authority) or the HDB (Housing Development Board), depending on whether your residential property is private property or public housing.

Step towards Setting up a Publishing Business 3

To get your publishing business up and running, you’ll need staff. Your staff will be filling in the roles of editorial team members, sales and marketing officers, as well as circulation officers. If you wish to hire foreign staff, you will need to ensure that you secure the appropriate work permit. Step towards Setting up a Publishing Business 4

So you’ve incorporated your company. Now you’ll have to check to see whether you need or more of the licenses mentioned below:

Newspaper Permit

You’ll need a Newspaper Permit if you are:

1. Printing or publishing a newspaper in Singapore. Newspaper in this case refers to any form of publication that contain news, report of any occurrences, intelligence or any observations or commentaries in relation to such news, intelligence or reports of occurrences (or just any other matter of public interest), which is printed in any language and is published for either sale, or for free distribution, at regular intervals or otherwise. Newspapers may also include publications such as: dailies, annual reports, directories, company/society in-house newsletters and so on. Government publications or publications for the Government are not considered newspapers.

2. Selling or distributing an offshore newspaper in Singapore. What is considered an offshore newspaper? To qualify as an offshore newspaper, the newspaper in question has to be a weekly newspaper that is published outside Singapore, one that carries news/reports on politics and current affairs of any country in Southeast Asia, and also possessing a circulation amount of 300 or more copies in Singapore.

3. Selling or distributing a Malaysian newspaper in Singapore. A newspaper permit is not required for publication of novels or one-off commemorative pamphlets. The Newspaper Permit can be obtained from the MDA(Media Development Authority of Singapore).

How to Apply for your Newspaper Permit:

1. The owner or Chief Editor of the newspaper/publication must submit an application form to the Registrar of Newspapers, accompanied by the support documents below:

  • A sample copy of recent issues. This will be needed if the publication is a current affairs news magazine, fashion magazine, entertainment and leisure magazine, lifestyle magazine, recreational or performing arts magazine, women’s magazine or tourist guide.
  • A copy of the owner or Chief Editor’s FIN (Foreign Identification Number) document and passport, if the owner or Chief Editor is a foreigner residing in Singapore.
  • A valid copy of the KDN (Kementerian Dalam Negeri) Permit, with an expiry date of more than 3 months as at the date of application Plus t2 copies each the 3 more recent issues of the newspaper, if the newspaper is published and printed in Malaysia.
  • A Letter of Authorization, if the applicant is a third-party.

2. There is no fee involved in obtaining the Newspaper Permit. However, if you’re interested in the publication of offshore newspapers, you’ll have to have a bank guarantee of SGD 200,000.

3. Expect to wait around 15 business days for the application process. If successful,you’ll receive the Newspaper Permit, which will be issued with 1-year validity.

4. The Newspaper Permit is non-transferable. Should there be any change in the permit holders, nature of contents of the newspaper, or the name of the newspaper or the language or frequency of publication, a new permit will have to be obtained, with the new permit reflecting those changes.

5. Upon obtaining the permit, you will have three months to publish the first issue. After that, two copies of every single issue of the publication have to be submitted to the Registrar of Newspapers.

Printing Press License

You’ll need a Printing Press License from the Registrar of Newspapers if you plan to operate a press to print any sort of publication in Singapore. How to Apply for Printing Press License:

1. Before you go applying for the Printing Press License, you’ll have to ensure that:

  • The URA approves your chosen premises for the running of a printing press.
  • Your business must already be registered with the ACRA (the Singapore Companies Registrar).

2. To apply for the Printing Press License, you’ll need to fill in and submit the application form to the Registrar of Newspapers, accompanied by the support documents below:

  • A Letter of Authorization if the applicant is a third-party.
  • Documentary proof from the Chief Inspector of Factories, stating that your chosen premises are suitable and approved for the running of a printing press. This will be required if the premises where the printing press will be situated in is different from the registered company’s address with ACRA.

3. There is no fee involved in obtaining the Printing Press License.

4. Expect to wait around 3 business days for the application process. If successful, you’ll receive the Printing Press License, which will be issued with 1-year validity.

5. The Printing Press License is non-transferable. If there be any change in the owner of the license, or of the location where the printing press is situated, a new license will have to be obtained.

Online Publishing License

Under the Singapore Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, no permit is required for the online publication of periodicals. However, if you’re an Internet content provider who publishes an online newspaper based on subscription fees or a provider who publishes information on the Internet, you’ll have to go to the MDA (Media Development Authority) to register yourself.

You will have to complete the registration process by a submitting a form to the MDA and you’ll have to do all this within 14 days of the commencement of your online publication service. All details and particulars of the publisher, their business incorporation and website particulars as well as the nature, language and other details of the publication in question will have to be provided to the MDA during this registration process. The applicants who register must either be the executive editor, the managing editor, or any other person who is in charge of controlling the online publication’s various policies.

Other Possible Licenses that You May Need

Here are a couple of other licenses that you may need. Of course, whether you require any of the licenses would depend on the nature of your publication:

  • Advertisement License – You’ll need this if you intend to display outdoor advertisement signage (like billboards).
  • General Radio Communication License – Get this if you need to transmit or receive message through radio communication.
  • Localized Private Network License – This is if you intent to provide localized private network services. One good example of a company that would need this is a company that offers walkie-talkie services.
  • Localized Radio Communication License – You’ll need this if you intend to operate remote control devices, wireless data/voice systems, alarm systems, local area paging devices or any other radio-communication equipment as authorized by the Infocomm Development Authority.
  • Wide-Are Private Network License – Same with the Localized Private Network, except that the area in question is a non-localized area.
  • Non-Residential TV License – Get this if you’re going to be operating any sort of broadcasting equipment that allows for the receiving of broadcasting signals. A good example of this would be a television, or a personal computer that is programmed to be able to receive TV programmes.
  • Permit to Reproduce Singapore Currency Design – the license you’ll need if you want to reproduce the designs of the old Singapore series of notes and coins.
  • License to discharge Trade Effluents – Get this license if your business activities generate trade effluents, and you intend to discharge those effluents into a watercourse (like a drain).

After my Publishing Business is up and running, Is There Anything I Should Be Mindful of?

It is this guide’s recommendation that you make sure you’re always up-to-date with the publishing industry’s latest guidelines and legislation. Here are some guidelines that you should be aware of:

  • Any content published in local publications must adhere to guidelines related to Singapore’s national interest. This means that publishers must take care not to publish incendiary material that can potentially create disunity on moral, religious or racial issues.
  • Imported publications that are distributed in Singapore have their own set of guidelines. To check out the full list of guidelines, visit the MDA website.
  • Any publication, local or foreign, that denigrates and offends any race/religion or racial/religious group is not allowed.
  • All publications in Singapore must stick to the guidelines outlined in the Undesirable Publications Act (Chapter 338),
  • Any magazines that deal in matters that are of adult-interest must carry a label advising that the magazine is unsuitable for young readers. This warning has to be clearly viewable on the front cover.
  • The principle legislation governing the Internet is the Broadcasting (Class License) Notification and it applies to all internet content providers. These providers must adhere to the Broadcasting Class License Conditions, Internet Industry Guidelines and Internet Code of Practice, as set out by the MDA. For more information, please visit the MDA website.
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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.