Singapore Business Licenses & Permits Guide 2024

6 min read|Last Updated: May 17, 2024|

Registering a company in Singapore is quick and easy, often done within a day. However, obtaining singapore business licenses and permits is more complex, as certain businesses require special licenses to operate.

Listed below are some of the industry-specific licenses that must be obtained in order to run a particular business in Singapore. In general, it may take 2 weeks to 2 months for a business license or permit to be fully processed.

Let’s figure out the importance of business licenses and permits, the procedures of obtaining your business license, and an industry deep-dive on the specific licenses required!

What Is a Business License & Why Is It Important?

Once you have successfully registered your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore, the next step is to obtain and apply for business permits and licenses pertaining to the industry your business is in.

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 for licenses, and this may be confusing, especially for foreign-owned companies.

Lera - Head Of Employment Pass

Understanding the licensing needs of each industry is crucial before you operate your business. Non-compliance can lead to expensive fines and impact future operations.

Singapore’s Business License Requirements

The number of business licenses differs 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.


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, you need to apply for another set of licenses.

However, some prohibited and controlled goods cannot be imported into Singapore.


As travel is limited, more Singaporeans are pampering themselves, making the spa services sector a lucrative venture to explore. In order to do so, you will need a Massage Establishment License to offer services like foot massages, manicure treatments, and other related services.

Financial Services

Thinking of setting up a fund management or securities business? Selected entities such as banks and their employees are exempt from needing the Capital Market Services License. If incorporating as a financial advisory firm, you must obtain a Financial Adviser License.

Read the full guide on obtaining business licenses in the financial services!

Food & Beverages

Opening a restaurant or F&B establishment will require business owners to apply for the Food Shop License from the National Environment Agency (NEA). If you’re a Halal establishment, you can attain the certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

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.


Shipping companies need a Harbour Craft License to operate their vessels within Singapore’s port, and they must obtain a Port Clearance Certificate for operations beyond Singapore’s borders. Other business licenses include Ship Registration Clearance, Port Limit Manning License and more.

Employment agency

All employment agencies in Singapore need an Employment Agency License before starting business activities. This is irrespective of whether the agency is based in Singapore or overseas and regardless of whether it deals with jobs in Singapore or abroad.

Travel agency

To conduct business as a Singapore travel agent, you need a travel agency license. You must apply online and declare any shareholdings in other travel agencies. The authorities will respond by sending an In-Principle-Approval (IPA) letter via postal mail. The IPA letter might outline conditions that you need to fulfill before receiving final approval.

Private education business

There are certain mandatory licenses that one needs to obtain in order to set up an educational establishment in Singapore. The specific licenses needed depend on the type of education establishment you are planning to set up. All private organizations and establishments providing education to 10 people and above must register with either the Ministry of Education (MOE) or the Council for Private Education (CPE).

Procedures of Business License Application in Singapore

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

Application of a Business License for a Recruitment Firm

Application of a License for an Event

Application of a License for an Event

Starting A Business in Singapore

While it can be confusing, business licenses in Singapore are important if you would like to set up a company in Singapore that falls within the list of industries that require a license. There are plenty of business opportunities in the growing industries within Singapore that entrepreneurs and business owners can tap into.


Come to our office or get in touch virtually for a consultation on your company and other corporate services.


How many business licenses do I have to apply?2021-09-14T17:18:19+08:00

The number of business licenses required is dependent on your nature of business.

Can a S Pass holder Register a Business?2020-06-24T16:49:12+08:00

The terms and conditions as stated on the S Pass will determine if the S Pass holder is allowed to register a businessThose who are unsure should consult the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

What does a Foreigner have to do before Registering a Business in Singapore?2020-06-24T16:48:53+08:00

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 foreigner to 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?2020-06-24T16:48:31+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.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Related Business Articles

Undecided or got questions

Got other questions?

Drop us a message on WhatsApp or connect with us through our contact form.

Join the discussions

  1. Profile Picture For admin
    Veni July 16, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Paul, I’m planning to join a partnership with my fren who own an eyelash extension shop. Currently I’m holding an EP, in the MNC company, I knw if i give up the EP, I’m difficult to get the PR as I’m also planing to re-apply for it after the 2 times rejected.

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Tiwi July 22, 2020 at 11:31 am

      Hi Veni
      While maintaining your current EP, you can apply for a new EP under the new company. Only once your new EP is approved, will your original EP be cancelled. Alternatively, if your friend is a Singaporean, they can incorporate the company under their name. You can also submit your PR application using your EP with the MNC currently, or under the new company that you are setting up. Please contact us via Paul Hype Page to discuss further.

      Thank you for your question.

      Warm regards

  2. Profile Picture For admin
    SO TENG SEONG June 7, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Hi Paul,

    I looking to set up a vending machine business in Singapore. The goods i going to selling which supplier from oversea. I have yet to register any license and business entity, so what kind of license should I apply for?

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Kumaran Tiwiyah July 17, 2019 at 8:17 am

      Hello Teng Seong,

      It depends what kind of products you are selling, different license applies. For example if it is food, You may apply the license online from Singapore Food Agency’s website.

      You will need to setup a company before you can apply, We will be able to assist you in company incorporation. Contact us should you need more assistance.


  3. Profile Picture For admin
    feroze ali October 8, 2017 at 7:36 am

    am looking to setup a trading company in singapore to export goods from singapore to middle east (kuwait)
    please give more details about how to open a limited company to export goods from singapore to kuwait

    with regards
    Feroze ali

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Paul Hype Page October 9, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Hi Feroze,

      Our company specializes in helping entrepreneurs like yourself set up a business quickly and efficiently in Singapore through our all-in-one Incorporation with Employment Pass package. Our dedicated team will contact you regarding the information that you need. In the meantime, please contact us if you have any further queries you would like us to assist with.


  4. Profile Picture For admin
    Paul Moor May 25, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Hi! We are going to incorporate in Singapore as transport broker. We will provide intermediary services in transportation and logistics. Can your company help us to incorporate and obtain licenses if needed?

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Paul Hype Page May 30, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Dear Paul,

      We are happy to be of service. Our Corporate Specialists can provide you with a smooth one stop solution from incorporation to your business setup. Do drop us an email at for more details and charges. We look forward to working with you!


  5. Profile Picture For admin
    Rasika Nuwan Jayasundara March 12, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Hi sir,madam
    I am Rasika and from business type is srilankan shop name is SG Mobile.I am buying some items from sg and selling in my country.please I want to know how can I get business licence in sg..last time my wife worked there as a nurse past 4 years.she still planning to work in can I open new shop in sg?waiting for your best response.thank you

    • Profile Picture For admin
      Paul Hype Page March 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Dear Rasika,

      The best way will to setup a Private Limited company in Singapore. We will need more details from you about what kind of licenses you need to advise more. Do drop us a note via CONTACT US page.


Comments are closed.

Go to Top