Singapore Industry-Specific Company Setup & Business Licenses Guide

7 min read|Last Updated: December 4, 2023|

Many entrepreneurs and investors are choosing Singapore as the place to set up their company. Its low corporate tax rates, business-friendly environment, ease of doing business, and livable conditions are some of the top reasons for incorporating a company in Singapore.

Let’s find out how to set up the various companies in Singapore!

What Are the General Guidelines for Singapore Company Incorporation

The steps to go about incorporating a new company in Singapore is similar across all industries.

  • Company name check
    Check if your desired company name is available using our free name checker.
  • Incorporation
    After confirming that your ideal name is available, next step is to incorporate and register your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

  • Set up a business office
    Get started on setting up your business office, or if your company does not require a physical office, you can consider having a virtual office in Singapore.

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  • Apply for licenses (if any)
    Some businesses require additional business licenses before you can start operating. Find out more about licenses here.

Setting Up an Employment Agency in Singapore

Singapore is pro-business and attracts foreign investments – this means hiring professionals both locally and globally is important aspect for businesses.

Employment Agency Licenses

There are two types of licenses for employment agencies:

  • Select License – requirement to apply for this license if your employment agency does placement for local or foreign candidates who monthly base salaries are upwards of SGD7,000
  • Comprehensive License – to apply if you do not qualify for the Select License

Application Procedure

  • File and submit an application to the Ministry of Manpower

  • Processing takes about 1-3 weeks

  • Notification through email if approved, along with an in-principle approval (IPA) letter attached

  • Submission of these documents to obtain the Employment Agency license:

    • Security bond
    • Copies of ID/ Employment Pass
    • Recent passport-sized photograph
    • Latest copy of your agency’s business profile from ACRA
    • Copy of the IPA letter
    • Copy of certificate which states that you have passed the Certificate for Employment Intermediaries (CEI) course
    • Completed checklist form
    • Any additional document requested in your IPA letter
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Setting Up a Singapore Trading Company

A Trading Company is a business that connects buyers and sellers, either within the same country or on the international trading market. It is otherwise known as an import/export company or business.

Before you can import or export any goods in and out of the country, you will need to activate your account with the Singapore Customs and get an IN and OUT permit through the TradeNet.


  • IN Permit – required to apply before the goods are imported into Singapore
  • OUT Permit – required to apply:

    • Before the goods are exported out of Singapore (if goods are transported via road or rail)
    • Within 3 days of exports (if goods are transported via air or sea)
    • Before exporting any goods that were previously imported under the Temporary Import Scheme; or
    • Before exporting any goods under the Temporary Import Scheme

Other required licenses

There are certain licenses/ certifications required for various goods:

  • Permit for controlled goods – for import or export of controlled goods
  • Import Certificate and Delivery Verification – for import of high-technology goods
  • License for strategic goods – for export/ trans-shipment/ transit of strategic goods
  • Certificate of origin – for export of local goods

    • Ordinary Certificate of Origin – certifies that the products being exported are wholly obtained, produced, or manufactured in Singapore
    • Preferential Certificate of Origin – enable buyers to claim preferential tariff treatment when they import goods under one of the Free Trade Agreements or Schemes of Preference

Setting Up a Real Estate Company in Singapore

Many foreigners are opting to live in Singapore and it is a good business opportunity when it comes to setting up a real estate company. For definition, a real estate agency, also known as a real estate brokerage, is an agency involved in the business of helping potential clients buy or sell houses.

Estate Agent License

Companies, partnerships, and non-individual sole proprietorships involved in the business of buying, selling, and leasing of properties must apply for the estate agent license. This is issued by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), and can be applied on the website.

The criteria for New Estate Agents are as follows, among others:

  • Must be a registered entity with ACRA

  • Must have a Key Executive Officer (KEO) who satisfies the requirements of the Estate Agents Act and Regulations (as below)

  • Must not hold a moneylender’s license

  • None of the estate agent’s directors or partners or sole-proprietor or KEO hold a moneylender’s license, or are an employee, director, or partner of a licensed moneylender

  • The estate agent’s KEO and all directors or partners or persons responsible for the management must fulfil the fit and proper criteria under the Estate Agents Act.

  • CEA shall determine if the person is fit and proper for registration after considering all relevant facts and matters. In the circumstances listed below, a person shall not be fit and proper for registration, unless CEA determines otherwise:

    • Where the person has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or fraud, or any offence under the Estate Agents Act
    • Where the person has had a judgment entered against him / her in civil proceedings that involve a finding of fraud, dishonesty or breach of fiduciary duties on his / her part
    • Where the person is an undischarged bankrupt or has made a composition or arrangement with his / her creditors
    • Where CEA takes the view that a person is not fit and proper after considering any other relevant facts or matters

As for the appointed KEO, he/she must fulfil these requirements, among others:

  • Have a minimum of 4 GCE ‘O’ Levels passes or equivalent
  • Possess a pass in the Real Estate Agency (REA) examination in the 2 years immediately before the application for a license
  • Be a sole-proprietor, director or partner of the estate agent
  • Have at least 3 years’ experience in estate agency work
  • Have concluded at least 30 transactions in the last 3 years as or on behalf of a licensed estate agent or have at least 3 years of experience in managing the business of a licensed estate agent as an executive director, a chief executive, key executive, key executive officer, partner or sole proprietor

Setting Up a Telecommunications Company in Singapore

Singapore has one of the best telecom networks in the world. With the telecommunication service sector is growing fast in Asia-Pacific in the past few years, it’s no wonder why people are setting up a telecommunication company in Singapore.

Types of Telecommunication Licenses

  1. Facilities Based Operator (FBO) License
  2. License for In-Building Terrestrial Telecommunications Systems
  3. Satellite Downlink License
  4. Satellite Uplink/Downlink License for Broadcasting Purposes
  5. Satellite Communication Station License
  6. Portable Satellite Communication Terminal License
  7. Earth Station License
  8. Tracking, Telemetry and Command (TT&C) Earth Station License
  9. Service-Based Operation (SBO) License
  10. SBO Class Licenses
  11. SBO Individual Licenses
  12. Mobile Network Licenses
  13. General Radio Communication License
  14. Localised Private Network License
  15. Localised Radio Communication License
  16. Wide-area Private Network License
  17. Telecommunication Dealers License
  18. Experimental Station License
  19. Permit for Road Occupation Management
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Come to our office or get in touch virtually for a consultation on your company incorporation with employment pass, and other corporate services.


Can I run an online business without incorporating in Singapore?2020-11-20T11:59:02+08:00

Nope, you must register a company to run your online business. 

As a foreigner, can I be the shareholder of the company?2020-11-20T11:58:47+08:00

Yes, you can. 

Is it mandatory to have a Singaporean/ PR to incorporate a company in Singapore?2020-11-20T11:58:34+08:00

Yes, to incorporate a company in Singapore, you need at least one local resident. As a foreigner, you can appoint a nominee director or get an employment pass. 

What are the popular businesses in Singapore?2020-11-20T11:54:51+08:00

Some of the popular businesses in Singapore are laundry, online marketing, e-commerce, financial services, cleaning service, content writing and consulting. 

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