Singapore is one of the best and easiest countries to do business as it promotes investment flow through various government business incentives. If you are starting a business in Singapore, you should acquire the business license and permit that you might need to start business operations after your company has been registered with ACRA. A business license is a government-issued permit that allows you to run a specific business. Certain types of businesses require a business license in the country.
In this business license guide, we will outline the importance of a business license for your company, the types of licenses, a list of businesses that require a license in Singapore, and the process to get a business license.
What is a Business License?
A business license is a certificate issued by the appropriate government agencies that authorizes your company to carry out business activities that are regulated under Singapore law.
In this approach, the government maintains regulatory control over the company’s business activities, ensures the quality of service or product, and confirms the rules are followed. The specific license you need will depend on your business type.
The Reason Why Do You Need a Business License for Your Singaporean Company
Most businesses can operate in Singapore without needing any additional licenses. However, a license and permit from the Singapore government might be required to perform specific business activities. Your business type can need more than one business license because a business may involve performing various activities.
It is essential to understand the business licensing requirements for the successful launch of your company, as failure to obtain the required licenses or permits can lead to expensive fines, disbarment, and damage to your company’s reputation. A business license is necessary to ensure public health and safety, and it holds the company accountable for its activities.
Types of Business Licenses in Singapore
Below are the types of business licenses and permits in Singapore.
This license is compulsory to obtain by certain Singapore companies before starting operations. Types of businesses that want to operate as educational institutions, real estate agents, travel agencies, tobacco or liquor distributors, banks, trading companies, or food and beverage businesses must first apply for a business license. Once your company has been registered with ACRA, you must apply for a license before starting business operations in Singapore.
For information on the company registration process in Singapore, read our comprehensive guide on how to register a company in Singapore for foreigners!
This type of license is required to work in some professions. You can obtain an occupational license from the professional organization that regulates that profession. For example, doctors, accountants, lawyers, or architects can apply for occupational licenses from their governing authorities, which include the Singapore Medical Council, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, the Ministry of Law, and the Board of Architects.
Business Activity-Based License and Permit
The Singapore government requires certain types of businesses to get a specific license or permit to engage in specific trades, such as selling alcohol or pharmaceutical products. So, you need to check the licensing requirements before starting the business.
Types of Businesses That Require an Industry-Specific License and Permit in Singapore
Here are the types of businesses that require a license before they’re allowed to run the business in Singapore.
- Retail shop
- Trading Company
- Hotel and Spa
- Food and Beverage
- Travel Agency
- Employment Agency
- Financial Services
- Real Estate Agency
- Publishing Business
- Event Management Company
License that Required for Events in Singapore
Event management companies that organize various types of events will require one or more licenses based on the type of event being organized.
- To organize indoor/outdoor arts entertainment events at a location accessible to the public, the company will need to obtain a License for the Provision of Arts Entertainment issued by IMDA.
- To host any public entertainment event (except arts entertainment events), a Public Entertainment License is required, which is granted by the Singapore Police Force.
- To play copyrighted music, lyrics, or video recordings at arts entertainment events, you require permission from the owner of the work as per Singapore IP law. You can contact the owner directly or acquire a license from a Collective Management Organization.
- To organize temporary events where animals are displayed and animal performances occur, you should apply for an Animal Exhibition License from the Animal and Veterinary Service.
Other licenses required for events include a Fireworks Display Licence, Trade Fair Permit, and Advertisement License.
How to Get a Business License in Singapore
The licensing application process in Singapore is simple and easy. Here are the steps to apply for a business license in Singapore.
Step 1: Find licensing requirements for your specific business on gobusiness, which is a government website.
Step 2: Next, fill out an application form for the desired license to the relevant government body, attach supporting documents, and submit the application.
Step 3: You will be required to pay the license application fees, which vary depending on the nature of the business and the type of license.
Step 4: Once the fee is paid, the relevant government authority will review your application, and if it is approved in principle, the agency will send an In-Principle Approval letter. The letter includes the requirements needed to be fulfilled to get the final approval of a license.
Step 5: You may be asked to submit additional documents such as details of the company’s shareholders and directors or tenancy agreement. Make sure to submit the documents within the deadline.
Step 6: Once all requirements in the In-Principle Approval letter are fulfilled and all required documents are submitted, the government organization will issue the final approval for your license. You will be notified of this approval through a letter.
Step 7: After final approval, the last step is to collect your business license from the relevant government agency.
Generally, it can take two weeks to two months to get a license in Singapore, depending on the type of license.
Establishing a business in Singapore is a relatively straightforward process, and the business licensing process has also been simplified. If your business meets all the licensing requirements, provide all documentation, and satisfy the agency, you will obtain your business license.
For foreigners looking to establish a business in Singapore, you must not overlook the other prerequisites of starting a business, including opening a business account. If you’re starting your business journey in Singapore, opening a business account must be at the top of your to-do list, as this is the most crucial thing that will help your business grow.
Fazz Business offers the best business account for fast-growing startups and web3 companies in Southeast Asia. Reach out to us, and our experienced team will be glad to help you set up your business account smoothly online!