A business license or permit is the document that allows the conduct of a specific type of business. In Singapore, such business license is also required before you can operate a business. But in order to be issued a license, the company must first go through the process of registration with the Register of Companies. In some instances, however, the issuance of a license or permit is made simultaneously with the application for company name approval with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

There are various types of licenses and permits in Singapore. These are divided into three: Occupational license for professional services such as lawyers, doctors, accountants and pilots; Compulsory license for certain types of businesses such as operating private schools, travel agencies, money remittance agencies, childcare centers and the distribution of liquor, and; Business activity license for certain types of business activities such as renovation of a building, putting up advertising billboards and exporting certain products.

Depending on the type of a business license or permit, you may have to wait for at least one week to two months before you can be issued such business license or permit.

* HIRING LOCAL AND FOREIGN EMPLOYEES. A work pass is necessary before your company can hire local and foreign employees, either for a short term or long term assignment. This work pass is issued by the Ministry of Manpower.

* USING PERSONAL RESIDENCE AS HOME OFFICE. In order to use your residence as a home office in Singapore, you must first register with the Housing & Development Board, if your residence belongs in the HDB premises or with the Urban Redevelopment Authority if your residence is located in private premises.

* GOODS AND SERVICES TAX (GST) REGISTRATION. A company must register for GST if the company’s annual income exceeds S$ 1 million. A GST is similar to the Valued Added Tax (VAT) in other countries where a tax is imposed upon imported goods.

* ENGAGING IN IMPORT / EXPORT ACTIVITIES. Engaging in the import/export business requires registration with the Singapore Customs where a CR number is then issued. A specific license is issued on the import or export of certain types of goods, whether controlled or non-controlled goods. No license is generally required for the import/export of non-controlled goods like books, stationery, handicrafts, jewelry, toys, sporting and recreational goods, CD ROMs, VCDs, DVDs, flowers and plants. However, a special license from the relevant government agency is required for the import/export of controlled goods like cigarettes and tobacco products, drugs, petrochemicals, animals and food products.

* OPERATING AN EMPLOYMENT AGENCY. An Employment Agency License from the Ministry of Manpower is required before you can operate an employment agency where you can provide recruitment and placement services to hiring companies.
Employment agencies include head-hunting/executive search companies, foreign domestic worker agencies, local and foreign staffing companies, construction worker agencies, online jobs portals, nanny-placing agencies and so on. However, no employment agency license is required for the recruitment of persons under direct employment.

* OPERATING A TRAVEL AGENCY. A Travel Agent’s License from the Singapore Tourism Board is required for the business of a travel agency which offers services of putting up a travel or tour package including transport services as part of the package. This same license is required for the conduct of the following travel services: selling tickets to an individual for travel, or arranging a right of passage on any conveyance for a person (no travel agency license is needed if the conveyance is owned by the company); facilitating a person’s ability to travel by selling or arranging transport tickets, hotel accommodation and foreign visas to destinations outside and within Singapore (no travel agency license is needed if the mode of transport and the place of accommodation is owned by the company); purchasing for resale the rights of passage on any conveyance; arranging or conducting tours within or outside Singapore, and; advertising your availability to conduct any activity as aforementioned.

* OPERATING A RESTAURANT BUSINESS. A Food Shop License from the National Environment Agency (NEA) is required before putting up a restaurant business. There is a need to prepare the place of operation before applying for the food shop license because inspection of such premises must first be made by the authorities before your license is issued. Once you are already issued a food shop license, obtaining the following licenses/permits may also be considered: Halal Certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (this is useful since Muslims constitute 15% of the population in Singapore); Liquor License from the Liquor Licensing Board for the retail sale of liquor, including beer; Tobacco Retail License from the Health Sciences Authority for the retail of tobacco products; License for Importing Food Ingredients from the Food Control Division (FCD) of Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

* OPERATING AN EVENTS MANAGEMENT COMPANY. An Arts Entertainment License issued by the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore is required before carrying out any form of public entertainment concerning the arts, such as plays, musical performances, dance performances, exhibitions, variety shows and pop/rock concerts. In order to carry out activities in public streets and public areas, a Permit for Road Occupation Management from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore is necessary. A Copyright Permit issued by The Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS), is necessary for events such as concerts, road shows, fairs and exhibitions involving the public performance of copyright musical works.

The above businesses and their corresponding business license or permit are examples that will serve as a guide to every aspiring entrepreneur. It is best that you consult professional firms to advice you in the licensing process. With the computerization of the licensing process, obtaining a business license in Singapore is relatively easy provided you are ready with the required documents necessary for the issuance of the license.

Asiabizservices is the leading Singapore business solutions specialists. It has successfully helped thousands of foreign entrepreneurs form a Singapore company. Our office is located at Raffles Place, in the heart of the Singapore business district. (“CBD”) If you’re in our neighborhood and want to discuss any aspect of our service then feel free to come in to our offices during business hours.

Our phones are answered during business hours by specialists and not by an answering machine. We appreciate the value of your time and understand that a person cannot be replaced by technology. This is especially true when it comes to making important business decisions. If you are interested in learning more about Asiabizservices kindly email us at sales@asiabizservices.com or give us a call at +6563034614.