The Different Types of Business Licences Available in Singapore
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Are you planning to start a business in Singapore? One of the crucial steps you need to take is to obtain a business licence. In Singapore, business licences are required by law for most businesses to operate legally. These licences help ensure that businesses comply with regulations and standards.
But what are the different types of business licences in Singapore? And how do you know which ones your business needs?
Types of Business Licences in Singapore
After registering your business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), you must apply for the necessary licences before operating. All businesses in Singapore are required to obtain a licence or permit to operate legally, however certain business activities will need additional licences from the government.
The Singapore government issues various business licences through different agencies depending on the type of business you plan to operate. It’s important to note that some businesses may require more than one licence or permit, depending on their activities. Failure to apply for the appropriate licences or permits can lead to costly fines, disqualification, and harm to your company’s reputation.
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Government authorities issue compulsory licences to certain businesses to ensure that they meet specific regulations and standards related to public safety, health, and welfare before starting their operations. These licences serve as legal authorizations that mandate businesses to comply with the necessary guidelines before commencing activities.
Here are some of the businesses that will be required to acquire compulsory licences:
Real Estate Agencies
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Occupational Licence for Professional Services
If you plan on starting a professional services company in Singapore, obtaining an occupational licence for your practitioners may be necessary. This licence demonstrates that your practitioners have the necessary skills, knowledge, and expertise to perform their jobs effectively and safely.
Foreign professionals may also obtain the licence if they meet the requirements set by the relevant professional association in their field and have their diplomas recognized by Singapore.
The professional associations overseeing the specific profession are responsible for granting the occupational licence, as shown in the examples below:
Lawyers: The Ministry of Law
Accountants: Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ICSA)
Doctors or Medical Practitioners: Singapore Medical Council (SMC)
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Business Activity based Licence & Permits
Certain business activities in Singapore require specific licences or permits, which must be obtained after incorporating the company. These Singapore business licences are industry-specific and vary depending on the business operation, such as selling liquor or setting up a fair. It’s important to note that some businesses may require more than one licence before starting any relevant business activities.
Examples of these business activities are:
Renovation and upgrade of the office space.
Setting up a temporary fair.
Starting to sell liquor in a store.
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Licence for Industry-Specific Business in Singapore
In some cases, obtaining multiple business licences in Singapore may be necessary for certain business activities. It’s important to distinguish between industry-specific licences and compulsory licences, as both may be required for a business to operate. Specific licences or permits are required for certain business activities that demand additional qualifications, making it easier for the government to oversee those businesses.
Retail businesses are those that sell merchandise directly to consumers. To operate, retail shops must obtain business licences or permits based on their specific goods and services. Below are some examples of retail businesses and their corresponding licences:
Drugstores or Pharmacies: Pharmacy Licence from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Supermarkets: Supermarket License from Singapore Food Agency, if applicable Liquor Licence from the Singapore Police Force or Tobacco retail licence from the Health Sciences Authority.
Food and Beverage
Starting a food and beverage business in Singapore can be lucrative, as Singapore is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine. Singaporeans and tourists alike deeply appreciate food, and the city-state is home to a vibrant and diverse culinary scene.
Several Singapore business licences and permits must be met before starting a business in this industry. Here are some examples:
Liquor Licence (if you sell alcohol)
Licence for Commercial food imports (when importing food ingredients)
Tenancy Agreement or Planning Permit from Land Agencies (whichever is applicable)
All handlers and owner should pass the Basic Food Hygiene Course
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These are just two of the most popular business industries. There are various licences for each industry and business activity. You can check out the full list of licences in GoBusiness Singapore. The government site provides a one-stop solution for businesses to apply for the necessary licences and permits through a user-friendly digital platform. It reduces the need for businesses to physically visit different government agencies and fill out forms manually, which can save time and reduce the administrative burden.
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