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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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Compulsory Licence

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:

  • Financial Institutions

  • Educational Institutions

  • Travel Agencies

  • Real Estate Agencies

Haven’t decided on what business to start? Consider taking freelancing projects to test the waters.

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)

Are you in the process of registering your company? You might want to choose a PTE LTD business structure.

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.

Got a business and planning on expanding? Check out Lanturn’s tips on raising funds for your company.

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:

  • Food Shop Licence

  • 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

Having trouble deciding which small business to pursue? Lanturn’s article on small business ideas for Singapore might be helpful to you.

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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Incorporation Troubles?

Thinking of starting a business in Singapore, but feeling overwhelmed by the regulations and paperwork? We understand that setting up a business can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time.

That is why we have created the Launch with Lanturn programme as your go-to solution for setting up your business in Singapore without breaking the bank!

We have successfully assisted over 400 firms with their business registration in Singapore, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. Want to know more about the Launch with Lanturn Programme? Here are some FAQs about it:

Q. How can Lanturn help us with incorporating in Singapore?
A. Our programme comes with high-quality incorporation services at a fair price. Lanturn’s incorporation service streamlines the registration process, saving you valuable time and money.

Q. Can the Lanturn Programme assist us in meeting the required compliance standards in Singapore?
A. Yes, it comes with measures we take to ensure your business meets compliance standards. Our package includes one year of excellent corporate secretarial services to ensure your business stays compliant. We also provide professional preparation and maintenance of company registers and more.

Q. Would this package be also able to assist with the incorporation requirement of a registered address?
A. Yes, our Launch with Lanturn programme allows you to use a premium registered address for your business correspondence for one year. This will assist you to meet registration requirements as well as ensuring documents for your company will be kept safe and available for uploading at your request.

We understand your time is valuable, so we are committed to making the incorporation process as simple as possible. With Lanturn, you can focus on what’s crucial — running your company!

Launch your company with Lanturn, today!