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Obtaining Special Permits and Licenses in Singapore

Updated on Monday 11th October 2021

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Special-Licenses-and-Permits-in-SingaporeBy Vlad Cuc, specialist in company formation matters
 
The business license is a permit released by the Singapore government agency that enables companies to conduct the business operations they register for with the Companies Registrar. Most business activities in Singapore dot not require licenses or permits in order to be carried out, the only step required being the company registration process with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). However, certain business activities require certain special licenses or permits before commencing operating. You can rely on us for assistance in obtaining various permits and licenses for your business in Singapore.
 

Our specialists who can assist you in order to open a company in Singapore invite you to watch our concise video about the process of obtaining business permits or licenses in Singapore:
 
 

The most prolific industries in Singapore

 
Foreign investors who come to Singapore have plenty of economic sectors to choose from when deciding to open companies here. Just as in other countries, there are certain activities that generate more profits than others, however, here, there is a balance between popular business and niche business activities that will help any person seeking to run a company.
 
Not all activities require specific licenses to operate, however, among the most popular ones that also require such permits are:
 
  • -  retail;
  • -  construction;
  • -  banking and finance;
  • -  IT;
  • -  trade.
 
According to the Singapore Department of Statistics, at the level of 2021, the economic sectors registering the highest increases at the beginning of the year are:
 
  • -  trade which registered the highest increase of 26.3% in April;
  • -  manufacturing which grew by 7.6%;
  • -  services with retail as the most prolific subsector and with an increase of 6.2%.
 
If you decide to set up a business in any of these industries, our local consultants can guide you through the procedure of registration and licensing. We are also at your service if you are interested in setting up a subdsidiary in Singapore.
 

Types of business permits and licenses in Singapore

 
Those who want to open a company in Singapore need to consider various aspects, among these, one of the most important being related to obtaining the licenses or permits needed to start the operations. Under the Company Law in Singapore, local companies can be required to apply for one or several licenses for starting their operations.
 
There are several types of special permits and licenses which can be obtained by companies in Singapore. These are:
  • - the business activity license which is issued for various activities, such as renovating or building a new construction for the company;
  • - the compulsory license which is strictly related to the object of activity of the Singapore company;
  • - the occupation license which is issued to specific categories of professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and accountants;
  • - the industry-specific license, which is issued, as its name states, for completing activities in specific industries.
 
Most of the times, the company registration procedure in Singapore can imply obtaining more than one license or permit. Also, a permit from the Police Department in Singapore is necessary no matter the type of company and the activities to be undertaken by the business. Also, the licensing procedure will imply an inspection from the relevant authorities.
 

What businesses require special permits or licenses in Singapore?

 
Among the business activities that require obtaining a special permit or license in Singapore are private schools, bars and restaurants, import and export companies, retailers selling alcoholic beverages, travel agencies, childcare facilities, banks and financial institutions and wholesalers. Singapore companies conducting these types of activities must submit their application for the special license when it registers with ACRA. The time span for obtaining the special permit may vary between 2 weeks and 2 months.
 
Professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, pilots and accountants are required to obtain special permits, also known as occupational licenses to practice.
 

How to obtain a business activity license in Singapore

 
Those interested in Singapore company formation will need to obtain the business activity license during the first stage of incorporating their businesses with ACRA. Among the business activity licenses which need to be obtained by companies in Singapore, we can mention the construction or renovation permit, the permission of placing advertisement billboards and even the work permits for foreign employees.
 
Obtaining such permits is not complicated and the procedure can usually be completed during the company registration procedure with the Trade Register in Singapore. However, it must be noted that the permits are issued by different authorities.
 

Obtaining compulsory licenses for companies in Singapore

 
The compulsory permit or license is needed for companies completing specific activities. Among these, those who want to act as education providers, those who want to set up travel agencies or who want to operate as financial institutions are required to apply for such licenses.
 
The compulsory license must not be mistaken for the industry-specific license, as in certain cases, both types of permits can be required.
 
Our company formation specialists in Singapore can offer more information on how to obtain such special permits and licenses.
 

The occupational license in Singapore

 
The number of professionals who offer their services as single entrepreneurs or sole traders has increased a lot during the last few years. This is because professionals such as accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers and doctors have the support of the associations created by specialists in their fields.
 
Foreign professionals can also obtain occupational licenses in Singapore as long as they have their diplomas recognized in the city-state and they register with the professional association in their field. Also, foreign citizens who want to operate as sole traders in a specific field in Singapore need to obtain a residence permit first.
 
Our Singapore company formation consultants can help foreign professionals who want to relocate to Singapore and start sole proprietorships.
 
Industry-specific special licenses in Singapore - presented by our experts who can help you open a company in Singapore
 
As mentioned above, there are certain types of businesses that require special permits before starting operating in Singapore:
  1.   retailers will usually require to obtain a tobacco retail license and a liquor license;
  2.   telecommunication companies must obtain a special telecommunication dealers permit;
  3.   hotels must apply for a hotel-keeper’s license; our experts in company formation matters in Singapore can help you obtain this license;
  4.   spas must apply for massage establishment permits,
  5.   hospitals must apply for three special licenses before starting operating: a medical clinic license, a permit for dealing with chemicals and licenses for medical procedures;
  6.   employment agencies must obtain a special permit from the Ministry of Manpower;
  7.    travel agencies must apply for a travel agent’s license with the Singapore Tourism Board;
  8.   financial institutions must obtain a capital markets services license, a commodity license or a financial adviser license depending on the activity to be carried out;
Other industry-specific special permits that must be obtained with the relevant authorities refer to real estate agencies and publishing companies.  
 

How to obtain special permits and licenses in Singapore

 
Each special permit or license is issued by a specific authority under a law which provides for the object of activity of a company. Among the most frequent examples of special licenses and permits to be obtained in Singapore we remind the following:
 
  • - the telecommunications license is issued by the Infocomm Development Authority under the Telecommunications Dealers Regulations;
  • - for companies in the healthcare sector, most of the licenses are issued by the Health Services Authority under the Medicines Act;
  • - for companies selling raw, processed or any other type of food, the licenses are issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority;
  • - for companies in the financial industry, the special licenses are issued the Monetary Authority in Singapore.
 
Considering most companies in Singapore usually import or export goods, these will be subject to registration with the Customs Authority followed by the application for the relevant licenses. The registration with Customs Authority in Singapore implies several steps which can be explain by our local advisors.
 

Starting a retail business in Singapore and its licensing requirements

 
Retail is one of the largest industries in the world as consumption levels are growing every year. This is also the case of Singapore, as the city-state has one of the highest quality of life indexes in the world.
 
Starting a retail business in Singapore can imply opening a small shop, a minimarket or even a supermarket for which one of the following special licenses are required:
 
  • -   the supermarket license;
  • -   the tobacco license;
  • -   the liquor license.
 
The types of licenses required to start such a company depends on the types of products to be sold, as there are some retail outlets that can also sell other types of beverages for which beverage licenses are required.
 
Pharmacies and telecommunications stores must also obtain specific licenses for the products they sell.
 
If you want to open such business in the city-state, our Singapore company formation specialists can help you incorporate them.
 

Starting a trading business in Singapore

 
Singapore is among the top 20 trading states in the world, which is why setting up such a company here can bring important profits to the owners. Just like in other industries, special licenses and permits are required for those operating import-export businesses in the city-state.
 
Among the special licenses and permits required for them are import and export licenses that are issued by the Customs Authority in Singapore. Not all goods require such licenses, however, controlled, food and high-tech products are required to be imported or exported under specific regulations. It should also be noted that each time such shipments are made from Singapore, the company will be required to go through the licensing procedure.
 
Apart from these licenses, a Singapore trading company needs to obtain a GST number and create a GIRO account in order to be able to pay the import duties.
 
Starting a trading business under the form of a subsidiary in Singapore implies complex procedures which is why you can rely on the support of our representatives who can help you with them.
 

Opening a business in tourism in Singapore

 
Singapore is one of the most spectacular cities in the world and it is visited by thousands of tourists every year. This is one of the reasons why tourism can be a great investment sector for setting up a travel agency, a hotel, or a spa.
 
These types of businesses require special licenses from various authorities. When creating a hotel, for example, the Hotel-Keeper’s license, which the most important permit for running such an establishment. If the hotel has a spa, a Massage Establishment License is required. Apart from these, based on the other services provided by the tourism operator, other permits must be obtained, including food establishment licenses when a restaurant operates inside the hotel.
 

Starting a cryptocurrency business in Singapore

 
One of the newest industries in which local and foreign investors can operate in Singapore is related to cryptocurrency trading or other related activities. These activities have become more and more popular across the world and the Singapore Government has included new regulations related to crypto-related activities in the Securities and Futures Law, the Financial Advisers Act, the Payment Services Law, and the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations for those interested in entering this segment of the financial industry.
 
If you want to create a cryptocurrency business in Singapore and need assistance, do not hesitate to request the services of our local officers.
Our company formation representatives in Singapore will help clients in obtaining all relevant special permits according to the services carried out. You can also contact us for the company registration process of your business in Singapore. 
 
We can also help you if you are interested in company incorporation services in other countries, such as Luxembourg.

 

 

Why choose us?

Roger Pay is the Managing Director of Bestar and an experienced company formation consultant. He will help you open your company in Singapore as fast as possible. 

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As a Bestar clientyou will benefit from the joint expertise of local lawyers and consultants for opening an offshore company in Singapore.

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