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Company Formation Singapore



Obtaining Special Permits and Licenses in Singapore

Updated on Friday 20th March 2020

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Special-Permits-and-Licenses-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:

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.

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. 


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





Call us now at +65 97236684 in order to set up an appointment with our consultants in Singapore