By Vlad Cuc, specialist in company formation matters
The food and beverages industry offers many investment opportunities to foreign investors seeking to open a company in Singapore. The same industry offers expansion possibilities to existing restaurants or small establishment. The latest trend in this profitable sector is starting a catering business in Singapore.
Foreign enterprisers who want to set up a catering company must comply with the same regulations as for when opening a restaurant in Singapore except for a few requirements. Our company formation specialists in Singapore can explain how to obtain a food license for catering businesses operating in the city-state.
We can also help with the procedure of registering a business for setting up a catering firm, as well as offer assistance in applying for the necessary licenses for such an establishment in Singapore.
No matter the type of food establishment one decides to set up, the same company registration procedure must be respected in Singapore. Among the recommendations made by our Singapore company formation agents are choosing an appropriate business name and a location suitable for the preparation of the food. Even if the food will be delivered to the home of the client, a Singapore catering business must comply with the hygiene norms imposed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Apart from these, our local consultants can handle the Singapore company formation procedure of the catering business.
It is important to note that starting with 2019, the licenses issued for companies producing and selling food and beverages in the city-state will be issued by the Singapore Food Authority (SFA).
Local and foreign investors who want to open a company in Singapore through which they will operate a catering firm must first select a business form, as imposed by the Company Law. Among the preferred entities by both local and foreign businesspersons are the sole proprietorship and the limited liability company.
A few clarifications need to be made in respect to these two types of entities:
Our Singapore company formation consultants can help foreign investors who want to set up catering companies no matter the chosen business form. We also offer assistance to those who want to change business forms in Singapore.
As mentioned above, starting a catering business in Singapore implies respecting the same regulations and applying for pretty much the same licenses as when establishing any other type of food business. Import licenses for the ingredients are a must if the owner will bring them from abroad. The food hygiene license must also be obtained, as the catering company enters the same category as any other food establishment, however, this is not the same with the food shop license.
The premises where the food will be prepared must also comply with the Environmental Public Health Law requirements and business owner must have a food hygiene certificate in order to be allowed to cook the food. However, one is also allowed to hire specialized personnel who will prepare the food to be catered.
A businessperson who plans to open a company in Singapore for the purpose of setting up a catering firm must obtain the same food license as for any other business operating in the sale of food and beverages sector.
In order to obtain the food license, the business owner must submit the following documents with the Singapore Food Authority:
Our company registration agents in Singapore can offer more information on the special requirements which could apply when setting up a catering business.
An important aspect which needs to be considered when opening a catering firm in Singapore is that it can hire employees, however, only catering businesses registered as limited liability companies can hire foreign citizens.
For selling beverages, the Singapore catering company will need to obtain a license for this purpose, just like in the case of other companies in the beverages sector.
The timeframe related to the issuance of the food license varies from one week to a few months, depending on the documentation to be submitted with the SFA. The license is issued within 7 days after the payment of the issuance fee.
The cost of a food and beverage license is around 200 SGD and the validity period of such a license is one year. The license can be renewed.
Foreign investors should also know that through SPRING Singapore, the government has enabled various support schemes for the food and beverages industry, including for those operating catering establishments. Among these, the government offers incentives for those seeking to expand their operations and to improve the quality of their services.
Starting with 2014, all companies preparing and selling food, no matter if under the form of restaurants or private catering companies are required to put in place a food safety management system with a proper Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. Through this system, the business will ensure the food is safe for consumption. If until 2019, this system was not mandatory for all Singapore companies selling food, this year it became for all of them.
The Singapore Food Agency allows companies to implement the new system before applying or upon the renewal of their food licenses.
Among the requirements to comply with when creating the food safety management system, we mention the following:
In the case of catering businesses which need to renew their licenses, the food safety management system must be filed 3 months prior to the expiration of the current license.
The following information must be submitted in order to indicate the correct implementation of the food safety management system for a catering business in Singapore:
If you want to open a company in Singapore and need information about the requirements which need to be respected, our local agents can advise you.
One of the most important requirements related to opening a catering company in Singapore refers to the personnel of the establishment who must comply with specific regulations. Such a business must have at least one food handler and a food hygiene officer. Both food handlers and hygiene officers must be registered with the SFA.
While the requirements for food handlers have been simplified, food hygiene officers are subject to more requisites considering his/her main role is to oversee and implement the food hygiene measures which satisfy the conditions imposed by the SFA. It is also good to know that the business owner can act as food hygiene officer if he/she passes the exam under the Conduct Food & Beverage Hygiene Audit course. Also, a food hygiene officer can act as a food handler without other additional requirements.
The regulations imposed on the officers of a catering business are very strict, which is why if you intended to start such a company here, our Singapore company formation specialists can advise you on how to best comply with the requirements imposed by the SFA.
Starting with 2020, the Food Safety Authority in Singapore announces a new Food Hygiene Recognition Scheme which will need to be respected by all companies in the food retail sector in the city-state. Under this new scheme, restaurants and catering businesses will be awarded with bronze, silver of gold based on their food hygiene records with the SFA. Companies with at least 2 years of a strong food hygiene record will be awarded with bronze, businesses with 5 and up to 10 years will be awarded with silver, while companies with at least 10 years of clean food hygiene records will be awarded with gold.
All food licenses will need to comply with specific design and operational requisites in order to meet the hygiene standards imposed by the SFA. Also, the new scheme will replace the current grading system which is outdated. The new scheme also works as a recognition to food retail companies which have had a strong food hygiene track record.
If you want to open a Singapore company in the food industry, you can rely on us for assistance in registering it.
According to Singstat, the food and beverages sector in Singapore had a good performance in the first half of 2019, as:
For full information and assistance in order to open a company in Singapore as a catering business, please feel free to contact us. Our formation agents can also help establish other types of food businesses in the city-state.