Are you unsure whether you need a license to establish your business in Singapore? Most businesses in Singapore may operate without a business license or permission, although it depends on your industry.

This thorough guide will assist you in determining whether you require a license, which licence you will need, and how to obtain one. Incorporating a business in Singapore is quite simple, but that just represents the beginning of conducting business there.

When your company has been formed with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authorities (ACRA), you may need to get a licence or permission depending on the type of your business or organization.

What Kinds of Business Licences Are Available in Singapore?

In Singapore, there are three different kinds of business licenses:

Compulsory Licence

Several Singaporean businesses are required to get mandatory licences before they may begin operations. For instance, daycare facilities must get a Child Care Licence. Banks, real estate firms, and trade firms are more examples.

Occupational Licence

Several occupations require a licence in order to practise. The professional bodies that oversee that profession’s practice will sell you the necessary occupational licence. They include, but are not limited to, professions like law, medicine, accounting, and architecture.

Business Activity Licence

The government mandates that some enterprises, such as those engaged in the sale of alcohol or pharmaceuticals, get licences in order to operate. So, it’s crucial that you research licence requirements before beginning. In industries like pharmaceuticals, where adherence to regulations is paramount, seeking guidance from pharmaceutical consulting professionals can ensure a comprehensive understanding of the licensing landscape and facilitate a smooth and compliant operational setup.

Depending on the kind of licence you want and how long it takes to compile particular papers, the timeframe for obtaining a licence may change. Obtaining a licence may require a few days or even a few weeks.

The length of time it takes to obtain a licence may change based on:

  • The kind of licence you must obtain

  • The duration required to prepare particular files

  • If the licence has been given the go-ahead by one or more authorities

Sometimes getting a licence might take a few days, weeks, or even a few months.

Singapore’s Licences and Permissions for Various Sorts of Businesses

In order to begin doing business in the city-state, the following popular businesses kinds must first get the necessary licences:

Retail Shop

Various retail company kinds in Singapore will call for various retail licences:

  • Supermarket: According to the Environmental Public Health Act, you must get a supermarket licence.

  • Telecommunication: You must apply to the Singapore Info-communications Development Authority (IDA) for a Dealer’s Class Licence.

  • Pharmacy: It is necessary to get a certificate of registration from a pharmacy issued by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

  • Liquor: It is necessary to have a liquor licence issued by the Liquors Licensing Board.

  • Cosmetics: Before releasing the product into the market, you must notify the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).


A construction firm must get a number of licences, permissions, and approvals in order to establish itself in Singapore. In order to recruit foreign workers, one must further submit a work permit application to the Ministry of Manpower.


You will need to apply for several trade licences depending on your import and export activity and the sorts of items you want to sell. More specifically:

  • Importing and exporting any type of product needs an IN/OUT Permit obtained through TradeNet.

  • You must get permission from the appropriate Controlling Agencies through TradeNet in order to import or export controlled commodities (regulated by Controlling Agencies).

  • Import of high-tech goods: Exporters must have an Import Certificate and Delivery Verification (ICDV) from Singapore Customs.

  • A Strategic Products Control Permit is necessary for the export and transit of strategic items, which are governed by the Strategic Goods Act.

  • Exporting locally produced items need a Certificate of Origin, including Preferential and Regular Certificates of Origin.


To open a hotel or boarding house in Singapore, you must get a number of permits and approvals. The following types of activities will require permits or licences to be obtained in addition to the primary hotel-licence keeper’s and the Hotels Licensing 


Board’s approval: housing TVs, planning impromptu entertainment, playing copyrighted music or videos, operating a spa, selling tobacco products, operating a swimming pool, etc.


The Massage Establishment Act stipulates that both Category I and Category II of the Massage Establishment License are necessary.

Compared to Category II, Category I offers more lenient company rules. More specifically, holders of Category I licences may sell alcohol, permit patrons of any age, and hire foreign masseuses or therapists in addition to enjoying unlimited working hours.

Employment Agency

It is necessary to submit an application for an employment agency licence to the Ministry of Manpower.

Travel Agency

According to Section 4 of the Travel Agent’s Act, a licence for a travel agency must be applied for by the Singapore Tourism Board.

Food and Beverage

You must get a Food Shop License in Singapore from the National Environment Agency (NEA) before opening your restaurant in accordance with the Environmental Public Health Act.

Also, you must register for a Registration Number with the Food Control Division (FCD) of the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore if you want to import food ingredients.

Also, if you intend to offer alcohol in your restaurant, a liquor licence from the liquor licence board is necessary.


Basic licences and permits consist of:

  • Harbour Craft Licence: to drive a ship within the port of Singapore

  • Port Clearance Certificate: operating ships outside of Singapore’s port

  • Ship Registration Certificate: either to move people or things

  • Port Limit Manning Licence: for staff to operate on your ships and vessels

  • Permit for Launching New Vessel: to begin launching a new ship at the port that is longer than 15 metres

  • Ship Station Licence: To use radio communication equipment on your ship with a Singaporean registration

  • Certificate of Ship Sanitation: To validate the hygienic state of your vessel for cargo transportation

  • Permission to discharge, load, transfer, and dock boats carrying hazardous items

  • For related activity, additional licences and permits.

Event Management

Depending on the sort of event or activity being planned, event management organisations that specialise in doing so must get one or more licences. These licences include but are not limited to, licences for public entertainment, copyright permits, trade fair permits, and licences for the exhibition of animals.

Real Estate Agency

To start your real estate business, you must get a licence from the Council of Estate Agencies (CEA), register your staff, and choose a Key Executive Officer (KEO) with the CEA.

Publishing Business

The Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore requires print publishing companies to obtain a Newspaper Permit and a Printing Press License from the Registrar of Newspapers.

In order to launch their business, online publishing businesses must first register with the MDA.

Private Education Institute

When they comply with legal criteria, Private Educational Institutions (PEI), which include Childcare Centers, Preschools/Kindergartens, Academic Schools, and Non-Academic Schools, must register with the Ministry of Education (MOE) or Council Private Education (CPE).

Fund Management

Having a Capital Markets Services License in fund management or being registered as a registered fund management firm with the Monetary Authority of Singapore is required for a corporation to conduct fund management activity in Singapore.

How to Obtain a Licence For a Business in Singapore?

Applying for licences online using your CorpPass and the GoBusiness Licensing website is one of the simplest methods for you to do it.

It is a one-stop shop where companies can quickly apply for licences and easily pay for them online. The website has two options or sections:

1. Business owner of new food services

This option, which has a function called Guide Journey, is specifically created for business owners in the food service sector. New owners who apply for licences for the first time are the target audience for this feature. In order to obtain the licences you require, it specifically walks you through a step-by-step process. The Guide Journey system is now solely set up for the food business, but it will soon be expanded to other industries as well.


The application procedure, which has 3 steps, will be significantly simpler for beginners with the Guide Journey:

  • Giving details about your company and its operations;

  • submitting applications for the permits you require and the associated documentation;

  • Payment

2. Other business owners

With the exception of new company owners in the food services industry, this option incorporates the Self-Service function, formerly known as LicenseOne, for business owners from all industries. Via the Self-Service tool, users may apply for, amend, renew, or terminate any licences.


To obtain your licence using the Self-Service functionality, follow these general steps:

  • Choosing licences based on business goals, government bodies, and keywords;

  • Addition of background data;

  • Giving application information;

  • Submit supporting files;

  • Examining and submitting an application;

  • Payment

Final Note

In Singapore, starting a business is a reasonably easy and uncomplicated process, and the licensing process for businesses has been greatly streamlined. There is no reason for your licence to be refused if you submit the required paperwork and meet and comply with all other conditions. 

The simplicity of conducting business contributes to Singapore’s efficient and business-friendly atmosphere, making it a well-liked location for start-ups.

Although you may be able to manage certain licence and permit-related concerns on your own, it is often a good idea to work with a professional services organisation to save you time and money.



Meta Description


In Singapore, a business licence is essentially permission granted by a Singaporean government body allowing you to operate a certain kind of business. Read more about business licences in Singapore. 


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