License Application for Specialist Trade

License Application for Specialist Trade

Business Licenses and Permits in Singapore

A business license is a permit issued by a Singapore government agency that allows a business owner to conduct a specific type of business. The license is required by certain types of business entities as will be mentioned below. Companies must be first registered with the registrar of companies to apply for a business license in Singapore.

Industry-Specific Business Licenses in Singapore

Some businesses in Singapore require an exclusive license to operate, and some of the industry-specific licenses are listed below. In general, it may take between two weeks to two months to get a business license or permit.

Construction business

Setting up a construction company in Singapore requires several permits, approvals, and licenses. Also, the business owner needs to apply to the Ministry of Manpower for work permits to hire foreign laborers.

Employment agency

An Employment Agency License is required to start agency business activities, and the Ministry of Manpower governs it. An agency must own a license regardless of where it is based, so long it facilitates the placement of prospective candidates with employers.

Event management company

Event management companies have to obtain one or more licenses depending on the type of event or activity being organized. Examples include Arts Entertainment License, Copyright Permit, Public Entertainment License, Trade Fair Permit, Animal Exhibition License, and so on.

Financial services business

Financial advisers must be licensed to carry out specific regulated financial services activities. Two types of necessary licenses are available (Capital Markets Services License and Financial Advisers License); however, there are exemptions, eligibility requirements, procedures, and other information that is needed. The hedge fund industry is treated separately in Singapore, including having different licensing requirements and industry regulations.

Food & Beverage business

There are many requirements and legalities for opening a restaurant in Singapore including business incorporation, applying for a food shop license, and hiring staff. Additionally, F&B business owners may want to obtain a liquor license, register for importing food products and services, and so on. Various programmes and assistance schemes have also been created to help the F&B sector develop their business and profitability.


Setting up a hotel or boarding house in Singapore requires the attainment of several licenses and approvals, such as the principal Hotel-Keeper’s License and approval from the Hotels Licensing Board. Additional permits or licenses will also have to be obtained for general activities including TVs, ad-hoc entertainment, playing copyrighted music or videos, running a spa, selling tobacco products, operating a swimming pool, and so on.

Private education business

There are several compulsory licenses and procedures that a business owner needs to obtain and complete to set up an educational establishment in Singapore. Various registration forms, licenses, and permits are required for starting childcare centers, kindergartens, academic, and non-academic schools in Singapore.

Publishing business

A publishing business in Singapore needs two licenses: The Newspaper Permit from the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) and the Printing Press License from the Registrar of Newspapers. Printing and publishing newspapers, or distributing international publications will require a Newspaper Permit; while the Printing Press License is required to operate a press.

Real estate agency

A new statutory board was recently set up to regulate the industry and raise standards for consumers. The new framework enhanced the licensing of real estate agencies, including a compulsory registration of real estate agents and other new industry regulations.

Retail shop

Licensing requirements for retail shops vary according to the nature of goods and services sold. Supermarkets, pharmacies, telecommunications stores, cosmetics, and liquor are all examples of some types of businesses that require licensing.

Shipping business

The minimum legal requirements for setting up shipping/maritime business operations in Singapore include legislation for operating vessels within and outside Singapore, crew members to work on board vessels, dealing with dangerous goods, managing various communication equipment on board vessels, and so on.


A Massage Establishment License is required to offer massage services, foot-reflexology services, manicure treatments, spa baths or other similar beauty treatments as part of your spa offerings.

Telecommunications business

Establishing telecommunication services related business in Singapore requires several legal requisites and licenses. The licensing requirements will vary depending upon the type of service provided, and every kind of business activity requires a minimum of one or more compulsory licenses.

Trading activities

Starting a trading company involves many aspects, including opening a customs account, applying for import/export licenses and permits, identifying the types of goods that can be imported/exported, taxation and fees, trade financing options, cargo clearance procedures, goods storage options, and so on. Additionally, “sensitive” goods will require more procedures to be brought into the country while global trading companies may enjoy tax incentives if they have an established presence in Singapore.

Travel agency

A travel agency license is required to conduct business as a Singapore, travel agent. A travel agent’s license can be filed online, requesting the business owner to have a registered company, an operating website following the “Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Travel Related Users’ System (TRUST),” and have a crucial executive approved by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Western medical clinic

In order to operate a western medical clinic in Singapore, three types of licenses must be obtained – the Medical Clinic License for health-care institutions; licenses for handling and using hazardous chemicals, as well as licenses for using irradiating equipment or for purchasing specific medicinal products; and finally licenses and approvals to carry out specific medical procedures such as such as liposuction, abortion, and sterilisation.

On a Final Note

Establishing a business is a relatively simple and straightforward process in Singapore, and the business licensing procedure has been simplified to a great extent in recent years. If all the necessary documentation is provided and all other requirements satisfied, the license will be awarded. The pro-business mindset found in Singapore increases the ease of doing business in Singapore, making it a popular destination for start-ups.

For enterprising business owners and international business owners, it is usually recommended to engage a professional services firm to expedite the process and help familiarise owners with the procedures in Singapore businesses, which would help to save time and resources.