Types of Licenses for Businesses in Singapore

Types of Licenses for Businesses in Singapore

A crucial first step for companies operating in Singapore is obtaining the appropriate licences, which guarantee adherence to the law and efficient operation within the regulatory framework of the city-state.

Before commencing any business activities in Singapore, companies must acquire a Business Registration Certificate. This document serves as official proof of business registration and is a fundamental requirement for legal operations.

Business License – Do you need one?

Different industries need different licences in order to operate. These licences guarantee adherence to industry norms and laws. Usually, they are granted by government agencies with a focus on a particular industry.

Let's examine a few of the most popular licences in Singapore, broken down by sector.

Food Business License

If you're planning to establish a restaurant or café and serve food and beverages, obtaining a 'Food Shop License' from the National Environment Agency (NEA) is essential. Before applying for this license, it's crucial to ensure that your premises comply with hygiene and safety standards set by the NEA.

Additional licenses may be required for specific food-related activities:

  • Liquor License: Necessary if your business involves serving alcoholic beverages.
  • Outdoor Refreshment Area License: Required for the use of public spaces for alfresco dining.

Professional Licenses

Certain professions within Singapore require mandatory licenses to ensure professional credentials and uphold industry standards.

  • Employment Agency License - Venturing into the domain of employment agencies, which specialize in providing recruitment and placement services, necessitates obtaining a 'License to Operate an Employment Agency' issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
  • Travel Agency License - For those looking to initiate a travel agency offering comprehensive travel and tour packages, obtaining a 'Travel Agent License' from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is mandatory.
  • Educational Enterprise License - Starting an educational institution in Singapore requires obtaining approval from the Ministry of Education (MOE). The specific license or permit needed depends on the type of educational services provided, including schools, childcare centers, and private education institutions.

Financial Services Licenses

Companies engaged in financial services, including banking, insurance, and securities trading, require licenses from relevant regulatory entities such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

Trading Company License

For those venturing into the realm of trading companies in Singapore, securing the appropriate licenses and permits from the relevant authorities is a prerequisite before initiating operations. This includes an Importer/Exporter License issued by the Customs and the appropriate licenses for specific categories of goods.

eCommerce Business License

The nature of products and services in your eCommerce business might dictate the necessity for a license. This could include licenses related to the sale of specific products, depending on industry regulations.

Entertainment Licenses

Entities in the entertainment sector, including bars, clubs, and performance venues, often require entertainment licenses to ensure legal operation. Licensing requirements may vary based on the type of entertainment provided.


Mastering the intricate web of licensing requisites in Singapore is a paramount endeavor for companies, guarding against legal pitfalls and ensuring operations remain compliant with the law. Every industry and activity entails its distinctive licensing prerequisites, emphasizing the importance of thorough research, identification, and acquisition of necessary licenses before business initiation.

Contact us today to learn more and apply for the right license. 

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