At the frontier of food culture, Singapore presents itself as a melting pot of people from all corners of the globe – coming together to find the best tastes and flavors around. With the large variety of entrepreneurs and franchising establishing their presence in Singapore, there is no shortage of competitors in the market. However, before you can even begin to plan your restaurant, bar or venture’s opening, you must first secure the necessary permits to run operations.
Restaurant Food Shop License
Once you have settled on a location for your restaurant or bar, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will inspect the area. They will approve the permit should the following standards and documents be met and submitted to their office:
- Applicant’s details (i.e. ACRA registered business profile or individual National Registration Identity Card.
- Code of Practice of Environmental Health compliance. This includes but is not limited to the regulations that cover food and beverage retailers like kitchen fumes, waste disposal, kitchen size, equipment and the like. Everything is subject to evaluation during the NEA inspection.
- Approval from the land agency in charge of the property (e.g. Urban Redevelopment Authority or Housing Development Board) as well as a signed tenant or occupancy contract – should the location be rented from a landlord or third party.
- Basic food hygiene certificate for all personnel handling food.
- A contract with a third part pest control agency which is applicable throughout the duration of the licensing period.
- Other supplementary forms which cover food sold, cleaning programs, vehicle details (if applicable).
The Food Shop License must be renewed annually. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks to process coupled with the inspection period required by the NEA. Ensure that all compliances and hygiene requirements are met prior to inspection so as not to delay the license approval.
Serving of any type of alcoholic drink, including beer, requires a license from the Liquor Licensing Board. Both types of licenses (public house license and beer house license) are valid for 2 years after approval. The application process takes 14 days. The licensing fee ranges from SGD 520 to SGD 1600 depending on the shop’s hours serving.
You may register online with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS). The certification can cost from SGD 705 to SGD 990 depending on your shop’s floor area.
For companies importing foreign food or food products, you should note that
all food and food products entering Singapore must come from AVA approved sources. The license should be applied through the AVA LicenseOne website. You will obtain a Unique Entity Number which you should register and activate on the TradeXchange portal which is the website of Singapore Customs. Thereafter, there will be a Notification of Registration which will be sent to you. This is required for you to be able to apply for your license
This permit will cover all products and food regardless of the mode of transport.
Meat and Fish products and the importation of fruits and vegetables, will require payment of S$84 and S$378, respectively per year. Table Eggs and Processed Food products and Food appliances do not require payment for license. The application of licenses will take from 1-5 days.
Outdoor dining license
In order for your company to open an outdoor dining area, you will have to apply for a permit with the appropriate agencies.
These are some of the agencies which you may approach:
- Outdoor dining areas at an F&B shop at government housing estates: Housing Development Board (HDB)
- Outdoor dining areas in shopping malls: Mall authorities
There is a specific set of guidelines for you to follow if you wish to open up your F&B at Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay. You may find out more about these guidelines here (https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/circulars/2015/dec/dc15-12.aspx)
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
All businesses which have a year-end revenue of S$ 1 million or more must apply the GST to their products and services within 30 days of hitting the S$ 1 million mark. You may also register for GST if your revenue is below S$1 million– however, it then becomes optional to do so.
The GST is currently pegged at 7%. However, for the food & beverage industry, GST filing deducts any GST paid towards supplies for the shop. The difference of which is then refunded back to you.