Travels and tours companies have historically done well in the powerhouse economic and cultural center that is Singapore. A travels and tours company is defined as one who renders the following services, according to the Singapore Tourism Board:
- Sale and arrangement of tickets required for travel (i.e. airplane, bus, ferry, train tickets, and the like)
- Organization of accommodations, tours and transfers (i.e. hotel, Airbnb, apartment stays, and other types)
- Aid in acquiring visas for foreign travel and relevant travel permits
- Advertising offers and promotions for the services mentioned above, or other similar services involving travel, whether for individuals or groups
Business owners who offer the services above but who own the means of travel (e.g. car, bus) or accommodations for rental or lease need not apply for a Travel Agency License. They must possess the relevant licenses to operate such businesses, however.
Whether involving land, air or sea travel, or foreign or local stays, it is a requirement for any sort of agency arranging these services to obtain special licenses to operate.
In order to apply for the relevant Travel Agency License, the company must first possess the following specific requirements (on top of incorporation requirements):
- All key personnel and staff must be certified of good moral character.
- A website set up for the company containing details of its offers and operations must be present. It must adhere to TRUST or the state-mandated services “Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Travel Related Users’ System”.
- At least S$100,000 of paid-up capital should be available. The net worth of the company must not be less than the same amount.
- The agency may be part of a company that deals in other industries; however, any office space shared for different functions must be clearly demarcated with physical signboards and in the office floor plan. This plan must be submitted as such.
- A rental contract or tenancy agreement certificate must accompany the floor plans submitted as proof of office location to be used for the travel agency.
- Floor space must have been purchased by the company or with a valid rental contract which includes terms for a year or more of occupancy
- Only a real person, approved by STB can be appointed as a Key Executive. Documents which may be asked by STB to approve includes a credit background check and a letter of reference.
- The office needs to have a signboard which clearly reflects the nature of the business.
Processing time for the application, should all requirements be met, is about one to two weeks depending on the complexity of applications. Should the complete documents be submitted, the application will be met with an In-Principle Approval letter sent via post (snail mail). There will be an application fee of S$300 . Each Travel Agency License is valid for two years and may be renewed thereafter through the same process.
In order to renew your license, STB would require you to submit the following documents:
- Audit for past two years
- Total annual turnover for past two years
- Increase of paid-up capital and/or submit a Banker’s Guarantee if the networth of your business is below S$100,000
- Business particulars to be confirmed
- Pay outstanding fines
- Fidelity Insurance and Fidelity Insurance Declaration amongst other documents that may be requested or required by the Board
A fee of S$300 applies to the renewal.
TIP: The license expires on December 31 of the next year after application. To make the most of your license application fee and its validity, it would be best to apply for your license in early January.