Before a restaurant can be set up in Singapore, the start-up phase of a F&B restaurant business will involve the following aspects:
- Company Incorporation
- Food Shop License
- Halal Eating Establishment Scheme
- Hiring Staff and CPF Registration
- Liquor License
- Entertainment License
- GST Registration
- Registration to import food Appliances and Processed Food Products
The first step to setting a restaurant is to incorporate a private limited company. Registering as a limited company can protect you against business risks and offers you limited liability throughout the business operation.
If it is your first time incorporating a company, read our beginner guides on Company Incorporation:
- Tips & Guidelines before you Start your Business
- Choosing the Right Business Structure
- Step by Step Guide for Singapore Company Registration
- Choosing your Preferred UEN Number
If you are the founder funding and managing the restaurant enterprise, it is highly recommended that you nurture the business at least until it stabilizes. After you have opened a restaurant in Singapore, your presence will likely be required, especially in the early years.
If you are a foreigner intending to start a F&B business in Singapore, note that according to the Singapore Immigration Regulations, all foreign entrepreneurs who intend to set up a restaurant in Singapore has to apply for a work pass before they can operate their business. You must also have applied and received the NEA license before you can apply for a work pass.
Food Shop License for the Start-Up Restaurant
Once you have registered your company and settled visa matters, you’ll have to identify a location that is ideal for your target market and the menu you serve.
According to the Environmental Public Health Act, it is compulsory to get a Food Shop License from the National Environment Agency (NEA) before retailing food and/or drinks. You must have chosen a location for restaurant operation before you apply for the Food Shop License because the premises will have to be inspected by the authorities before the license approval.
You will need to present the following documents when you are applying for the Food Shop License:
- A photocopy of one of the documents below (where it is applicable):
- both sides of the identity card (if you are applying as an individual),
- company’s business profile, or
- Certificate of registration obtained from Registrar of Societies
- Tenancy agreement between the applicant and landlord
- A scaled metric blueprint of the premises showing how the preparation area, kitchen, toilets, refreshment area, stores, and other sections are laid out
- Approval(s) from Housing Development Board (HDB) [if applying for HDB premises], Building and Construction Authority (BCA), and/or Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) [if applicable]
- List of food handlers you employed
- X-ray certificates for food handlers who are 45 years and above
- Typhoid inoculation certificates for all food handlers.
- Full list of Food Hygiene Officers employed using the prescribed form that you obtained from the relevant Regional Office
You are to apply for the Food Shop License online. The processing time will take appropriately 1 to 2 weeks. The premises where you intend to open your restaurant will be inspected before you get a license. The outcome of the inspection may affect the processing time. If the application and each of the supporting documents are in order, you’ll get an in-principle approval and a list that contains all the hygiene requirements to comply to.
You may then begin the renovation for the premises according to the layout that you have submitted when you applied for the Food Shop License. Once you have completed the setup or renovation of your premises, you should inform the NEA to arrange for an inspection on your site to verify the compliance for hygiene requirements. Upon hygiene verification, you’ll get a license that must be renewed every year.
Applying for Halal Certification
Muslims make up 15% of the Singapore population. If you are intending to also target the said audience, you must be halal certified. However, you should be ready to abide by the rigorous regulations set by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS). MUIS is the authority in charge of Halal certification in Singapore.
The Halal certification fee for restaurants ranges from S$480 to S$640. The floor area of your Singapore restaurant is the major factor that determines the fee. Effective from August 2006, anyone who wants to apply for Halal certification must do so online.
Hiring Staff for the Restaurant
You’ll have to hire local workers and perhaps foreign workers as soon as you are ready to open your Singapore restaurant. Before a foreigner can work, you’ll have help him or her to apply for a relevant work pass. Read the different types of Singapore work visa.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will go through your application and approve it if everything is in order.
As you hire more and more employees, Payroll Management can be a great chore.
Read why SMEs outsource their payrolls to professionals and why you should do so as well!
Timcole offers affordable Payroll Management services so that you can focus your energy and time in growing your business.
Applying for Liquor License
If you want to boost your restaurant business further by serving liquor to customers, you’ll have to obtain a liquor license. You can obtain the license from the Liquor Licensing Board.
You can apply for the license online, and the license will be issued to you for a valid period of 2 years. Kindly note that there are 2 types of license that you can obtain if you serve liquors in the premises of a restaurant. The two licenses are beer house license and public house license.
The public house license is further classified into first class and second class license based on the retail hours. The license fee ranges from S$520 to S$1600 for a duration of two years. An application will be processed within 14 days once you submit all the necessary supporting documents together with your application.
Applying for Entertainment License
Unless exempted, you will need a public entertainment or arts entertainment licence for any entertainment that you provide in any place where the public can access freely.
Note that if you provide or assist someone else in providing public entertainment without a license, you may be asked to pay a fine not exceeding S$10,000.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Registration
The Singapore government levies tax on almost all consumption of goods and services. This tax is known as GST (Goods and Services Tax). GST is paid when people spend money on goods or services, including imports. A business that generates up to S$1million annual revenue must register for GST.
After starting your Singapore restaurant, if you discover that your annual revenue will exceed S$1 million, you are expected to register for GST. Once you become liable, you have just 30 days to apply. If your estimate reveals that the annual revenue of your restaurant will not be up to S$1 million, then you can choose to register or not to register for GST.
Presently, the GST is charged at 7% rate on the prices of the goods or services. Once your Singapore restaurant is GST registered, you need to start charging the GST to your customers. When you are filing GST returns, the GST you charged will be deducted from the GST your restaurant paid towards every supply purchased. The difference will be the GST payable to IRAS or the amount refundable to you from IRAS.
Leave your GST Registration and Filings to the professionals.
Timcole offers GST Filing services at affordable rates.
Get a free consultation on whether your business is required to register for GST.
Applying for License to Import Food Ingredients
You may need to import some ingredients from other countries in order to serve special recipes at your Singapore restaurant. If you have intentions to import food appliances and processed food products, you’ll have to register with Singapore Food Agency (SFA) or apply for a trader’s licence.
Processed food products include flour, raw or semi-processed food ingredients, raw spices, bottled water, wines, liquors, confectioneries, noodles, beverages, etc. The essence of this license is to guarantee the safety of every food entering Singapore.
Ensure you check the class of your food product. SFA categories food and food products. The conditions and requirements vary for different categories. Note that you will need to obtain the general import/export license from Singapore Customs before you apply for the trader’s license with SFA. We recommend that you engage a local logistic company to apply on your behalf in order to save cost and reduce the processing time.
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