Singapore caters to small businesses by allowing homeowners to conduct business from the comfort of their home. Yes, companies can use home address as their registered business address if they register through the Housing Development Board (HDB) or the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
To do so, businesses must meet the HDB and URA criteria and follow the guidelines properly. This is called the Home Office Scheme and available for public residential properties under HDB and private residential properties under the URA.
What is the Singapore Home Office Scheme?
Homeowners, tenants, or any occupants of a residential property can use the Home Office Scheme to set up a small office in their house. However, they can only do so if they meet all the guidelines and performance criteria. In addition to adhering to the requirements, it is also the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure their office arrangement does not cause any inconveniences to the neighbours.
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Home Office Scheme with HDB in Singapore
Want to run a business from the comfort of your HDB flat? Then you must meet the guidelines set by HDB.
First of all, your business can only qualify for the home office scheme with HDB if it is registered as sole-proprietorship, partnership, private limited company, or limited liability partnership with ACRA.
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HDB does not set any limits on how many employees a business can have. However, the Home Office Scheme will only allow two non-residents to work in your HDB flat. They can be business directors, partners, employees, or shareholders.
In terms of property tax, you will have to pay the owner-occupied concessionary tax rate if you are occupying the flat as your primary residence. Below is a more detailed overview of everything else businesses must keep in mind when applying for the home office scheme with HDB:
- You must be an eligible flat resident and be more than 18 years old
- The HDB flat should be your primary residence
- Your flat cannot be used as a registered address or home office for any society
- Unless your business is exempted by the Business Registration Act, it must be a registered entity with ACRA
You can complete office work for your business from the home office unless the business does any of the following:
- Create noise, smoke, bad odour, liquid or chemical waste
- Be a disturbance to the neighbours
- Be immoral or illegal
- Buy or sell any physical goods in or near the flat
- Have any advertisement displays, posters, or signages
- Affects the neighbourhood ambience and environment
Safety guidelines by HDB
Additionally, HDB requires the business to abide by the following safety requirements:
- The business activities must not damage any property or pose threat to anyone
- You must take all necessary safety precautions
- The electric consumption and structural load on the flat must not exceed the residential limit
- The business is required to comply with all regulations imposed by government authorities
- The business should also follow the fire safety requirements stated by Singapore Fire Safety and Shelter Department
Home Office Scheme with URA in Singapore
If you want to set up a home office under the URA, you will have to consider several restrictions. They are:
- The business cannot have more than two non-resident employees
- No external advertisements, posters, or signages are allowed
- The business activities must not produce noise, odour, smoke, or waste materials
- The business must not be a non-permitted business
If you are not the property owner and wish to use it under the Home Office Scheme, written consent and permission from the owner will be required before registration. Even after your business is registered under the Home Office Scheme, you need to abide by some performance criteria requirements. They are:
- The flat should be your main place of residence
- Business activities will only take place on the premises of the house
- Business activities cannot be unlawful or illegal
- The business must take all safety precautions required
- The business activities cannot exceed the electric consumption or structural load determined by the normal residential limit
- The business activities should neither adversely affect the residents of the area nor the environment
- The business must follow all regulations set by government authorities
- All licenses and approvals must be collected before starting the business
- Day-to-day business activities must not be a disturbance to the neighbours
How to Apply for the Home Office Scheme?
Applications for the Home Office Scheme can be made through GoBusiness Licensing. A non-refundable administration fee of S$20 is applicable. In addition to a Visa or Mastercard credit card for payment, you will need to obtain a SingPass before registration.
Even though your home office license will be valid for the duration of the business, it may be cancelled if you fail to meet the stated conditions.
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Permitted Businesses under the Singapore Home Office Scheme
Before you apply, ensure that your business is on the list of permitted businesses. Permitted businesses for this scheme are:
- Trading offices
- Insurance services
- Accountancy services
- Design services
- Estate agency
- Consultancy services
- Architectural services
- Advertising companies
- Technology-based businesses
- Knowledge-intensive businesses
- Financial planning services
- Transportation services
Non-permitted Business under the Singapore Home Office Scheme
On the other hand, the Home Office Scheme does not permit the businesses listed below:
- Employment agency
- Maid agency
- Car trading
- Beauty services including hairdressing and massage services
- Courier businesses
- Fortune-telling, card or palm reading
- Commercial schools
- Funeral homes
- Embroidery classes and dressmaking services
- Catering companies and restaurants
- Clinics and pharmacies
- Ophthalmic dispensaries
- Electrical products and household appliances repair services
- Holding sales meeting and seminars for marketing and sales
- Retail shops or activities
- Money lending businesses
- Manufacturing, processing, or preparation of certain goods
If your business belongs to one of these categories, it will not qualify for the Home Office Scheme. However, you can still use your home as the registered administration office address for ACRA registration purposes.
How to Terminate your Home Business?
If you choose to terminate the home-based business at any time, the original residential purpose of the house will be reverted. To submit the request, simply place your request through the e-feedback. After termination, you should not use the residential property as a home office anymore.