How do I open a restaurant or cafe in Singapore & what licenses/certificates are required?

Sumeet Shan, Master Chef at my own kitchen
Answered August 06, 2018

Here are the 3 most basic steps to open your own restaurant or café in Singapore, provided that you already completed your feasibility study and raised enough capital for your new business.

1. Incorporate your company

This is the first step in legitimizing your business. If you are a foreigner, you need to apply for an Entrepass with the Ministry of Manpower. Then, you need to get a Singpass that allows you to transact safely online with different government organizations. After acquiring your Singpass, go to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authorities’ Bizfile online portal. This is where you register the name and type of your company. Name registration costs S$15 and business registration fee is S$50 – S$600 for locals or S$300 – S$1200 for foreigners, depending on the type of company.

2. Build your space

Once you have chosen the location for your new restaurant/cafe, it is time to design and build your business space. Finalizing your location is necessary before acquiring the Food Shop License because your restaurant will be inspected before the Food Shop License is granted.

You will need to secure the following documents/requirements during the building stage of your business:

  1. Planning Permission from Land Agencies
  2. Tenancy Agreement
  3. Compliance with the Code of Practice of Environmental Health (COPEH) from the National Environment Agency

3. Get the necessary licenses

After finishing building your business space, you need to get the following licenses or requirements in order to legally operate your restaurant in Singapore:

  1. Food Shop License – This is required for all food retail establishments in Singapore. Only apply after you have signed your tenancy agreement and completed the physical layout of your restaurant.
  2. Basic Food Hygiene Course – This course is necessary for all food handlers in Singapore.
  3. Liquor License – Apply for this license if you intend to sell liquor in your restaurant.
  4. License for Importing Food Ingredients – You will need this license if you are going to use ingredients that are sourced from outside of Singapore.
  5. Halal Certification – This certification is voluntary but advisable due to the sizeable Muslim population in Singapore.
  6. Central Provident Fund Registration – Employers need to register to this mandatory social security savings plan.
  7. Government Service Tax Registration – You can apply for this registration once you have reached an annual revenue of at least S$1 Million.

For a hassle-free application of necessary licenses, you can visit LicenceOne, a one-stop online portal for business licensing in Singapore. I have a friend who used this service when he opened his bar in Singapore and he highly recommends it.

Good luck on your new business!

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