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Singapore has been ranked second in the World Bank’s list of ‘easiest countries to do business.’ The city-state lacks corruption and has a free trade policy. The corporate tax rates are also relatively low as compared to other nations. All these attract thousands of foreigners every year to Singapore.
If you are a foreigner willing to register a Singapore business, you might also want to know about the business license requirements.
Many foreigners ask this question if they need a license to commence business activities in Singapore. Mostly, this question comes from the people who have incorporated their businesses in UAE before. This is due to the fact that in UAE, every company must obtain a license to commence operations, and this is required for every company. So even if you incorporate a company in UAE, you can not start the operations until you have obtained the license. So technically incorporation process is incomplete until the license is obtained.
However, in Singapore, the scenario is different. Most of the businesses can start the operation right after incorporation. They don’t need to obtain any license.
The standard procedure in countries like the UAE is:
In Singapore, the procedure is as follow:
Most Singapore businesses (around 95%) can start commencing operations right after the business registration. The concept of a general license does not exist in Singapore. Incorporating a company is sufficient and considered a kind of approval to start commercial activities.
However businesses that are in regulated sectors need to obtain a specific license to operate.
Examples of such businesses are:
However, the businesses that require any license are quite a few. They make 5% of the total companies incorporated in Singapore.
Most professional businesses, such as IT consultancy, web design, app design, etc., do not require any business licenses.
Many factories and even warehouses do not require any license.
There are three main licenses required by a Singapore business:
Such a license is required before the commencement of business operations in a specific business sector. For instance, a travel agency needs a travel agency license.
Working professionals like accountants, doctors, architects, and lawyers need an occupation license to operate. The professional organizations in their respective fields issue the necessary permit. For instance, SMC (Singapore Medical Council) grants a license to medical practitioners. A medical practitioner cannot practice in one’s field without registering with SMC first.
For specific businesses, a particular business activity-based license is required. For instance, a liquor store needs a liquor license from SPF (Singapore Police Force) to operate and sell liquor.
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