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Guide to Setting Up a Hotel in Singapore

You will get information about setting up s hotel, lodging or a boarding house in Singapore in this article. Remember that information which is provided in this article is only for general guidance and it isn’t meant to replace professional advice.

Excellent performance of the tourism sector of Singapore in the year 2010 and the increased significance of the tourism sector is expected to bring positive results on hotel industry in coming years. The 3Q GDP figures of 2010 for Singapore reveal that restaurants and hotels grew by 8.1 percent.  A monthly surge in the arrival of visitors has led to robust demand for the hotel rooms in Singapore. In 2015 about 17 million tourists are expected and with this comes many opportunities in the hotel industry.

According to the economic forecasts, the revenue from rooms is set to have a growth of 10 to 12 percent per year and the average occupancy of hotels was around 80 to 85 percent in the year 2011. Singapore receives tourists from diverse backgrounds, ranging from jet setters to the business travelers to humble backpackers. Therefore, there is a great scope of business for the luxury hotels, midrange hotels, the boutique hotels and for the backpacker hotels. As it is a great time for the hoteliers to cash in on market opportunities present in Singapore, the leading chains of international hotels and boutique hotels are quickly expanding in Singapore.

 

Licenses for Setting up Hotel in Singapore:

The certificate of Registration and the License for Hotel Keeper:

Who requires the Certificate of Registration and the License for Hotel Keeper?

Under the Hotels Act, in case any one wishes to operate hotel in Singapore, whether it be a lodging house, guest house or a boarding house, that person must obtain the Certificate of Registration from the Hotel Licensing Board. The Certificate is for using premises as a hotel. The Hotel Keeper’s License for managing the hotel must also be obtained.

Prerequisites for the Hotel Keeper’s License and Certificate of Registration

One must fulfill following conditions before applying for the Registration Certificate and the Hotel Keeper’s License:

  1. Business Incorporation: Firstly, the hotel should be registered as a Singapore company, limited liability partnership or business with the Companies Registrar of Singapore, ACRA. You can refer to the Singapore Company Registration Guide for more details about incorporating a company in Singapore.
  2. Approval of the Premises: Before applying for the license, obtaining written approval from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is required for using the proposed premises as a hotel.
  3. Appointment of Hotel Keeper: A general manager or CEO should be appointed to take care of the administrative affairs of the hotel.
  4. Advertising the Application: Applicant has to advertise in both Lianhe Zaobao (a Chinese daily) and The Straits Times (an English daily) the application in the prescribed format, within 14 days of submitting date of application for Registration Certificate.
  5. Clearance from the National Environment Agency: Its necessary to get the Clearance Certificate (the Temporary Occupation Permit) or the Compliance Certificate (the Certificate of Statutory Completion) from Singapore’s National Environment Agency’s Planning and Development Department.
  6. Approval from the Fire Safety Department: The Fire Safety Permit or Temporary Fire Permit must be acquired from Singapore’s Fire Safety Bureau.
  7. Approval from the Building Construction Authority: The Certificate of Statutory Completion or the Temporary Occupation Permit has to be obtained from Singapore’s Building Construction Authority.

The application procedure for the Registration Certificate and the Hotel Keeper’s License is:

  1. Submitting the application form with the following supporting documents to the Hotel Licensing Board:
    • The written approval granted from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority
    • Resume of the proposed hotel keeper
    • Cover letter that indicates estimated dates of the proposed commencement of operations of hotel.
    • Copy of the advertisement published in Lianhe Zaobao and The Straits Times.
    • Copy of all approvals, certificates and permits from the different agencies that are listed above.
  2. Normally, processing of successful application takes about three weeks, provided that there aren’t any objections within fourteen days of the advertisement date.
  3. License is valid till December of every year and it’s renewable thereafter on annual basis.
  4. S$100 license fee must be paid upon the insurance of the license, and the annual registration fee that ranges from S$200 to S$400 must be paid depending on the number of rooms present in hotel.

 

Non Residential TV License

Who requires the Non Residential TV License?

One must obtain the Non-Residential TV License from Singapore’s Media Development Authority for operating or for having broadcasting apparatus on said premises that is capable of receiving the broadcasting signals. Personal computers set up for receiving TV programs are included.

Pre-Requisites for the Non-Residential TV License

Before applying for the license, a hotel should be registered as a Singapore Company, limited liability partnership or business with Singapore’s Registrar of Companies, ACRA.

Procedure of application for Non Residential TV License

The application procedure includes submitting a license application to Singapore’s Media Development Authority and paying the S$110 annual fee per television set. In case more than 90 percent of hotel rooms are installed with the TV sets, annual fee is S$82.5 per television set. Normally it takes about 5 working days for processing successful applications, after which the license is issued for validity period of one year.

Arts Entertainment License/Public Entertainment License

The Arts Entertainment License and Public Entertainment License issued by the Police Force of Singapore, under the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act, is needed for organizing ad-hoc entertainment (it doesn’t matter if the event offers paid entry or free entry) in any place that can be accessed by the public. Some examples of such events include: Fashion show, acrobatic show, gaming show, karaoke show, music show, magic show, dance show, puppet show and shows of indeterminate purpose

Application Procedure for Art Entertainment License/ Public Entertainment License

  1. Organizations or individuals can apply for the Arts/Public Entertainment License. If an individual is applying on behalf of an organization, she must either be citizen of Singapore, hold permanent residence in Singapore or be a foreigner on an employment pass.
  2. Before one applies for the license, one must obtain approval of relevant authorities like the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s approval for the premises that is to be used for event, the Fire Safety Certificate from the Civil Defense Force of Singapore, etc.
  3. In case the license is granted, the Licensing Officer can impose various conditions on events like beauty pageants, tee-shirt contests and fashion shows.
  4. The application procedure includes submitting the application form with the following documents and with payment of the license fee.
    • For plays, poetry recitals and play readings: finalized set of scripts and synopsis.
    • For art exhibitions: photograph of all exhibits.
    • For variety shows, rock/pop concerts: program schedule, titles and lyrics of original songs, the layout plan of location of stage.
  5. Processing of a successful application will be finished within a week (for the License of Public Entertainment) or eight weeks (for the License of Art Entertainment), upon which license will be issued.

 

The Public Establishment License

Who requires the Public Establishment License?

This license is needed for the organizing of public entertainment at the establishment. The establishments that require the license include nightclubs, bars, discotheques, cafes, KTV lounges, pubs, lounges, adult clubs, snack bars and restaurants.

Application procedure for Public Entertainment License

  1. Organizations or individuals can apply for the Public Entertainment License. If an individual is applying on the behalf of an organization, she should be a citizen of Singapore, permanent resident of Singapore or foreigner with Employment Pass.
  2. Before one applies for the license, one must obtain approval of relevant authorities like the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s approval for the premises that is to be used for event, the Fire Safety Certificate from the Civil Defense Force of Singapore, etc.
  3. The application procedure includes submitting the application form and payment of the annual fee that ranges from S$260 to S$1,200, depending on entertainment type and the establishment’s permitted operating hours.
  4. The Police Force of Singapore issues the Public Entertainment License and normally it is valid for a period of one year.

 

Copyright Permit

In case one intends on playing or reproducing copyrighted videos and/or music, that person must seek permission of the copyright owner before using the copyrighted work. Usually, the Collective Management Organizations represent copyright owners. For example, lyricists and composers are represented by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore and specific groups of record labels are represented by Horizon Music Entertainment Pte Ltd.

In case the organized event involves public performance or the reproduction of the lyrics or musical notes, one must apply for the Copyright Permit for the public performance rights or/and reproduction rights from the relevant CMO. The following activities typically require a Copyright Permit: featuring any live bands, playing the music from any original media like CDs, showing karaoke videos or music videos from the original media like DVDs or VCDs, playing music copied from the original media like digitized music from hard disk or computer etc. Application procedures include submitting an application form to the relevant CMO and payment of the applicable permit fee. The successful application will get processed within two to three weeks.

 

Other Licenses

  • Halal Certification: Singapore’s Islamic Religious Council MUIS, issues the Halal Certification on halal products, services and activities. One can voluntarily apply for the Halal Certification under the Eating Establishment Scheme or the Food Preparation Area Scheme. You should check out the details about the two schemes.
  • Massage Establishment License: In case the hotel has a spa or it has plans of offering “personal massage” services (including in-room), manicure treatments and food reflexology service, the Massage Establishment License has to be obtained from Police Force of Singapore. It should be noted that certain conditions for licensing and certain rules for Massage Establishments exist and must be demonstrated. Normally it takes about twelve working days for processing the successful applications, after which the license will be issued. S$525 is the annual fee for the license, which should be paid within 3 weeks of application approval.
  • License for Money Changers: In case you are planning to operate as a money changer who sells and buys foreign currency in the premises of your hotel, the Money Changer License has to be obtained from the Singapore Monetary Authority.
  • Permit for Buying, Storing and Using Hazardous Substances: In case you have plans to buy, store or use hazardous substances for cleaning and laundry activities performed in your hotel, you have to obtain the Permit for Hazardous Substances from Singapore’s National Environment Agency.
  • License for Swimming Pool: The License for Swimming Pool should be obtained from the Environmental Health Department of the National Environment Agency in order to operate swimming pools in hotels. Application procedures include submitting the application form with the supporting documents like a scaled layout plan of swimming pool, filtration system details, Company Incorporation Certificate, and results of chemical and bacteriological water sampling. Normally it takes a couple of weeks to process the successful applications, after which the license gets issued for a validity period of one year. S$120 is the cost of this license.
  • License for Tobacco Retail: This license is required from the Authority for Health Sciences for the sale of tobacco products on the hotel premises. Normally it takes about 4 working days in time spent processing successful applications, after which a license is issued for a validity period of one year. S$360 is the cost of this license.
  • License for Operating Food Processing Establishment: In case you plan on operating a food establishment for processing, manufacturing, packing or preparing of food, for the purpose of distribution to retailers and wholesalers, you will need a license from Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. After the necessary health requirements have been collected, the license will be issued. The annual license fee is between S$180 and S$600 and the fee depends on the food establishment’s size.
  • Registration for Importing Food and Food Appliances: It is necessary to have registered with Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority for importing food products and food appliances.
  • Flammable Materials/Petroleum Storage License: The Flammable Materials/ Petroleum Storage License should be obtained from the Civil Defense Force of Singapore, and the Fire Safety and Shelter Department for storage of flammable materials and petroleum products including storage of LPG, unless exempted specifically. Normally it takes about 7 working days for processing the successful applications, after which time the license is issued for validity period of one or two years. Depending on storage quantity, the license fee is between S$70 and S$1,200.
  • Advertisement License: The advertisement license is needed for displaying outdoors advertisement signage like electronic billboards and sky signs.
  • License for General Radio Communications: This license must be obtained for receiving or transmitting messages via radio communication.
  • License for Localized Private Network: For providing and establishing a localized private network service like use of the walkie-talkie services within a localized area, one will need to get this license.
  • License for Localized Radio Communications: The license should be obtained for operation of the remote control devices, walkie-talkies, paging devices, alarm or telemetry systems, mind implants, wireless voice or data systems (for example, wireless LAN) and other equipment for radio communications authorized by Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority.
  • License for Wide-area Network: This license is needed to establish and provide wide area private network services like walkie-talkie service within a non-localized area.
  • License for Discharging the Trade Effluents: In order to discharge generated trade effluents from a business activity into a watercourse like an open drain or sewer, this license must be obtained.
  • Approval for the Premises: Approval from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is needed for making alterations or additions to a conservation building. Previous approval from the Building and Construction Authority is needed for displaying signs on the conservation building. In case you plan on executing fire safety work, you must obtain approval from the Civil Defense Force of Singapore.

 

Summary:

As we have outlined above, there are many approvals and licenses that one must get before setting up a bordello or hotel in Singapore. Therefore, it’s advisable to engage a professional services firm like 3E Accounting that will obtain licenses on your behalf with a minimum of fuss.