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Industry Guide | Setting up a Retail Outlet Business Company in Singapore

Singapore’s retail sector has come roaring back since the Great Recession. Fueled by magnificent growth in Singapore’s tourism, the country’s retail outlets have been experiencing double-digit growth that is the envy of the world. In Singapore, we define retail outlets as shops or stores where business owners hawk their wares directly to the public. The Singapore Department of Statistics keeps track of all the different retails segments and report steady growth in many areas, including:

  • Automobiles
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Petrol sales
  • Supermarkets
  • Apparel sales
  • Medical goods
  • Toiletries
  • Furniture sales
  • Finance & business centers
  • Department stores

Every year, EnterpriseOne issues counts of the number of retailers, workers and gross revenues within Singapore’s retail sector. The industry has been spurred by the opening of a pair of Integrated Resorts, new shopping malls and the expansion of world-famous retailers all along Singapore’s main shopping belt, including:

  • Michael Kors
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Forever 21
  • H&M
  • Hermes

Read this article to learn about setting up a retail outlet in Singapore. Please bear in mind that this is only general guidance, not professional advice.

Retail Outlets – Key Facts and Requirements

  • Business Incorporation: Start your quest by registering your business with the Singapore Companies Registrar, ACRA. It’s quicker and easier than in any other place in the world. You can usually complete the process within 24 hours. You should plan to sell unique products and services that are not easily available in Singapore.
  • If you want to relocate here, apply for a Singapore Work Pass. This will allow you to oversee your business through its birth pangs.
  • Approval for Premises: You’ll need to get approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URAS) for alterations to your retail location if it is private property or in a conservation building. You’ll also need to satisfy fire safety requirements and get a Fire Safety Certificate from the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF). Work with your landlord if your location is in a shopping mall — you might be able to expedite the process.

Licenses for Setting Up a Retail Outlet in Singapore

Your license requirements depend on what you sell, especially if your products affect health or safety.

Licenses for various types of outlets

Let’s take a closer look at the license requirements for:

  • supermarkets
  • pharmacies
  • telecommunications stores
  • liquor stores
  • cosmetic stores

SUPERMARKETS

You’ll probably offer raw or cooked food at your supermarket, which means you’ll need the Supermarket License as specified by the Environmental Public Health Act. You will have to follow the guidelines for cleanliness and food safety, and to prevent food-related diseases. You can get the license in about five days if you meet these requirements:

  • You must be is either an:
    • Individual: Singaporean or Permanent Resident or
    • Company: that is registered with Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
  • You’ll need a clear, scaled plan (in metric format) of the premises. The plan must show the layout, preparation area, and toilets. Comply with the Code of Practice of Environmental Health when you design your supermarket.
  • Self-employed storeowners must fully fund their Medisave accounts before applying.
  • You can get a one-year Tobacco Retail License for $360 from the Tobacco Regulation Branch of the Health Products Regulation Group.

PHARMACIES

If you can’t be a doctor, you can still make your mother happy by opening a pharmacy. You’ll need a Certificate of Registration of a Pharmacy from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to operate a pharmacy that sells medicine.

Applying for a Certificate of Registration of a Pharmacy

  • If you are a first time applicant, you, as a company director, can nominate one or two employees as official company administrators. Go to cris@hsa, the Client Registration and Identification Service website, using your SingPass to access the system.
  • Submit the following with your application:
    • Store details and business registration number
    • Layout plan showing the dispensing and general sales areas
    • The pharmacy operating hours and expected opening date
    • Details of all medicine storage sites
    • Complete details about the pharmacist-in-charge. She must be registered with the Singapore Pharmacy Council and hold Form A and Form C Poisons Licenses if you want to sell medicine.
  • The Pharmacy Audit Squad from the HSA will descend upon your premises to do a pre-approval audit, which you must pass to get certified.
  • You’ll need to cough up an application fee of S$500.
  • The approved certificate is good for one year.

TELECOMMS STORES

You’ll need a Telecommunications Dealer’s License if you plan to sell, offer or possess for sale any telecommunication equipment.

Applying for a Telecommunications Dealer’s (Class) License

  • Your corporation will need to register for a Dealer’s Class License. Then, you’ll need to inform the Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) regarding the phone number and address of each location from which you’ll be selling. You can only sell approved telecommunications equipment as described in the First Schedule of the Regulations.
  • You have to be one of these:
    • a business registered under the Business Registration Act (Cap 32) or
    • a company registered or incorporated in Singapore under the Companies Act (Cap 50) or
    • a Limited Liability Partnership (“LLP”) registered under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act
  • You must fork over an application fee is S$50. It takes two working days to get your license.

Applying for a Telecommunication Dealer’s (Individual) License

  • The outlet-based Dealer’s Individual License is required by each premise.
  • You must be one of these:
    • a business registered under the Business Registration Act (Cap 32) or
    • a company registered or incorporated in Singapore under the Companies Act (Cap 50) or
    • a Limited Liability Partnership (“LLP”) registered under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act
  • You must shell out S$250 per outlet for each license. It’s good for five years.

Licenses/Requirements To Retail Certain Goods
Singaporeans love to drink and to look good doing it. Cosmetics and liquor retail stores are thus very popular businesses here. Because they can affect human safety and health, you’ll need licenses for these two types of stores.

LIQUOR

  • If you want to serve intoxicants, you’ll need a Liquor License from the Liquors Licensing Board.
  • Before you get the Liquor License, register your company with ACRA. If you run a society registered with the Registry of Societies (ROS), make sure you are at lease a committee member.
  • You must be one of these:
    • a Singapore Citizen,
    • a Singapore Permanent Resident
    • the recipient of a FIN issued by Immigration and Customs Authority (ICA)
  • If you are self-employed, make sure your Medisave contributions are up-to-date.
  • You can get your application approved in about 12 working days as long as you submit all of the required documents. Those 12 days begin when the Liquors Licensing Board receives your application and ends when you’re accepted or rejected. They will tell you your fate via post, SMS or email.
  • You should not be surprised to learn that the Board will reject incomplete and incorrect applications.
  • You’ll have to pay S$220 for a two-year license. It entitles you to sell beer and liquor for off-site enjoyment.

COSMETICS

  • The ASEAN Cosmetic Directive excuses you from getting licenses to import and sell cosmetic products in Singapore. However, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) must be notified via its PRISM website before putting any new product on the market.
  • It costs money to notify HSA. The riskier the product, the higher the Health Products Regulation Cosmetic Products / Oral Dental Gums. You’ll also pay more if the product has variations in color or other attributes. If you put it on your scalp, eyes, lips or if you put it in your mouth, you’ll pay a high-risk fee. You’ll pay a low-risk fee for face creams, skin whiteners and moisturizers.
  • The HSA should give you the necessary acknowledgement as soon as you pay up.

Other Licenses

  • Non-Residential TV License if you want to place a television or any equipment that picks up broadcast signals at your retail outlet.
  • Copyright License (for Establishment) if you want to play or perform copyrighted music at your retail outlet.
  • Wide-area Private Network License if you want to establish and provide wide area private network services such as walkie-talkie or subspace services within a non-localized area.

Hiring Staff

You might decide to import talent from your home country to run your outlet or franchise. To do this, you’ll need to procure the correct Singapore employment passes on their behalves. Don’t assume you’ll get these passes unless you receive approval from the Manpower Authority and your productivity vision coincides with that of the Singapore Government.

On a Final Note

To make the process go smoothly, hire 3E Accounting before opening a retail outlet in Singapore. We know all the legalities and will help you get all the necessary licenses. You’ll save time and the cost is very reasonable. Kindly visit our Singapore company incorporation services page for further details on how 3E Accounting can assist you in setting up your retail outlet business in Singapore.