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Industry Guide | Setting up an Event Management Company Business in Singapore

Singapore’s event management industry is bursting at the seams. As the quintessential global business city, Singapore continues to burnish its image as a top city for conventions, exhibitions and international meetings. No other venue in Asia comes close to the attractiveness of Singapore as the preferred destination for all types of events.

The spectacular launch of Singapore’s Integrated Resorts puts the city on par with Las Vegas as vacation and convention center. At the forefront is Singapore’s event management industry, which is reaping the rewards the Government’s visionary efforts at expanding entertainment, arts and sports, along with the infrastructure to support this growing part of the vibrant economy.

Event management companies looking for exciting moneymaking opportunities are coming to Singapore, encouraged by the simplicity and ease of starting up a business. Once you incorporate here, you generally don’t need any special or expensive licenses, although certain types of events may require a license.

Here are the three major event classes that interest event management companies:

  • MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions).
  • Performing arts events, including plays, music, dance, puppets, etc.
  • Leisure and lifestyle events, including sports, recreation, fashion, adventure, social and community events.

In this guide, we’ll tell you what you need to know to establish your event management company in Singapore and the permits or licenses you might need when organizing certain events. We will not cover gambling junkets, which are governed by the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore.

Forming an Event Management Company

To get the ball rolling, you need to incorporate your business in Singapore. Most entrepreneurs favor a private limited company structure because of its flexibility. With our help, you can incorporate your private limited company in only a day. For further details, refer to how to register Singapore company.

Requirements for Event Management Licensing

Having successfully incorporated your Singapore business — with 3E Accounting’s expert assistance, of course — it’s time to think about applying for any permits or licenses you might need. These normally are short-term licenses that are specific to individual events. Here is a summary:

Permit or License Needed To Organize
Arts Entertainment License Plays, musical performances, dance performances, art exhibitions, variety shows and pop/rock concerts
Copyright Permit Playing or reproducing copyrighted music or videos at any event
Public Entertainment License Entertainment events (excluding arts entertainment events) to which the public has access.
Trade Fair Permit Trade fairs
Animal Exhibition License Events where animals will be exploited or be involved in performances
Other Licenses or Approvals Other activities

Arts Entertainment License

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) issues the Arts Entertainment License. You’ll need one to organize any sort of public arts entertainment event, indoors or out. This includes, unless specifically exempted, pop and rock concerts, variety shows, art exhibits, dance performances, plays and musical performances. The police must be notified at least seven days in advance of exempted events.

Applying for an Arts Entertainment License

  • You can be an organization or and individual to apply for an Arts Entertainment License. If you are an individual, you must be a:
    • Singapore citizen,
    • Singapore permanent resident, or
    • Holder of a valid employment pass

It is preferable for individuals to be senior managers of the sponsoring organization.

  • You’ll have to:
    • Complete and submit an application form
    • Submit supporting documents:
      • For art exhibitions: A photograph of each exhibit.
      • For plays, play readings and poetry recitals: A finalized set of synopses and scripts.
      • For variety shows, dance and pop/rock concerts: A program schedule, layout plan of the stage location, original song titles and lyrics (if applicable).
    • Pay the license fee:
      • For art exhibitions, play readings, poetry readings, puppet shows and tableaux: S$5 per day.
      • For plays, music and dance performances, variety shows and pop/rock concerts: S$10 per day.
  • Give yourself eight weeks lead time to allow the application to be processed and the license granted.
  • You can only use the license on the event dates.

Copyright Permit

Will your event feature the playing or reproducing of copyrighted music and videos? Then you’ll need a copyright permit. Fun fairs, carnivals, road shows, exhibition and concerts might require this kind of license. You’ll have to secure permission from the copyright owners, who are frequently represented by:

  • Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS): Represents composers and lyricists
  • Horizon Music Entertainment Pte Ltd: Represents a specific group of record labels
  • InnoForm Entertainment Pte Ltd: Represents major record labels
  • Recording Industry Performance Pte Ltd (RIPS): Represents major record labels
  • Other collective management organizations, or CMOs

The appropriate CMO must grant you permission for the public performance or reproduction of music and lyrics. For example, you will need a Copyright Permit if you:

  • play music from original media, such as CDs
  • feature live bands
  • show music videos or karaoke videos from original media, such as VCDs or DVDs
  • play music which has been copied from original media, such as digitized music from a computer or hard disk
  • show music videos and karaoke videos which have been copied from original media, such as music and karaoke videos using Karaoke-On-Demand systems

Applying for a Copyright Permit

You’ll have to complete and submit to the appropriate CMO an application form and permit fee. It normally takes two to three weeks to get the permit, which is valid only on the event dates.

Public Entertainment License

The Public Entertainments & Meetings Act empowers the Singapore Police Force to issue a Public Entertainment License for ad-hoc public entertainment, whether entry is free or paid. This includes events like:

  • Acrobatic or gymnastic shows
  • Beauty pageants or fashion shows (other than those exempted)
  • Boxing or wrestling matches
  • Circus shows
  • Computer gaming events
  • Demonstrations of art & craft, culture or sports (other than those exempted)
  • Gaming shows (other than those exempted)
  • Karaoke shows
  • Hootenannies
  • Magic shows (other than those exempted)
  • Performance of music, singing or dancing or variety act (other than specified arts entertainment and those exempted)
  • Transmission of recorded music (other than those exempted)

You must notify the Police at least seven days before exempted events. For details on exempted events, refer to:

Applying for a Public Entertainment License

  • You can be an organization or and individual to apply for an Arts Entertainment License. If you are an individual, you must be a:
    • Singapore citizen,
    • Singapore permanent resident, or
    • Holder of a valid employment pass.
  • You might need approvals from certain authorities before receiving the license. For example, you might need to speak with the Urban Redevelopment Authority for premise approval or to the Singapore Civil Defense Force for a Fire Safety Certificate.
  • The Licensing Officer may impose certain conditions, especially for fashion shows or beauty pageants.
  • You’ll have to:
    • complete and submit an application form
    • pay the license fee, as applicable:
      • S$20 per day or
      • S$40 per 7 days, consecutive or otherwise.
  • You’ll get your license in a week, assuming it’s approved.

Trade Fair Permit

The National Environment Agency wants to talk to you if you’re organizing a trade fair, which is any activity that requires makeshift stalls to sell food, merchandise or entertainment. If they like what they hear, they will issue you a Trade Fair Permit. You must be one of these to qualify:

  • Grassroots organization
  • Town council
  • Charity
  • Civic, educational, religious or social institution

The Trade Fair Permit Guidelines and Requirements will give you the do’s and don’ts. You had better first line up the support of local shopkeepers and get any appropriate approvals from authorities and agencies.

Applying for a Trade Fair Permit

  • You’ll have to:
    • complete and submit an application form
    • submit supporting documents:
      • Map of the venue
      • A scaled layout plan of the stalls
      • A list of stallholders
      • A copy of the fair site daily cleaning schedule and the contract with the Cleaning Contractor
      • Approval letters from relevant agencies or authorities
    • pay a permit fee of S$55
  • Don’t be surprised if the Licensing Officer imposes certain compliance requirements.
  • It’ll take about three days to get your license.

Animal Exhibition License

To protect the public from wild, diseased, mistreated, or dangerous animals, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) must first issue a license before you can feature live animals at your event, whether through exhibit or performance.

Follow the Animal Exhibition Licensing Conditions and Guidelines and Animal Performances Guidelines. The National Environment Agency (NEA), other relevant agencies and the property owner will need to give you permission as well.

Applying for an Animal Exhibition License

  • You’ll need to :
    • complete and submit an application form
    • submit the following supporting documents:
      • Approval letter from landlord / management of exhibition venue
      • Letter of no objection from appropriate NEA Environmental Health District Office
      • Exhibition layout plan and related information
    • pay the license fee:
      • License fee: S$126
      • Application fee: S$94.50
  • The AVA will interrogate you and inspect the exhibition premises before granting a license. They’ll want to know what you’re really up to, including the theme or purpose of the exhibition, who’s running the show and information on the animals you’ll be exposing to the public.
  • If AVA finds the information satisfactory, it will issue you an Approval Letter.
  • It takes about a week to process the application.

Other Licenses and Approvals

Here are some additional licenses and approvals:

  • Advertisement License: If you’re going to publicize your event with outdoor advertisement signs, such as sky signs and electronic billboards, you’ll need an Advertisement License from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.
  • No Objection Letter for Selling Food and Beverages: If you’ll be serving food or beverages at your event, get a ‘No Objection Letter’ from the National Environment Agency.
  • Fireworks Display License: The Singapore Police Force must issue you this license if you want to display indoor or outdoor fireworks at your event.
  • Notification to Conduct Lotteries: Your event can’t have lotteries, lucky draws or door prizes unless you notify the Singapore Police Force at least one month in advance.
  • Newspaper Permit: Don’t even think about distributing an offshore newspaper at you event without first getting a Newspaper Permit from the Media Development Authority of Singapore.
  • Non-Residential TV License: If you have on your event premises any broadcasting equipment that can receive broadcasts, such as TV sets or PCs that can receive TV programs, get a Non-Residential TV License from the Media Development Authority.
  • Approval for Fire Safety Work on Premises: If you anticipate carrying out any fire safety work at the event premises, get approval from the Fire Safety and Shelter Department of Singapore.
  • Approval for Using Certain Types of Premises and Public Spaces: You might need one or more of the following:
    • Approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for certain types of venues (such as conservation sites)
    • Approval from the National Parks Board for using parks as event premises
    • Approval from the Singapore Police Force and Land Transport Authority for using a segment of a road for an event.
    • Approval from the Singapore Tourism Board for an event along Orchard Road.
    • Approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to use parking lots for non-parking purposes.
    • Temporary Occupation License from the Singapore Land Authority to temporarily occupy state land for events such as carnivals, tee-shirt contests, trade fairs, expositions, etc.