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Guide on Setting up a Food and Beverage Restaurant Company Business in Singapore

Industry Guide | Opening a Food and Beverage Restaurant Company in Singapore

The start up phase of Setting up Restaurant in Singapore involves the following important aspects:

  • Company Incorporation
  • Food Shop License
  • Hiring staff and CPF Registration
  • Halal Eating establishment Scheme
  • Liquor license
  • Entertainment license
  • Registration to import processed Food products and Appliances
  • GST Registration


Company Incorporation

For detail, see Singapore company incorporation guide.

Whether you are the chef de’ founder or the founding manager injecting finance and managing the restaurant enterprise, either way, the business in its infantile phase requires you to nurture at least until it breaks even and stabilizes. Successful opening of a restaurant in Singapore will likely require your presence especially in the early years.

Under the Singapore Immigration Regulations, foreign entrepreneurs who wish to setup a restaurant in Singapore will be required to apply for an work pass if they wish to relocate to Singapore to operate their business.

Kindly remind that you must obtain the NEA license before submission of the work pass application. It is our Company’s policy that our nominee director will not be involved in your business operation therefore if your business is required to apply for a license, our nominee director will have to step down when you are ready to proceed with the license application.


Food Shop License for Restaurant

After you have settled your company registration and relocation visa matters, you will need to identify a space that is ideally suited for the menu you serve and your target market. Under the Environmental Public Health Act, it is mandatory to secure a Food Shop License issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) for retailing food and/or drinks. Finalizing the place for restaurant operations should precede the application for Food shop License because the authorities will inspect the premises before granting an approval for the license.

The application for the Food Shop License must be accompanied by the following supporting documents:

  • A photocopy of one of the following (where applicable):
    • Both sides of identity card [for application as Individual] or
    • Business profile of the company or
    • Certificate of registration from Registrar of Societies
  • A scaled metric layout plan of the premises showing the layout in the kitchen, preparation area, refreshment area, toilets, stores, etc.
  • Tenancy agreement between the landlord and the applicant.
  • Approval(s) from Housing Development Board (HDB) [for HDB premises only], Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) & / or Building and Construction Authority (BCA) [where applicable]
  • The list of food handlers employed.
  • Typhoid inoculation certificates for food handlers.
  • X-ray certificates for food handlers aged 45 years old and above.
  • The list of Food Hygiene Officers employed using the prescribed form obtainable from the relevant Regional Office.

Application for the Food Shop License for your Singapore restaurant is made online and the processing time is approximately 1-2 weeks. There will be a pre-licensing inspection of the premises where you plan to open your restaurant and depending on the outcome of the inspection, the processing time may be affected. If the application and supporting documents are in order, an in-principle approval and a list of hygiene requirements for compliance will be given to the applicant.

You may commence the set up or renovation of the premises for your Singapore restaurant according to the layout plan submitted in your Food Shop License application. Once set up or renovation of the premises is complete, you will need to inform the NEA to arrange for a site inspection to verify the compliance of all the hygiene requirements. Upon verification of the hygiene requirements, the license will be issued. The license has to be renewed every year.

For normal circumstances, a good and reputable renovator will assist you in the application of NEA license always.


Hiring Staff

Starting a restaurant means you will need to hire local and perhaps foreign workers as well. For foreign staff, you will need to apply for a relevant work pass which is subject to approval by manpower authorities.
We can activate the CPF account for you so you can start contributing CPF for the local staffs.


Halal Certification

To seize a slice of the market when opening a restaurant in Singapore, where Muslims constitute a significant proportion (15% of the population), it pays to be a Halal certified establishment provided that you restaurant can keep up with the rigorous stipulations laid by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) – the authority for Halal certification in Singapore.

The fee for Halal certification for restaurants varies from S$480 to S$ 640 depending on the floor area. Since August 2006, all new applications for Halal certification are to be made online.


Liquor License

If before or after starting your restaurant business in Singapore, you wish to add an extra zing to your service by serving liquor in your restaurant, you would require a Liquor License. Retail of liquor including beer in restaurants would require a Liquor License from the Liquor Licensing Board.

Applications can be submitted online and the license will be issued for a period of 2 years. For liquors served in the premises of the restaurant, the license is of 2 types namely, public house license and Beer house license.
Depending on the retail hours the public house license is classified into first and second class license. The fee for the license varies from S$520 to S$1600 for a period of two years. An application with all the required supporting documents submitted can be processed within 14 days.


Entertainment License

Unless exempted, a public entertainment (PE) or arts entertainment licence is required under the Public Entertainments & Meetings Act for any entertainment that is provided in any place to which the public or any class of public has access, whether gratuitously or otherwise. Any person who provides or assists in providing any public entertainment without a license shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.


License for Importing Food Ingredients

As a restaurant serving specialty food, you may have to bring in some indigenous ingredients from other country. If you intend to import processed food products and food appliances, you need to apply for a trader’s licence or register with Singapore Food Agency (SFA). Processed food products includes raw spices, raw or semi processed food ingredients, flour, bottled water, liquors, wines, confectioneries, noodles & pasta, beverages, etc. The objective behind this license is to ensure the safety of food entering Singapore.

Do remember to Check what your food product is classified as. SFA classifies food and food products into different categories. Specific conditions and requirements apply to each of the categories.

Note that you must first obtain the general import/export licence (called Central Registration (CR) Number) from Singapore Customs before applying for the trader’s licence with SFA.

We will highly recommend engaging a local logistic company to do it on your behalf as it will be much efficient processed and cost saving as well.


Goods and Services Tax (GST) Registration

The government of Singapore levies a tax on consumption of goods and services called GST (Goods and Services Tax) and the tax is paid when money is spent on goods or services, including imports. Any business that has annual revenue of S$1million or more must register for GST.

If at anytime after starting your Singapore restaurant, you determine that you will be exceeding the annual turnover of S$1 million, you are required to register for GST and you must apply within 30 days of becoming liable. If you estimate that your annual restaurant revenue will be less than S$1 million then it is left to your discretion to register for GST.

Currently the GST is charged at the rate of 7% on the price of the goods or services sold. Once your Singapore restaurant is registered with GST, you will have to charge the GST to your clients. At the time of filing the GST returns, such GST charged is deducted from the GST your restaurant has paid towards the supplies purchased. The difference is the GST payable by your restaurant to IRAS or the amount to be refunded by the IRAS to you.
For more details on GST, see Singapore Goods and Services Tax (GST) guide.

Setup a Food and Beverage Restaurant Company