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Set up a Coffee Shop Business in Singapore

Singapore food & beverage industry is growing massively and that is truly evident from the statistics collected by Singstat that showed that the value of F&B services totalled approximately 603 million Singapore Dollars in the year 2013 which were 2.9 percent more than what was estimated in the year 2012. Since 2013, the industry has been booming and it doesn’t come to us as a surprise that Singapore has earned the title of the ‘Food Capital of Asia’.

Looking at the booming F&B industry and other factors such as business-friendly environment, flexible tax system, and stable economy, many foreign entrepreneurs are now seeking to open restaurants and coffee shops in Singapore. If you too are thinking of setting up a coffee shop business in Singapore, then we’d say now is the best time to do so. However, to set up a coffee shop business in Singapore successfully, you need to understand the business set up process. You need to get your business licensed and registered before you start your operations in Singapore.

Take a look at the guide that we’ve created for you to see the exact process for setting up a coffee shop business in Singapore.


Guide on Setting up a Coffee Shop Company Business in Singapore

Here’s a step by step guide on how to set up a coffee shop in Singapore and tap the profit churning opportunities that the food and beverage industry has to offer to entrepreneurs.

Planning is Key

First things first, you need to invest time in planning your coffee shop business in Singapore. Create a detailed business plan that includes financial projections, marketing strategies, pricing plan, budgeting, suppliers list, service standards, operations and hiring policies. It’s also advisable to create a contingency plan and exit strategy so that you know exactly what to do in unexpected situations.

Raise Business Capital

The labour cost, rental rates and the cost of living are quite high in Singapore. It will take roughly around 50,000 to 60,000 Singapore Dollars to establish your shop and start your operations here. Therefore you need to have a well-devised strategy related to how you will raise your capital.

Setting up a Coffee Shop—Company Incorporation

Once you have a proper business plan and enough capital to setup your coffee shop, it is then time to make your business legit.

The start up phase of setting up a coffee shop 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.

Design & Build Your Coffee Shop

Now create your dream team of interior designers, contractors and architects to design and build your coffee shop in Singapore. Get in touch with different designers and contractors, request for quotes and evaluate your options to create a team that can help you build a coffee shop on time and on budget exactly the way you’ve envisioned base on the floor plan.

Get Your Mandatory Licences & Registrations

To start your business operations in Singapore, you will need to get mandatory licences and registrations. Take a look at what you will need:

Food Shop License
You will have to apply for a FSL (Food Shop License) as you will be selling food and drinks at your shop. Here is a self-checklist for easy reference on the requirements to fulfil. This is a mandatory licence for business owners to have under the EPHA (Environmental Public Health Act). The main licensing purpose is to make sure the shop owner follows and abides by the cleanliness & food safety rules and take measures to prevent food borne diseases.

The Food Shop Licence including entertainment outlets serving food e.g. pub, bar, discotheque, and night club, costs S$195.00 and is valid for one year. Please click here for online services for food shop licence.

Food Shop Licence supporting document(s) require:

  1. Planning Permission/Change of Use approval
  2. A copy of NRIC
  3. A copy of ACRA registered Company Business Profile
  4. Letter of authorization (if filer option is selected)
  5. Layout plan of the premises
  6. Floor plan (location plan)
  7. Tenancy Agreement/ Letter of consent
  8. Pest Control Contract
  9. Cleaning programme/schedule
  10. Basic food hygiene certificate/Refresher food hygiene certificate
  11. Documentary proof of vehicle ownership (For food caterer only)
  12. Others

Basic FHC (Food Hygiene Course)
The National Environment Agency (NEA) basically regulates the food & beverage industry in Singapore. The body has set certain food hygiene standards that must be met by food business and coffee houses. To ensure that your chefs, kitchen helpers and cooks comply with the standards set by NEA, it is important that they sign up for the food hygiene course and get certified and registered. So make sure that your food handlers sign up for this course and obtain their certification such as WSQ Food Hygiene Course.

Food Hygiene Standards in Singapore plays a big part in the F&B services. A Food Hygiene Officer (FHO), helps to oversee and maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation. Licensees of certain categories of food establishments are required to engage a FHO to regulate food hygiene in their premises.

Class 5 – Temporary Liquor Licence
This is needed if you intent to sell liquor. You will need to apply for this licence from the LLB (Liquors Licensing Board). The LLB issues 2 types of licenses- licensing for on premises sale of liquor and sale of liquor off the premises.

GST (Goods and Services Tax) Registration for Companies/Businesses
Though this registration is not mandatory for every coffee house owner in Singapore but it is definitely mandatory for those with more than 1 Million Singapore Dollar turnover, annually. Such business owners should apply for GST registration.

Halal Eating Establishment Scheme
If you are also offering halal food products at your coffee shop, then it is important to get your coffee house certified under the Halal Eating Establishment Scheme. This certification can really boost your business sales if you’re targeting Muslim coffee drinkers. Learn more on how to apply with Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura.

Public Entertainment Licence
Unless you are exempted by law, this licence is mandatory for all business owners to get the public entertainment and arts entertainment licence. It’s a requirement you have to meet. Learn more on Public Entertainment Rules and Regulations.


For Employment Matters

CPF Employer Registration

In Singapore, employers have certain responsibilities that they must meet to abide by the law and run their business successfully. Similarly, once you establish your operations in Singapore, you need to get a CPF employer registration. Upon registration you will get a CPF submission number which will enable you to engage in board transactions and pay Central provident Fund (CPF) contributions for your staff members / employees. This is a great way to help your employees save for retirement and enjoy financial independence once they retire.

Work Pass

As an employer, it is your responsibility to apply for work passes for your foreign workers (unskilled and semiskilled). They must have a valid work pass before they start working in Singapore.

Your local resident director (nominee director nominated by yourself) is required to obtain the (Food Shop License) first before applying for any work passes for your foreign workers.


For Premise Alteration and Changes

To operate successfully in Singapore, developing a good understanding of the law and meeting legal requirements is a must. To make changes to the conserved building or property alternations like from coffee shop to a restaurant, you need to inform and get approval from Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore. CUA (Change Use Approval) is required is whether or not you own the property or are on rent.


Others Requirements

Similarly, you’ll also have to get advertisement licence, and register your business with the respected authority if you want to import processed food items and appliances. Please note that this excludes meat, fish and perishable items like fruits and vegetables.

For more information on coffee shop business setup in Singapore or company incorporation service assistance, get in touch with us today. We have a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals who can help you set up your business in Singapore easily. We can provide you with end to end service assistance and help you meet all the legal requirements and obtain licences needed to start operations in Singapore.