A significant factor in establishing any business is abiding by the government’s rules and regulations. Compliance to the government allows a business to run smoothly and free from any sanction or penalties. In Singapore, a major part of this compliance can be attributed to acquiring the right business permit and licence. For any entrepreneur interested in Singapore company incorporation, it is of the essence to first gain a good understanding of the corresponding permit or licence that must be obtained prior to conducting a business activity at the entrepreneurs’ industry of choice. This guide will provide you with a glimpse to Singapore business permits and licenses application via the Online Business Licensing Portal.
The government agency in charge of a certain permit or licence may vary depending on the industry and business activity. Only after the Singapore business registration in ACRA will an individual or entity be allowed to submit an application for a permit or licence. A SingPass will also be required for applications that will be facilitated online.
There are three types of permits and licences. A Compulsory Licence applies to certain business types that require a special licence before being allowed to commence operations. An Occupational Licence is required for individuals or entities that are offering professional services. This usually applies to accountants, lawyers, doctors or architects. Lastly, a Business Activity permit or licence is required for particular business activities such as selling of liquor or importing of goods that will be sold.
Finding the Right Permit or Licence via OLBS
The government offers a complete online licensing portal that individuals can utilize to find relevant permits and licences to their business industry. Specifically designed to assist startup entrepreneurs who do not have prior knowledge about Singapore’s licence and permit application process, the Online Business Licensing Services (OLBS) website allows individuals to seek relevant permits and licences for their business activities. The OLBS does not cover Occupational Licences. Usually, it is the governing organization overseeing a certain profession that processes these licences.
One can search for applicable licences via OLBS by either inputting relevant keywords in the search button of the website or by navigating the site according to government agency, industry or business activity.
Other transactions that can be done via OLBS include:
√ Directly applying for the permit or licence. A user may submit a maximum of ten (10) permit or licence applications to the government agency in charge
√ Getting in touch with the assigned government agency for a discussion
√ Downloading relevant forms needed to for an application
√ Updating an existing permit or business license
√ Inquiring about business permits and licences
The application process is divided into 5 essential steps:
1. License Selection
2. SingPass submission
3. Providing General Information
4. Filling Out License Forms
5. Sending out of Application
Note that a SingPass is not required when searching for the applicable permit and licence for your business. It will only be requisite for application, termination, renewal or update of permit or licence.
The application process may take a few days to several weeks. Applications that are not accessible for online processing may take longer so it is important to consider the permit and licence application duration before scheduling a business’ launch date.