Starting a Food and Beverage Business in Singapore - the Definitive Guide

There is a strong market for the food and beverage industry in Singapore. However, before opening up this form of business, you need to have adequate information as to what exactly you would like to invest in and the process to kick start your desire. This guide will act as a knowledge bank for the registration and startup phase of your food and beverage business dream.

The basic step in starting any business in Singapore is in setting up and establishing a company. Whether you are a Singapore native or an expatriate, you can easily register your company by engaging a local consultant with the relevant expertise and know how. The company is registered as a Private Limited Company making it a legal entity where shareholders will not be held accountable for the debts the company holds which are above their contribution amount.

Piloto Asia can help you start your food business in Singapore.

Schedule an appointment with out incorporation specialist. We can formulate a bespoke solution for your unique business need.


Food License

Securing a food shop license is one of the first things you ought to do before opening up your store. The license to run food or drink retailing is issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Relevant authority figures will be assigned the task to assess the restaurant condition to ascertain whether it is fit for a go ahead in operations.

Applications for this license are easily made online and take a period of about one week to two to come out. If however the premises do not pass the inspection conducted, then the process may take a longer time for the necessary adjustments to be done. A premise may fail inspection in cases where: you failed to give accurate information regarding the premises on the application form, your premises does not meet all the hygiene requirements, or if you lack of a proper Food Safety Management System for the premises.

When making an application for the food license, you need to have with you

  • A copy of your identification or business profile or certificate of registration depending on what is applicable to your store.
  • A tenancy agreement with the landlord for the premises
  • A scaled layout of the store with the different sections like kitchen, toilets, storage area and others labeled
  • A list of employees who will be handling the food and registered by NEA. Registration can be done by filling the declaration of food handlers form
  • Health certificates for the employees to handle the food. They need to exhibit that they are fit to work in the food industry without posing a danger to consumer. A typhoid inoculation certification is required.
  • In case of food handlers aged 45 years and above, present an x-ray certificate.

The food license issued is renewable every year.

Halal Eating Scheme

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) is active in ensuring that the 15% Muslim population in Singapore is considered in the Food and Beverage sector. Halal certification is a vital thing if you want to capture a larger market in Singapore for your business. You need to make sure that you will play by the rules stipulated by the MUIS. Depending on the floor area of your restaurant, you will pay a fee ranging from S$480 to S$640 for the Halal certification.

Liquor License

To sell liquor in Singapore, you need a liquor license it doesn’t matter whether yours is a newly opened restaurant or an old restaurant and liquor is just an addition being made to the menu. The liquor license is usually issued by the liquor Licensing Board. Applications for this license are easily made online and supporting documents need to be attached. The process can be completed within 14 days leaving you a ready liquor licenses.

There are 2 types of liquor licenses, the public house and the beer house license. The public house license is also further classified into 2, the first and the second class license depending on the retail hours the store is open. You will incur a charge of S$ 220 to S$1760 for the license depending on the establishment this license is valid for 2 years.

GST Registration

GST refers to the Goods and Services Tax. This is a tax levy posed by the government of Singapore when money is spent on goods and services. A company that has annual revenue of S$ 1,000,000 or above has to register for GST. Registering for GST is done after the business is operational whenever you discern that your revenue will exceed the million mark. You should keep in mind that the registration should be done within at least 30 days of becoming liable to the levy.

Once you have registered for the GST, you will be charging this to your clients. The tax charge in Singapore is at 7%. It is important to know more regarding when you need to file for GST for your company.

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Food Safety Incentive

The food and beverage sector of Singapore enjoys a generous amount of incentives made possible by the government. This is in an attempt to promote the industry to grow to meet the demands of the market. Some of the incentives available include:

  • F&B Sector innovation incentives: this has been set up by SPRING Singapore under the Capability Development Programme (CDP) to help grow innovative projects.
  • F&B Sector service incentives: this is made possible by the Go the Extra Mile for Services (GEMS), a government movement is responsible to improve service levels.
  • Food safety incentives: this program allows for funding up to 50 % of the cost to ensure that food safety standards have been met as per the National Environment Agency (NEA) rules
  • F&B Sector workforce development incentives: This is enables restaurant owners to make use of Local Enterprises and Association Development (LEAD)

These incentives have played a crucial role in growing the food and beverage sector in Singapore while ensuring food safety standards are met in the restaurants.


To start a food and beverage business you would incur hiring of physical staff. You can choose to hire locally or have foreign workers. Hiring local employees is easy. However, many restaurants find themselves are hiring foreign workers as Singaporeans are in shortage for jobs in restaurants. Before thinking about having foreign workers, you need to familiarize yourself with the employment act and whom it applies to.

For foreign workers, you need to ensure that work passes have been prepared for them. The processing of the work pass is usually approved by manpower authorities. There are numerous forms of work passes available in Singapore. They all depend on the immigrant’s level of education and work designation. The food handlers also need to pass the food handler safety standards set.  

License for Food Imports

Serving specialty food in Singapore may require you to import food products from other countries. To be able to do so, you need to make an application for an import/export license from the Singapore Customs. It is after you get the Central Registration Number than you can apply for a registration number with the FCD (Food Control Division) of Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). This policy is designed to ensure food safety of every import made to the country for use in consumption. The kind of food imports you will be bringing in vary depending on your business needs. Whether fresh food or processed food, you can make imports when you have the right paperwork done.

If you require assistance with licensing for your F&B setup, our friendly consultants at Piloto Asia are always here to assist. 

Industry GuideRaymond Chan