Legal Checklist to Set Up a Restaurant in Singapore

Written by
Marissa Saini
Last Modified on
December 19, 2023

Opening any type of business in Singapore requires several mandatory requirements. But when it comes to opening a restaurant, the incorporation process can be slightly more demanding than other businesses. 

If you’re planning on opening up the next best thing in the local food scene, here’s a legal checklist for setting up a restaurant in Singapore. 

Legal Checklist to Set Up a Restaurant in Singapore:

1. Incorporating the Business 

Whether it’s a restaurant or technology company, incorporation is always the first step when setting up a business. There are several legal entities that one can set up their restaurant as but for most restaurants in Singapore, a Private Limited Company (PLC) is the ideal choice for most food businesses

Under the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code, the company should reflect the actual nature of the food business such as cafes, snack bars, fast food restaurants, fine dining restaurants, and so forth. The entire application process can also be completed online through the BizFile website for a generous fee of S$300.


2. Identify the Premises of Your Business 

The next step is to identify the location of your restaurant. If you don’t already own the property where your restaurant is located, chances are you will need to rent out the place. With that said, restaurants owners will need to sign a lease and a letter of intent (LOI) with their landlord to indicate both parties’ agreement to engage in a rental transaction. 

3. Review Property Owner’s Fire Certificate 

Whether you are the owner or just simply renting out the property, you should review the current Fire Certificate from the Singapore Civil Defense Force, which guarantees that the property meets basic fire safety standards. Failure to acquire one for your restaurant business may be an offense, which may result in the owner being prosecuted. 

4. Comply with the Code of Practice of Environmental Health 

In order to open a restaurant in Singapore, you will need to comply with the Code of Practice of Environmental Health issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Under Section 3 regarding food retail outlets, it states that restaurant owners are required to apply for a Food Shop License to ensure cleanliness and food safety in food retail outlets. 

If you wish to make any changes with the premises, you will also need to make an agreement with your landlord under this code before you can begin your operations. 

5. Apply For the Necessary Licenses Required to Operate Your Business 

Setting up a restaurant in Singapore requires a hefty amount of compliance requirements in order to begin operations. Here’s a list of all the necessary licenses and prerequisites you may need to apply for: 

I. Planning Permission 

Applying for planning permission is needed if you wish to conduct any development or building works to the establishment, including changing the use of the premises. For instance, if the property was not previously a restaurant, planning permission is needed. If the property has already been approved for use as a restaurant, you need not apply for planning permission. 

II. Food Shop License 

As long as you intend on opening a food retail outlet where food and/or drink is being sold, applying for a Food Shop License is compulsory and is also the most important requirement when setting up a restaurant in Singapore. The process of applying for this license involves carrying out inspections on the location, paying the license fee, and issuing you the license once all requirements have been complied with. Furthermore, this license also needs to be renewed yearly and can be done online. 

III. Liquor License

If you will be serving liquor of any form in your restaurant, you would require a Liquor License. However, there are various liquor licenses that restaurant owners can apply for. A few factors to consider when applying include the type of alcoholic beverages that will be sold, the time period in which alcohol will be served, and the type of business establishment you are running. To obtain a liquor license, you may apply directly from the Singapore Police Force (SPF)

IV. Halal Certification

If you are planning to have Muslims as customers, you need to be a Halal Certified establishment as there are certain foods that they aren’t allowed to consume. This certificate indicates that the food being served in the restaurant is permissible or acceptable in accordance with Islamic Law. To obtain this certification, you will need to apply to Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). 

V. License for Importing Food Ingredients

For restaurants that intend to import food ingredients and appliances, a general import/export license is needed. Application can be made with the Food Control Division (FCD) of Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). While there are no registration fees, an administrative fee of S$21.50 will be charged for new applicants. 

VI. GST Registration

As long as your business is generating an annual revenue of S$1 million dollars or more for the first time, you need to register for the payment of Goods & Services Tax (GST) with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). Businesses that are exempt from GST include the provision of financial services, supply of digital payment tokens, and the lease and sale of residential properties. 

Once you have all the compliance requirements settled, all that’s left to do is hire staff, purchase restaurant equipment, and you’re good to go. 

More often than not, most business owners struggle with the first step when setting up a restaurant in Singapore, which is the incorporation process. Some may find this step the most tedious due to the hefty amount of compliance requirements needed. Fortunately, there are a great deal of external firms that can assist you with business incorporation. 

Osome and Aspire have partnered together to help aspiring business owners throughout the incorporation process by providing incorporation and account-opening services that can be completed all in one day. Although the pandemic has placed certain restrictions on business travel, entrepreneurs and business owners can still set up their business by applying online. 

To learn more about the various incorporation packages and its perks, click below:

For more episodes of CFO Talks, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or add our RSS feed to your favorite podcast player!

Frequently Asked Questions

No items found.
About the author
Marissa Saini
is a seasoned writer and an avid trendspotter across business finance, personal finance, travel and lifestyle industries. With writing history at SingSaver, INK, and ohmyhome, Marissa leverages her broad range of experiences to simplify finance and make readers financially savvy.
Supercharge your finance operations with Aspire
Find out how Aspire can help you speed up your end-to-end finance processes from payments to expense management.
Talk to Sales