Guide to Setting up a Hotel in Singapore

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) forecasts tourism receipts to be in the range of S$22.0 to $22.4 billion (0 – 2%) and international visitor arrivals in the range of 15.2 to 15.7 million (0 – 3%) for 2016. Global economic growth may be hampered by the slower growth momentum of the Chinese and US economies as well as uncertainties such as ongoing reforms in China and the impact of the normalisation of the US monetary conditions. Increasing regional competition will also pose challenges to Singapore’s tourism sector. At the same time, Singapore remains poised to benefit from the projected growth in outbound travel in the Asia Pacific region3. The pipeline for business events also continues to be strong.

STB will continue to intensify its marketing efforts by expanding into more secondary cities in Singapore’s top source markets, and building more marketing partnerships with trade and non-trade partners such as airlines and banks. It will also run global campaigns to reinforce the perception of Singapore as a top business event destination and work with trade partners to drive business event attendance.

To boost industry competitiveness, STB will introduce manpower-related initiatives for other tourism industries in addition to the sector manpower plan that it had already implemented for the Hotels industry last year. It will also partner stakeholders to develop more in-depth and holistic experiences such as themed and immersive trails and digital solutions in more cultural precincts to bring out the heritage of the precincts in a more compelling manner.

The tourism sector continued to grow for January to September 2016. International Visitor Arrivals (IVA) increased 9 per cent over the same period in 2015 to reach 12.4 million visitors while Tourism Receipts (TR) grew by 13 per cent to reach $18.5 billion.

The strong growth in YTD 3Q 2016 TR was on the back of higher expenditure in Shopping, Accommodation and Food & Beverage. This helped to offset the fall in Sightseeing, Entertainment & Gaming (SEG) that was due largely to a decline in gaming revenue as reported by the integrated resorts.

Gazetted hotel room revenue was estimated at $2.5 billion for YTD 3Q 2016, a year-on-year growth of 5.4 per cent. Average Occupancy Rate (AOR) improved by 1.3 per cent year-on-year while Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) declined by 1.3 per cent year-on-year due to a lower Average Room Rate (ARR).
In the third quarter of 2016 (Q3), IVA grew 4 per cent year-on-year to reach 4.2 million visitors. TR in Q3 2016 grew 14 per cent over the same period in 2015 to reach $6.9 billion. Gazetted hotel room revenue for Q3 2016 came in at an estimated S$0.9 billion, a 2.3 per cent year-on-year increase.According to recent economic forecasts, room revenue is set to register a 10-12% growth year-on-year while average hotel occupancy is expected to hover around 82.6% in 2016. Singapore also receives an eclectic mix of tourists and travellers ranging from the jet setters to business travellers to the humble backpackers. Thus, there is good business scope for luxury hotels, boutique hotels, mid-range hotels, and even backpacker hostels. Given that it is an opportune time for hoteliers to cash in on the market opportunities in Singapore, leading international hotel chains and boutique hotels are fast expanding their presence in the city-state.This article provides information on how to set up a hotel, lodging or boarding house in Singapore. Note that the information provided here is for general guidance only and is not meant to replace professional advice.

Licenses for Setting Up a Hotel in Singapore

Certificate Of Registration And Hotel-Keeper’s License

Who requires a Certificate of Registration and Hotel-Keeper’s license?Under the Hotels Act, any person who wishes to operate a hotel in Singapore, including a lodging house, boarding house, or guest house must obtain from the Hotels Licensing Board a Certificate of Registration to use the premises as a hotel and a Hotel-Keeper’s License to manage the hotel.

Pre-Requisites for Certificate Of Registration And Hotel-Keeper’s License

The following conditions must be fulfilled prior to applying for the Registration Certificate and Hotel-Keeper’s License:

  • Business Incorporation: The hotel must first be registered as a Singapore company, business, or limited liability partnership with the Singapore Companies Registrar, ACRA. For more details on incorporating a company in Singapore, refer to Singapore Company Registration Guide.
  • Approval of Premises: Prior to applying for the license it is necessary to obtain a written approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore for using the proposed premises for operating a hotel.
  • Appointment of a Hotel-keeper: A Chief Executive Officer or General Manager must be appointed to take care of the hotel’s administrative affairs.
  • Advertising the Application: The applicant must advertise in both The Straits Times (English daily) and Lianhe Zaobao (Chinese daily) the application in a prescribed format, within fourteen days of the date of submitting the application for a Certificate of Registration.
  • Clearance from National Environment Agency: It is necessary to obtain a Clearance Certificate (Temporary Occupation Permit) or a Compliance Certificate (Certificate of Statutory Completion) from the Planning and Development Department of the National Environment Agency of Singapore.
  • Approval from Fire Safety Department: A Temporary Fire Permit (TFP) or a Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) must be procured from the Fire Safety Bureau of Singapore.
  • Approval from Building Construction Authority: A Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) or Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) must be obtained from the Building Construction Authority of Singapore.

Application Procedure for Certificate of Registration and Hotel-Keeper’s License

  • The license application procedure consists of submitting the application form along with the following supporting documents to the Hotels Licensing Board:
    • Written approval grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore.
    • The proposed hotel-keeper’s resume.
    • A cover letter indicating the estimated date of proposed commencement of operation of the hotel.
    • A copy of the advertisement published in The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.
    • A copy of all the permits, approvals and certificates from the various agencies as listed above.
  • It normally takes three weeks to process a successful application, provided there are no objections within 14 days of the date of advertisement.
  • The license is valid until December of every year and is renewable thereafter on an annual basis.
  • A license fee of S$100 is payable upon issuance of the license and an annual registration fee ranging between S$200-S$400 is payable depending upon the number of rooms in the hotel.

Non-Residential TV License

Who requires a Non-Residential TV License?

A Non-Residential TV License must be obtained from the Media Development Authority of Singapore for operating or having any broadcasting apparatus on the said premises, which is capable of receiving broadcasting signals. These include personal computers, which are enabled to receive TV programmes.

Pre-Requisites for Non-Residential TV License

Note that prior to applying for this license the hotel must first be registered as a Singapore company, business, or limited liability partnership with the Singapore companies Registrar, ACRA.

Non-Residential TV License Application Procedure

The application procedure involves submitting a license application to the Media Development Authority of Singapore and paying a license fee of S$110 per TV set. If more than 90% of the hotel rooms are installed with TV sets, the annual license fee is $82.50 per TV set. It normally takes five working days to process a successful application, upon which the license will be issued for a one-year validity period.

Public Entertainment License/ Arts Entertainment License

Who requires a Public/Arts Entertainment license?

The Public Entertainment License and Arts Entertainment License issued by the Singapore Police Force, under the Public Entertainments & Meetings Act, is required for organizing any ad-hoc entertainment (irrespective of whether the event offers free admission or paid entry) in any place to which the public has access. Examples of such events are: Acrobatic shows, fashion shows, gaming shows, karaoke shows, music shows, dance shows, magic shows, etc.

Public Entertainment License/Arts Entertainment License Application Procedure

  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Public/Arts Entertainment License. An individual applying on behalf of an organization should either be a Singapore citizen, a Singapore Permanent Resident or a foreigner on a valid Employment Pass.
  • Before applying for the license you must obtain the approval of other relevant authorities such as approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for premises that is to be used for the event, Fire Safety Certificate from Singapore Civil Defence Force etc.
  • If a license is granted, conditions may be imposed by the Licensing Officer for certain types of events such as fashion shows or beauty pageants.
  • The application procedure involves submitting an application form along with the following supporting documents and paying the license fee as applicable:
    • For plays, play readings and poetry recitals: A finalized set of synopsis and scripts.
    • For art exhibitions: A photograph of each exhibit.
    • For variety shows, dance and pop/rock concerts: A program schedule, layout plan of the stage location, original song titles and lyrics (if applicable).
  • Successful applications will be processed within one week (for Public Entertainment License) or 8 weeks (for Arts Entertainment License), upon which the License will be issued.

Public Establishment License

Who requires a Public Establishment License?

A Public Establishment License is required for organizing public entertainment at your establishment. Examples of establishments requiring this license include bars, nightclubs, cafés, discotheques, KTV lounges, lounges, pubs, restaurants and snack bars.

Public Establishment License Application Procedure

  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Public Establishment License. An individual applying on behalf of an organization should either be a Singapore citizen, a Singapore Permanent Resident or a foreigner on a valid Employment Pass.
  • Before applying for the license you must obtain the approval of other relevant authorities such as approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for premises that is to be used for the event, Fire Safety Certificate from Singapore Civil Defence Force etc.
  • The application procedure involves completing and submitting an application form and paying an annual license fee of S$260 – S$1,200 depending on the type of entertainment and permitted operating hours of your establishment.
  • The Public Establishment License is issued by the Singapore Police Force and is normally valid for a one-year period.

Copyright Permit

If you intend to play or reproduce copyrighted music and/or videos, you must seek the permission of copyright owners before using their copyrighted works. The copyright owners are usually represented by Collective Management Organizations such as the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (represents composers and lyricists); Horizon Music Entertainment Pte Ltd (represents a specific group of record labels);

InnoForm Entertainment Pte Ltd (represents major record labels); Recording Industry Performance Pte Ltd (represents major record labels). If the event organized involves the public performance or reproduction of musical works or lyrics, you must apply for a Copyright Permit for public performance rights and/or reproduction rights from the relevant CMO. Typically, the following activities require a Copyright Permit: Playing music from original media such as CDs, featuring live bands, showing music videos or karaoke videos from original media such as VCDs or DVDs, playing music which has been copied from original media such as digitized music from a computer or hard disk, etc. The application procedure involves submitting an application form to the relevant CMO and paying the permit fee as applicable. Successful applications will be processed within 2-3 weeks, upon which the Permit will be issued.

Other Licenses

 

  • Halal Certification: The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, commonly known as MUIS, issues Halal certification in relation to any halal product, service or activity. You can voluntarily apply for halal certification under the Eating Establishment Scheme (certifying that your hotel restaurants serve halal food) or Food Preparation Area Scheme (certifying that your hotel operates a halal kitchen). For more details, refer to Halal Certification Eating Establishment Scheme and Halal Certification Food Preparation Area Scheme.
  • Massage Establishment License: If the hotel houses a spa and plans to offer massage services, foot-reflexology services, and manicure treatments, a Massage Establishment License must be obtained from the Singapore Police Force. Note that there are certain licensing conditions and Massage Establishment Rules that must be adhered to. It normally takes 12 working days to process successful applications, upon which the license is issued. An annual license fee of S$525 is payable within three weeks of the date of application approval.
  • Money Changer’s License: If you plan to operate a money changer that buys or sells foreign currency notes in your hotel premises a Money Changer’s License must be obtained from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
    Permit To Buy, Store And Use Hazardous Substances: If you plan to buy, store or use hazardous substances for your hotel’s cleaning and laundry activities, you must obtain a Hazardous Substances Permit from the National Environment Agency of Singapore.
  • Swimming Pool License: A Swimming pool License must be obtained from the National Environment Agency’s Environmental Health Department in order to operate a swimming pool in the hotel. The application procedure involves submitting an application form along with supporting documents such as scaled layout plan of the swimming pool; details of the pool and filtration system; Company Incorporation Certificate from ACRA; bacteriological and chemical water sampling results. It normally takes two weeks to process a successful application, upon which the license will be issued for a one-year validity period. The license costs S$120.
  • Tobacco Retail License: A Tobacco Retail License is required from the Health Sciences Authority for the sale of tobacco products on hotel premises. It normally takes four working days to process a successful application, upon which the license will be issued for a one-year validity period. The license costs S$360.
  • License to Operate a Food Processing Establishment: You will require a license from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore if you wish to operate a food establishment for manufacturing, processing, preparing or packing of food for the purpose of distribution to wholesales and retailers. Once the necessary health requirements are complied with, you will be issued with a license. The annual license fee varies from S$180 to S$600 depending on the size of the food establishment.
  • Registration to Import Food and Food Appliances: Registration with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore is essential in order to import food products and food appliances into Singapore. For details, refer to our guide on Importing Food Products to Singapore.
  • Petroleum / Flammable Materials Storage License: The Petroleum / Flammable Materials Storage License must be obtained from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Fire Safety & Shelter Department (FSSD) for the storage of petroleum & flammable materials including LPG, unless specifically exempted. It normally takes seven working days to process a successful application, upon which the license will be issued for a one-year or two-year validity period. The license fee varies from S$70 to S$1,200 depending upon the quantity of storage.
  • Advertisement License: This license is required for displaying outdoor advertisement signage such as sky signs and electronic billboards.
  • General Radio Communication License: You must obtain this license for transmitting or receiving messages by means of radio-communication.
  • Localized Private Network License: In order to establish and provide localized private network services such as use of walkie talkie services within a localized area you will need to obtain this license.
  • Localized Radio Communication License: This license must be obtained for the operation of remote control devices, local area paging devices, transceivers (walkie talkies), telemetry or alarm systems, wireless data or voice systems (e.g wireless LAN) and any other radio-communication equipment authorised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
  • Wide-area private Network License: Required for establishing and providing wide area private network services such as use of walkie talkie services within a non-localised area.
  • License to Discharge Trade Effluents: For discharging trade effluents generated (if any) from your business activity into a watercourse such as an open drain you must obtain this license.
  • Approval for Premises: Approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) is required for making additions or alterations to a conservation building. Prior approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is required in order to display signs on your conservation building. If you plan to execute any fire safety works, approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force must be obtained.

On a Final Note

As outlined, above there are several licenses and approvals to be procured in order to set up a hotel or boarding house in Singapore. It is therefore advisable to engage a professional services firm to obtain the licenses on your behalf.

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