Starting an Event Management Company in Singapore
Singapore’s reputation as a Top International Meeting City and Top Convention City positions it as a preferred destination for meetings, conventions, exhibitions and other events. The recent launch of the Integrated Resorts in Singapore is poised to accelerate its attractiveness as a convention location, at par with cities such as Las Vegas. With the government’s vision of expanding its sports, arts and entertainment sectors and its commitment to appropriate infrastructure developments, Singapore’s event management industry is set to become an even larger component of its economy.
Given the exciting and lucrative business potential of this sector, there has been significant interest in establishing event management companies in Singapore. Setting up an event management company in Singapore is simple and easy. Apart from company incorporation there are no major business licenses that are required. However, event organizers will need to obtain licenses for organizing certain types of events.
Broadly speaking, events can be classified as:
- MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions).
- Performing arts events such as plays, musical performances, dance performances, etc.
- Leisure and lifestyle events ranging from sports and recreation events, fashion related events, adventure themed events to social and community-based events.
This guide explains the steps involved in setting up an event management company and the various licenses or permits that are required for organizing events in Singapore.
Note that junket promoters and junket representatives are governed by a separate set of licensing requirements under the Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore. Further details on this are outside the scope of this guide.
Event Management Company Formation
The first step towards establishing your event management business in Singapore is to incorporate your business. A private limited company is the most flexible and advanced business structure in Singapore; hence the most preferred business vehicle for entrepreneurs. Incorporating a Singapore private limited company is simple, straightforward and quick and in most cases, company formation procedure can be completed within one day’s time. For further details, refer to how to register Singapore company.
Event Management Licensing Requirements
Once you have incorporated your company, you must apply for one or more of the relevant licenses and permits, depending on whether they apply to the events and activities you are organizing. Note that most of the licenses are valid only for the duration of the event. The licenses or permits that apply to various events are as follows:
- Arts Entertainment License: To organize arts entertainment events such as plays, musical performances, dance performances, art exhibitions, variety shows and pop/rock concerts.
- Copyright Permit: To play or reproduce copyrighted music or videos at any event.
- Public Entertainment License: To organize entertainment events (excluding arts entertainment events) to which the public has access.
- Trade Fair Permit: To organize trade fairs.
- Animal Exhibition License: To organize events where animals will be exhibited or be involved in performances.
- Other licenses or approvals for related activities.
Arts Entertainment License
- The Arts Entertainment License issued by the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) is required for conducting any form of indoor or outdoor public arts entertainment events such as plays, musical performances, dance performances, art exhibitions, variety shows and pop/rock concerts, unless specifically exempted. For exempted events, you must notify the Police at least seven days before the event.
- Applying for an Arts Entertainment License
- Individuals or organizations can apply for the 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. Additionally, (s)he should preferably be a member of the organization’s senior management.
- The application procedure involves:
- Completing and submitting an application form
- Submitting the following supporting documents:
- For plays, play readings and poetry recitals: A finalized set of synopsis, scripts and multimedia material.
- For art exhibitions: A photograph of each exhibit, synopsis theme of exhibition, wall texts and multimedia material.
- For variety shows, dance and pop/rock concerts: A program schedule, layout plan of the stage location, original song titles and lyrics (if applicable), name of artiste(s) and multimedia material.
- Paying the license fee, as applicable:
- For plays, music and dance performances, variety shows and pop/rock concerts: S$10 per day.
- For art exhibitions, play-reading, poetry-reading, puppet shows and tableaux: S$5 per day.
- Successful applications will be processed within 8 weeks, upon which the license will be issued.
- The license is valid only on the dates of the performance/exhibition.
Organizers of ad-hoc indoor or outdoor events such as concerts, road shows, fun fairs, carnivals and exhibitions that involve playing or reproducing copyrighted music and/or videos, must seek the permission of copyright owners before using their copyrighted works. The copyright owners are usually represented by Collective Management Organizations such as:
- Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS): 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 (RIPS): 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
- Showing music videos and karaoke videos which have been copied from original media such as music and karaoke videos using Karaoke-On-Demand systems
Applying for a Copyright Permit
The application procedure involves:
- Completing and submitting an application form to the relevant CMO.
- Paying the Permit fee, as applicable.
- Successful applications will be processed within 2-3 weeks, upon which the Permit will be issued.
- The permit is valid only on the dates of the event.
Public Entertainment License
The Public Entertainment (Ad-Hoc) 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 or gymnastic shows
- Beauty pageants or fashion shows (other than those exempted)
- Boxing or wrestling matches
- Circus shows
- Computer gaming events
- Demonstrations of art & craft, culture or sports (other than those exempted)
- Gaming shows (other than those exempted)
- Magic shows (other than those exempted)
- Performance of music, singing or dancing or variety act (other than specified arts entertainment and those exempted)
- Transmission of recorded music (other than those exempted)
For exempted events, you must notify the Police at least seven days before the event. For details on exempted events, refer to:
- Public Entertainments & Meetings (Exemptions) Order 2001
- Public Entertainments & Meetings (Specified Arts Entertainment) (Exemption) Order 2005
- Public Entertainments & Meetings (Speakers’ Corner)(Exemption) Order 2000
- Public Entertainments & Meetings (Art Exhibitions)(Exemption) Order 2001
Applying for a Public Entertainment License
- Individuals or organizations can apply for the Public 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 Defense 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
- Completing and submitting an application form.
Paying the license fee, as applicable:
- S$20 per day or
- S$40 per 7 days, consecutive or otherwise.
- Normal processing time for an application is 12 working days.
Trade Fair Permit
The Trade Fair Permit issued by the National Environment Agency is required in order to hold trade fairs. A trade fair is defined as an activity that involves the set up of makeshift stalls used for the sale of both food and non-food merchandise and entertainment. Only grassroots organizations, Town Councils and charitable, civic, educational, religious or social institutions are allowed to hold fairs. You must comply with the Trade Fair Permit Guidelines and Requirements if you are organizing a trade fair. Additionally, you must have approvals from all the relevant authorities/agencies and the consensus from shopkeepers in the neighborhood if the fair is going to be held in public areas.
Applying for a Trade Fair Permit
The application procedure involves:
- Completing and submitting an application form. To the respective NEA regional office at least 2 weeks before the commencement of the fair.
Submitting the following supporting documents:
- Map of the venue
- A scaled layout plan of the stalls
- A list of stallholders
- A copy of the fair site daily cleaning schedule and the contract with the Cleaning Contractor
- Approval letters from relevant agencies or authorities
- Paying a permit fee of S$60
- If the permit is granted, certain compliance requirements may be imposed by the Licensing Officer.
Animal Exhibition License
The Animal Exhibition License issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is required for events where animals will be exhibited or be involved in performances. You must comply with the Animal Exhibition Licensing Conditions and Guidelines and Animal Performances Guidelines. Additionally, you must have permission from the landlord of the premises and clearance from the National Environment Agency (NEA) and other relevant agencies, as appropriate.
Applying for an Animal Exhibition License
The application procedure involves:
- Completing and submitting an application form.
Submitting the following supporting documents via the LicenceOne (AVA e-Licencing) website:
- Approval letter from landlord / management of exhibition venue
- Letter of no objection from appropriate NEA Environmental Health District Office
- Exhibition layout plan and related information
Paying the license fee:
- License fee: S$126
- Application fee: S$94.50 (non-refundable)
- On receipt of the application, the AVA will notify you of a date for an interview and inspection of exhibition premises. You will be interviewed about the exhibition, including the theme and purpose of the exhibition, the types and numbers of animals to be exhibited and the parties involved.
- A letter of approval will be given upon satisfactory evaluation of documents, interview and inspection.
- Successful applications will be processed within 4 working days, upon which the License will be issued.
Other Licenses and Approvals
In addition to the above licenses, you may also require the following additional licenses and approvals.
- Advertisement License: If you plan to publicize your event by displaying outdoor advertisement signage such as sky signs and electronic billboards, you will need to apply for an Advertisement License, issued by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.
- No Objection Letter for selling food and beverages: If you intend to serve food or beverages at your event, you must obtain a ‘No Objection Letter’ from the National Environment Agency.
- Fire Works Display License: You must apply for the Fireworks Display License with the Singapore Police Force in order to display indoor or outdoor fireworks at your event.
- Notification to conduct lucky draws: If you are organizing an event which is to include a lucky draw, you must send a notification of the same, at least one month ahead of the event to the Singapore Police Force.
- Newspaper Permit: If you are going to distribute an offshore newspaper at your event, you must obtain a Newspaper Permit from the Media Development Authority of Singapore.
- Non-Residential TV License: If you have any broadcasting apparatus which is capable of receiving broadcasting signals such as TV sets or PCs that are enabled to receive TV programs, on your event premises, you must procure a Non-Residential TV License from the Media Development Authority.
- Approval for Fire Safety Work on Premises: If you plan to carry out any fire safety work on the proposed event premises, you must obtain approval from the Fire Safety and Shelter Department of Singapore.
Approval for using certain types of premises and public spaces: You are required to seek approval from the following authorities for use of certain types of premises and public spaces.
- Approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for using certain types of premises (such as conservation sites) as a venue for events.
- Approval from the National Parks Board to use parks as event premises.
- Approval from the Singapore Police Force and Land Transport Authority to use a stretch of a road for an event.
- Approval from the Singapore Tourism Board for holding an event along Orchard Road.
- Approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for use of parking lots for non-parking purposes.
- Temporary Occupation License from the Singapore Land Authority to temporarily occupy state land for events such trade fairs, expositions, carnivals etc.