Guide To Setting Up A Retail Outlet In Singapore

  • Post category:Singapore

Setting up a Retail outlet in Singapore is a good choice as its economic prowess is proven to be ironclad amidst and after the pandemic. Below we listed some of the interesting facts and details on the retail business market in Singapore:

Setting up a Retail outlet in Singapore

Singapore’s full-year retail sales are returning to a moderate level in 2022.

Singapore’s central bank and its Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are doing their best to control Singapore’s dollar inflation. This is proven functional as, for instance, the inflation rate in Singapore is significantly lower than in other countries at the rate of 3.0% as of September 2022.


To set up a retail outlet in Singapore, the applicant must adhere to several mandatory requirements to ensure a smooth operation. Operating a retail outlet will involve business activities, mainly selling consumer goods or services. With the recent hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, online retail outlets such as online shopping platforms began to popularise.

However, in this article, we will specifically focus on the area of physical retail outlets. Below, we have summarised the requirements in a sequence that must be fulfilled to set up any physical retail outlet in Singapore.

The mandatory requirements for setting up a retail business in Singapore are:

1. Register the company with ACRA, Singapore

The first step to setting up a retail outlet in Singapore is to register a Singapore company with the Singapore Companies Registrar.  

2. Premise Approval

Before setting up a retail outlet, the applicant must secure a location to carry out all relevant business activities.

The authorities must approve the chosen location for the premise. This approval will involve the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore.

The applicant may need to obtain additional permits from the following organizations, depending on the retail outlet:

  • Health Services Authority (HSA)
  • National Environment Authority (NEA)
  • Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA)
  • Info-communications Development Authority (IDA)
  • Singapore Police Force (SPF)

3. Hire adequate employees to handle the premise

A retail outlet will require employees to carry out all relevant business activities. Therefore, the applicant must ensure that the minimum number of full-time employees is hired.

Additionally, the applicant can hire foreign employees under a relevant working permit or visa. To comply with this requirement, the Manpower Authority is involved if the applicant decides to hire or transfer foreign employees.  

4. Apply for Singapore EntrePass as the retail outlet owner

If the applicant decides to manage and control all of the retail outlet affairs in Singapore, it is also mandatory to obtain a Singapore Entrepreneur Visa or better known as EntrePass.


Opening a retail outlet will require the applicant to have a specific licence depending on the goods of the retail business. In Singapore, mostly five retail goods will require a specific license and approval from the authorities before the applicant sells the goods in the market. Below are the few considerations that the applicant should take a note of in acquiring the specific license:

These licences are not limited to a physical retail outlet only. To open an online retail outlet shop, the applicant must apply for the same permit based on the types of his consumer goods.

Most of these licenses are applicable through an online application. The license application is much easier and more accessible to the applicant, regardless of the location. 

The applicant can apply for multiple licenses if the premise sells goods that combine different types of retail items.

All licenses have chargeable fees and are subject to annual renewal. Failure to do so will revoke the permit, and penalties will be imposed.

Below we have summarised all the crucial details and types of retail outlets requiring a specific license. The types of retail outlets and the license that you will need are:

 Types of Retail Outlet   License Name  Aauthorities Involved Fees for the License Duration (to obtain the license)  License Validity 
 Pharmacy  Certificate Of Registration of a Pharmacy Health Sciences Authority  SGD 500  -  1 year
 Cosmetic Goods  No license required  (To notify the authority before placing the cosmetic goods on the market) Health Sciences Authority (HSA) The fees vary depending on the product variation. - 1 year (including for re-notification)
Liquor Goods Liquor Licence Liquors Licensing Board SGD 220 12 business day 1 year
Telecommunication Equipment   Dealer’s Individual License Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)  SGD 250  -  5 years
Supermarket  Supermarket Licence Environmental Public Health Act SGD 400 5 business days  1 year


Step 1: Register the company with ACRA

For a retail outlet mainly originated from a specific business company, registration with the Singapore company registrar is obligatory.

The registration can be done through an online application portal called BizFile+ which ACRA Singapore provides. Foreigners must hire a corporate service provider such as Relin Consultants for company registration. 

In the BizFile+ portal, all the guides, required documents, and fees are stated clearly. The applicant can follow all the instructions and manage the registration electronically without needing an actual physical presence in Singapore. 

Step 2: Secure your premise space

Once the business is successfully registered, the applicant must secure the retail outlet’s premises. For an online retail outlet, he must deal with the chosen online shopping platform for the agreements, regulations, and fees imposed.

Meanwhile, a physical retail outlet will require various approval before it can be authorized to do any business activities.

Make sure that the leasing process or buying the retail property is legal and adheres to the law in Singapore. We strongly suggest seeking business consultants and any realtor or agent that can help ease the process to stay compliant.

If you have further inquiries about the ins and outs of setting up a retail outlet in Singapore, reach out to us at

 Step 3: Apply for the necessary license for the premise after approval

Apply for a specific licence for the retail outlet. The licence application is mandatory depending on the goods involved in the retail outlet’s business activities.


In a nutshell, we can affirm that the retail outlet market in Singapore is very diverse. The market supports both physical and online platforms for the retail business. This sector is thriving, especially in the current time when the world economy is slowly recovering again after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign companies are permitted to operate in various industries, including clothes, pharmacies, and supermarkets for retail outlets. Thus, we advised you to fully comprehend the market demand, including the need for physical or online retail outlets to maximise your profit gain.


What are the necessary approvals and premise licences that I must obtain for my physical retail outlet in Singapore?

It is mandatory to obtain licences before operating your premises legally in Singapore. An example of a licence intended for a retail premise is the Fire Safety Certificate. Your premise must pass the test given by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to show that the premise is safe and adheres to the regulations in Singapore. Other related licences are in the following list:

  • Copyright license
  • Non-Residential Tv License
  • Singapore Police Force (SPF)
  • Health Services Authority (HSA)
  • Wide-area private Network License
  • National Environment Authority (NEA)
  • Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA)
  • Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

How to open a small shop in Singapore?

One can open a small business in Singapore by following these simple steps:

  • Register the company with ACRA
  • Find the perfect premise to conduct the business activities
  • Get the necessary approvals from the appropriate authorities.

How much money do I need to open a retail store?

Investing between $50,000 and $100,000 is advised when starting a retail business. The price will vary according to the size and location of your store. Make sure to invest money in a modern point-of-sale (POS) system.

Can Foreigners open businesses in Singapore?

Yes. Foreigners are entitled to opn business in Singapore. Singapore is one of the easiest places in the World for establishing a Business. Singapore’s business registration process is very simple for overseas business owners.