Starting a Catering Business in Singapore

Staff Writer

January 15, 2022

What’s in the article?

Opening a catering business in Singapore can be challenging as the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) oversees all food and beverage companies in the country, making sure every food business abides by strict regulations, and has a proper food safety management system.

Much like most food service establishments, catering companies must register with the Singapore Food Agency to operate, and obtain food shop licences before they can serve food to the public. Food caterers are often categorised along with food stalls, restaurants, and other food handlers, and the process to incorporate is similar.

How to Open a Catering Business

The food and beverage industry has been one of the most lucrative industries to enter, as food is a primary need. Most food businesses can withstand the rigours of recession and other economic downturns.

When it comes to investment opportunities for foreign investors in the food and beverages industry, Singapore is relatively open to new cuisines, innovations in food, and foodie culture. While there is scope for expanding existing small restaurants and food stalls, opening a startup food shop is a common way of breaking into the market.

Catering company formation is similar to opening food stalls around Singapore. The first requirement necessary to obtain is the food shop licence, which will allow your company to serve food. You will also need a food hygiene officer certificate, a food service establishments certificate, and pre-licensing inspection before you can start catering.

How to Get a Catering License (Singapore)

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) manages all food-related companies and organisations in the country, and facilitates the applications for catering licences. To be able to open a catering business in Singapore, you will need to apply for a Food Shop License like any company in the food and beverage sector.

Starting a Catering Company with Foreign Investors

While there is a big demand for restaurants and hotels in Singapore at all levels, foreign entrepreneurs have to keep in mind a few things. There are some statutory rules and regulations which must be adhered to before opening a restaurant in Singapore.

If you are one such entrepreneur from a foreign country you must hire the services of qualified legal and other personnel who can help you with the entire company incorporation and other processes. As an entrepreneur opening a food business, it is also important that you obtain the right food licence apart from going through the various processes and requirements associated with company formation.

Registering Your Catering Company

It does not matter as to which type of food outlet you are planning to set up, as the Singaporean government classifies all food service establishments under the same licence. Licence application is available through the SFA website, which lists all the requirements and forms to fill out.

Under the Environmental Public Health Act, no food business may operate without a licence. This is to manage the safety and sanitation of food served to the public, and ensures that food businesses abide by food safety regulations, environmental regulations, and employment regulations. You will need the following supporting documents to apply:

  1. Approval from the land agency, and tenancy agreement for the premises of your food retail outlet, catering company, or other food shops.
  2. Layout of premises.
  3. Food Hygiene Certificate for all employees handling food (cooks, waiters, etc.).
  4. Certification from a Food Hygiene Officer, specifically for catering companies, restaurants, food shops, and canteens.
  5. Pest control measures
  6. Detailed cleaning program
  7. Food safety management system

Even if you are into the business of delivering food to the homes of the customers, as most catering businesses do, you are required to follow the guidelines, rules and regulations as required by NEA or National Environment Agency. Additionally there are other licences that are also required when starting such outlets in Singapore.

Take note that the licence to serve cooked food is different from the licence to sell raw ingredients, as well as the licence to serve raw, ready-to-eat food. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to apply for more than one type of food licence.

Obtaining Import Licences

It also would be pertinent to mention here that you might also require an import licence if you are importing some food items, machinery, ingredients, and even technology for setting up such a catering unit in Singapore. Our team at WealthBridge can assist you in obtaining import licences for your food business.

Take Care Of The Requirements Pertaining To Premises

If you are running a catering unit, then it is quite likely that you will be making the food in some premises, while your catering unit and office could be located in some other place. You must ensure that the premises where the food items are being made should also be registered and a certificate of food hygiene must be obtained from the respective authorities.

Other Licences And Permissions Needed

Apart from all the above, there also could be some other permissions which should be obtained before you can start your catering business. These could pertain to the local income tax registration, sales tax and other taxes related permissions and certificates.

Serve Quality with WealthBridge

The catering and food business is a lucrative proposition for foreign entrepreneurs in Singapore. However, the process to start and manage a catering company can be challenging to keep up with. Let our team at WealthBridge handle all the necessary documentation and requirements needed to maintain your company, while you focus on serving quality food.

Contact us through our phone number or email address, and we'll cook up a plan for your company! 

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