Starting a Coffee Shop or Cafe Business in Singapore

Staff Writer

December 15, 2022

What’s in the article?

Starting a cafe business is a lofty dream that many entrepreneurs have, and Singapore is an ideal place to open a cafe. Singaporeans are coffee-drinkers - coffee is an integral part of the day for the average consumer, and cafes provide a quintessential space for working, meet-ups, and socialization.

In this article, we'll take you through the steps of incorporating your own cafe, and how you can manage your business to maintain a successful coffee shop in Singapore. The coffee industry is competitive, but these steps can help give you a competitive edge in keeping track of your business.

The Singapore Coffee Scene

The coffee scene in Singapore is a booming industry, with an expected growth rate of 3.21% year on year. The country consumes an average of 15-thousand tonnes of coffee every year as people incorporate the drink into their diets.

Consumers tend to go to coffee shops for three major reasons: one is for the coffee itself, where specialty cafés have specific brews that keep customers coming into the shop; two is for the cafe ambiance, which is often ideal for studying or working especially as remote work becomes popular; and three is for the socialness of a cafe as a place to mingle.

Entering the Singapore coffee scene can mean big business for your cafe when conducted properly. Serving up quality beans is just one aspect of maintaining a successful coffee shop, as you will need to upkeep basic food hygiene, and provide customers with a cozy atmosphere to sip their coffees.

Opening a Cafe in Singapore

Requirements and Regulations

There are a couple of requirements that all food businesses must comply with in Singapore. The first being a business permit acquired upon incorporating the business through the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Because a coffee business may also serve cooked food, it will need a food shop license as well. Other requirements are as follows:

  • Name of the Company
  • Incorporation requirements: at least one resident director/shareholder, one corporate secretary, a local registered office address for the cafe business, and SGD1 in company capital.
  • Food Shop License from the Singapore Food Agency
  • Basic Food Hygiene Course for All Employees
  • Basic Barista Course for Baristas
  • Employment Visa for Foreign Workers
  • Floor Plan of Premises:
  • Tenancy Agreement
  • Planning Permission
  • Code of Practice of Environmental Health from the National Environment Agency (NEA)
  • Fire Certificate from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
  • Import License (if applicable)
  • Liquor License (if applicable)

How to Open a Cafe Business in Singapore

Step 1: Create an Account on BizFile+

Your coffee business will need to undergo an incorporation process before you can start brewing up some drinks. Incorporation can be done online through the BizFile+ site. Simply create an account, and go through the types of business applications to find the one most suitable for your cafe.

Step 2: Identify the Type of Business Structure, and Fill Out the Appropriate Forms

Most cafes operate under partnerships, and are separate business entities from the cafe owners. However, some cafes may operate under sole proprietorship, indicating that there is a single owner of the shop. Determine the type of business structure more suitable for your cafe, and incorporate under that type of business.

Fill out the appropriate forms corresponding to the nature of your business. For cafes, fill out similar forms to restaurants and other food establishments, especially if you're serving cooked food in the shop. Be sure to apply for licenses as well.

Step 3: Submit the Application Form Along with Supporting Documents

Submit the application form along with the supporting incorporation documents needed. Necessary documents may include licenses to serve food within the premises, a planning permit to turn the space into a cafe, and a list of kitchen equipment used in the cafe among other requirements.

You will also need to conduct training for your staff as they will be handling food and drinks. They will need good hygiene training, and any employee tasked with making coffee drinks must be trained as a barista. You will need to provide proof of training for your staff, as well as the certificates provided at the end of the course.

Step 4: Pay the Fees

Pay the fees for incorporation. ACRA charges a fee of SGD300 per application, so be sure to pay the fees once you've submitted your incorporation forms. Licenses will have separate fees, depending on the license, so pay the appropriate fees for each as well.

Step 5: Wait for Approvals

Lastly, wait for approvals. Approvals may take anywhere from one to two weeks in processing time, after which you will be notified of your approval status. An approved status will allow you to operate your business, but if your application is denied, you may have to rectify any missing or incorrect information given.

Managing a Coffee Shop Business in Singapore

As a cafe owner, you may find it challenging to break into the food and beverage industry, particularly if you have no prior experience in managing a food business. The cafe industry is highly competitive, and if your coffee shop is in the central business district, you may need to step up your business to gain more customers.

Upgrading your coffee beans, training your baristas, creating a coffee bar, and creating a cozy ambience will help attract more customers, but the basic necessities in managing your coffee business is to comply with the rules and regulations of the food and beverage industry.

Start with WealthBridge

The ideal way to manage the administrative tasks in your business is to let us handle it. Our team here at WealthBridge has years of experience with corporate life, and we'll keep your business on track when it comes to these Singapore corporate services. Serve up a good brew, and focus on attracting clients as we work in the background!

Start your cafe today, and contact us for assistance in incorporation, and other corporate services! 

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