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Start a Catering Business in Singapore

Start a Catering Business in Singapore

The food and beverages industry offers many investment opportunities to foreign investors seeking to open a company in Singapore. The same industry offers expansion possibilities to existing restaurants or small establishment. The latest trend in this profitable sector is starting a catering business in Singapore.

Foreign enterprisers who want to set up a catering company must comply with the same regulations as for when opening a restaurant in Singapore except for a few requirements. Our company formation specialists in Singapore can explain how to obtain a food license for catering businesses operating in the city-state.

We can also help with the procedure of registering a business for setting up a company in Singapore as a catering firm, as well as offer assistance in applying for the necessary licenses for such an establishment in Singapore.

Registering a catering company in Singapore

No matter the type of food establishment one decides to set up, the same company registration procedure must be respected in Singapore. Among the recommendations made by our Singapore company formation agents are choosing an appropriate business name and a location suitable for the preparation of the food. Even if the food will be delivered to the home of the client, a Singapore catering business must comply with the hygiene norms imposed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Apart from these, our local consultants can handle the Singapore company formation procedure of the catering business.

It is important to note that starting with 2019, the licenses issued for companies producing and selling food and beverages in the city-state will be issued by the Singapore Food Authority (SFA).

Choosing the appropriate business form for a catering company in Singapore

Local and foreign investors who want to open a company in Singapore through which they will operate a catering firm must first select a business form, as imposed by the Company Law. Among the preferred entities by both local and foreign businesspersons are the sole proprietorship and the limited liability company.

A few clarifications need to be made in respect to these two types of entities:

  1.           the sole trader is one of the quickest ways of starting a catering business thanks to the simple company registration requirements;
  2.           a foreign investor who wants to set up a sole trader in order to create a catering company needs to obtain a residence permit in Singapore;
  3.           the limited liability company can also be used for the establishment of a catering firm, however, the requirements are a bit more stringent;
  4.           starting a catering company through the registration of a limited liability company will offer a higher degree of protection to the business owner;
  5.           the sole trader can be changed into a limited liability company once the business starts earning more profits and expansion is an option.

Our Singapore company formation consultants can help foreign investors who want to set up catering companies no matter the chosen business form. We also offer assistance to those who want to change business forms in Singapore.

Licenses for catering companies in Singapore

As mentioned above, starting a catering business in Singapore implies respecting the same regulations and applying for pretty much the same licenses as when establishing any other type of food business. Import licenses for the ingredients are a must if the owner will bring them from abroad. The food hygiene license must also be obtained, as the catering company enters the same category as any other food establishment, however, this is not the same with the food shop license.

The premises where the food will be prepared must also comply with the Environmental Public Health Law requirements and business owner must have a food hygiene certificate in order to be allowed to cook the food. However, one is also allowed to hire specialized personnel who will prepare the food to be catered.

The food license for a Singapore catering company

A businessperson who plans to open a company in Singapore for the purpose of setting up a catering firm must obtain the same food license as for any other business operating in the sale of food and beverages sector.

In order to obtain the food license, the business owner must submit the following documents with the Singapore Food Authority:

  • –          an approval from the Urban Redevelopment Agency or the Housing and Development Board in Singapore for the premises;
  • –          a tenancy or rental contract (where the premises to be used for the catering business are leased or rented);
  • –          information about the owner of the business (identification documents or the certificate of incorporation);
  • –          a food hygiene certificate for the person/persons preparing and handling the ingredients and the final food products;
  • –          a food hygiene officer certificate is also necessary when opening a catering company in Singapore;
  • –          a layout plan and a cleaning program for the premises where the catering company will operate;
  • –          a contract with a company which offers pest and rodent control services (the contract must be signed for a period of one year);
  • –          a food safety management plan which must meet certain requirements in the case of catering companies;
  • –          a rental or lease agreement or other proof which indicates the ownership of the catering vehicle;
  • –          a cleaning program and photos of the interior and exterior of the vehicle used in the catering activities.

Our company registration agents in Singapore can offer more information on the special requirements which could apply when setting up a company in Singapore as a catering business.

Special provisions for setting up a catering business in Singapore

An important aspect which needs to be considered when opening a catering firm in Singapore is that it can hire employees, however, only catering businesses registered as limited liability companies can hire foreign citizens.

For selling beverages, the Singapore catering company will need to obtain a license for this purpose, just like in the case of other companies in the beverages sector.

The timeframe related to the issuance of the food license varies from one week to a few months, depending on the documentation to be submitted with the SFA. The license is issued within 7 days after the payment of the issuance fee.

The cost of a food and beverage license is around 200 SGD and the validity period of such a license is one year. The license can be renewed.

Foreign investors should also know that through SPRING Singapore, the government has enabled various support schemes for the food and beverages industry, including for those operating catering establishments. Among these, the government offers incentives for those seeking to expand their operations and to improve the quality of their services. 

Guidance in setting up a subsidiary in Singapore also enters the services we offer.

The food safety management system for Singapore catering companies

Starting with 2014, all companies preparing and selling food, no matter if under the form of restaurants or private catering companies are required to put in place a food safety management system with a proper Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. Through this system, the business will ensure the food is safe for consumption. If until 2019, this system was not mandatory for all Singapore companies selling food, this year it became for all of them.

The Singapore Food Agency allows companies to implement the new system before applying or upon the renewal of their food licenses.

Among the requirements to comply with when creating the food safety management system, we mention the following:

  • – the appointment of at least one officer to supervise the premises (a food hygiene office);
  • – the officer must complete a food safety management system for food service establishments and pass an exam;
  • – the officer must submit a copy of the statement of attainment with the SFA;
  • – the company must also submit a copy of the food safety management system within the first 3 months after obtaining the provisional license.

In the case of catering businesses which need to renew their licenses, the food safety management system must be filed 3 months prior to the expiration of the current license.

The following information must be submitted in order to indicate the correct implementation of the food safety management system for a catering business in Singapore:

  • – the food safety management system plan (which must respect a standard imposed by the SFA);
  • – information about the company, the staff and a description of the foods to be prepared and sold;
  • – charts which provide for the identification of hazards, control measures and monitoring procedures.

If you want to open a company in Singapore and need information about the requirements which need to be respected, our local agents can advise you. They can also provide with Singapore ready-made companies.

Food handlers and hygiene officers in Singapore

One of the most important requirements related to opening a catering company in Singapore refers to the personnel of the establishment who must comply with specific regulations. Such a business must have at least one food handler and a food hygiene officer. Both food handlers and hygiene officers must be registered with the SFA.

While the requirements for food handlers have been simplified, food hygiene officers are subject to more requisites considering his/her main role is to oversee and implement the food hygiene measures which satisfy the conditions imposed by the SFA. It is also good to know that the business owner can act as food hygiene officer if he/she passes the exam under the Conduct Food & Beverage Hygiene Audit course. Also, a food hygiene officer can act as a food handler without other additional requirements.

The regulations imposed on the officers of a catering business are very strict, which is why if you intended to start such a company here, our Singapore company formation specialists can advise you on how to best comply with the requirements imposed by the SFA.

The Food Hygiene Recognition Scheme in Singapore

Starting with 2020, the Food Safety Authority in Singapore announces a new Food Hygiene Recognition Scheme which will need to be respected by all companies in the food retail sector in the city-state. Under this new scheme, restaurants and catering businesses will be awarded with bronze, silver of gold based on their food hygiene records with the SFA. Companies with at least 2 years of a strong food hygiene record will be awarded with bronze, businesses with 5 and up to 10 years will be awarded with silver, while companies with at least 10 years of clean food hygiene records will be awarded with gold.

All food licenses will need to comply with specific design and operational requisites in order to meet the hygiene standards imposed by the SFA. Also, the new scheme will replace the current grading system which is outdated. The new scheme also works as a recognition to food retail companies which have had a strong food hygiene track record.

If you want to open a company in the food industry by creating a subsidiary in Singapore, you can rely on us for assistance in registering it.

The food industry in Singapore

According to Singstat, the food and beverages sector in Singapore had a good performance in the first half of 2019, as:

  • – the total sale value of the food and beverages sector stood at 916 million SGD;
  • – on a year-on-year basis, this industry registered an increase of 3.6%;
  • – on a month-to-month basis, the growth was of 1.4%;
  • – among the retailers in this industry, food caterers registered an annual increase of 3.7%.

For full information and assistance in order to open a company in Singapore as a catering business, please feel free to contact us. Our formation agents can also help establish other types of food businesses in the city-state.