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No matter where you are in the world, one food and beverage company will always be a staple: the coffee shop.
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The cafe opens for the early birds at 5:00 am and can stay open late into the night. Foot traffic will always be better.
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If you are planning to open a coffee shop in Singapore, know that it will be a difficult task, but we will help you do it. This article will show you all the necessary documents to fill out before, during and after opening a coffee shop in Singapore.
Ask any coffee enthusiast in Singapore and they will tell you that no two coffee shops are created equal because there is an assortment of these shops, thanks to all coffee connoisseurs.
In essence, a coffee shop is an establishment where coffee products are the main beverage or product. This does not mean that you are limited to serving only coffee drinks. Depending on the permits and licenses you obtain, you can serve ready meals, baked goods and cakes, and even have bands play in your store.
The first step to opening a coffee shop or new cafe in Singapore is to register your business. Assuming you are a local resident (Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident). In this case, you can use your SingPass to access Accounts and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Bizfile+ to obtain all documents and complete the registration process.
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ACRA offers a flat rate for registration of all business entities and it only comes down to the additional documents they require. On the other hand, enterprise service providers may charge you for registration services and their markup, so working with them can be expensive. However, if you are a foreigner, you have no choice in the matter.
The registration process takes 24 to 48 hours and you will receive the required documents if ACRA approves the application. If your application is rejected, you will not be refunded the application fee.
A sole proprietorship is readily available to Singapore citizens, permanent residents and EntrePass holders. This is the most common structure used by many small businesses. A foreign entrepreneur can go for this business structure, but he must find a local representative to represent him. This representative will be responsible for the business of the cafe without the protection of limited liability.
Therefore foreigners will choose to register as Pte Ltd. This structure is known for access to a variety of tax benefits and subsidies, as well as liability protection.
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If you have any questions about registering a company in Singapore, feel free to fill out the form below to get in touch with one of our customer service managers.
This is the second step because your location needs to apply for a grocery store license, which we’ll talk about later. You rent the space you need to occupy most of the time for your cafe business. Rental costs vary depending on which part of Singapore you work in, so take rental costs into account when calculating your profit.
If you want to open an F&B shop in Singapore you need to purchase several licenses. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as you might think. You can submit all applications to the LicenceOne program and be paid into the program.
A food shop license is required for all food establishments in Singapore. This is another set of documents that you need to take care of once your lease agreement and physical layout of your shop or cafe is ready. Some licenses require a physical site inspection, so you must prepare your site.
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Under the Environmental Health Protection Act, all companies wishing to operate food retail outlets in the country must obtain a food outlet license from the Food Agency of Singapore. This is a license that guarantees the government that your store maintains cleanliness and proper hygiene, follows proper food preparation and handling procedures, and ensures that the community is safe from foodborne illnesses.
If you want to serve the Muslim community in Singapore, you need a Halal certificate. This is an optional certification in the grand scheme of opening your coffee shop in Singapore.
Halal certification ensures that your Muslim customers follow Islamic law in the production and preparation of their food.
There are seven schemes available for Halal certification, designed for different food products and food-related businesses in the industry:
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This is a mandatory license that all food handlers must have when working in a coffee shop or any other food retail business in Singapore.
Your baristas, wait staff, and people who work with kitchen equipment and food should take this course. You can also take this course if you plan to bartend yourself.
The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a compulsory social insurance savings scheme to which all employers must enroll their employees.
You should apply for a CPF pay number as soon as you hire your first employee. You’ll need your SingPass and Unique Unit Number (UEN) to get started, and the UEN you were provided with your incorporation documents.
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You will be notified by email if your application is approved. You will receive a hard copy of the welcome letter which will contain your CPF Submission Number (CSN) and Direct Debit Authorization form.
CPF contributions are paid on the last day of the calendar month. Action will be taken against the employer who does not pay the contribution by the 14th of the next month. These actions include a late payment fee of 1.5% per month starting the first day after the due date. Once the payment is processed, you will receive an email notification to view the Report on Payment (ROP) on their website. Check all ROPs sent to you for discrepancies and report them as soon as possible.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a tax levied by the Singapore government on money spent on goods and services. Companies with an annual turnover of S$1,000,000 or more must register for GST.
You can register for GST as soon as you start a business and your income reaches Sh1,000,000. Remember that registration must be done within 30 days of the liability arising.
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After you register for GST, you will be able to charge GST to your customers, which is currently 7%.
Let’s say your coffee shop plans to serve or sell alcoholic beverages. In this case, you need to obtain a liquor license issued by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) (Liquor Licensing) Regulations 2015.
If you want to know more about liquor licensing you can read our detailed discussion on setting up retail outlets in Singapore.
Another additional license, the license for storage of oil and flammable materials, allows the enterprise to store more than 200 kg of LPG. But if your store has less stock than that, you don’t need to apply for this license.
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Singapore’s food and beverage industry has plenty of incentives for entrepreneurs, all thanks to the government. Incentives are the government’s means to develop industry and meet market demand. Some of the incentives available to cafe owners include:
Now, using these incentives is not a prerequisite for opening a coffee shop. These are only options for various financial aid. You can apply for them before or after opening a coffee shop.
If you plan to hire only Singaporean workers (citizens or permanent residents), you should not have any problems with staffing.
The minimum requirement for your working staff is that they have a working visa. MOM considers a company to be in the service sector (at least for the food and beverage industry) if its main activities are:
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You can hire foreign workers if they meet certain conditions regarding country of origin, age and maximum duration of employment. MOM considers the following source countries:
If you want to know more about which visas you and your employees may qualify for, you can read our explanation of the different Singapore visas available to employers and employees.
That’s it, a complete and detailed guide on what you need to start a coffee business here in Singapore. Humans always need caffeine morning, noon and night. So it’s no wonder that there are so many coffee shops in Singapore that offer unique services for everyone, from simple quick brews to specialty coffee products.
If you need help with company registration for your coffee shop, we at Piloto Asia will be happy to help. So you’ve started your dream business
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