Looking to register your home business in Singapore? Depending on the type of business, you'll need to register it with a government body or three, including Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), the national regulator of businesses here; and possibly HDB.
Overwhelmed? Don't be, the process is pretty easy. Just read on!
Register your business
Step 1: Figure out which business structure you have
There are many types, so choose the one that applies to your business. The full list is on the ACRA website, but these are the main ones:
Sole proprietorship: a business owned by one person
Partnership: a business with two to 20 partners
Company: a business with at least one director and shareholder
Step 2: Decide on a name for your business
To avoid rejection or delays, don't choose an offensive name or one that's similar to other businesses. You can check existing business names by using the directory search on the ACRA website.
Step 3: Register via BizFile
BizFile is ACRA's online filing and information system. You'll need your SingPass ID to log in. Registration takes about 15 minutes. However, if your type of business requires approval from other government agencies (for example, you'll need approval from the Ministry of Education if want to run a tuition centre), it may take between 14 days and two months to get your application processed. If you get lost, an e-guide is available at the website to guide you.
Step 4: Get your UEN
Once your registration application is successful, you'll receive your Unique Entity Number (UEN). This identification number is generated for all businesses and should be mentioned in all communication with government agencies, including HDB. For more information, visit the ACRA website.
Register with HDB
There are two types of home office schemes available.
1. The Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme is for those who want to carry out a small scale business to supplement their income, such as baking, beauty services, sewing services, and private tuition. The good news? You won't have to apply for a license if your business falls under this scheme. The not-so-good news? You won't be allowed to hire any assistants.
While you won't need a license for a Home-Based Small Scale Business, there are guidelines to follow. Your business should not adversely affect your neighbours' living environment, involve the use of heavy equipment that is not intended for domestic use, nor require storage or the movement of goods. Also, no physical or paid advertising for the business is allowed (nope, not even an online advertisement). For more information, visit the HDB website.
2. The Home Office Scheme is for those who want to use their home to operate an approved business or run the administrative functions of their business. This includes design and advertising services, and insurance and financial planning services. If your business falls under this scheme, you'll need to apply for a license. Here's how:
Step 1: Make sure you meet the requirements
You should be at least 18 years old and living in the flat you'll be working from. While there is no limit to the number of employees you can have, you can only hire two non-residents to work in the flat. Also, you aren't allowed to buy or sell any goods in your home or display any advertisements or posters in your neighbourhood.
Step 2: Apply for a license via LicenceOne
LicenceOne is a one-stop business licensing portal. You'll need your SingPass ID and a credit card (a non-refundable admin fee of $20 is required) to make an application.
An earlier version of this article first appeared in CLEO March 2018.