If you plan on opening a restaurant, coffee shop, pub, or an F&B business in Singapore, you’ll need an SFA Food Shop Licence. First-time restaurateurs may find the process confusing. There’s a host of requirements and documentation required. Not to mention that the overall process seems overwhelming.
Fortunately, we’ve curated this guide to help you obtain an SFA Licence. We’ll also discuss how you can complete your SFA Licence Application before running your restaurant. We’ll break down the process and cover multiple subjects on the matter. Let’s get started.
1. What Is An SFA Licence In Singapore?
SFA stands for Singapore Food Agency. This is the national authority responsible for ensuring food safety, supply, and security standards are met in the industry. An SFA Food Shop Licence permits F&B (Food and Beverage) business owners to operate their establishment, import, export, or transship food.
Having a Food Shop Licence allows you to run different food shops. Here’s a list of examples:
- Takeaway F&B
- Dessert shops
- Food courts
- Leisure hubs that serve food (i.e., pubs, discos, KTVs, etc.)
- Liquor stores
2. What Is The Difference Between A Food Shop Licence And A Food Stall Licence?
You’ve probably encountered the term “Food Stall Licence” before. Though it may sound similar, it includes certain businesses that an SFA Food Shop Licence doesn’t cover.
An SFA Food Stall Licence is issued to operators of food stalls in hawker centres, canteens, kopitiams, and the like. This type of licence prohibits the hiring of foreign workers. Operators can hire only Singapore citizens or Singapore PRs for their staff.
Meanwhile, an SFA Food Shop Licence is issued to standalone food businesses with their premises. Food shops can cover sit-in establishments which have their own brick-and-mortar store. Owners can also hire foreign workers.
Food shops are different from food stalls in that the latter operate in larger food locations. An example is a hawker stall in a food court.
10 Documents Needed For An SFA Food Shop Licence
You’ll need several documents to get your licence. Make sure you have everything prepared for your application. Make photocopies of each document whenever necessary.
Here’s a list of documents needed in applying for an SFA Food Shop Licence:
- Your personal details (name, date of birth, contact number, NRIC etc.)
- Your business’s ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) Profile (if applying for an SFA licence under a company) – Your ACRA profile is a business report that includes the following information about your business:
- Entity name
- Business activities
- Registration date
- Personal information of the business owner/position holder
- Basic Food Hygiene Certificate or Refresher Food Hygiene Certificate for all food handlers – You can get this certificate once you have completed a WSQ Basic Food Hygiene Course or the Food Safety Course. These are SFA-accredited courses. Upon completion, participants can begin working in kitchens, hawkers, and other F&B businesses as mandated by the National Environmental Agency (NEA) of Singapore.
- All personal details of food handlers who will be working at your establishment
- A written tenancy contract between you and your landlord
- Approval to use the premises from agencies such as the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), etc.
- Your business’s layout plan. Ensure it complies with the Code of Practice on Environmental Health (COPEH).
- If a friend is applying for the licence in your stead, you’ll need to provide an authorisation letter with your signatures.
- Your food business’ cleaning programme document. It should detail the following:
- Cleaning schedule
- Areas of your food shop business that require cleaning
- Contract from your pest control provider.
3. How To Apply For An SFA Food Shop Licence In Singapore?
Once you’ve secured the documents or copies of the documents, you are ready to start applying for the licence.
Below is a brief overview of the entire application process:
- Step 1: Ensure You Have All The Required Documents And Information
- Step 2: Apply Through The GoBusiness Licensing Portal
- Step 3: Schedule A Premises Inspection With The SFA
- Step 4: Pay The Processing Fee To The SFA
Step 1: Ensure You Have All The Required Documents And Information
For a smooth-sailing application, it’s best to have the documents ready beforehand and gather the required information. Doing these will help you feel less overwhelmed about the task. Here are some things to consider:
Set Up A Company With ACRA
Before applying for an SFA Food Shop Licence in Singapore, you must set up a company with ACRA. Take note that you are only legally allowed to hire foreign workers if a company is associated with your Food Shop Licence. Without an ACRA-registered business profile, you’ll have difficulty hiring foreign workers. Also, it’s advisable not to apply under your personal name.
Ensure You Have Approval From The URA And HDB To Use The Premises
If you are leasing a space that wasn’t previously occupied by a food shop, then you must secure a Grant of Written Permission from the URA. If it is under HDB premises, you’ll need approval for this.
Do all of these before applying for your food shop licence in Singapore because the SFA will require these approval letters from the agencies.
Ensure The Food Shop’s Previous Occupant Has Voided Their SFA Licence
If you are setting up shop in a space previously occupied by a food shop, you’ll need to ensure they have cancelled their licence. Failure to do this will lengthen the licence approval to 2 weeks. The SFA will need to clarify the cancellation with the previous occupant.
Hire A Food Hygiene Officer
Food hygiene officers are needed for some types of food shops. Ensure that one of your senior members (i.e., chef, sous chef, manager, etc.) is a certified food hygiene officer. If you don’t have one, inform a senior staff member that they will need to complete the WSQ Safety Course Level 3.
Submit A Pest Control Contract
Find a reliable pest control provider before applying for a licence. While you may not have to sign a contract with them yet, you must have this document ready. The document should have an agreed pest control inspection frequency of at least 1 month.
Step 2: Apply Through The GoBusiness Licensing Portal
To apply through the GoBusiness Licensing Portal, you must first register for a digital ID through SingPass (if applying under your personal name) or through CorpPass (if applying under a company). The website has a guided feature that walks you through the application steps.
Step 3: Schedule A Premises Inspection With The SFA
Your food shop’s premises will first have to be inspected by the SFA before they can issue a licence. Give at least a week’s notice in advance for the inspection.
It will usually take 2 working days for your inspection date to be confirmed. On the inspection day, the SFA will determine whether you have submitted an accurate layout plan of the premises. They will also inspect food-washing facilities like sinks, drains, plumbing, etc. Aside from these, they’ll also see that you have proper ventilation, exhaust, drainage, and food storage facilities.
Step 4: Pay The Licensing Fee To The SFA
Once the SFA completes their inspection and your food shop has satisfied all hygiene standards and regulatory requirements, they’ll issue the licence. You must pay a licensing fee ranging from $180 to $600, depending on the size of your F&B establishment.
You will receive a hard copy of your SFA food shop licence in 7 working days, not exceeding 2 weeks. If you haven’t yet received a hard copy during this time, contact the SFA to send you another copy.
Gathering all documents required for an SFA food shop licence can be challenging if you don’t know where to begin. But, you don’t have to worry, as the application process is pretty straightforward. Keep this guide for future reference to ensure you have all the listed requirements.
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Frequently Asked Questions About
SFA Food Shop Licence
How Do I Get A Food Shop Licence In Singapore?
To get a food shop licence in Singapore, you’ll need a permit from the SFA. Start by logging into your GoBusiness Licensing account. Then, register a digital ID through CorpPass or SingPass.
Do I Need A Licence To Sell Food Online In Singapore?
Currently, you are not required by law to have a licence if you are selling food through an e-commerce platform.
How Do I Pay My SFA Licence Fees?
Pay your SFA licensing fees by retrieving the payment advice of the licence applications and renewals through GoBusiness.
How Do I Get A Hawker Licence?
You must complete the Basic Food Hygiene Course (BFHC) before applying for an SFA licence for hawker stalls or cooked-food stalls. You must also sign a Tenancy Agreement that indicates the length of period you are allowed to operate your stall.
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