Regulations for the F&B Industry

Tourism is an important industry in Singapore. In 1995, Singapore received 7.14 million visitors. The total tourism receipts for 1995 amounted to S$11.6 billion. One of the areas popular with the tourists is Boat Quay and its surrounding vicinity at Circular Road. The restored shophouses at Boat Quay against a background of skyscrapers in the city’s financial district, transforms the riverfront into an area where visitors can dine outdoors at the waterside and restaurants.

Singapore, as a tourist centre, encourages the establishment of well-runned and hygenic food and beverage outlets. To ensure that such outlets meet the highest safety and hygiene standards, the government has numerous regulations and rules covering areas as diverse as fire safety and health standards to Internet regulation and entertainment licensing.

Liquor Licensing Board

Under the Customs Act and the Customs (Liqours Licensing) Regulations, no intoxicating liquor shall be sold by retail except under a licence issued under the Act. Such liquor can only be sold at the place stated and in compliance with the terms of the licence. The licence is issued by the Liquors Licensing Board and is for the following categories:-

  1. Public house, first class The sale of all types of liquor for consumption on the premises (Fees: $1,200 per year)
  2. Public house, first class (extended) The sale of all types of liquor for consumption on the premises (Fees: $2,400 per year)
  3. Public house, first class (extended) (tourist hotel) The sale of all types of liquor for consumption on the premises (Fees: $3,600 per year)
  4. Public house, second class The sale of all types of liquor for consumption on the premises (Fees: $480 per year)
  5. Beer house, first class The sale of only beer and stout for consumption on the premises (Fees: $720 per year)
  6. Beer house, second class The sale of only beer and stout for consumption on the premises (Fees: $360 per year)
  7. Beer house, (outdoor beer stall) Applicable only to holders of a hawker licence and is for the sale of only beer and stout for consumption on the premises (Fees: $240 per year)
  8. Wholesale liquor shop The sale of all types of liquor for consumption off the premises (Fees: $480 per year)
  9. Wholesale beer shop The sale of only beer and stout for consumption off the premises (Fees: $360 per year)
  10. Retail liquor shop The sale of all types of liquor for consumption off the premises (Fees: $360 per year)
  11. Retail beer shop The sale of only beer and stout for consumption off the premises (Fees: $180 per year)

The Board sits every 3 months to consider applications for liquor licences. Applications for a liquor licence may be submitted on-line. Alternatively, you can call on the police Liquors Licensing Unit at 391 New Bridge Road, #02-701, Police Cantonment Complex, S(088762) to e-file your application.

Applications are published on-line and you must post a copy at the principal entrance of the premises where the business is proposed to be carried out. This is so that members of the public who are affected can lodge objections. Clearance from the Singapore Police. the National Environmental Agency and a few other government authorities are also required.

A licenceholder of a Public House (First Class) Licence is required to register with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore for payment of cess collected from the sale of food and drinks in the licensed premises.

Once a liquor licence is issued, the licenceholder must comply with the terms of the licence, the Customs Act, the Customs (Liqours Licensing) Regulations and other relevant rules, including:-

  1. display the licence and notices required under the licence at the premises
  2. complying with the closing times stated in the licence and ensure that no person (other than employees) remain on the premises
  3. ensuring that no persons below the age of 18 purchases intoxicating liquor from the premises or consumes liquor on the premises
  4. the premises and toilet facilities are kept clean and in good repair
  5. not permit any drunkenness, disorderly conduct and gambling on the premises
  6. not employ any waitress below the age of 17 years or of bad character

The punishment for failure to comply with these and other related regulations may result in fines.

Public Entertainment License

Under the Public Entertainments & Meetings Act and the Public Entertainments & Meetings Rules any establishment which has recorded or live music, singing, dancing, karaoke, art exhibitions, shows, pin-ball machines, pool or billiard tables, games or other forms of entertainment has to obtain a public entertainments licence.

The licence is issued by the Public Entertainments Licensing Unit of the Singapore Police Force. Applications for the licence must be submitted using the prescribed forms found at their website and submitted to The Licensing Officer, PELU Licensing Division, Police Cantonment Complex, #02-701, Singapore 088762, Fax: 6226 2254

Further information can also be obtained from the above address or at PELU’s Website. Accompanying the application form must be:-

  • a layout plan of the premises;
  • a list of the partners (if the applicant is a firm) or the directors (if the applicant is a company) obtained from the Registry of Companies and Businesses; and
  • written permission for use of the premises for “entertainment” from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

If the application is in order, in-principle approval will be granted subject to clearance from the Fire Safety & Shelter Bureau. Upon receipt of clearance from the Fire Safety & Shelter Bureau, the public entertainments licence will be issued. The processing time for such applications is approximately 2 weeks. Within a month from the issue of the licence a professional engineer’s report must be submiited certifying that the sound levels meets with the licensing requirements.

The fees payable depends on the type of entertainment provided and the size of the establishment. Under the Second Schedule of the Public Entertainments & Meetings Rules the fees payable for a licence where public entertainment is provided in any hotel, restaurant, cafe, pub or similar establishments are as follows:-

Type of public entertainment Rate of fees Remarks
Rate per month Rate per day
200 persons or less* More than 200 persons*
Pubs, Lounges, Bars, Nightclubs, Discotheques & Cabarets
Live music with singing $140 $210 For these outlets, licence is normally issued for a minimum period of 6 months. Applicant can apply for a period of 6 months, 1 or 2 years at a time.
Recorded music with dancing by customers $140 $210
Karaoke $140 $210
Recorded music $6 $6
Every 2 game machines $150 $150 $5
* For rate p.m., no. of persons refer to seating capacity or occupant load as approved by FSSB if seating capacity is not available.

Once a public entertainments licence is issued, the licenceholder must comply with the terms of the licence, the Public Entertainments & Meetings Act, the Public Entertainments & Meetings Rules and other relevant regulations. Failure to comply with such conditions and regulations may result in fines.

Planning Permission (Approved Use)

Under Section 10 (read with Section 12) of the Planning Act, no person shall make any material change in the use of the building or land without the permission of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Under the Schedule to the Planning (Use Classes) Rules, the classes specified are:-

  • Class I: Use as a shop
  • Class II: Use as an office or a commercial school
  • Class III: Use as a restaurant
  • Class IV: Use as a health centre or an amusement centre
  • Class V: Use as a motor vehicle showroom
  • Class VI: Use as a theatre
  • Class VII: Use as a light industrial building
  • Class VIII: Use as a general industrial building
  • Class IX: Use as a special industrial building
  • Class X: Use as a warehouse
  • Class XI: Use as a convalescent home
  • Class XII: Use as a child care centre
  • Class XIII: Use as a community building
  • Class XIV: Use as a sports and recreation building
  • Class XV: Use as a nightclub
  • Class XVI: Use as a pet shop

Further under paragraph 2 of the said Rules, a “restaurant” is defined to be a building used for the carrying on of any trade or business where the primary purpose is the sale by retail of foodstuffs for consumption on the premises and includes a coffee shop, eating house, snack bar, cafeteria or foodcourt. A “bar ” or “pub” is defined to be a building used for the carrying on of any trade or business where the primary purpose is the sale of alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises.

Restaurants are permitted within buildings zoned “Commercial” (e.g. shopping complexes) and buildings zoned “Commercial/Residential” or “Residential with Commercial at 1st storey only”. However, restaurants which are located in shophouses could create parking and traffic problems and adversely affect the amenity of the surrounding residents since most existing shophouses do not have their own caparking provision. As such, proposed restaurants can only be approved if there is sufficient carparking provision in the area. URA has a list of locations where parking is a problem and may face difficulty getting approval.

Submissions for the application for change of use can be made at The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069118

Alternatively they can be made online using the Change of Use Electronic Submission System.

If the building in which the proposed business is intended to be carried out is listed as URA’s eligible buildings and if the change of use proposals comply with a set of lodgment criteria, then you only need to lodge or file the change-of-use proposal with URA. The applicant need not submit a planning application. The list of eligible buildings under the Change of Use Lodgment Scheme is found at the URA’s Website.

COMPASS License

COMPASS is the acronym for The Composers & Authors Society of Singapore Ltd. The objective of COMPASS is the protection and promotion of the copyright interests of composers, authors and publishers of musical works and associated lyrics. In addition to local musical works, COMPASS, by virtue of reciprocal agreements with other international affiliated societies around the world, administers works of international composers, lyricists and publishers and controls more than 13 million pieces of musical works, which represent almost all copyright musical works in the world.

Users of such music in Singapore, whether for broadcast or public performance, must obtain a licence from COMPASS. An appropriate licence fee is charged by COMPASS. COMPASS in turn distributes such fees to its members and affiliated overseas societies for distribution to their own members.

Any person who, not being the owner of the copyright and without the licence of the copyright owner does any of the following infringes the copyright of the owner:-

  • Reproduce the work in a material form, e.g. on a CD, tape or in a film;
  • Publish the work;
  • Perform the work in public;
  • Broadcast the work;
  • Include the work in a cable programme;
  • Make an adaptation of the work; and
  • Authorise the use of such adaptation in accordance with the rights stipulated above.

When an infringement of copyright is committed, the infringer may be faced with:-

  • a civil claim by the copyright owner for an injunction (which is a prohibitory order of the Court, refraining the infringer from committing any further copyright infringement acts) and damages (monetary compensation to the copyright owner); and/or
  • criminal proceedings which will render the infringer, upon conviction, to a fine or imprisonment or to both.

Some common examples of premises requiring COMPASS licences include hotels, clubs, restaurants, shops, cinemas, halls, bars, fitness centres, karaoke lounges, discotheques, nightclubs etc., virtually any outlet that broadcast music controlled by COMPASS, whether recorded, life or from the radio.

A licence granted by COMPASS is a year to year contract which continues until terminated by either party. The licence authorises a licensee to use music controlled by COMPASS pursuant to the terms of the particular licence granted, in consideration for which the licensee agrees to pay an appropriate fee each year. COMPASS has a variety of ways to compute the appropriate fees payable (some of which are based on the seating capacity of the outlet). In addition to payment to COMPASS, if a music video or karaoke discs is played in your premises a licence from the Singapore Phonogram and Videogram Association (SPVA) is also required.

COMPASS can be contacted at 37 Craig Road, Singapore 089675 (Tel: 63236630, Fax: 63236639).