To set up a shipping firm requires several licenses and permits. But the first couple of things you will have to do are:
- Register your business first with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA). Your business must register as a sole proprietorship, partnership or a private limited company. A private limited company is the best option given the liabilities involved the nature of the shipping business. Rikvin is Singapore’s leading specialist on company formation. We can help advise you on the best business structure for your company setup.
- Secure a premise for your business. The premise has to be zoned for commercial use and is identified for water transport purpose by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Securing a Premise
Once you have secured a space, do make sure that it is current on building codes and fire safety measures. If the premise needs to be converted into a warehouse for storage of goods, you will have to obtain a permit from URA. URA has a specific rule called the 60:40 Rule for the conversion. The rule stipulates that at least 60% of the gross floor area (GFA) is designated for warehouse usage; and 40% of the GFA can be used for office space, cafeteria or communal facilities.
Any major renovation of the premise requires an application for a building work permit through Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA). When the building works are complete, you will also need to obtain from BCA: a Certificate of Statutory Completion and/or a Temporary Occupation Permit before you can occupy the space. All renovation works are to be performed by certified or licensed contractors including architects. A business signage that is to be placed on the building will require an application of an Advertisement License from BCA.
Occupational Safety and Health Division at Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also have to approve the premise to ensure that it is a safe workplace. You will also need a Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) prior to occupying the building. You can obtain an FSC from Singapore Civil Defense Force through a registered architect or engineer.
Maritime Licenses & Permits
Operating a shipping business requires a whole series of licenses and permits. You will need to obtain a Ship Station License from Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore for all maritime communications equipment installed on commercial ships that are registered in Singapore. The equipment list includes radio transmitters and satellite disks.
Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) presides over the following permits that allow transporting of cargo such as crude oil at approved wharves; offloading of fuel and ship repairs; launching of new vessels; and most importantly, official clearance for ships to call at or depart from ports of entry in Singapore waters. You may or may not require all of these permits.
- Permit To Berth Tankers/Conventional Vessels Carrying Bulk Liquid Cargo
- Permit To Conduct De-Bunkering Operation In Port
- Permit To Launch New Vessel In Port
- Port Clearance Formalities For Arriving And Departing Vessels
Additional Licenses & Permits
Depending on the cargo you plan to transport, you may or may not require additional licenses or permits. If any of the goods are considered hazardous or flammable, you will have to apply for Permit to Buy and Store Hazardous Substances from National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Civil Defense Force respectively. You can find the list of controlled hazardous substances at http://app2.nea.gov.sg/haz_sub.aspx.
All ships required to be certified for the requisite sanitation condition to transport cargos in international and Singapore waters. National Environment Agency (NEA) conducts an on-site inspection prior to issuing a Ship Sanitation Control / Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate.
Your shipping firm may include warehousing business, which means you involve working with the Singapore Customs. You will need to activate your customs account using ACRA assigned Unique Entity Number (UEN) and Singpass. For more information on Singapore Customs and importing goods into Singapore, please see our article on Apply for License and Permits to Import Goods into Singapore.
Rikvin has help thousands of clients incorporate their companies since 1995. We can help you register your company with ACRA in less than 24 hours. Our comprehensive corporate services can provide you with a customized service that includes application for pertinent licenses and permits that you require to set up a shipping company.