To set up a storage and warehousing business 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 in a storage and warehousing business.
- Secure a premise for your business. The premise has to be zoned for commercial use.
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 Urban Redevelopment Authority (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.
There are two types of warehouse license that will exempt you from paying the Goods & Services Tax (GST) while storing the goods in the warehouse. The Singapore Custom issues the Warehouse License, which allows storage of all goods including dutiable goods such as tobacco and liquor and hazardous substances before they sold in the marketplace.
The second warehouse license is also issued by Singapore Customs. This license allows you to convert the entire or part of the warehouse into a zero GST zone for non-dutiable goods and GST-paid goods until they are released for sale in Singapore.
Additional Licenses & Permits
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.
Depending on the goods that you plan to store in your warehouse, 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.
If the storage facilities involves lifting of heavy goods, you will need a Crane Operator License from MOM. When transporting dangerous goods such as toxic chemicals or flammable materials, a driver is required to have Hazardous Materials Transport Driver Permit (HDTP). You can apply for a HDTP from the Singapore Civil Defense Force.
Warehousing businesses involve a fair amount of dealings 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 [intlink id="2876" type="page" title="Import Goods to Singapore"]To Apply for License and Permits to Import Goods into Singapore[/intlink].
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