Are you thinking of opening a food stall? Under Singapore law, you need to first apply for a Food Stall License. We’ve written this guide to help you along the process of getting your Food Stall License.
- What is a Food Stall License?
- What’s the difference between a Food Stall License vs a Food Shop License?
- The 3 steps to apply for a Food Stall License in Singapore
- Frequently asked questions on Food Stall Licenses
- How to protect your food stall business from food poisoning liability, and other major risks
What is a Food Stall License?
A food stall license is an official license that allows you to operate various kinds of food stalls. Examples include:
- Hawker centre stall
- Coffee shop/kopitiam stall
- School canteen stall
- Company canteen stall
What’s the difference between a Food Stall License vs a Food Shop License?
Food Stall License
Food Shop License
|Type of Business||Stalls in hawker centres, coffee shops/kopitiams, canteens, etc.||Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, discos, etc.|
|Ability to Hire Foreign Workers||Not allowed to hire foreign workers. Can only hire Singapore Citizens/PRs.||Allowed to hire foreign workers.|
What are the documents needed to apply for a Food Stall License?
We’ve consolidated all the documents you need in one list, so you can have everything ready before you apply for your license:
- ACRA profile of your company (if applying for the license under a company), OR personal details of applicant (name, NRIC, date of birth, contact details, etc.).
- Basic Food Hygiene Certificate / Refresher Food Hygiene Certificate of all food handlers.
- Personal details of all food handlers (name, NRIC, date of birth, contact details, etc.)
- Tenancy agreement/contract with your landlord.
- Layout plan of your food stall premises. Make sure your layout plan complies with COPEH (Code of Practice on Environmental Health).
- Letter of authorisation (only if the application for the Food Stall License is not done by the intended licensee/director of company applying for the license – e.g. if your friend is helping you to apply for the license)
What are the 3 steps to apply for a Food Stall License in Singapore?
Step 1: Gather all necessary information
If you want to have a smooth application experience, it’s best to prepare all the information (listed in the paragraph above) beforehand. This will help you get through the entire process more quickly.
Some key points to note are:
If you’re renovating the stall, make sure your contractor is familiar with COPEH: COPEH stands for the Code of Environmental Practice. These are a set of rules for food-related premises. If you’re renovating your food stall, the premises must comply with COPEH. Ensure that your contractor is familiar with the COPEH guidelines, as you’ll need to submit your food stall layout to SFA to get the license. If your layout doesn’t comply with COPEH, SFA may turn down your license application.
Ensure that you’ve got your tenancy agreement before applying for the license: You need to submit your tenancy agreement when applying for the license. You don’t have to sign the agreement yet until your license is approved, but you need to at least have the agreement in hand. We wrote a guide on 10 common commercial lease terms for entrepreneurs who are reviewing tenancy agreements.
Ensure the food stall’s previous occupant has cancelled their Food Stall License: If the previous occupant has not cancelled their Food Stall License, then SFA will take 2 extra weeks to process your application. This is because SFA will need some time to to contact the previous occupant to cancel their license, and then issue you a new license. Try to get in touch with the previous occupant (e.g. contact them via your landlord, if you can’t reach them directly) to handle this task.
Gather personal details of all workers who will be handling food, and ensure they all have basic food hygiene certificates: You’ll need to submit the personal details of food handlers in your stall, as part of the licensing process. All food handlers must have a food hygiene certificate.
Step 2: Apply on GoBusiness Licensing Portal
Once you’ve got the necessary documents in hand, head to the GoBusiness Licensing portal to apply for your Food Stall License. The entire process is online.
How long will SFA take to review my license application?
It will take up to 5 working days for SFA to process your Food Stall License application
Step 3: Make payment to SFA
After SFA approves your license, you’ll need to pay SFA the license fee before you can start operating your food stall.
A Food Stall License in Singapore costs $32/year (GST included). This license is valid for 1 year. You also have the option of applying for a 2-year license, which will cost $64.
Once payment is made, SFA will mail your hardcopy Food Stall License within 7 working days. It should take at most 2 weeks for you to receive your license. If you don’t get your hardcopy license within this timeframe, make sure to contact SFA again so they can send you another copy of your license.
When can I start operating my food stall? Do I have to wait for the hardcopy license?
No, you don’t have to wait for the hardcopy license to arrive.
For businesses with existing GIRO payment arrangements with SFA: You can start immediately after you’ve received email approval for your license from SFA.
For businesses without existing GIRO payment arrangements with SFA: You can start after you’ve made payment to SFA via the GoBusiness portal, or via an AXS machine.
Frequently asked questions on Food Stall Licenses:
How do I cancel my Food Stall License?
Log on to the GoBusiness portal. You’ll have an option to cancel your license. There are no refunds for cancellations of licenses
How do I renew my Food Stall license?
GoBusiness: You can renew your license by logging into GoBusiness, and making payment.
GIRO: If you sign up for GIRO, your Food Stall License will be automatically renewed each year. You won’t need to track renewal dates, which can be more convenient for license holders. Just remember to cancel your GIRO scheme if you end up cancelling your license.
What happens if my license expires?
You will need to make a fresh application for a new license. If you’re currently operating a food stall but accidentally let your license expire, you cannot operate your food stall while you’re making the application for a new license. This means you’ll have a downtime of at least 5 working days.
Can I apply for a license if I don’t have a company?
Yes, you don’t need a company. You can apply as a private individual.
That being said, you’re better protected against legal liability (e.g. for food poisoning) if you operate your food stall under a Private Limited company. Private Limiteds generally limit liability to the assets of the company, so that your personal assets don’t get exposed in case someone gets sick from your food and files a legal claim against you. Here’s a helpful guide on how to start a Private Limited in Singapore.
Can foreigners apply for a Food Stall License?
Take note that Food Stall Licenses are only available to Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents. If you’re a foreigner but you want to take part in a Food Stall business, then you will need a business partner who’s a citizen or PR to be named as the licensee.
Can I run a food stall without a license?
Under the Environmental Public Health Act, it is illegal to run a food stall without a license. You can be fined up to $10,000 if you operate an unlicensed food stall.
Don’t forget to protect your food stall against food poisoning & major risks
Since you’re selling food, you may accidentally cause food poisoning to your customers. Lawsuits related to food poisoning are not cheap, and can easily cost you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Food stalls are also vulnerable to risks like fire and water damage.
After you’ve gotten your license, make sure that you protect your food stall business. We offer the most affordable and comprehensive business insurance plans in Singapore. Click the links below to get insured online, in just 3 mins!
- Public Liability Insurance with food poisoning extension from $9/month
- Work Injury Compensation (WICA) Insurance from $5/month
- Commercial Property Insurance from $12/month
- Business Interruption Insurance from $9/month