Home Office Scheme in Singapore: How to Apply?

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The Home Office Scheme allows business owners to operate small businesses from the comfort of their home. If you want to run your own business from your house, this is an excellent scheme to consider. You don’t have to spend money renting an office, and you can easily make money without leaving your home.

Conditions for Home Office Scheme:

HDB flats and private residences are designed primarily for living in, and not for conducting industrial activity. Any business activities conducted should not impact your neighbour’s living conditions. The scheme was set up to allow admin-based businesses to be run from home (e.g. tech startups, consulting businesses, internet-based businesses). It’s not supposed to be used for labour-intensive businesses, or large-scale businesses, or any other business that will draw large amounts of foot traffic.

Here are the conditions for the Home Office Scheme:

  • You cannot hire more than 2 non-resident employees. This means that you can hire as many resident employees as you want (i.e. people in your household), but you can only hire up to 2 people who are not members of your household.
  • You cannot display any business signs or advertisements outside your house.
  • Your business activities should not make noise, smoke, odour, waste matter or dust.
  • Your business should not cause elevated levels of traffic into the neighbourhood.
  • Your business cannot consume high amounts of electricity that exceed standard residential use. That means no Bitcoin mining.
  • Your business cannot use dangerous chemicals or other hazardous substances/materials. You can’t run a real-life Breaking Bad lab, unfortunately.
  • Your business activities cannot be in the prohibited list of activities (see list below).

The rules above are meant to protect the residential nature of the neighbourhood. For instance, imaging if your neighbour ran a popular clothing shop from out of their home, and had customers coming in and out 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. That would be quite disruptive to the people living around them.

What types of businesses cannot be run under the Home Office Scheme?

  • Beauty, hair dressing or massage
  • Construction/renovation contractors
  • Car trading/sales
  • Card reading/palm reading, tarot reading, or fortune telling of all kinds
  • Catering/restaurants
  • Commercial schools (eg. Tuition centres, music centres, dance centres, yoga classes, language classes, etc.)
  • Courier services
  • Classes involving dress-making, sewing, embroidery
  • Employment agencies
  • Embalming, funeral chapels/homes
  • Maid agencies
  • Mausoleums
  • Manufacturing of any kind
  • Medical services (eg. dental, medical, veterinary)
  • Money lending
  • Opticians
  • Repair activities (eg. household appliances, electrical products, footwear, etc)
  • Any business that involves conducting in-person seminars for large numbers of people
  • Shops/Retail businesses – essentially the sale of any kind of goods it not allowed

What types of businesses are allowed under the Home Office Scheme?

  • Accounting and book-keeping businesses
  • Architecture/interior design business
  • Asset management business (e.g. hedge funds)
  • Consulting business (e.g. management consulting, engineering consulting, IT consulting, education consulting, HR consulting, financial consulting, etc.)
  • Graphic design, marketing, advertising business
  • Insurance and financial planning business
  • Real estate agencies
  • IT businesses (e.g. tech startups) Trading business

Essentially, admin-based businesses are suitable for the Home Office Scheme.

How to apply for the Home Office Scheme?

The application process differs depending on whether you live in an HDB or a private property.

If you live in an HDB:

Apply for the HDB Home Office Scheme.

If you live in a private residence (e.g. condo, landed property):

Apply for the URA Home Office Scheme.

You must be at least 18 years old to apply for the Home Office Scheme. If you’re the tenant of the unit, you have to seek permission from the owner first before you can get approval for the scheme.

How much does the application for the Home Office Scheme cost?

It costs a one-time fee of $20.

How long is the Home Office Scheme license valid for? Do I have to renew my Home Office license?

It’s valid for as long as you wish to run your business. It doesn’t expire. You only need to apply once and that’s it – no renewals are needed.

However, take note that your Home Office license can be revoked if you breach the conditions of the license. For instance, if your neighbours complain and it’s discovered that you’re actually running a prohibited business (e.g. massage parlour), your license can be taken away.

What’s the difference between the Home Office Scheme vs Home-Based Small Business Scheme?

Home Office Scheme vs Home-Based Small Business Scheme in Singapore

Difference Home Office Scheme Home-Based Small Business Scheme
Application required? Yes

 

 

No
Cost $20 one-time application fee Free
Maximum number of employees who are members of household No limit No limit
Maximum number of employees who are NOT members of household 2 Not allowed
Able to register HDB flat/private residential as business address with ACRA? Yes No

 

There are two schemes available for entrepreneurs who want to use their home to run their business. Sometimes people get confused between the two schemes. There are 2 main differences between the Home Office Scheme versus the Home Based Small Business Scheme.

The first primary difference is the number of employees that you can hire from outside your household. Applying for the Home Office Scheme allows you to hire 2 employees who aren’t members of your household. This can be useful if you need to have employees come over to have meetings and do work in a conducive environment. It saves you the hassle and cost of having to rent an office. With the Home Based Small Business Scheme, you can only hire people within your household (i.e. the people living with you). You can’t hire people who don’t live together with you.

The second difference is the ability to use your residential address as your registered business address with ACRA. Under the Home Based Small Business Scheme, you cannot use your residential address for your business. However, under the Home Office Scheme, you can do so. This provides you with an additional level of convenience. You don’t have to engage a corporate secretary to get you a virtual address to register with ACRA.

How should I protect my home-based company from business risks?

Provide is the easiest and quickest way for business owners to protect their companies. It’s important to cover your home-based business against liability. You could face a severe business lawsuit which might cost you hundreds of thousands to defend. Or, one of your employees might get injured, leaving you liable under the law to compensate them for their injuries. Make sure you carry at least basic business insurance, so you don’t leave yourself exposed to such dangerous financial risks.

Click the links below to get your insurance online, in just 3 mins. Our premiums are amongst the lowest nationwide.

Coverage Explanation Premium
Professional Indemnity Insurance Covers business-related lawsuits From $42/month
Commercial Property Insurance Covers property damage from fire, explosions, certain types of water damage, etc.

 

Covers building structure, renovations, fixtures & fittings, equipment, & more.

From $12/month

 

Public Liability Insurance Covers lawsuits related to injuries or property damage to third-parties (e.g. members of the public). From $9/month
Work Injury Compensation Insurance (WICA Insurance) Covers your employees from work-related injuries/sickness, including Covid-19.

 

Pays up to $45,000 medical expenses per worker.

From $5/month, per worker

 

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