Business Licensing in Singapore
This page is here to help give you a starting point to find out about some of the obligations that may apply to you if you decide to host Experiences on Airbnb. It’s for your information only and includes summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to official resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the law has not changed recently.*
Could I be a business? When am I likely to be considered to be carrying on a business?
In Singapore, a person carrying on any form of trade, commerce, profession or any other activity for the purposes of gain is considered as carrying on a business unless it is for any office (e.g. holding a position in public office), employment or occupation.
You will generally be considered as carrying on business so long as you derive income from the selling of goods or provision of services for example, professional or vocational (e.g. chef, driver, instructor, tour guide).
Are there any registration requirements for businesses in Singapore?
Yes. You will be required to register your business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) before carrying on business in Singapore. There is potential criminal liability (such as financial penalties and/or jail) for carrying on business under a business name without being registered in respect of that name. Additionally, failure to register may also render contractual agreements unenforceable.
There are certain exceptions to this requirement such as:
- when you are a sole proprietor carrying on a business under only your full name in your identity card or passport (e.g. Mr Tan Ah Teck must register if he does business under "Tan Ah Teck Adventures" but not if he does business under “Tan Ah Teck”);
- if the business is a firm of 2 or more individuals carrying on business only in the full name of all the individuals; or
- you are carrying on business in the name of a company or limited liability partnership that has already been registered with ACRA.
A search of the Register of Business Names here will have to be conducted to confirm that there is no business with an identical name. You should also be aware that if the proposed name is a trade mark of any product, the written consent of the owner of the trade mark owner will be required before that mark can be registered as a business name.
You can find out more information about registering your business on the ACRA website.
What if I am a business - Is there anything I need to be aware of when dealing with consumers?
Yes. Consumer protection laws, such as the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and Consumer Protection (Trade Description and Safety Requirements) Act require you to accurately describe your Trip or Experience in your listing so your guests can make informed decisions.
This means that:
- the information you provide to guests should be clear and not misleading. You should not represent that the Trip or Experience contains features that you do not intend to provide;
- you should accurately and completely describe in your listing the main characteristics of your Trip or Experience, as well as what is included and any special terms and conditions (for example, my favorite local craft cocktail bar experience includes the first round of drinks, but guests must pay for additional drinks out of pocket);
- your up-front price should be accurate, and you should not list a Trip or Experience at one price and then charge an additional fee when your guests get there;
- material information likely to influence consumers’ decision such as price and other sales condition should be disclosed and not hidden in small print; and
- you should not represent that your Trip or Experience is available at a discounted price for a stated period of time if you know that it will continue for a substantially longer time.
In sum, this means that you need to provide the services advertised in your listing, within the advertised dates and times, at the advertised price. For more information, we encourage you to review the relevant laws and the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice which provides guidance on the standards of ethical conduct to be adopted.
Is there anything else I should think about?
Activities and Licences
If your experience will involve other activities (for example, serving/providing food or alcohol or providing transportation or guiding tours), please take a look at our other information sections to work out if any other rules might apply to your activity. Our section on the various activity specific topics cover some of the typical activities, but it is not exhaustive. You should always check with the relevant authorities or speak to a lawyer to determine which registrations, reports, or licenses may be required for the experiences you are offering.
Tax and accounting
You should also check what are the tax and accounting rules applicable to the type of business entity you have chosen. In order to comply with such rules, you will have to keep proper records and accounts of your Trips or Experiences related activities so that the authorities may ascertain the income and expenses arising from such activities. If you expect the revenue of your business to exceed SGD 1 million in a year, should also register with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore as a GST-registered person.
You should check that you have the appropriate insurance coverage in place to cover all the activities you will be providing.
If you plan to hire employees as part of your business, you will have to consider amongst others the obligations imposed under the Employment Act and other legal requirements pertaining to employment such as Central Provident Fund contributions, workplace safety and health issues and work permits/employment passes for any foreign workers. You can find out more information from the Ministry of Manpower’s website.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).
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