Business licensing in Singapore
As an experience host, you get to share your passion with travellers from around the world. This article can help you share your passion responsibly. You design and control your experience listing, what service you offer, when and where you host, and what you charge. It is your responsibility to be aware of and comply with all legal and regulatory requirements when hosting your experience.
You can use this article as a starting point for learning about local laws or regulations that may apply to your experience, but it doesn’t constitute legal or tax advice. We’re also not responsible for the reliability or accuracy of the sources we’ve linked to, so we encourage you to double-check the sources and seek your own legal advice. We don’t update this information in real time, so you should always confirm that the laws or procedures haven’t changed recently.
This page contains information about responsible hosting in Singapore. We also have articles that contain general information about hosting experiences anywhere in the world, which you can find in the Responsible hosting section of our Help Center.
Business licensing guidelines for experiences in Singapore
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).
If you intend to carry on business, you should 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 (as in their identity cards or passports); 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 can find out more information about registering your business on the ACRA website.
You should be aware that consumer protection laws, such as the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and Consumer Protection (Trade Descriptions and Safety Requirements) Act require you to accurately describe your 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 Experience contains features that you do not intend to provide;
- you should accurately and completely describe in your listing the main characteristics of your 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 an 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 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.
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 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.
There are restrictions on foreigners who are work pass holders or who have entered Singapore on social visit passes to freelance by hosting Experiences on Airbnb. If this applies to you, you are responsible to check with the city and a lawyer.