1. How can I change my nightlife operations to activities that are permitted today? What kind of licences are required?
Nightlife operators that wish to convert to F&B operations should first register their interest with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) through the Singapore Nightlife Business Association (“SNBA”) at firstname.lastname@example.org This would allow us to prioritise your subsequent regulatory submissions to the relevant agencies.
Operators that wish to pivot to other commercial uses should submit their change of use application directly to Urban Redevelopment Authority (“URA”) through the GoBusiness portal.
Prior to making any application, nightlife operators are strongly encouraged to read the advisory note here [last updated 6 Nov].
2. Do nightlife businesses need to change their Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) code if they are changing business activity?
Nightlife businesses are required to change their SSIC code if their current code is not reflective of their new business activity. Operators who have converted to permitted activities should notify Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (“ACRA”) by updating the changes of their company’s information on BizFile+ within 14 days. You may login your CorpPass here.
3. How long will the application for converting to a permitted activity take?
The process to acquire the necessary licences and approvals from relevant agencies to change to F&B operations will take approximately two weeks from the date of submission of a completed application. If there are substantial changes to your layout for changing to a restaurant or other commercial use, the process may take longer, depending on the type of renovation required.
4. What is URA’s one-year temporary conversion?
The government understands operators’ concern that they may not be able to revert to their original activity once they pivot to other business activities. Hence, URA will allow nightlife establishments that choose to pivot to F&B from now till 31 March 2021 to revert to their original activity, provided such uses are permitted to operate under the prevailing COVID-19 regulations, and that the premises are not located in selected exclusion areas where this temporary conversion does not apply. Operators are to ensure that the premise has valid approvals/licences for the last approved use before reverting to their former nightlife operations.
For approved plans to change to commercial uses other than F&B establishments, subsequent reversions to the original use would depend on the prevailing guidelines and site context at that point in time.
5. If I were to successfully convert to a permitted activity, can the premises eventually revert to its original approved use, and will I be able to retain my current licences (e.g., public entertainment and liquor licences)?
Nightlife establishments that have received URA’s endorsement for a one-year temporary conversion to F&B operations will be able to revert their premises to the original approved use within one year from receiving the SFA foodshop licence to carry out F&B operations, subject to the prevailing COVID-19 regulations and public health considerations associated with COVID-19. No change of use application is required.
Operators must apply for a new SFA foodshop (Restaurant/Snack Counter) licence and will not be allowed to amend their existing SFA PBND licence. Operators will not be able to hold both SFA foodshop and PBND licences concurrently.
Public Entertainment (PE) licences which have been issued to operators will remain valid until their expiry date. Once the PE licences expire, operators who wish to provide PE other than the transmission of recorded music in restaurants, will need to apply for a new PE licence, subject to such activities being permitted by the Government at the time of application.
Existing liquor licences that have been issued to operators will remain valid until their expiry date.
6. In what instances will URA’s one-year temporary conversion not apply?
URA’s one-year temporary conversion will not apply to: (1) operators whose premises are located in selected exclusion areas and/or (2) operators converting their premises to commercial uses other than F&B. These operators would need to make new applications with both URA and Singapore Food Agency (‘SFA”) (if applicable) to obtain the respective land use approval and licence.
If operators wish to revert to their original activity subsequently, they would also need to make new applications with URA and SFA to obtain the land use approval and licence to operate as a nightlife establishment, subject to the prevailing COVID-19 regulations and public health considerations. Such applications are also subject to further assessment by the authorities, based on the prevailing guidelines, and site context at that point in time.
7. What is the difference between an SFA foodshop Restaurant licence and an SFA foodshop Snack Counter licence for operators planning to convert premise into an F&B establishment?
A Restaurant licence allows an operator to sell food that require extensive preparation or cooking. The operator needs to set up a full-fledge kitchen that has sufficient preparation and storage equipment, wash area, cooking range with exhaust system, etc.
A Snack counter licence allows operators to sell food that can be cooked/heated up and do not require extensive food preparation, e.g., pizza (pre-packed frozen pizza from supermarket/factory), chicken wings, potato wedges, fishballs, etc. The operator will need basic cooking/heating equipment such as deep fryers, microwaves, ovens etc. Unlike for a restaurant licence, they will not need to set up a full-fledged kitchen.
8. What are the estimated costs for converting to a permitted activity?
Nightlife operators whose premises are being converted to F&B establishments and those not located within the exclusion areas will receive URA’s endorsement for a one-year temporary conversion with no application fee required. Applicants would minimally need to pay the $195 licensing fee for the application of a new SFA foodshop licence. Other costs that could be incurred include renovation costs and administrative costs, such as application for a fire safety certificate, if required.
Operators that are required to make a direct change of use application to URA as (1) their premises are located within selected exclusion areas and/or (2) they are converting their premises to commercial uses other than F&B, will be required to pay the processing fee associated with the change of use application and obtaining other permits/licences, depending on the type of activity the operator is converting to.
9. For operators that have successfully applied for a change of use previously, but would have qualified for the one-year temporary conversion today, will the administrative fee for the change of use application be reimbursed and will the operator still be able to qualify for the one-year temporary conversion?
The operators were already allowed to proceed with the restaurant use given URA’s approval, and there is no need to re-apply for approval under the one-year temporary conversion scheme. As the change of use application was already processed and issued a decision (i.e. approval), the processing fees paid cannot be refunded.
10. Can Public Entertainment (PE) licence validity period be extended, or licence fees be refunded, if an operator is permitted to operate PE in the same premises in the future?
A PE licence is valid only for the period stated in the licence and the period cannot be varied. For PE licensees who decide to terminate their licence as a result of the COVID-19 situation, and wish to seek a refund of the paid licence fees, the Singapore Police Force (“SPF”) will assess each request on a case by case basis. The operator may apply for a new PE licence in the future, but the application will be assessed based on its merits at that point and subject to the prevailing laws and policies.
For specific queries, please email to the Police Licensing & Regulatory Department at SPF_Licensing_Feedback@spf.gov.sg.
11. Will I have to pay additional fees if my application for a change of use is rejected?
Applicants that have received an advisory note from URA to revise and re-submit their plans/proposal within the validity of the advisory note do not need to pay additional fees. However, applicants that have received a final rejection for a change of use would need to submit a fresh application if they wish to apply again.
12. What are the selected exclusion areas? Why will premises located within selected exclusion areas not be guaranteed a reversion to original approved land use?
Exclusion areas are locations with a high concentration of nightlife establishments and where there has been adverse feedback from surrounding residents or neighbours on resulting disamenities. These locations are: Orchard Towers, Riverside Piazza, Kampong Bahru Road and Boat Quay Conservation Area.
Operators whose premises are located in these areas will be required to make a change of use application directly with URA if they wish to convert operations to permitted activities. If operators wish to revert to their previous use after successfully converting, they will also be required to make a change of use application, which will be evaluated based on the prevailing guidelines and site context.
13. Can nightlife operators collaborate with a neighbouring F&B outlet to serve food at their bar, pub, nightclub or karaoke outlet?
All nightlife establishments that wish to convert their business activity to F&B are required to provide their food preparation area within the premises for food to be served at the same place.
Operators may only work with another F&B establishment if the supplying establishment holds a food processing establishment licence from SFA. Nonetheless, nightlife operators would still be required to convert to an F&B establishment or other permitted commercial use in order to reopen. Please refer to advisory note here [last updated 6 Nov] here on the application steps, or reach out to the Singapore Nightlife Business Association at email@example.com.
14. If I choose to remain close, can I keep my Public Entertainment (PE) licence and reopen at another location when my business is permitted to resume?
The PE licence will remain valid for the period stated in the licence for the current location. The operator may apply for a new PE licence in the future for the new location, but the application will be assessed by the Police based on its merits and subject to the prevailing laws and policies.
15. Do nightlife premises need to undergo renovation in order to obtain the requisite permits/licences for converting operations to a permitted activity?
The renovation of your premise would be required if there is a substantial change in the layout of the premise, such as putting up a full-fledged kitchen if one is converting to a restaurant.
Applicants should reach out to URA, SFA, or other relevant agencies to confirm if renovation is required, depending on the type of activity that applicants are converting to. Please be advised to refrain from committing on tenancy or renovation works before receiving confirmation from the relevant agencies.
16. Do I need to apply for a new fire safety certificate?
Operators should only apply for a new fire safety certificate with Singapore Civil Defence Force (“SCDF”) if substantial changes to the layout of the premises (e.g., renovation) have been made, which require fire safety works.
Such fire safety works include change in design and layout of fire compartments or spaces that affect means of escape, relocation of fire safety products (e.g. hose-reels, fire alarm panels, emergency exit signs, fire doors/doors which affect the means of escape), etc.
Operators who wish to commence or carry out any proposed fire safety works in any building shall apply, in accordance with the Regulations made under the Fire Safety Act to SCDF for approval of the plan for fire safety works. Such plans shall be prepared and submitted by Qualified Persons (QPs) who are registered architects or professional engineers on behalf of the building owners. Upon full completion of all fire safety works, the QP engaged by the operator must apply and obtain the fire safety certificate before using or occupying the premises.
17. Do operators need to remove their existing bar counters in order to convert premise into an F&B establishment? What other requirements must I demonstrate to show that I have successfully converted to an F&B establishment?
To facilitate the pivot, the bar counter has to be repurposed for the serving or preparation of food and drinks for patrons to dine in.
Operators are only required to comply with the following requirements:
- There must be a kitchen or food preparation area located within the premises to prepare and serve food.
- The premises will be operated as a F&B establishment for the sale and consumption of food at all times.
- There is adequate indoor dining area for customers to be seated to consume their food/meals.
- There is no live entertainment at the premises.
- The Safe Management Measures (SMMs) and regulations for F&B establishments will be complied with at all times.
18. For premises with an approved smoking room, is there a need to apply to the National Environment Agency (“NEA”) again after converting to an F&B establishment or other commercial use?
Smoking rooms are not allowed within the F&B establishment, and all existing smoking rooms must remain closed during the period of conversion from a nightlife establishment to F&B establishment.
When the premise is converted back to a nightlife establishment, the previously approved smoking room, which is contingent on the Public Entertainment Licence (PEL), may resume operations, subject to prevailing regulations on smoking facilities.
In the event that the PEL is not renewed by the time of reversion, the smoking room must remain close until a valid PEL is obtained.