What you need to know before starting an HDB home business in Singapore

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
What you need to know before starting an HDB home business in Singapore
Many wishes to earn a living working from home. Given the perks, it’s hardly surprising. Apart from the comfort of working from home, you get to save on rental and travel expenses. Without having to spend time travelling to and from an office, you’ll also enjoy more leisure time.
HDB has two schemes you can apply for if you’re looking to start a home-based business. You may click the link below to go to the content directly:
  1. Home Office Scheme
  2. Home Based Small Scale Business Scheme
Do note that these schemes come with guidelines to ensure the surrounding residential ambience isn’t negatively affected.
Schemes to apply for to run a home business
Home Office Scheme
Under this scheme, you can use your flat to run an approved business or carry out the administrative aspects of a business.
The Key Guidelines
You’re allowed to have only two non-resident staff working at your flat. Additionally, your activities should not create a nuisance to neighbours, such as through noise, smoke, waste, or solicitations for business. Your business should also not create additional human or vehicle traffic to the surroundings or neighbourhood. Displays of physical business communications (signages, posters etc.) is also not permitted. HDB’s complete list of guidelines for the Home Office Scheme can be found here.
Businesses that are Allowed
According to HDB, permissible businesses include accountancy services, consultancy services, and transportation services. Non-permissible ones include massage therapy services, retail, and food catering. For non-permissible businesses, your flat can only be used as an administrative office. All other activities would have to be carried out elsewhere. Here’s a list of permissible and non-permissible businesses for the Home Office Scheme.
How to apply
You can apply for the Home Office Scheme licence at LicenceOne. The licence will be valid for five years following approval. You’ll need to register your home-based business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) before beginning operations.
Home Based Small Scale Business Scheme
Through this scheme, you can run a small business from your HDB home. You won’t need to seek HDB’s approval for this.
The Key Guidelines
Under the Home Based Small Scale Business Scheme, your home cannot be registered as a business address.
Like the Home Office Scheme, your business activities shouldn’t create any form of nuisance for neighbours. HDB also does not allow paid or physical advertising for your business.
Here’s HDB’s complete list of guidelines for the Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme.
Businesses that are allowed
Some businesses you can run under the Home-Based Small Scale Business Scheme include baking on a small-scale, hairdressing, and private tuition (not more than 3 students at once). Do note that massage services are not permitted.
The bottom line on starting a home-based business in Singapore
A HDB estate is still first and foremost a residential area. HDB’s guidelines are centred on ensuring the residential character of HDB surroundings is preserved, while allowing individuals the flexibility to have a home-based business. Notably, there are restrictions on advertising one’s home-based business. With that, publicity via word-of-mouth may be the the most feasible means of marketing one’s business.
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