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How to set up a publishing business in Singapore?

6 Nov

How to set up a publishing business in Singapore?

How to set up a publishing business in Singapore? Typically, a business owner may want to register a Singapore Private Limited Company to enjoy limited liabilities for the shareholders and company enjoy 3 years of profit tax exemption for first $100,000 dollars of profit.

Singapore is noted for having one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Thus, people would have a high expectation of the quality of publications and would require a constant need of it. Sturdy protection of Intellectual Property rights, combined with easy business set-up procedure and large pool of human capital makes Singapore the perfect country for setting up a publishing business. Some major industry players that have set up publishing business here include McGraw-Hill Education and Cambridge University Press, while local brands consist of SPH Magazines and World Scientific Publishing.

A publishing business in Singapore must obtain a Newspaper Permit from the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA). The permit must be applied if it involves printing or publication of newspaper in Singapore. Newspaper refers to any publication consisting of news, reports of occurrences, observations, any matter of public interest, printed in any language and issued for sale or free distribution.

The selling or distribution of offshore newspaper also requires the permit. Offshore newspapers are published outside Singapore weekly which reports on political and current affairs in Southeast Asia. It has a circulation rate of more than 300 copies.

The owner or the Chief Editor of the publication must submit an application form and supporting documents include:

  1. A mock-up duplicate of the recent issues of the publication if it is a magazine (Current Affairs, Women’s Interest, Fashion, Recreational or Performing Arts, Entertainment and Leisure Tourist Guide, or Lifestyle)
  2. Copy of the Foreign Identification Number (FIN) document and passport if the applicant is a foreigner living in Singapore
  3. Letter of Authorization is obligatory if the applicant is a third-party

The Newspaper Permit is free of charge for local newspapers. Bank guarantee of S$200,000 would be required for offshore newspapers. The permit lasts for a year and takes about 15 working days for successful requests. It is non-transferable and change of permit holders, name of newspaper, language, nature of contents, or frequency of publication require new submission of the permit. Within 3 months of obtaining the permit, first issue of publication must be published. Following, two copies of every issue to be submitted to the Registrar of Newspapers

For companies who are printing newspapers and/or magazines in Singapore, a Printing Press Licence is needed from the Registrar of Newspapers.

Before applying for the license, there are conditions to be met:

  • URA must approve of the location used for printing the media
  • Registration with Singapore Companies Registrar, ACRA

After which supporting documents are as such:

  • Letter of Authorization is obligatory if the applicant is a third-party
  • Registered company’s address is different from the location of printing usage, documentary proof from Chief Inspector of Factories is needed and subject to approval

Similar to the Newspaper Permit, it has a validity of one year but takes only 3 days to process the application. No fees are required and it is also non-transferable. Change of owner of license or location of printing would result to new license being applied.

As for online publishing, a licence is not mandatory. Conversely, content providers on the internet that charges fees for online newspaper would need to register with MDA. Within 14 days of the initiation of the service, the applicant must complete the form and submit to MDA. The person applying would need to be the managing editor, executive editor, or any other person who controls the policy of the online publication.

There are details that must be provided to the MDA. These details are as follows:

  • The name and address of the publisher
  • Place of business incorporation
  • Website particulars such as title
  • IP address
  • URL
  • Subscription rates
  • Date of commencement
  • Nature of content
  • Language of publication
  • Details of the web publisher
  • Particulars of the web host


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