How to start your own hawker store?

Updated: Jun 8, 2021



Questions to ask myself before considering the hawker trade:

  1. Am I willing to go into this full-time?

  2. How much money do I need?

  3. What are the risks involved?

If you are able to the previous 3 questions clearly then congratulations! You are on the right page because here, we will be providing a 5 step guide to BECOMING YOUR VERY OWN BOSS!


(Read more on: What are the risks involved in setting up a store?)


Step 1: Check your eligibility


To apply for a hawker stall, you must be:

  • A Singapore citizen or a Permanent Resident and

  • At least 21 years of age


Step 2: Bidding for a stall


There are a few ways that you can open a hawker stall. You can either open a stall in a privately owned hawker center or a Government-owned hawker center. NEA is one of the largest hawker center player in the market.


Privately Owned Hawker Centers

Did you know that there are other Hawker Centers that are not government-owned?


Publicly Owned Hawker Centers

NEA tenders happen monthly and the exercise is usually held from the 13th to 26th of each month. If the 13th or 26th falls on a weekend / public holiday, the opening / closing of the tender will take place on the next working day.


  • Visit the NEA Website to find out which stalls are available for bidding this month https://www.nea.gov.sg/corporate-functions/resources/tender-notices

  • Buy a Tender Form and Submission Envelopes A and B for $10. The forms are available at the NEA One-Stop Information and Service Centre (OSISC). It is located at HDB Hub East Wing, 480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, #26-01, Singapore 310480.

  • Fill in the Tender Form and submit it together with the tender deposit (Cheque only) into the Tender Box at OSISC.

Click here to read more about the steps to become a hawker.


Some key points to note:

  1. The tender deposit is equivalent to your bid amount which is also equivalent to your monthly rental fee. This does not include any GST and other charges such as the Table-cleaning charges, Service & Conservancy charges. Therefore, you should plan for these additional fees before putting in your bid amount.

  2. The winner of the bid is usually the one that pays the most for the stall HOWEVER, please try not to overbid because over-bidding may cause a greater burden on your expenses in the future when you operate the stall.

  3. Some tips: to determine whether that site is a good site, maybe do a little site visit beforehand to see the traffic flow.

  4. DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH TO BID? Take reference from those that have previously won their bids. The location of the stall in the hawker center is also a factor in deciding its price.

  5. WHAT CATEGORY AM I IN? There are a few categories: Halal Cooked Food/Non-Halal Cooked Food/ Indian Cuisine/ Cut Fruit/ Drinks


3. Bidding Results


How do I know whether I got it?


If your bid is successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer from NEA three to four weeks after the tender’s closing date to inform you of your scheduled appointment date to sign the Tenancy Agreement.


Point to take note: If you are operating a cooked food stall, you will need to complete the Basic Food Hygiene Course (BFHC) and apply for a Hawker Licence before you can run your stall.


During the signing of the Tenancy Agreement, you will need to pay for the following:

  • Stall rental and S&CC for the first month and table-cleaning fees (for cooked food stall)

  • Deposit of two months’ rent

  • The license fee for three years

  • Stamp Duty

After signing the Tenancy Agreement, new tenants are given up to three months to commence operations.



What happens if I don't get it?


If your bid is unsuccessful, NEA will return your Cashier’s Order three to four weeks after the closing of the tender.



4. Basic Food Hygiene

All cooked food stall tenants and their food handlers are required to complete the Basic Food Hygiene course which consists of 6 hours of coursework and 1.5 hours of assessment under the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ).


Click here to view the schedule for the Basic Food Hygiene Course.


5. Applying for Hawker License


After completing your Basic Food Hygiene course, you can now apply for your Hawker License!


For Government-Owned Hawker Stalls (NEA) Submit the following documents at the NEA Service Centre:

  • Your original NRIC, and a copy of it

  • A copy of the tenancy agreement of the stall

  • Basic Food Hygiene Course certificate (for cooked food stalls)

  • Cash or cheque payment for license fee ($13 per year for up to 3 years)


For Privately Owned Hawker Stalls

If you are operating a food stall within a privately-owned food shop (e.g. food courts, canteens), you should be applying for a food stall license. You can refer to the LicenceOne website and search under the “food stall license” tab for more information.


6. Becoming a Hawker


Being a hawker is no easy feat! From waking up early in the morning to prepare the ingredients to bearing the heat in the Hawker Stall. However, the job as a hawker is fulfilling because you finally get to be your own boss!

(Read more about the Hawker Culture in Singapore)

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