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Work Permit for Singapore

Securing a work permit for Singapore is one of the many bureaucratic hurdles to working in Singapore. There are many different types of Employment Passes, and it’s not always easy to figure out which one is right for you. Read our guide and learn more about the matter.
Applying for a work permit for Singapore can be a hassle.
  • Work permits in Singapore are determined mostly by your monthly salary.
  • Employment Passes are for expats in managerial or executive positions, as well as foreign applicants working in specialized jobs.
  • Your future employer or a sponsor is usually responsible for submitting your Employment Pass application.

There are different types of work permits for Singapore, which apply to different purposes and durations of your stay. Your monthly salary determines which type of Employment Pass or work permit for Singapore you need. Generally speaking, Employment Passes apply to those who earn at least 3,300 SGD per month, and work visas are designed for workers with a lower income.

General Requirements

Every foreign resident must secure a work permit for Singapore before taking up employment there. This is also in the interest of your future employers, as they could face hefty fines for employing expats who are not in possession of a proper work permit for Singapore.

According to the Employment Act, the minimum age for foreign employees is 18 years. But there is also a maximum age for expats who wish to apply for a work permit for Singapore. Malaysian expats must be below 58 years of age, while other expatriates must not be older than 50 years at the time of application.

But most of the responsibility lies with the employers. They have to pay the Foreign Worker Levy, arrange for medical examinations, provide upkeep, maintenance and eventual repatriation, and much more.

Different Types of Work Permits

As mentioned above, there are different types of work permits for Singapore. Employment Passes, for instance, are the right choice for expats in managerial or executive positions, and foreign nationals working in specialized jobs. Other passes allow you start a new business in Singapore.

Employment Pass (EP)

Any foreign national who wants to work in a higher position or has a suitable job offer from a company in Singapore needs to secure an Employment Pass (EP). Employment Passes are divided into four different categories:

  • P1 Employment Pass for expats with a fixed monthly salary of 8,000 SGD
  • P2 Employment Pass for expats with a fixed monthly salary of 4,500 SGD
  • Q1 Employment Pass for young graduates with a minimum income of 3,300 SGD and older applicants with higher monthly salaries and considerable work experience
  • S Employment Pass for expats with mid-level technical skills and a fixed monthly salary of at least 2,200 SGD a month

You can use the Self-Assessment Tool of the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore to find out if you qualify for an Employment Pass and which type of pass you need. Keep in mind, though, that this does not automatically guarantee an approval of your application. Your employer has to submit your application for a work permit for Singapore. If you are hired by a company which is located overseas, a company which is based in Singapore has to act as a sponsor.

As an Employment Pass holder, you are eligible to apply for a Dependent’s Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass for your children and your spouse. But remember that you need to submit a separate application for each of your family members.

Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

Expats can also apply for a special work permit for Singapore: the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP). They are eligible if their last fixed monthly salary overseas was at least 18,000 SGD or if they hold a P1 Pass and make at least 12,000 SGD per month.

Since December 2012, the minimum annual salary has increased from 34,000 SGD to 144,000 SGD. The Personalized Employment Pass is now only valid for three years, instead of five. With the new requirements, Singapore’s government is making sure that the PEP is exclusively available to top-tier foreign professionals. The goal is to raise the quality of Singapore’s Employment Pass holders.

Keep in mind that there are restrictions when it comes to work permits for Singapore. You cannot apply for a PEP if you

  • have received an Employment Pass under the Sponsorship Scheme;
  • want to work on a free-lance basis without a direct employer;
  • are working as a journalist, editor, sub-editor, or producer;
  • are listed as “Director”, “Partner”, or “Sole-Proprietor” in a business registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

Unlike other work permits for Singapore, the PEP allows you to work in any sector without reapplying when changing jobs. If you lose or quit your current job, you have six months to find a new employer. The PEP can be issued only once and is not renewable. 



We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Donald Moore

"I moved to Singapore to build up my own business. In fact, it was easier than expected. With InterNations I quickly got in touch with the lively expat community here."

Barbara Sciera

"Settling as an expat woman in a different culture is always hard. But with InterNations I got to know many other expat spouses that helped me."

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