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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, rather than occupation.
  • The Employment Pass (EP) is designed for professional expats, managers, and executives. If you are an entrepreneur wanting to start a business in Singapore, the Entrepass might be the one for you.
  • Your future employer or a sponsor is usually responsible for submitting your work permit application.

 

There are different types of work permits you can apply for in Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower offers an online self-assessment tool to help applicants find out which permit best suits them. Commonly speaking, the Employment Pass applies to highly skilled workers who earn at least 3,600 SGD per month, and the S Pass is better suited for mid-skilled workers earning at least 2,300 SGD a month.

General Requirements

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

According to the Employment Act, the minimum age for foreign employees is 18 years. 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.

When it comes down to the application process, most of the responsibility lies with the employer. 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. The Employment Pass, for instance, is the right choice for expats in managerial or executive positions, and foreign nationals working in specialized jobs. There are also other passes available, such as the Entrepass, which allows you to 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).  While the permit was formerly divided into categories, it has now been streamlined into one generic pass type. Applicants must have a fixed monthly salary of over 3,600 SGD and possess accepted qualifications such as a good university degree, professional qualifications, or specialist skill.

Keep in mind, though, that having these requirements alone does not automatically guarantee an approval of your application. Your employer has to submit your application for a work permit. 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.

Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)

Expats can also apply for a special work permit for Singapore: the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP).  To be eligible, current EP holders must earn over 12,000 SGD a month and oversees professionals must earn at least 18,000 SGD a month.

The Personalized Employment Pass is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. There are also restrictions for who is eligible to apply for a PEP. You cannot apply for a PEP if you:

  • have received an Employment Pass under the Sponsorship Scheme;
  • want to work on a freelance 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. Part of the eligibility criteria, however, states that holders must earn a fixed salary of at least 144,000 SGD per calendar year, regardless of the number of months in employment. If you lose or quit your current job, you have six months to find a new employer. Otherwise, you will need to cancel the pass.

 

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

 If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

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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