Types of work pass and permits for foreign professionals

Singapore is very dependent on foreign talents to help boost its  economy. In June 2016, the total foreign workforce surmounted to  1,404,700 people. This is approximately a fifth of Singapore’s  population. There are many debates on whether foreign talent is  essential in Singapore’s economic growth or is hindering it instead but  essentially, everyone knows that the Singapore government will no doubt  still emphasize on the importance of foreign talent and will definitely  continue bringing in foreigners in.

All foreigners are required to have a valid pass (work visa) before  being able to work in Singapore. If you are engaging with foreigners to  work in Singapore for you, they are also required to hold a valid pass  before being eligible to work. Penalties will be issued to offenders if  they do not comply with the rules and regulations set by Ministry of  Manpower (MOM).

To start off, here is a list of common offences and penalties for each offence committed that you should be aware of:

Table 1: Offences and Penalties

There are three types of pass types for foreign professionals:

Table 2: Types of passes for foreign professionals

Foreign Professionals Employment Pass


The Foreign Professionals Employment Pass is for foreigners who:

  • Have a job offer in Singapore.
  • Work in a managerial, executive or specialised job.
  • Earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,600 (more experienced candidates need higher salaries).
  • Have acceptable qualifications, usually a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialist skills.

If foreign professionals fulfill these eligibility requirements, they  are required to apply for the employment pass. Applicants who are young  graduates from acknowledged institutions are required to earn $3,600 in  order to qualify. More senior and experienced applicants require a  higher salary before being eligible to apply. All nationalities are  eligible to apply for the Employment Pass.

Each application is on a case by case basis. There is no proper list  of approved institutions that applicants are required to be from.  Instead, applicants are evaluated by their own merit which is based on a  wide range of criteria. Hence, applicants who have acceptable  qualifications does not necessarily result in approval. Likewise,  applicants without acceptable qualifications are not necessarily  rejected. Track-records and skill sets are taken into account as well  which can result in the approval of the employment pass.

Employers may be required to advertise their job opening on the Jobs Bank before submitting an Employment Pass application. This  advertisement has to be open to Singaporeans and run minimally for 14  days. The employer or an authorised third party is required to apply for  the candidate’s application. However, if you are an overseas employer  and you do not have a registered office in Singapore, you are required  to:

  • Get a Singapore-registered company to act as a local sponsor and apply on your behalf.
  • The local sponsor must apply manually.
  • The candidate will still need to meet the Employment Pass criteria.


Submission of application is $70 for each pass. When the pass is  approved and issued, it will cost $150 for each pass and $30 for each multiple journey visa.  Online application will take approximately 7 working days to process.  Complicated cases will require a longer time. Manual application will  take approximately 5 weeks to process.

Required documents for application

The required documents needed prior to the application is as follows:

Table 3: Required documents for application

Other documents may also be requested when your application is being  reviewed. For non-English documents, you must submit the original  document and an English translation. The translation can be done by a  translation service provider, embassy or notary public.

Additional documents are required for the following:

For regional representatives of overseas companies

You will need:

  • A copy of the approval letter from International Enterprise Singapore for setting up the representative office in Singapore.
  • A letter from the representative’s office headquarters stating:
  • The purpose of the application.
  • The duration of the candidate’s assignment.
  • A guarantee for the maintenance and repatriation of the candidate.

For healthcare professionals, lawyers, football players or coaches:

You will need supporting documents from the respective professional bodies:

Table 4: Supporting documents for professional bodies

For employees in a food establishment:

A copy of the licence issued by the National Environment Agency.

Duration of Employment Pass

The duration of first-time candidates is up to 2 years. Renewals of employment pass lasts up to 3 years.

Renewal of Employment Pass

Employment Pass can only be renewed 6 months prior of pass expiration date. You must apply before the expiry date.

For Employment Pass (sponsorship)

You can start applying to renew when you get the renewal forms in the  mail, 3 months before the pass expires. Your application has to reach  MOM at least 2 weeks before the pass expires.

It is important to know that not all renewals are guaranteed. Each  application is reviewed and evaluated according to the current  eligibility criteria. Always remember to apply for renewals early. If  you miss the date line, you are required to apply for a new pass using  the renewal forms for Employment Pass (sponsorship) holders. Renewing of  pass does not result in you losing your remaining days. It will only  take effect when your current pass is expired.

You can check up on the pass expiry date for your employment pass here

Existing EP holders whose passes expire on the dates stated below can expect a renewal of 1 to 3 years:

Table 5: Duration of renewed EP

How to renew

Log in to EP Online to apply for renewal.

For Employment Pass (sponsorship): complete the renewal form and mail  it to us. Remember to include all supporting documents mentioned in the  form. The outcome letter will be mailed to you.

Upon renewal of Employment Pass

When you renewal application is successful, you will get an  In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter which is valid for only 3 months.  During this 3 months, you must get the pass issued. The duration of the  renewed pass will start when the current pass expires.

Taking up secondary directorship

Eligible companies can appoint Employment Pass holders from another  related company to their Board of Directors. the employer who intends to  appoint EP holder to Board of Directors may apply directly. The process  will be done within 5 weeks.

Directorship with related company

If you wish to appoint an Employment Pass holder from another company  to your Board of Directors, you must first seek approval. If approved,  the Employment Pass holder will be granted a Letter of Consent (LOC).

MOM will generally grant a LOC only if:

  • Your company is related by shareholding to the Employment Pass holder’s employer.
  • Employment Pass holder is taking up the secondary directorship for purposes related to their primary employment.

Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)

You are able to use this online Self-Assessment Tool provided by MOM to have a good indication of your eligibility. If the  SAT states that you are eligible, there is a high chance of MOM  approving your application. If it states that you are not eligible, do  not apply as it will get rejected.

Use this list of standard occupations for filling out the Occupations field of the  manual Employment Pass application form. Choose the closest match for  the candidate’s occupation.

Steps to apply for pass, appeal a rejected pass, renew a pass, cancel a pass, replace a pass card can be found here

E-services and forms can be found here

For more information on family passes and informing MOM of necessary changes, click here


This pass is eligible to foreign entrepreneurs who want to start and  operate a new business in Singapore. This new business has to meet  certain requirements before you are eligible for an Entrepass.

You are eligible for an EntrePass if:

  • You have (or intend to start) a private limited company registered  with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • If registered, the company must be less than 6 months old on the date you apply.
  • If you have not registered, you can wait for the outcome of your application before registering.
  • Your company has at least $50,000 in paid-up-capital. You need to  provide a bank statement that shows at least $50,000 in a  Singapore-based company bank account.
  • You hold at least 30% of the shares in the company.

Application for an EntrePass is open to all nationalities.

Your company also needs to meet at least one of these requirements, which will be assessed based on merits:

1. Has funding from a Government-accredited VC or business angel

Your company receives funding or investment from a venture capitalist  (VC) or business angel who is accredited by a Singapore Government  agency.

Examples include:

  • Contact Singapore – Global Investor Programme (GIP)
  • Economic Development Board Investments (EDBI)
  • Infocomm Investment
  • National Research Foundation – Early Stage Venture Funding (ESVF)
  • SPRING Singapore – SPRING SEEDS, Business Angel Scheme (BAS)


  • The company must receive monetary funding of at least $100,000.
  • Submit a shareholder certificate and other relevant documentation to support your application.

2. Holds an intellectual property

Your company holds an intellectual property (IP) that is registered with an approved national IP institution


  • One of the shareholders must be the owner of the IP.
  • Expired IPs can be considered as long as one of the shareholders is the inventor of the IP.
  • The IP must be related to your proposed business.

3. Has research collaboration with A*STAR or a university

Your company has an ongoing research collaboration with a research  institution recognised by the Agency for Science, Technology and  Research (A*STAR) or institutes of higher learning in Singapore.

Examples include:

  • National Research Foundation – Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise, Research Centres of Excellence
  • National University of Singapore
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • A*STAR Research Institutes


  • The duration of the research collaboration is not essential.
  • The research institution needs to provide a contact person to verify  the research collaboration details, which must be related to your  proposed business.
  • You must be involved with ongoing research collaboration.
  • Contract of services is not considered to be research collaboration.

4. Is an incubatee at a Government-supported incubator

Your company is an incubatee at a Singapore Government-supported  incubator, e.g. SPRING Singapore’s Incubator Development Programme.


  • You must be an existing incubatee.
  • Your incubatee work must be related to your proposed business.

Documents required for EntrePass

You need to submit documents such as a business plan and copies of your passport along with the EntrePass application.

You will need these documents to apply:

  • Copy of the personal particulars page of your passport.
  • Past employment testimonials in English.
  • A business plan in English (not more than 10 pages) with the following:
  • Business idea
  • Product or service offered
  • Market analysis
  • Market plan
  • Operation plan
  • Financial projections
  • Management team
  • Supporting documents – for example, licensing agreements, product certifications and endorsements
  • For businesses registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority:
  • Company’s latest business profile or instant information.
  • A bank statement of at least $50,000 from a Singapore-based company bank account.

Other documents may be required while reviewing the application.

Application of Entrepass

Submission of EntrePass application can be done at any SingPost  branch. After applying, you may still need to register your business and  submit additional documents before final approval.


There is a submission application fee of SGD $70 for each pass. When  the pass is approved and issued, it will cost $150 for each pass and $30  for each multiple journey visa

How long it takes

It takes about 6 weeks for the process to be finalised.

Businesses that are not eligible

The following businesses are not eligible for an EntrePass:

  • Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts
  • Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges
  • Foot reflexology, massage parlours
  • Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses
  • Employment agencies
  • Geomancy business

Applicants can apply directly for the Entrepass. There is no minimum  salary requirement for this Entrepass. The Entrepass lasts for up to a  year and it can be renewed only when the criteria for renewal is met.

The following businesses are not eligible for an EntrePass:

  • Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts
  • Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges
  • Foot reflexology, massage parlours
  • Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses
  • Employment agencies
  • Geomancy business


The renewal is based on how well you meet your original business  plan, the number of local full-time employees you hire and your total  business spending, as shown in the table below:

Table 6: Basis of renewal for each catergory

If you had applied for the EntrePass before 28 September 2009, you need to meet all the renewal criteria starting from the first year. This applies to your EntrePass renewals from 1 September 2014 onwards.

If you had applied for the EntrePass on or after 28 September 2009, you need to meet the renewal criteria based on the number of years you have held the pass.

Things to Note

  • You need to inform MOM if you deviate from your original business plan.
  • Local jobs refer to full-time employees who are Singapore citizens  or permanent residents. They need to have worked for at least 3 months,  earn at least $1,000 and receive CPF contributions.
  • Total Business Spending (TBS) = [Total Operating Expenses –  (Royalties/Franchise Fees/Know How Fees to Overseas Companies + Work  Subcontracted to Overseas Companies + Remuneration to Applicant)].

How to renew

Complete the EntrePass renewal form. Post the form and the required documents

Work Pass Division
Ministry of Manpower
18 Havelock Road
Singapore 059764

Documents required

You need to submit the following documents with your application:

  • Latest audited accounts.
  • Central Provident Fund statements for your employees.
  • Office tenancy agreement.
  • Latest company registration information from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

You may also submit these optional documents to support your application:

  • Corporate bank statements for the past 3 months.
  • Referral letters from customers.
  • Recent invoices issued.
  • Contracts awarded

Upon renewal

When you renewal application is successful, you will get an  In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter which is valid for only 3 months.  During this 3 months, you must get the pass issued. The duration of the  renewed pass will start when the current pass expires.

Steps to take for application for Entrepass can be found here

Passes for family members can be found here

Apply for pass, renew pass, cancel pass, replace pass card can be done here

E-services and forms can be found here

Personalised Employment Pass

The Personalised Employment Pass is for high-earning Employment Pass  holders and overseas foreign professionals. It is not tied to an  employer and offers greater flexibility than an Employment Pass.

You can apply for a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) if you are:

  • An overseas foreign professional and your last drawn fixed monthly  salary overseas was at least $18,000. Your last drawn salary should have  been within 6 months before you apply.
  • An Employment Pass holder earning a fixed monthly salary of at least $12,000.

You are not eligible for the PEP if you are:

  • An Employment Pass holder under the sponsorship scheme.
  • A freelancer or foreigner who intends to work on a freelance-basis.
  • A sole proprietor, partner or director and shareholder in an ACRA-registered company.
  • A journalist, editor, sub-editor or producer.

Note: You are not allowed to start a business or conduct any form of  entrepreneurial activity while on a PEP. If you intend to do so, you  should apply for an EntrePass.

Pass Requirements

In order to keep holding a PEP, you must:

  • Not be unemployed in Singapore for more than 6 months at any time. Otherwise, you will need to cancel the pass.
  • Earn a fixed salary of at least $144,000 per calendar year, regardless of the number of months you are in employment.
  • Notify MOM of the following :
  • When you start or leave a job.
  • If you change your contact details, such as local contact person or address.
  • Your annual fixed salary. You need to declare it to us by 31 January of every year.

Benefits of the PEP

The PEP gives you greater job flexibility than other work passes:

  • You can generally hold a job in any sector. However, the PEP does  not exempt you from complying with registration requirements to practise  in Singapore for professions such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy,  architecture, law, etc.
  • You do not need to re-apply for a new pass if you change jobs; you only need to notify us.
  • You can stay in Singapore for a continuous period of up to 6 months without a job to search for new employment.


Candidates are able to apply for the PEP directly for themselves.  Current EP holders will require to earn at least $12,000 a month.  Overseas foreign professionals are required to earn at least $18,000 a  month.


The PEP can last up to 3 year. There is no renewal of the PEP. It is only issued once.


There is an application fee of $70 for each pass.
When the pass is approved and issued, it will cost $150 for each pass and $30 for each multiple journey visa

How long it takes

It takes around 5 weeks to process your application.

Steps to take for application for PEP can be found at here

Passes for family members can be found here

Apply for pass, Renew of pass, Cancel a pass, Replace a pass card can be found here

E-services and forms can be found here

Source: Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower website

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