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Epica Guide Series

A Complete Guide to Singapore Work Permits

Refer to this guide if you have any questions about various types of Singapore Work Permits. Singapore has at least 6 types of work permits for different types of foreign workers.

Watch the video or read below

Overview of Singapore Work Permits. Types of Work Passes Singapore.

What is a Singapore Work Permit?

Ministry of Manpower Definition

According to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) any visa that enables a person to work in Singapore is called a work permit. So this term is quite wide and includes all visas. Employment pass, Personalised employment pass, EntrePass, S pass, The worker's work permit all are covered in this definition.

In practice

However, in practice, the work permit is a term that is used to collectively refer to S pass and all passes below it.

As such in the first part of this guide, we will explain all passes in brief and the second part of this guide will explain in details, the passes that are referred as work permit in practice.

Types of Singapore Work Pass and Eligibility Requirements

There are several types of work permits commonly known as Work Pass in Singapore.


This pass is offered by MOM to the foreign entrepreneurs who want to open a company in Singapore. To be eligible for Entrepass, applicants are required to fulfill certain criteria. Entrepass is valid for one year and can be renewed for another year, after that subsequent renewals last for two years.

Work Permits

According to the MOM Singapore, an applicant is required to meet at least one of the following requirements to be considered for Entrepass as an Entrepreneur, innovator or investor:

  • Applicant need to be 18 years old
  • You already have a registered business in Singapore or will register business soon
  • The business if already registered should be registered for not more than six months old

Additional Requirements

Work Permits

You should be an Entrepreneur as defined by MOM and satisfy the conditions laid down by the Ministry, OR

You are an innovator and satisfy the eligibility criteria to be an innovator, or

You should be a successful investor and satisfy the criteria specified by MOM

We have a separate guide on EntrePass, please refer to the same for more details.

Employment Pass

Work Permits

Singapore Employment Pass is a Singapore work visa issued by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower to the foreign employees, professionals, managers, and owners or directors of Singaporean companies. This is a work visa that allows you to live and work in Singapore, as well as travel in and out of the country without having to apply for entry visas.

To be able to apply for an EP, you are required to be:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Have secured a job with the monthly salary of at least S$3,600

Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

Work Permits
  • Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is defined as a type of work visa that is offered to the top tier foreign professionals and highly skilled individuals based on strict criteria of individual merits that include their education, prior salary, and experience.
  • PEP and EP may appear similar in many ways, but they are two different kinds of work passes that are offered by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore.
  • The main difference is that unlike Employment Pass (EP) and the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) is not tied to an employer.

Singapore Work Permit: S Pass

Work Permits
  • S-Pass is best suited for the people who are medium-skilled foreign technicians intending to work in Singapore. For example, technicians in industries like electronics, aerospace engineering, pharmaceuticals etc.
  • To be able to apply for S Pass you must secure a job in which you get a minimum salary of at least S$2,300 (S$2,400 from 2020).
  • In addition, you are required to be in possession of a degree or a diploma (or a certificate of at least one year study).
  • S-Pass has a validity period of two years and can be renewed up to three years.
  • S Pass holders who earn S$6,000 a month can also apply for the dependant’s pass for the entitled family members.

Work Permits

Singapore Work Permit : S pass levy requirements

The foreign worker levy, commonly known as “levy”, is a pricing mechanism to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore.

As an employer, you must pay the levy for all your S Pass holders. The levy liability starts from the day the S Pass is issued and ends when the pass is canceled or expires.

Work Permits

S pass Quota

You can not hire an unlimited number of S Pass employees. The numbers which you can hire depends on how many Singapore Citizens / PR are on your payroll.

If you have never applied for a Work Permit or S Pass, you need to declare your business activity for calculating your quota.

Under the quota, the number of S Pass holders your company can hire is capped at:

  • 13% of the company’s total workforce in the services sector.
  • 20% in all other sectors.

As of 2019, there are close to 197,000 people on S pass in Singapore. S pass holders are allowed to apply for Singapore PR. However, application processing can take a long time.

Singapore Work Permit – Foreign Workers

Work Permits

The next lower pass after S Pass is a Foreign worker work permit. The majority of foreign workers fall in this category. As of 2019, there are 726,000 people in Singapore on this work permit.

The majority of foreign workers you see working on construction sites, road maintenance, unskilled manufacturing jobs, landscaping, maintenance, etc fall in this category.

  • This work permit is rendered to the semi skilled and un skilled workers working in Singapore in the field of manufacturing, Construction, Marine, Process, and Services.
  • There is no minimum salary requirement for this WP. However, Singapore's work permit allowance vary by sector.
  • The validity of WP is two years.

Foreign work permit: approved Countries

You can not recruit people for these passes from any country. The Ministry of Manpower has approved specific countries like India, China, Malaysia, Philippines etc from where these people can be recruited.

Dependency Ratio Ceiling for work permit depends on the sector

The approval for the number of workers you can bring in depends on the sector in which your company work in. The main identified sectors are Construction, Manufacturing, Marine Shipyard, Process and services.

Dependency ratio means foreign work permit holders, in you total workforce can not exceed a specific percentage.

Levy Requirements

Depending on the sector in which you operate and number of foreign work permit holders in your company, you are required to pay a monthly levy per foreign employee. This helps to keep the number of foreign workers in check.

Medical insurance and security bond

In addition to the above, you as an employer are required to provide suitable medical coverage and in some cases a security bond for the foreign workers you bring in your company.

Singapore Work Permit – Domestic Workers

Work Permits

Domestic worker refers to the maids, those work in households in Singapore. As of 2019, there are 255,000 maids working in Singapore. Their contribution to the Singapore society is also significant. For many households they enable both husband and wife to work in offices while their household, children and aged parents are being taken care of. Only females are allowed to work on this visa.

  • This permit is issued to the applicants who work as foreign domestic workers (FDW) in Singapore.
  • Individual should be between 23 to 50 years in age at the time of application.
  • The existing foreign domestic workers in Singapore can renew their Work Permit until they are 60.
  • The applicant should have completed at least eight years of education.
  • The applicant should not be related to the employer.
  • The approved countries that fall in this category are Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan.
  • Normally only 1 FD work permit is allowed per household, however, in exceptional circumstances, 2 FDW can be hired.

Levy Requirements

Every month the employer is required to pay a levy which ranges between SGD 60 to SGD 300 per month. Concessional rates are available for those who have aged parents or a Singapore Citizen child.

Medical insurance and security bond

In addition to above you as an employer are required to provide suitable medical insurance coverage and a security bond for the foreign Domestic workers you bring in your household.

Work Permit for Confinement Nanny

Work Permits

A confinement nanny is someone who will help a new mother with the care of her baby in order to ease her transition process from a pregnant woman to a new mother.

A special work permit is available for this one in Singapore. Under this scheme, you can only bring in a Malaysian Citizen as a confinement nanny for a maximum period of 16 weeks.

  • The applicant should be Malaysian, between 23 to 70 years of age, and should work at the house of the employer.
  • The work permit for confinement nannies is valid for up to 16 weeks starting from a child’s birthday.
  • In order to apply for the Work Permit for a confinement nanny, the employer should be a minimum of 21 years old and have a child under four months of age.
  • The employer of a confinement nanny is required to pay a monthly levy at the following rates:
    • S$60 per month – if the baby is Singaporean Citizen.
    • S$265 per month – if the baby is not a Singaporean Citizen.
  • The employer is required to buy medical insurance of minimum S$15,000 for the confinement nanny.

Work Permit for Performing Artiste

Work Permits
  • Work permit for performing artiste is given to the performers who plan to work at a restaurant, bars, karaoke, etc. Even for the larger events like the one performed at Esplanade, Star Vista Auditorium this permit will be required.
  • The pass holder can perform only the jobs related to the stage performance.
  • When work permit for artiste is expired, the holder is not permitted to hold another work permit including other work passes for at least one year.
  • This permit is valid for six months.

For Trainees

Work Permits

Training Employment Pass

The Training Employment Pass (TEP) is given to the trainees or international students who intend to take specialized training in Singapore related to their field.

  • The training should be taken from a reputed Singapore Organization.
  • The trainee should earn at least S$3,000 a month.
  • The training employment pass is valid for three months and non-renewable.
  • The list of acceptable institutions is specified and if you are from one of these institutions then only you are eligible to apply for this work pass.

Training Work Permit

Work Permits
  • The Training Work Permit (TWP) is different from the Training Employment Pass (TEP) in the sense that the former is restricted to students coming from specific institutions only.
  • International students who are currently studying in Singapore may also apply for the training work permit according to the requirements of their course.
  • There is no minimum salary requirement for a Training Work Permit.
  • The Training work permit is valid for six months.

The training work permit is subject to levy, quota and medical insurance requirements.

Other types of Work Pass

Work Permits

Work Holiday Pass

There are two types of work holiday pass:

Work Holiday Pass (Under Work Holiday Program)

  • This permit is for the students who intend to work and holiday in Singapore.
  • To be eligible for this permit, the students are required to be a recent graduate of a reputable university from certain countries including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States or the United Kingdom. (No other country is allowed).
  • The applicant needs to be between 18 to 25 during the time of application.
  • The pass is valid for six months and non-renewable.
  • The quota is 2,000 applicants at any given point of time Singapore wide.

Work Permits

Work Holiday Pass (Special for Australian Citizens)

This is for Australian citizens who want to work and holiday in Singapore. The applicant should be between 18 to 30 years old during the time of application. They must complete at least two years equivalent of university undergraduate study.

The pass is valid for twelve months. A Work Holiday Pass holder can neither work as a freelancer nor work with the same employee for six months.

There is a cap of 500 places Singapore wide any given point of time.

Work Permits

Miscellaneous Work Pass

The Miscellaneous Work Pass is a short-term pass issued by MOM and valid up to sixty days. Eligible foreigners on short-term assignments, such as speakers at a seminar, religious workers or journalists can apply for this Miscellaneous Work Pass. There is no levy or quota requirements for this.

Work Pass Exempt Activities

In some cases, certain short-term work activities can be performed in Singapore without a work pass. However, you are required to notify the ministry of manpower about your intentions to engage in these specific activities. The list of such activities is as below.

Work Permits
  • Arbitration or mediation services
  • Exhibitions
  • Journalism
  • Judicial or Legal duties in Singapore International Commercial Court
  • Junket activities
  • Location filming and fashion shows
  • Performances
  • Specialised Services related to a New Plant / Operations / Equipment
  • Providing renovation or carpentry services.
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Sports
  • Tour facilitation

Why engage a professional Consultant?

As you can see the topic of work permit in Singapore is significantly complex and there are many options and many restrictions. For a new company, it is often difficult to navigate through all this. In case you have questions about work permit or need any help you can approach us and we will be happy to help you out.
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