All You Need to Know: Starting Your Own Company Under an Employment Pass

All You Need to Know: Starting Your Own Company Under an Employment Pass

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From being known as a tax haven, to a gateway to other markets in the region, starting your business in Singapore is a no-brainer. Are you an entrepreneur looking to relocate to Singapore to live a fulfilling life of endless business opportunities? An employment pass may be your answer.

In this guide, we’ll be exploring the following:

  • What is an Employment Pass?
  • How does a foreigner start a company in Singapore?
  • How do you apply for an Employment pass under your own company?
  • How do you apply for a Dependant’s Pass for your family?

What is an Employment Pass?

The Employment Pass (EP) enables foreign professionals, managers, and executives to live and work in Singapore.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have a job offer in Singapore (which can include incorporating your company in Singapore)
  • The offer (your role in the company) must be a managerial, executive, or specialised job
  • Have acceptable qualifications: suitable degree from an accredited university, professional qualifications or specialised skills
  • Effective 1 September 2022, have fixed monthly salary starting at $5,000 (more on this below)

The Employment Pass qualifications are different for older candidates and for those in the financial services sector. Applicants within the financial services sector’s minimum salary was raised to $5,500 for new applications as of 1 December 2022. Older and more experienced candidates require double the minimum qualification salary. The salary requirement also varies for applicants of different nationalities.

How does a foreigner start a company in Singapore?

As long as some basic requirements are fulfilled, anyone can set up a company in Singapore! The requirements to relocate or create your company in Singapore include each of the following:

  • Company Secretary
  • Local Registered Address
  • Shareholders (corporate entities or individuals)
  • Minimum S$1 paid-up capital 
  • Nominee Director (local resident)

Paid-up Capital

While the minimum amount required is $1, we recommend at least S$50,000 paid-up capital for businessmen applying for an employment pass though!

Nominee Director

You will need a Nominee Director until your Employment Pass has been approved. To find out more about what a nominee director does and who you can appoint, read on here.

How do you apply for an Employment pass under your own company?

Incorporated a company in Singapore and would like to apply for an Employment Pass under it? There are two scenarios in which this could happen:

(1) Offshore Entrepreneur (not holding a FIN in Singapore)

Upon incorporation of your company in Singapore, you can be appointed as a director alongside your nominee director. Then, you can apply for an employment pass under your company as per the usual process. After your employment pass has been approved, you may resign your nominee director and assume the role of a “local” company director.

(2) Based in Singapore

If you are already working in Singapore under another company, you would already be an employment pass holder. This means that upon incorporating a company in Singapore, you will not be able to assume the role of a Director immediately and will have to apply for an Employment Pass under your newly-incorporated company.

We advise that you do not resign from your current job before your new employment pass has been approved. This is just a precaution for if the processing time is extended or if the application is unsuccessful.

Only after the issuance of the Employment Pass, may you resign the Nominee Director and appoint yourself as the “local” Director of the company.

The Process

In both cases, you will need the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport page
  • A CV or resume with educational qualifications and your work history 
  • Evidence of endorsement from a Singapore-based company 
  • A tenancy agreement of the place of business in Singapore
  • A photograph of the applicant's face
  • A thorough outline of the applicant's job duties 
  • Copies of your educational certificates

Applicants should translate any official documents in your native language to English with a certified translator and submit it along with the original documents.

In most circumstances, it takes around three weeks to process the employment pass. However, sometimes, the processing time for employment passes can be longer depending on your application. The final decision is based on merit, salary, track records, work experience, skill sets, and the candidate's native countries' institution rankings. 

Don't forget, start with the Self-Assessment Tool. Even if you don't currently qualify, for example, because of salary, making some improvements in the relevant areas increases your chance of success.

How do you apply for a Dependant’s Pass?

After your Employment Pass has been approved, you may want to relocate your family members to Singapore as well. In this case, you will want to apply for a Dependent’s Pass (DP) for your family members. The DP is a visitor pass, not a work visa, unlike your Employment Pass. But, of course, your family members may also apply for an Employment or S Pass and then work in Singapore.

Employment Pass and S Pass holders may submit DP applications online or manually. The manual option is required for DP applications of EntrePass or Personalised Employment Pass holders. Each application is filed separately for the individual family member by the person's employer with the Singapore work visa.

These are some documents for your application(s):

  • Photocopy of the applicant's passport page for each child
  • Official marriage, birth, or adoption certificate
  • Any education details (if applicable)
  • Singapore school enrolment details (if applicable)
  • Most recent employment salary details (if applicable)

Similarly to the employment pass application, applicants should translate any official documents in your native language to English with a certified translator and submit it along with the original documents.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reminds us that the applications are separate but may be submitted together. Usually, the results all return about the same time, too, in about 3 – 5 weeks. Also, note that the parent, not the child, signs applications for children under 16.

Let Sprout Asia guide you through your application!

The employment pass is a fantastic way to enter Singapore. Although there are many requirements, you will also enjoy many perks and benefits of working in Singapore. At Sprout Asia, we can help foreigners who are looking to start a business in Singapore from incorporation all the way to applying for an employment pass, dependant’s passes and even matters to do with your company's finances after! We will be there with you at every step of the process.