Home » Singapore » Singapore – Work Permits and Working Legally

Singapore – Work Permits and Working Legally

Working Legally in Singapore

Singapore, known for its dynamic economy and vibrant culture, is a popular destination for expats seeking work opportunities and career advancement. However, working legally in Singapore requires expats to understand and navigate the country’s immigration and work permit regulations. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the necessity of work permits for expats, who must make the application, types of work permits, eligibility criteria, application procedures, required documents, costs involved, and sources of reliable information for expats.

Necessity of a Work Permit in Singapore

Yes, in most cases, expats are required to obtain a work permit to work legally in Singapore. The Singaporean government has established stringent regulations to ensure that foreign workers have the necessary permissions to work within the country. A valid work permit is a crucial document that authorizes expats to seek employment and engage in work activities in Singapore.

Who Applies for a Work Permit

In Singapore, the responsibility for applying for a work permit typically falls on the employer who intends to hire an expat worker. The employer is required to initiate the application process and fulfill the necessary requirements to secure a work permit for their prospective employee. As an expat, you do not directly apply for your work permit; instead, your prospective employer should handle this process on your behalf.

Employers in Singapore must demonstrate that they have a genuine need for hiring a foreign worker and that they will adhere to the country’s labor laws, which include providing fair wages and working conditions. They are also responsible for ensuring that they meet the legal requirements for employing foreign nationals.


Get Our Best Articles Every Month!

Get our free moving abroad email course AND our top stories in your inbox every month

Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.

While most expat workers in Singapore will require a work permit, there are specific exemptions and categories of individuals who may not need one. These exemptions are typically limited and may apply to the following situations:

  • Dependant Pass Holders: Spouses or children of Employment Pass or S Pass holders can seek employment in Singapore without a separate work permit.
  • EntrePass: Entrepreneurs starting or running their businesses in Singapore can apply for an EntrePass instead of a work permit.
  • Specific Agreements: Certain individuals covered by international agreements or bilateral agreements may be exempt from work permit requirements.
  • Training Employment Pass: Foreign trainees undergoing practical training may apply for a Training Employment Pass.

It’s essential for expats to check their eligibility and consult the relevant authorities or their potential employers to determine if they qualify for any exemptions based on their specific circumstances.

Types of Work Permits for Expats in Singapore

Singapore offers various types of work permits for expats, each designed to cater to different categories of foreign workers. The type of permit you may be eligible for depends on your specific circumstances and the nature of your employment in Singapore. Here are the primary types of work permits:

Employment Pass (EP)

The Employment Pass (EP) is one of the most common work permits for expat professionals, managers, executives, and skilled workers. To be eligible for an EP, applicants must typically have a job offer from a Singaporean employer and meet specific salary and qualification criteria.

S Pass

The S Pass is intended for mid-skilled workers in various sectors. To be eligible for an S Pass, applicants must have a job offer from a Singaporean employer and meet specific criteria, including salary and qualifications. Employers must also adhere to dependency ratio ceilings when hiring S Pass holders.

Work Permit for Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW)

This work permit is designed for foreign domestic workers, commonly known as domestic helpers or maids, employed in private households in Singapore. Employers of foreign domestic workers are responsible for securing this permit.

Work Holiday Pass

The Work Holiday Pass is available for young adults (18 to 25 years old) from specific countries who wish to work and holiday in Singapore. It allows them to engage in short-term employment during their stay in the country.

Dependant Pass

The Dependant Pass is not a work permit per se but allows spouses, children, and other dependents of Employment Pass or S Pass holders to seek employment in Singapore without a separate work permit.

Procedure to Apply for a Work Permit in Singapore and Processing Time

The process of applying for a work permit in Singapore involves several steps, and it’s essential for both the employer and the expat employee to be aware of these procedures. Here’s an overview of the typical steps involved:

  1. The employer initiates the work permit application process through the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore.
  2. The employer must provide necessary documents, including the job offer letter, proof of the employee’s qualifications, and details of the employment contract.
  3. The MOM reviews the application and verifies that the employer and employee meet the eligibility criteria for the specific work permit type.
  4. If the application is approved, the MOM issues the work permit, and the expat employee can then apply for an Entry Visa (if required) to enter Singapore and commence employment.
  5. The processing time for a work permit application in Singapore may vary but generally takes several weeks to a few months.

It’s important to note that obtaining a work permit is just the first step. expat workers must also secure an Entry Visa (if applicable) to enter Singapore and commence employment.

Documents Required for a Work Permit Application in Singapore

When applying for a work permit in Singapore, both the employer and the expat employee must provide a set of documents to support the application. These documents are essential to demonstrate the legitimacy of the employment and the need for hiring a foreign worker. Here are some of the key documents typically required:

  • A copy of the employment contract between the employer and the expat employee, specifying terms and conditions of employment.
  • Proof of the expat employee’s qualifications and skills, such as diplomas, certificates, or professional licenses, authenticated and translated into English (if not in English).
  • A copy of the expat employee’s valid passport.
  • Recent passport-sized photographs of the expat employee.
  • Health examination reports, including medical certificates and X-rays (if required).
  • Additional documents may be required depending on the specific type of work permit being applied for.

It’s essential to ensure that all required documents are complete and accurate, as incomplete or incorrect submissions can lead to delays or even the rejection of the application.

Costs Involved in Applying for a Work Permit in Singapore

Applying for a work permit in Singapore comes with certain costs, both for the employer and the expat employee. These costs can vary depending on the type of permit and other factors. Here are some of the typical expenses associated with obtaining a work permit:

  • Work permit application fee: The fee for submitting a work permit application varies depending on the type of permit and the duration. It may range from SGD 35 to SGD 150 or more.
  • Entry Visa fee: If the expat employee is required to obtain an Entry Visa to enter Singapore, additional visa fees may apply.
  • Health insurance costs: Expats may be required to have health insurance coverage during their stay in Singapore, and the associated costs are typically the responsibility of the employer.

Employers and expat employees should budget for these expenses when planning to work legally in Singapore. Being aware of the costs involved can help avoid any financial surprises during the application process.

Reliable Information on Working Legally in Singapore

For expats considering employment in Singapore, accessing reliable information on the legal requirements and procedures is crucial. Here are some reliable sources and websites that provide valuable information on working legally in Singapore:

1. Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore: The official website of MOM Singapore provides comprehensive information on work permits, employment regulations, and related matters.

2. Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA): The ICA’s website offers information on Entry Visas, immigration procedures, and entry requirements for foreign nationals entering Singapore.

3. Ministry of Finance Singapore: This official website provides information on taxation, including income tax matters that may be relevant to expat workers.

4. Singapore Expats: Singapore Expats is a popular online platform that offers practical advice, forums, and resources related to living and working in Singapore.

5. GuideMeSingapore: GuideMeSingapore is a business portal that provides insights into Singapore’s business environment, including information on work permits and business setups.

These sources can serve as valuable references for expats seeking up-to-date and reliable information on working legally in Singapore. It’s essential to stay informed and consult official sources when navigating the legal requirements and procedures for employment in the country.