Working in Singapore

Work_singa_rush hour Non residents in Singapore must have a valid work pass before they can work in Singapore. Work Permit (WP) is for unskilled foreigners who want to work in Singapore.  Prospective employers must first apply to the Controller of Work Passes for a WP before employing a foreigner.   It is generally valid for two years.  You are only allowed to work for the employer and in specific occupations. Employment Pass Scheme (EP) is the main type of work permit is for company owners or skilled people who will be working in Singapore.  You need to have a Degree from a reputable university and your salary must be more than S$3300 per month.  The EP is initially valid for 1-2 years at the discretion of the authorities and it’s renewable providing that you continue to work for the same employer.  The local sponsor, usually your employer will apply for an EP on your behalf.  The EP enables you to work and live in Singapore and travel in and out of Singapore without applying for a Singapore Entry Visa. Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is for overseas professionals whose monthly salary is at least $18.000.  With this type of permit you are not tied to the employer and you do not need to re-apply for a new pass when you change employers.  Unlike other types of passes it is not cancelled when you leave your employer.  However if you do change employers you must inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) using the PEP Notification Form.  You can stay in Singapore up to six months between jobs to look for new employment opportunities Processing time for PEP is around 2-3 weeks.  Once your PEP application is approved you will be sent an In-Principle Approval Letter.  It is valid for three months and you can collect you pass within this period from MOM office in Singapore as listed in the letter. S Pass Scheme is for mid-skilled employees earning a fixed monthly salary of at least $2.200. S Pass applicants are assessed based on the employer’s quota eligibility and the applicant’s qualifications, instead of their degree.  A Technical Diploma is acceptable for this type of work pass. Miscellaneous Work Pass is for foreigners working in Singapore on short term assignments up to 60 days that fall into certain specific activities categories,  for example a foreigner involved in a conference, seminar or workshop, or a journalist or reporter.

What are the Entry Regulations?

If you are a citizen of UK or Ireland you will not need a visa to visit  Singapore for less than six months.  On the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority  (ICA) website  ( you can find a list of all the countries whose citizens will need a visa for Singapore. There is not a specific employment period which foreigners need to meet before applying for permanent residence.  Generally if you are the holder of P, Q, or S pass you are eligible to apply for permanent residence.  You need to submit your completed application form with the required documents over the counter at the Permanent Resident Services Centre.  Submission of Permanent Residence applications is by appointment only.  However you can make an appointment online  .  You will the following documents:

  • Application forms
  • Recent passport photo of each applicant
  • Valid visa and expatriate card, work permit
  • Birth certificate and  the official translation
  • Diploma and translation

The immigration officer will stamp the copies of your documents after checking the originals.  You will get a receipt at the end of your interview, and you can use the receipt to check the status of your application online.  You should hear from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority within 3 -6 months by post. Work_Singa_shop One aspect of Singapore residence that concerns a lot of foreigners who have sons is National Service.  Under the Enlistment Act all male Singapore citizens/permanent residents are liable to register for National Service when they reach 16 and a half years of age.  They must serve two years when they are 18.  This is followed by 40 days of Operational Ready National Service every year until they are 50 for officers and 40 for other ranks.  On average 500 young men who obtain permanent residence through their parents do National Service each year.

How to find work?

If you have a clear idea of which companies you wish to work for, you can check out their websites and write to them directly.  Most companies advertise online.  You can check out the recruitment sections of the local papers, particularly The Straits Times national daily English language paper.   Companies regularly advertise their career opportunities there.    Not all companies advertise their job vacancies some companies rely on recruitment agencies to help them find candidates. Contact Singapore is a government agency portal.  It’s also a comprehensive resource for information on scholarships, visa issues and employment trends in Singapore.  You might check with your country’s embassy and see if they can provide you with a list of companies from your own home country.  Sometimes these countries prefer to hire employees from their country of origin so you might find an available position through them.  Also you can contact the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce it’s a great place to find information on industries and employment trends.  The other international Chambers of Commerce in Singapore which represent countries such as the United States, Germany, Japan and Spain also offer professional resources and assistance.

What’s it like to work there?

Working conditions in Singapore are regulated by the Employment Act; contracts are often detailed and strict.  According to the Employment Act employees are not supposed to work for more than eight hours per day.  Shift workers should not work more than 12 hours per day.  In any case the total hours worked should not be more than 44 hours per week. Holiday leave varies between 7 and 14 days and increases with the length of service.  There are also 8 major festivals throughout the year.

There is no minimum wage in Singapore.

The unemployment rate in Singapore as at 2020 is 2.8%

Income Tax in Singapore is a progressive system, starting at 0% and rising to 20%

Health Insurance

Singapore citizens and permanent residents are entitled to subsidized government health insurance schemes.  However foreigners working in Singapore are exempted from Central  Providence Fund (CPF) contributions, this means that you won’t be allowed to join the government’s subsidized health insurance scheme.  Instead you will have to pay for private health insurance.

Venture Hot Tips

  • Singapore does not have a tipping culture, it’s unacceptable and can be insulting especially in high end restaurants
  • Beware Singapore has all kinds of bylaws to protect its reputation for being a very clean city
  • Drop litter and you will be heavily fined
  • The sale and importation of chewing gum is banned