How to Work in Singapore for Foreigners
The Financial Hub of Southeast Asia
It’s no surprise that Singapore is one of the world’s best places to live. This tiny island nation boasts one of the world’s freest economies, constantly topping surveys that rank economic status, transport efficiency, technology, education and quality of living. In combination with its rich culture and bustling technology sector, Singapore is an expat’s dream destination. Check out Alariss’s blog post to get an overview of the required documents and overall application process to live and work in Singapore. We hope that following this guide will make your transition abroad as smooth as possible.
First, let’s talk about what kind of documentation you’ll need in order to be able to work legally. Singapore calls its work visas “ passes,” and they are offered by the Ministry of Manpower (MoM)–the government agency responsible for overseeing labor. The main work pass used by foreign professionals is called the Employment Pass (EP). EP is for skilled jobs with a minimum monthly salary of $3,600, and you can use this self-assessment tool provided by MoM to check if you’re eligible.
A. Have your employer apply for your EP online
Note that only your employer can apply on behalf of you for EP. You will likely need to provide your employer with two documents:
- Scan of your passport
- EP declaration form listed here
As stated on MoM’s website, the application usually is approved within 3 weeks.
B. Obtain the in-person approval (IPA) letter
After your application is approved, MoM will issue an in-principle approval (IPA) letter to your employer. Your employer then should send you the pass holder’s IPA copy to you on the day you’re approved.
This IPA letter can be used as a single-entry visa to Singapore (not applicable if you can already enter Singapore visa-free with your passport). IPA can also be used to secure an apartment and create a bank account before you obtain an EP.
C. Enter Singapore
For citizens who cannot enter Singapore without a visa, you need to print your IPA and bring it along with your passport and Singapore Arrival Card, which you will be given on the plane prior to arrival. If you do not require a visa, you do not need to present your IPA. However, it’s better to bring your IPA just to be safe.
Make sure you hold on tightly to the Singapore Arrival Card, as you will need it for the rest of this application process.
D. Obtain the notification letter from your employer
Upon arrival, you will need to provide your Singapore Arrival Card to your employer, after which they will issue you a notification letter. The notification letter basically tells you that you’re ready to work and you’ve asked your work pass to be issued. Note that this letter is only valid for 1 month–you are now legally able to work in Singapore while you’re waiting for your EP card! Next, you need to make a card registration appointment with MoM.
E. Apply for EP card registration
For card registration, make an appointment at the closest Employment Pass Service Centre. You will need to bring the following to get your EP:
- Your notification letter
- IPA (and any other documents that IPA requires of you)
- EP declaration form
- Singapore Arrival Card
If everything goes smoothly, your EP card should be approved after 4-5 working days. You are now able to register a credit card and enter Singapore automatically. Congratulations, now go make your dreams a reality!