According to the World Economic Forum in 2012, Singapore has been ranked as the most open economy in the world. This is why it attracts a large number of investors and companies who wish to conduct business in Singapore.
Foreign nationals who want to open a business in Singapore will need a Singapore business visa, which is known as an EntrePass.
The Singapore EntrePass (short for Entrepreneur Pass) is one of the many different work permits and passes that Singapore offers to foreigners.
Who is Eligible for an EntrePass?
You are eligible for the EntrePass if:
- You are an entrepreneur, innovator, or investor who wants to start a business in Singapore.
- Your company is registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory (ACRA).
- You can register your company after you have received the EntrePass.
- If you have already registered your company before applying, the registration cannot be older than six months.
- Your company is innovative and will offer employment opportunities for the locals.
In addition, there are specific requirements for entrepreneurs, innovators, or investors.
Eligibility criteria for entrepreneurs
You need to meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements for the EntrePass:
- You have at least S$100,000 in funding from a business angel or venture capitalist (VC) which is recognized from the Singaporean government.
- Your startup is an incubatee at a Singapore-recognized incubator or accelerator company.
- You have a history of having established successful startup companies in the past and significant business experience. These can include:
- Funding and selling a tech company.
- Raising funds for either a current or past business venture.
- Being an incubatee (now or in the past) in an internationally recognized incubator or accelerator.
- Having substantial industry networks and business contacts which can help your proposed business.
- Having gotten recognition for your business/entrepreneurial/professional achievements by a renowned media publication or national body.
Eligibility criteria for innovators
You need to meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements for the EntrePass:
- You or your company hold intellectual property (IP). In addition:
- The IP must be registered with an approved national IP institution.
- The IP must be difficult to replicate and bring a competitive advantage to your business.
- The owner of the IP must be a shareholder in the company.
- Your company is involved in an existing research collaboration with an institution which operates within Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). In addition:
- The collaboration has to be associated with your business.
- You have to be involved in the collaboration.
- There has to be a contact person from the research institution which can verify the details of the collaboration.
- You have remarkable achievements and expertise or have gotten international recognition in the field of your proposed business.
Eligibility criteria for investors
If you are a foreign national who wants to invest in new business in Singapore via EntrePass, you must:
- Already have a significant history of having invested in businesses.
- Be prepared to invest a considerable amount of money.
In addition, you must also fall under one of the following categories:
- You have invested and helped in the growth of highly successful companies.
- You have at least 8 years of experience as an executive or senior management professional in a large company.
What Businesses Do Not Qualify for the EntrePass?
You will not obtain an EntrePass if the business you wish to open in Singapore is one of the following:
- A bar, nightclub, or karaoke bar.
- Foot reflexology or massage parlor.
- Related to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, or herbal dispensary.
- An employment agency.
- A geomancy business.
- A coffee shop, food court, or a hawker center.
What are the Requirements for an EntrePass?
Before you apply for the EntrePass, you must have the following required documents:
- Photocopy of your passport’s detail page.
- Employment history.
- Your company’s latest business profile or instant information from Bizfile (if your company is registered with ACRA).
All the documents have to be in English or translated to English by an official translator.
In addition, you must also offer a business plan as well as specific documents for innovators, entrepreneurs, or investors.
When you submit your EntrePass application, you need to show a business plan. The business plan cannot be longer than ten pages and must contain the following information:
- Your profile.
- Academic qualifications.
- Professional history, such as your role in developing companies and your employment history.
- Any relevant awards and recognitions you have won.
- Any special skills (ie. intellectual property) or resources (financial, network, technology etc.)
- Your role in different organizations or societies.
- The company’s business idea.
- What products and services you will offer.
- Any relevant supporting documents, like product certification/endorsement, licensing, etc.
- The market analysis.
- The company implementation plan.
- The market and operation plan.
- A profile of your management team.
- Financial projections.
Requirements for innovators
Depending on which category you fall, you may need to provide any of the following documents on your EntrePass application as applicable:
- In case you have intellectual property: Proof of IP registration with an approved National IP Institution.
- If you are collaborating with a research institute in Singapore:
- Outline of the research collaboration, showing how it is related to your business plan.
- Contact information of the institute or person you are collaborating with.
- If you have outstanding achievements in the relevant field:
- Articles, testimonials, certificates related to the area of expertise.
- Proof you can contribute in the growth of the business.
Requirements for entrepreneurs
If you apply for the EntrePass as an entrepreneur, you may need to provide any of the following documents as applicable:
- Documents proving you have received funding from a venture capitalist (VC) or business angel recognized by the Singapore government.
- If your current company (or a past company) is/was an incubatee:
- Documents proving your company is/was an incubatee at an incubator or accelerator recognized by the government.
- Explanation of how this relates to your business.
- If you have founded and sold a tech company:
- Proof you held an important position in the company.
- The profile of the company and its acquisition papers.
- If you have raised funding for a current or past business venture:
- Proof of having obtained said fundings.
- Details of the business venture and your position in the company.
- If you have contact and network which benefits your business:
- Proof of these contacts and their strength.
- Explanation of how they can contribute to the growth of the company (as an investor, costumer, etc.)
- An estimate of the potential monetary value these contacts could provide.
- If you have received recognition for your achievement by a renowned organization/media outlet etc.:
- Proof of these achievements (media publications, CV, testimonials, certificates, etc.)
- Explanation of how your achievements can benefit the company.
Requirements for investors
If you want to invest in a local Singapore company, you must provide the documents that prove it. These include:
- Documents detailing your current investments
- Documents stating what company/ies you are interested in investing in and their framework.
- Documents proving you have corresponded with those companies.
- Any documents proving the following:
- You have invested in other companies previously and helped in their growth.
- You have at least 8 years of experience as a senior management professional or executive in a large company.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of documents and that the Ministry of Manpower (who is in charge of handling your application) can ask for any additional documents as they see fit. You can also add any document that you feel can benefit your application.
How to Apply for an EntrePass?
You have to submit the application for the EntrePass yourself while you are in Singapore with a Short-Term Visit Pass or another type of Pass. If you are subject to Singapore visas, you may have to apply for a pre-entry visa as well.
The application process for an EntrePass is divided into three parts:
- Submitting the EntrePass application.
- Getting the EntrePass issued.
- Registering your fingerprints and photos.
Submitting the EntrePass application
The process of submitting the application for an EntrePass is as follows:
- Get the EntrePass Application Form (Form 8) at MOM’s website.
- Submit the application and all the required documents at a SingPost branch (Singapore’s post office) so you can post it to MOM.
- Pay the S$105 processing fee and keep the payment slip.
The EntrePass application processing time is about eight weeks.
If your EntrePass application is approved, then you will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter which allows you to enter Singapore. It also informs you if you need to get a medical checkup after you enter Singapore.
The IPA letter is valid for six months. During this time you have to travel to Singapore and request to get your EntrePass issued.
Getting the EntrePass issued
After you travel to Singapore, you will have to request to get your EntrePass issued. This process takes place online or manually.
Requesting the EntrePass online
You must do this through MOM’s online application tool, EP Online.
This means you need to have a SingPass account. If you do not, a company representative or Employment Agency can apply on your behalf.
The process of getting an EntrePass issued online is as follows:
- Make the request through EP Online and submit any documents requested (see below).
- Pay the EntrePass fee (S$225).
- Print the notification letter you receive after your request is approved. The notification letter:
- Allows you to travel in and out of Singapore until you get your EntrePass Card.
- Informs you if you need to register your fingerprints and photo.
Requesting the EntrePass manually
If you are making a request for the EntrePass manually, you will have to:
- Make an appointment with the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC).
- On the day of your appointment, submit the documents you need (see below).
- Pay the EntrePass fee (S$225).
Documents needed when requesting the issuance of the EntrePass:
- Details of your passport.
- Possibly also photocopies of your passport’s personal details page.
- Your current short-term visit pass or immigration pass.
- Your address in Singapore.
- Contact information of someone who you have authorized to receive the delivery details of your EntrePass Card via SMS or email.
- Disembarkation / Embarkation card.
- Document proving you have undertaken a medical examination (if needed).
Registering your fingerprints and photos
You need to register your fingerprints and photo at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC) if:
- This is the first time you are applying for a Singapore work Pass.
- If the last time you registered was over five years ago.
If you fall under one of the aforementioned categories, you have to register within two weeks after getting your pass issued.
You must make an appointment at EPSC and bring the following documents:
- Your passport.
- Your appointment and notification letter.
- Any documents that were listed in the IPA and notification letter.
You will receive your EntrePass Card within four working days of registering and submitting your documents.
Can you bring your family members to Singapore with an EntrePass?
Yes, all EntrePass holders are allowed to bring their family members with them to Singapore. Depending on your relationship, you can bring them through:
- The Dependant’s Pass, which is available to:
- Your husband/wife.
- Child under 21 who is unmarried.
- The Long Term Visa Pass (LTVP), which is available to:
- Your common-law spouse.
- A child over 21 who has a physical or mental handicap which makes them dependent on you.
- Step-child under 21 who is unmarried.
- Your parents.
Renewing an EntrePass
The EntrePass is valid for one year initially and can be renewed.
The first time you renew, the new EntrePass is valid for another year. Any renewals after the first one are valid for two additional years.
However, you will have to meet certain renewal criteria, such as:
- For your first renewal:
- Your company’s total business spending should be at least S$100,000.
- You have employed at least 3 local full-time employees and 1 local professional, manager or executive.
- If you held an EntrePass for 4 years:
- Your company’s total business spending should be at least S$200,000.
- You have employed at least 6 local full-time employees and 2 local professional, manager or executive.
- If you held an EntrePass for 6 years:
- Your company’s total business spending should be at least S$300,000.
- You have employed at least 9 local full-time employees and 3 local professional, manager or executive.
- If you held an EntrePass for 8 and more years:
- Your company’s total business spending should be at least S$400,000.
- You have employed at least 12 local full-time employees and 4 local professional, manager or executive.