Singapore offers different types of work passes and permits for foreign workers, depending on the worker’s skill set and qualifications.

The Singapore Work Permit for foreign workers is available to nationals from certain source countries who wish to take up work in the following sectors:

  • Construction.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Marine shipyard.
  • Process.
  • Services.

The Singapore Work Permit for foreign workers in the aforementioned sectors is valid for a maximum of two years and it can be renewed.

There are different requirements depending on the sector you want to work in.

Who can Apply for a Singapore Work Permit for foreign workers?

Only nationals from certain countries can apply for this type of Singapore Work Permit. The eligible countries differ depending on the specific sector.

Construction, Marine shipyard, and Process sectors

You can only get a Singapore Work Permit for foreign workers in the construction, marine shipyard, and process sectors if you are from one of the following countries.

Bangladesh Hong Kong*
India Macau
Malaysia Myanmar
People’s Republic of China (PRC) Philippines
South Korea Sri Lanka
Taiwan Thailand

*You must have a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport (HKSAR).

Manufacturing and Services sectors

You can only get a Singapore Work Permit for foreign workers in the manufacturing and the services sectors if you are from one of the following countries.

Hong Kong* Macau
Malaysia People’s Republic of China (PRC)
South Korea Taiwan

*You must have a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport (HKSAR).

What are the Conditions of the Foreign Workers Work Permit for Singapore?

Anyone who wants to go to Singapore as a foreign worker needs to comply with the Singapore Work Permit conditions. So does any Singapore employer who wants to hire a foreign worker.

Conditions for the foreign worker

  • You can only work for the employer that is stated on your Work Permit Card.
  • You cannot start your own business or work in any other occupation.
  • You can only live in the address that’s initially stated. If you change your address, you must notify your employer, who must notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
  • You must keep the Work Permit Card with you at all times. You may be subject to inspection by a public officer.
  • Unless the MOM has approved it, you cannot marry a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident. This applies in and outside of Singapore, and even after the Work Permit has expired.
  • You cannot deliver a child or become pregnant while on a Work Permit unless you are married to a Singapore citizen or permanent resident with the approval of MOM. This applies even after the Work Permit has expired.
  • You must get a medical examination by a Singapore-registered doctor before you start employment. Your employer must arrange it.

Conditions for the employer

Your employer must comply with the following conditions:

  • Pay you the fixed monthly salary that they informed the MOM they would.
    • They must pay your salary through a POSB Payroll Account, which they must set up for you.
  • They must make sure you have proper living accommodation.
  • They must get you medical insurance covering the following:
    • A minimum of $15,000 per year.
    • Hospitalization and surgery, even if the condition is not work-related.
  • They have to pay the monthly foreign worker levy.
  • They must get a security bond for you and all other foreign workers unless the worker is Malaysian.
    • The bond is made between the employer and the Singapore Government. It is used to ensure that the foreign worker and the employer will follow the rules of the Work Permit. If either party does not comply with the rules, the employer has to pay a S$5,000 fine.
  • They cannot get any monetary gains or benefits in relation to your employment.
  • They have to cancel your Work Permit within 7 days after your employment ends.
  • They have to pay for your repatriation.

There may be additional conditions set for the specific type of sector you want to work in.

What are the Requirements for the Singapore Work Permit for Foreign Workers?

When your employer submits your Singapore Work Permit application, they must have several supporting documents. These include:

  • Photocopy of your passport which shows your personal information and any amendments made to it.
  • Photocopy of your Educational Certificates.
  • If the employer has never hired foreign workers before:
    • A photocopy of their business’ profile from ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority).
    • A photocopy of the business’ three most recent monthly CPF Contribution Statements.
    • If they are a food establishment, a photocopy of the Food Establishment Licence.

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of required documents. The Singapore authorities reserve the right to ask for any additional documents when you and your employer submit the Singapore Work Permit application.

Singapore Foreign Workers Work Permit Application

It is the employer who is in charge of applying for a Work Permit for the foreign worker.

This means you must already have an employer in Singapore who can apply on your behalf. The application process for a Singapore Work Permit for a foreign worker is as follows:

Applying for the Work Permit

When your employer applies for your Work Permit, you do not have to be in Singapore. But you must give them a written letter of consent. This gives permission to the employer to apply on your behalf and settles any disputes that may arise in the future. Then, your employer must:

  • Sign in to WP Online (MOM’s online application tool) to fill out your application
  • Pay the Work Permit processing fee (S$35).
  • If the application is accepted: They print the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter which allows you to enter Singapore.

Requesting for the Work Permit to be issued

Before your employer requests to get your Work Permit issued, they need to get medical insurance for you as well as a security bond. You have to be in Singapore for this part of the application process. Your employer must apply within 14 days of your entry to Singapore.

The process goes as follows:

  • The employer registers your address and phone number through MOM’s Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).
  • They sign in to MOM’s WP Online to request the issuance of the Work Permit.
  • They must provide an address where you can receive your Work Permit Card (they can nominate up to three people to receive it).
  • They pay another S$35 fee for the Card to be issued.
  • They print the notification letter, which:
    • Allows you to travel in and out of Singapore until you get your Work Permit Card.
    • Informs you whether you need to register your picture and fingerprints.

After your Permit is issued, your employer must set up a POSB Payroll Account for you, through which you will receive your salary.

Registering your picture and fingerprints

If your notification letter states that you have to register your fingerprints and picture, you must do it within 1 week at the MOM Services Centre. You must make an appointment through the MOM website beforehand.

You have to take the following documents when you go to your appointment:

  • Your passport (the original, not a copy).
  • Your appointment letter.
  • Your notification letter.
  • Any documents that were stated in the notification letter.

You will receive your Work Permit Card within four working days after you register and submit your documents.

Work Permit for Foreign Worker Levy and Quota

All Singapore employers who are hiring a foreign worker on a Work Permit are subject to a foreign worker levy and quota. This means that there are restrictions regarding the number of foreign workers they can hire and the employer must pay a monthly levy for each of them.

The foreign worker levy rate changes depending on the specific sector as well as the skill set of the foreign worker. However, the monthly foreign worker levy rate can be between S$300 to S$700.

The number of foreign workers that an employer can hire depends on the number of local workers that they have. A company can have a maximum of about 60% of its total workforce consist of foreign workers.

Foreign worker levy waiver

The employer can request for a foreign worker levy waiver in the following occasions:

  • The worker is on an overseas/hospital leave for at least 7 days in a row.
  • The worker doesn’t return to their job after the leave is over.
  • The worker has been arrested.
  • The worker has obtained Singapore Permanent Residency.
  • If the worker is Malaysian: They are serving National Service.
  • If the worker is in the harbor-craft industry: They are away on a vessel for at least three days in a row.