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Working in Singapore
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Employment Passes and Work Permits

If taking up work in Singapore, either an Employment Pass or a Work Permit is required. The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) handles the issuing of all types of Employment Pass. Some of the different types of passes available for working in Singapore are outlined below but for further information on employment-related passes visit the Ministry of Manpower website.

Employment Pass (EP)

Foreigners planning to work in Singapore on an Employment Pass must have acceptable qualifications, relevant professional qualifications or specialist skills. Different types of Employment Pass may be issued, depending on the salary of the applicant, but the basic procedure remains the same.

An Employment Pass is linked to the individual and the company they work for. If an Employment Pass holder changes jobs, the employer has to cancel the existing EP and the new employer has to apply for a new one. The EP must be cancelled if the holder ceases employment in Singapore, or attains Permanent Resident status.

Personalised Employment Pass (PEP)

Unlike the Employment Pass (EP), the Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is not tied to any employer and will be granted on the strength of an EP holder’s individual merits. A PEP holder is able to remain in Singapore for up to six months in between jobs to allow the opportunity to find another placement. The PEP is valid for five years and is non-renewable; it will only be issued once.

A PEP holder retains the dependant privileges of the original EP type and the minimum annual fixed salary requirement of $30,000 will continue to apply throughout the five-year duration.

Short-Term Employment Pass (STEP)

The Short-Term Employment Pass allows foreigners to work in Singapore on a specific project up to a maximum of one month. The pass is a one-time-only, non-renewable permit.





Training Visit Pass (TVP)

A Training Visit Pass is for foreigners engaged in practical training for jobs of a professional, managerial, executive or specialist nature in Singapore.





EntrePass (Employment Pass for Entrepreneurs)

The EntrePass is an Employment Pass for foreign entrepreneurs who would like to start a business in Singapore.





Dependant’s Pass (DP) and Letter of Consent (LOC)

The Dependant’s Pass allows the immediate family of an Employment Pass holder to live in Singapore with the worker. The application for a Dependant’s Pass may be submitted at the same time as the Employment pass application, but Employment Pass applicants who need an Approval-in Principle letter must wait until they have received that letter. Until the Depedant’s Pass is issued the applicant must make sure that they have a valid social visit pass to remain in Singapore.

If a person holding a Dependant’s Pass wishes to work in Singapore, they must obtain a Letter of Consent (LOC). Applications should be made to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) online with the usual documentation for an Employment Pass. The Dependant’s Pass holder may not start work until they have received the Letter of Consent (LOC). If the Dependant’s Pass is cancelled, then the LOC is also cancelled. The renewal procedure for the LOC is the same as for the Dependant’s Pass. The employer must inform the Work Pass Division in writing if they wish to cancel a LOC.

Long-Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP)

Anyone who holds an Employment Pass may apply for a Long-Term Social Visit Pass for their family members including;

  • Parents
  • Parents-in-law
  • Step Children
  • Spouse (including common-law spouse)
  • Unmarried daughters aged over 21

Work Permit (WP)

A Work Permit is needed for any skilled or unskilled foreigner with a basic monthly salary of not more than S$2,000. The employer must apply to MOM for a Work Permit (WP) for every relevant foreign worker. A Work Permit is usually valid for two years, subject to the validity of the worker’s passport, their Banker’s Guarantee, or their period of employment, whichever is shortest. The worker may only work for that employer and in the occupation stated in the Work Permit.

Average Wages in Singapore

The Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics department has a ‘Wage Search’ website which enables you to find the average wages of specific occupations in Singapore. Please click here to access the site.

The results on the site show the Median monthly gross wage which includes all remuneration received by an employee before deductions of the employee’s CPF contributions and personal income tax. It includes overtime payments, commissions, allowances (eg. shift, food, housing and transport) and other regular cash payments; but excludes employer’s CPF contributions, bonuses, other lump sum payments and payments-in-kind.

CPF (Central Provident Fund)

CPF is a comprehensive social security savings scheme to which both employers and employees have to contribute. CPF takes care of members' needs in retirement, healthcare, home ownership, family protection and asset enhancement.

Foreigners only need to begin their monthly contributions to the CPF after having assumed permanent resident status. During the first two years as a permanent resident, contribution rates to CPF are reduced. Permanent residents can withdraw their savings at age 55, after a Minimum Sum in their Retirement Account is set aside. Members can also withdraw their CPF savings if they are permanently incapacitated or will leave Singapore permanently. If members do return to Singapore, they must reimburse the CPF Board for the amount they had withdrawn with interest.

For more information on CPF contributions, kindly contact CPF Board at:
CPF Building
79 Robinson Road, Singapore 068897
Fax: (65) 6225 8732
Call Centre: 1800 227 1188 (local), +65 6227 1188 (overseas)

 


Income Tax

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) acts as an agent of the government and administers, assesses, collects and enforces payment of taxes. The IRAS also advises the government and represents Singapore internationally on matters relating to taxation.

A Singapore citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident returning here will be liable to pay income tax. You will be required to complete and submit the relevant tax form that will be mailed to you. Your employer may furnish your salary details to IRAS directly and this portion of your income need not be included in your tax return. However, you must still submit the tax form and report other income you received in Singapore in the previous year.

Should your employer not give IRAS your salary details, you should be issued with the IR8A form, which is the form that shows the gross employment income that you have earned in the previous year. You must include the IR8A with your completed tax form. The chargeable income, that is, your income after deduction of personal reliefs, will be taxed at resident rates of between 0% and 20% from Year of Assessment 2007. The resident rates only apply to a taxpayer who is considered a tax resident, that is, he has been in Singapore for more than 183 days or can prove so by other qualitative means in the previous year.

Non-Resident

A person is considered a non resident when working (or living) in Singapore for less than 183 days per year. A non resident's employment income is taxed at 15 percent or the resident rate, whichever is higher. Only income derived in Singapore will be taxable. Non residents will not be considered for Personal Reliefs.

Foreigners who have rental income from a property in Singapore, director's fee or all other incomes will be taxed at 20 percent of the respective income. Foreigners who are on short term employment of less than 60 days per calendar year are exempted from income tax for their employment income.Foreigners whose main country of residence has an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Singapore are exempted from income tax for their employment income.

Reliefs and Rebates

As a tax resident, a person is taxed on all income earned in Singapore including overseas income which is transmitted, remitted or otherwise brought into Singapore.

There are personal reliefs given under the Income Tax Act. Income without personal reliefs are taxed on a graduated scale from 0% - 20%. Tax reliefs and rebates are given in recognition of a person’s efforts. Instead of compensating for certain type of expenses fully, reliefs and rebates are given to promote certain social objectives. There are reliefs available to encourage family formation, retraining, training and upgrading of skills as well as reliefs given to those serving National Service.

Submitting Your Income Tax

You can submit your tax return by post or through e-filing at www.iras.gov.sg, or by phone. If you fail to submit your return by 15th April or to pay your taxes within the specified due date, you will be penalised.

For more information contact:
Taxpayer Services Centre
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
1st Storey, Revenue House,
                                                                   55 Newton Road, Singapore 307987

Setting Up Business in Singapore

Business firms can be sole proprietorships or partnerships. Any individual may start his own business by registering with the Registrar under the Business Registration Act. Sole proprietorships and partnerships do not need to submit their annual accounts but they must renew their registration every three years. Some businesses require special licenses.

Companies may be registered as branches of foreign companies, private limited or public companies. Any two or more persons may form an incorporated company by registering under the Companies Act. A company may be limited by share, limited by guarantee or unlimited.

For private limited companies, the number of shareholders is limited to a maximum of 50. Public companies may have more than 50 members and they can raise capital by offering shares and debentures to the public. A public company must register a prospectus with the Registrar before making any public offer of shares and debentures.

The term, "Foreign Companies”, refers to companies incorporated outside Singapore and such companies wishing to set up a branch in Singapore must be registered as foreign companies under the Companies Act. If you represent a foreign company and wish to only set up a representative office (RO) you need to register your representative office with International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) for a nominal fee of S$200. RO’s can only carry out market research, feasibility studies and Liaison work on behalf of the parent company.

To find out more about setting up a Representative Offices in the banking, finance, insurance and legal industries visit www.mas.gov.sg. You will need to meet the guidelines and criteria set out by MAS.

To find out more about setting up a Representative Offices in all other industries visit www.iesingapore.gov.sg.

If you wish to carry on operations in Singapore, you should register a branch office or incorporate a company with ACRA.

To register a your own business in Singapore you will need a Singpass and then you will need to apply for a Business Name and Register via the ACRA site (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority)

Tax and CPF Contributions

Under Singapore tax laws, tax is chargeable on the income of any person (including a company) accruing in or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside Singapore. A company means any company incorporated or registered under any law in force in Singapore or elsewhere. Contact the Inland Revenue Authority of Singaporefor more information.

If you employ staff, you need to contribute to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) for your employees. For more details, please contact CPF Board.

Job Hunting

There are many different sources for job hunting in Singapore. The most common means are newspapers and on-line job websites. Most companies in Singapore still hire candidates through advertisements placed in newspapers. The most widely used newspaper is The Straits Times (particularly the Saturday edition).

On-line job Websites are the other more commonly used source for finding a job. Below is a list of on-line job websites which may be of use;

  • AustCham’s Job Portal
    Job opportunities posted by members of AustCham
  • Financial Careers
    Careers site for the finance community.
  • Job Cyclone
    Singapore jobs website with free resume submission, job postings and resource centre of resume writing and career tips.
  • JobsDB.com
    A searchable interface displaying many regional jobs
  • Monster Singapore
    Jobs Database
  • ExecBoardinAsia
    Specialist site for Executives in Asia
  • CRCE
    Careers Resource Centre for Expatriates run by the American Association of Singapore
  • Job Street
    A searchable interface displaying many regional jobs
Searching company websites or contacting employment agencies / recruitment firms can also be useful ways to search for a job in Singapore. Additionally, word of mouth is very common amongst the expat community in Singapore so it is well worth your while to network by attending the various events that chambers such as AustCham hold.