Differences between Employment Pass and Entrepreneur Pass in Singapore

Learn how to choose between an Employment Pass and Entrepreneur Pass in Singapore.

Singapore is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular markets for both foreign businesses and workers. In 2020, she was ranked 1st on KPMG’s annual survey on being a technology hub and also 2nd on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, it is no wonder why foreign entrepreneurs flock to this “little red dot” in search of business opportunities.

Although its population is about 5.9 million, as of 2021, only 64 percent are citizens while the remaining 36 percent are nonresident foreign workers or Permanent Residents. This is also why their government offers a variety of work visa solutions for foreign nationals to either work or start their business in Singapore.

For that, you will need to understand the Employment Pass (EP) and Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass). Both passes are valid and common work visa options for foreign business owners or workers who plan to move there. However, these options have certain differences that make them suited for different types of foreign nationals.

Learn all about them below.

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What is an Employment Pass (EP)?

A Singapore Employment Pass, or EP, is a work permit for company staff and executive personnel who wish to work or have been offered a job there.

It is important to note that if you are holding on to at least 30% of the company’s shares, you will be required to apply for the Entrepreneur Pass instead. The holder of the EP is also allowed passes to members of their family to enter the country.

To be eligible for the EP, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Fixed monthly salary of minimally S$3,600 (for young graduates) and S$4,500 for professionals
  • Hold managerial or executive positions
  • Tertiary degree, from a reputable university, and good professional background

What is an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)?

An Entrepreneur Pass, or widely known as EntrePass, is another type of work permit for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start their business in Singapore. More specifically, these businesses should be entrepreneurial and innovative in nature.

To be eligible for the EntrePass, foreign entrepreneurs should be holding at least 30 percent of the shares in the company. It is also usually applied by the founder of the company and is open to all nationalities.

To be eligible for the EntrePass, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Shareholding requirement of at least 30 percent
  • Present a business plan showcasing entrepreneurial and innovative ideas, and future plans for local hiring
  • Your business should not have been set up for more than 6 months (otherwise, you should apply for an EP)

What are the similarities between an EP and EntrePass?

Both of these work visa options can be used by foreign business owners moving to Singapore, so an EP and EntrePass can be similar in terms of function.

These similarities include:

  • Both allow the applicant and their immediate family to relocate to Singapore as temporary residency schemes.
  • Both need to be reviewed and approved by government authorities.
  • Both are valid for 1-2 years (depending on your personal qualifications) and renewable, subject to their respective renewal requirements.
  • Both allow the applicant and their family to eventually apply for Singapore Permanent Residence (PR) with government approval.
  • Both expect that the pass holder will be paid a salary from their employer. Thus, the pass holder needs to pay personal income tax based on the salary on an annual basis.

Also read: Complete list of documents and steps to apply for work visas in Singapore

Entrepreneur Pass vs Employment Pass: What are the differences?

Eligibility criteria

The Employment Pass is intended for foreign company directors, managers, or high-level professionals who have job offers in Singapore. In the case of directors or company owners, they must be employed by their own companies.

The EntrePass is intended for foreign entrepreneurs with successful portfolios who plan to open and manage new companies in the country.

When to apply

Entrepreneurs can apply for an EntrePass before or up to 6 months after their company is incorporated.

This allows the entrepreneur to be in Singapore to handle the incorporation process in person. However, the entrepreneur needs to incorporate their company less than 30 days after they get their EntrePass.

Meanwhile, the Employment Pass can only be obtained after the company is incorporated. If an entrepreneur plans to move to Singapore after 6 months since their company was incorporated, they will need to get an EP. In this case, you may be required to produce positive developments in the company to ensure the credibility of your company.

Business plan requirements

EntrePass applicants need to submit an approximately 10-page business plan as part of the process. The Singaporean authorities will judge the application based on the value and potential of your business.

This means that the business plan should be as innovative as possible and result in more jobs for local employees.

Meanwhile, you usually do not need business plans to apply for an Employment Pass. However, authorities may ask for more details about your business depending on the case.

Business type

Unlike the Employment Pass, an EntrePass has strict restrictions about the eligible business types. According to Singapore regulations, entrepreneurs planning to start the following business types are not eligible for an EntrePass:

  • Coffee shops, hawker centers, food courts.
  • Bars, nightclubs, karaoke lounges.
  • Foot reflexology, massage parlors.
  • Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses.
  • Employment agencies.
  • Geomancy business.

Educational requirements

Employment Pass applicants are usually measured on having a degree from a reputable university and professional experience in their industry.

Meanwhile, your educational background is less important in an EntrePass application. This is because your entrepreneurial portfolio and business plan will be more important.

Salary requirements

Employment Pass applicants need a minimum salary of S$4,500 in order to be eligible, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Manpower.

Meanwhile, an EntrePass has no specific salary requirements but applicants might still need to submit certain financial records, depending on the case.

Also read: 5 Essential Tips to Incorporate a Company in Singapore

Summary Table

Employment Pass (EP)

Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass)

  • Allow applicant and family members to relocate to Singapore after applying for Dependent Pass

  • Issued for 1 to 2 years and renewable subject to requirements 

  • Fixed monthly salary of minimally S$4,500

  • Allowed to apply for Permanent Residence (PR) in the future 

If the company is more than 6 months old and/or applying to work in Singapore 

At least 30% shareholding requirement and/or before your company has been set up or is less than 6 months old

Allowed based on your qualifications such as salary, education, and positional qualifications 

Allowed based on shareholding requirements and business plan

Application takes about 3 to 8 weeks 

Application takes about 8 weeks 

Which one to choose?

Usually, applicants will apply for an Employment Pass if they’re:

  • Getting a job in an existing company in Singapore.
  • Starting a local branch of a foreign company in Singapore.
  • Moving to Singapore later to work in a company they started from overseas.

Meanwhile, applicants will consider an EntrePass if they’re:

There are also other cases where either an Employment Pass or an EntrePass would be the right solution for a foreign national seeking to work in Singapore.

In any case, you should still consult an experienced service provider to find out which option best suits your case. Every case is different and requires a solution that’s tailored to your needs.

Want to expand your team with foreign employees in Singapore?

Greenhouse can connect you to pre-screened service providers to help apply for permits and visas for your team members in Singapore. Learn more about our foreign country immigration solutions

If you plan to start a company in Singapore, we can connect you to on-site service providers or help match you with the right service provider for your needs.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal instructions. You should contact consultants in your target markets before making decisions related to incorporation or service execution.Due to the stricter regulations regarding traveling to Singapore 2021, we advise also visiting the Ministry of Manpower’s website for more information about the latest work pass requirements.

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