Applying for Tech.Pass in Singapore: Eligibility and Benefits

Last updated on January 18, 2021

businessman talking on phone and with a laptop

The Singapore government is keenly aware of the need to strengthen our position as a leading tech hub of the region, and has rolled out a few schemes to achieve this.

As part of this movement, the government is trying to make it more attractive for tech professionals to work and live in Singapore, and Tech.Pass is the latest of such initiatives.

This article will explain:

What is a Tech.Pass?

Tech.Pass is a new work pass administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB) aimed at attracting foreign technology industry experts to come to Singapore. The goal of the Tech.Pass programme is to contribute to the growth of Singapore’s technology ecosystem, by developing a strong base of technology companies and talent in Singapore.

The Tech.Pass will be valid for 2 years, and the passholder can apply for a one-time renewal of the pass for another 2 more years if he/she meets certain renewal criteria, which will be discussed further below.

Tech.Pass joins the existing family of work permit schemes in Singapore, which include the Employment Pass scheme and Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) scheme. The following table illustrates some of the differences between the passes:

Tech.Pass Employment Pass EntrePass
Administering authority      EDB Ministry of Manpower (MOM) MOM
Target audience      Tech industry professionals Company owners and professional staff in managerial, executive or specialised roles. Entrepreneurs, innovators and investors
Validity      First issue: 2 years

Renewal: One-time, for 2 years

First issue: 1-2 years

Renewal: Unlimited

First issue: 1 year

Renewal: Unlimited

Eligibility criteria      Fixed monthly salary of at least S$20,000

See below for full list of eligibility criteria

Fixed monthly salary of at least S$4,500

See here for full list of eligibility criteria

Have started or intend to start a private limited company in Singapore

See here for full list of eligibility criteria

In sum, as its name suggests, the Tech.Pass is targeted at and is tailored for tech professionals.The benefits that come with the pass, as well as the eligibility criteria to apply for the pass, are just some examples of this.

What are the Benefits of a Tech.Pass?

Having a Tech.Pass grants pass holders greater flexibility in their participation of certain activities in Singapore.

For example, other work permit schemes may require a company to sponsor the candidate they wish to recruit to work in Singapore, and this would generally restrict the pass holder’s ability to work or be involved in more than one company or position.

In contrast, Tech.Pass holders enjoy greater flexibility and can do any number of the following under one pass:

  • Start and operate one or more tech companies;
  • Be an employee in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time;
  • Serve on the board of directors of a Singapore-based company;
  • Be a shareholder or investor in Singapore companies;
  • Serve as a mentor or advisor to start-ups or Singapore companies;
  • Lecture in Institutes of Higher Learning (e.g. local universities and polytechnics); and
  • Conduct corporate training or workshops.

As a pass holder, you will also be able to have your spouse, children, and parents join you in Singapore on either a Dependant’s Pass or a Long-Term Visit Pass.

Eligibility Criteria to Apply for a Tech.Pass

If you are a professional in the tech industry and are keen to apply for Tech.Pass, you should check that you meet at least two of the following three requirements:

  1. Have a last-drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000, or an annual income of at least S$240,000.
  2. Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a “leading role” in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil (~S$669mil) or at least US$30mil (~S$40mil) funding and beyond.
  3. Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a “leading role” in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100mil (~S$134mil) revenue. Examples of playing a “leading role” in the development of a tech product include making major contributions to the design, development, and/or deployment of the tech product.

The EDB has also clarified that you do not need to secure employment in Singapore in order to apply for Tech.Pass. This is because the Tech.Pass has no requirement of employer sponsorship, unlike the Employment Pass.

How to Apply For a Tech.Pass     

Applications for Tech.Pass open in January 2021. Keep a look out for the details on how to apply, which will be released on EDB’s website in January 2021.

It is important to note that there will be only 500 passes available when applications for the first tranche of the Tech.Pass programme open in January 2021. EDB also has the final say on who to grant the passes to. Therefore, even if you meet the above eligibility criteria, there is no guarantee that your Tech.Pass application will be successful.

How to Renew Your Tech.Pass     

After 2 years, pass holders can apply to renew their Tech.Pass if they meet the renewal criteria as follows:

  • Have earned at least S$240,000 in assessable income based on the latest Notice of;
  • Assessment from IRAS (can be earnings from salaries and/or business income); or
  • Demonstrate total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and employ at least 1 Singaporean/Singapore Permanent Resident Professional, Manager or Executive with a monthly salary of at least S$3,900, or 3 Singaporeans/Singapore Permanent Residents with a monthly salary of at least S$1,400.

Additionally, pass holders must be performing at least 2 of the following roles (one of which must be in Column (A) at the time of their renewal application:

(A) (B)
1. Founded a company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service 1. Served on board of directors of a Singapore-based company (which need not be a tech company)
2. Served a leading role (e.g. CEO, CTO, APAC MD) in a Singapore-based tech company 2. Acted as advisor/mentor to a Singapore-based start-up
3. Served a leading role in 2 or more Singapore-based tech companies 3. Served as professor/lecturer/adjunct professor/adjunct lecturer in a Singapore Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)
4. Employed in a technical role leading a team in a Singapore-based company, e.g. senior engineer or senior researcher leading a team in a particular tech field 4. Provided training in some form not covered by B2 or B3 above (e.g. workshops, corporate training classes).
5. Employed in a technical role leading a team in 2 or more Singapore-based companies 5. Invested in one or more Singapore-based tech companies

If you do not meet the renewal requirements, you should check to see if you meet the requirements for the other work permit schemes in Singapore, which would allow you to continue working and living in Singapore.

Tech.Pass is a crucial, and latest, step in Singapore’s continuing efforts to compete and establish itself in the global tech economy. Importantly, attracting top-end global tech talent to build world-class teams in Singapore will also bring business or partnership opportunities that Singaporeans can take up.

If you are interested in applying for Tech.Pass, or any other Singapore work permit schemes, or if you wish to start a company in Singapore, you can consider consulting a corporate services firm to assist you in the process.

A corporate services firm can help you keep track of important application deadlines/milestones and fill in your application for you according to the eligibility or renewal criteria for each scheme.

Additionally, a corporate services firm will also be able to provide support for your company including company incorporation, secretarial, auditing, reporting and regulatory compliance services, so that you can focus on maximising the value of your company.

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