Singapore Entrepreneur Pass: Who is It For? How Do I Obtain One?

Last updated on April 8, 2019

entrepreneur giving talk on podium at Business Conference.

To increase employment opportunities and encourage innovation in Singapore’s economy, the government has come up with initiatives to support entrepreneurs, innovators and investors in starting businesses in Singapore.

The Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) is one such initiative. This article sets out some important information that you may need, should you consider obtaining an EntrePass in Singapore.

What is an EntrePass?

The EntrePass is suitable for eligible foreigners interested in operating businesses in Singapore. This includes:

  • Serial entrepreneurs (Entrepreneurs who continuously innovate and create new business ideas);
  • High-calibre innovators; and
  • Experienced investors.

Why Should I Apply for an EntrePass?

There are various benefits of being an EntrePass holder in Singapore.

For one, you may apply for an EntrePass even before you incorporate your company, as long as the company is eventually incorporated. This is beneficial as, upon the issuance of the Entrepass, you may physically be in Singapore to attend to the administrative work in relation to the company’s incorporation.

Additionally, there is a possibility of bringing your spouse, children and/or parents to Singapore under the Dependant Pass Scheme or the Long-Term Visit Pass Scheme, subject to fulfilling certain criteria.

For example, to bring your spouse and children to Singapore, your total annual business spending must be at least $100,000 and you must employ either a minimum of 3 local full-time employees or 1 local professional, manager or executive.

When Should I Apply for an EntrePass Instead of an Employment Pass?

Typically, an Employment Pass is applied for when you hold a professional job in Singapore while an EntrePass is applied for to start a new business in Singapore.

To apply for an Employment Pass, you are required to have certain educational qualifications and professional experience.

In contrast, the application for an EntrePass is focused more on your entrepreneurial track record and proposed business ideas, with no specific requirement on educational background.

What is the Eligibility Criteria to Apply for an EntrePass?

Generally, applicants of all nationalities may apply for an EntrePass. You are eligible to apply if you have started, or intend to start a company registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

If your company has been registered, it must be less than 6 months old on the date you apply for an EntrePass. If your company has yet to be registered, you may do so after the outcome of your EntrePass application is known.

Further, you have to fulfil any of the following innovative criteria as either an entrepreneur, innovator, or investor. You are not required to meet all of the criteria under each profile, but having more qualifications would support your application:

Entrepreneur Your company must have raised funding of at least S$100,000 from a government investment vehicle, Venture Capitalist (VC) or business angel recognised by a Singapore Government agency.
Your company must be an existing incubate (new start-up company) at an incubator or accelerator (programs to provide assistance and mentorship to start-ups) in Singapore that is recognised by the Government.
You are significantly experienced and have a good track record in starting highly-scalable businesses. You also wish to create, expand and run new or existing businesses in Singapore.

You must also fulfil any of the following:

  • Established and sold a tech company.
  • Raised significant funding from investors for a venture.
  • Have been or are being incubated by an internationally renowned incubator or accelerator.
  • Have significant industry networks and contacts in relation to your proposed business.
  • Received recognition by a national body, recognised media publication or industry organisation for your professional, business or entrepreneurial track record.
Innovator You or your company must hold an Intellectual Property (IP) that:

  • Is registered with an approved national IP institution;
  • Delivers a competitive advantage to your proposed business and cannot be easily replicated; and
  • Owned by one of the shareholders or the company.

Please note that an expired IP can be considered as long as one of the shareholders is the inventor of the IP.

Your company must have an ongoing research collaboration with a research institution or an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) in Singapore. You must also fulfil all of the following:

  • The research collaboration is related to your proposed business;
  • The research institution can provide a contact person to verify details of the research collaboration; and
  • You are involved with ongoing research collaboration.

Please note that a contract of services is not considered a research collaboration.

You must have exceptional technical or domain expertise in an area related to your proposed business and you must have outstanding achievements or received international recognition with regard to that area.
Investor You possess a good track record of investing in businesses, and wish to expand new or existing businesses in Singapore.

In particular, you must be willing to invest a substantial amount of money in a local company and have a track record in one of the following:

  • Investing in and driving the growth of highly-scalable businesses; or
  • Substantial experience (minimum 8 years) as a senior management professional or executive in a large corporation.

However, do note that the following businesses are not eligible for an EntrePass:

  • Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts.
  • Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges.
  • Foot reflexology, massage parlours.
  • Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing businesses.
  • Employment agencies.
  • Geomancy businesses.

If you are involved in any of these ineligible businesses, you should instead apply for an Employment Pass or Work Permit (depending on your income).

What is the Procedure to Apply for an EntrePass?

The application for an EntrePass is relatively straightforward.

First, submit the application form and the supporting documents to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) over the counter at any SingPost branch. Upon submission, an administrative fee of S$105 is payable and a payment advice slip will be issued as a proof of submission.

You may check your application status via MOM’s EP Online platform after 3 weeks, from the date of submission.

You may apply for an EntrePass yourself, or appoint a company representative or employment agent to do so. You do not need to be in Singapore to submit the application form.

What supporting documents do I need to apply for an EntrePass?

  • Your passport.
  • Past employment testimonials in English (if applicable).
  • Your company’s latest business profile from the BizFile+ website (if applicable).
  • A business plan in English up to 10 pages. Generally, the business plan must set out your individual profile, business idea and implementation plan.
  • Any additional documentation depending on whether you are submitting your application as an entrepreneur, innovator or investor according to the eligibility criteria above. For example, if you have met the criteria of having raised funding of at least S$100,000 from a government-recognised VC or business angel, you must submit documents, such as your investment agreement, as proof of such funding.
  • Any other documents which you think will support your application.

If Your Application for an EntrePass has been Approved

If your application is successful, you will be issued an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter. The IPA letter gives you 6 months to come to Singapore and complete your EntrePass issuance procedures.

The issuance of the EntrePass may be requested via EP Online (if the request is made by an employment agent), or over the counter at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC).

The fee payable for each pass is S$225 and S$30 for each Multiple Journey Visa (where applicable). A Multiple Journey Visa is a visa which validity is extended. It allows you to travel into Singapore multiple times without having to re-apply for a visa, each time.

When the request for the issuance of the EntrePass is approved, you will be issued a notification letter which allows you to enter and exit Singapore for 1 month while waiting for the EntrePass to be issued.

After the pass is issued, you have to register your fingerprints and photo within 2 weeks if your notification letter states that you are required to do so. Typically, you will be required to register your fingerprints and photo if it is your first EntrePass application, or if your last registration was more than 5 years ago. To register, you have to make an appointment to visit the EPSC.

Finally, your EntrePass card will be delivered to the given local address 4 working days after you register your fingerprints and photo at the EPSC. If the delivery fails twice, you or an authorised person may collect the card at the EPSC. Your EntrePass has a validity of 1 year and upon renewal, it will be valid for another 2 years.

If your business is not yet incorporated, you must ensure the incorporation is completed within 1 year from the issuance of the EntrePass.

What Happens If My Application Gets Rejected?

Your application is rejected if you receive a rejection letter instead of an IPA letter upon application.

If your application has been rejected, you may submit an appeal in writing using iSubmit on the MOM website, or by post to MOM’s Work Pass Division. Your appeal will typically take 6 weeks or more to be reviewed.

In your appeal, you should include supporting documents like:

  • Your business plan;
  • Financial statements or projections;
  • Any contracts secured;
  • Testimonials or certificates not submitted during the initial application; and
  • Other documents which you think may be helpful to support your appeal.

What are the Conditions of an EntrePass?

There are several conditions you are required to fulfil during the validity of your EntrePass. The following are a few important ones:

  • If you have incorporated a business, you are only to work in the occupation and for the business specified on your EntrePass card. If there is a change in your designation or duties, you are to inform MOM in writing.
  • If you have yet to incorporate a business, you are not allowed to engage in any work not related to starting your business in Singapore.
  • You are required to cancel your EntrePass within 7 days of cessation of your business.

Failure to comply with these conditions may result in prosecution and/or revocation of the EntrePass. Additionally, your future applications for other types of work passes may be affected.

How Do I Renew My EntrePass?

You may renew your EntrePass for 1 year during the first renewal, and 2 years for any subsequent renewals.

You must mail the completed application form for renewal at least 2 months before the pass expires. You will be able to start your application for renewal about 3 months before the pass expires.

The renewal will typically be processed within 8 weeks, and each renewal costs S$225 and an additional S$30 for each Multiple Journey Visa (where applicable). If your renewal is successful, you will similarly receive an IPA letter which gives you 3 months to complete the formalities of the renewal.

The renewal is subject to approval, and based on criteria like the eventual incorporation of the company within 1 year from the issuance of your EntrePass, and you having at least 30% shareholding of the company.

You must have also incurred a certain total amount of annual business spending, and hired a certain number of employees. The exact numbers for these depend on the number of years you have held an EntrePass for.

For example, if you intend to renew an EntrePass that you have held for 2 years so far, you will need to incur at least S$100,000 in business spending, and hire at least 3 full-time employees or 1 professional, manager or executive.

Should you have failed to incorporate your company within the 1 year and have submitted an application for renewal, the Controller of Work Passes may refuse to renew your EntrePass.

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