Singapore is an attractive place for investments because of her reliable public infrastructure and open business policies, which allows anyone with good ideas to start their business. Singapore also enjoys a stable political environment, with policies governing businesses and corporate tax rates that do not fluctuate greatly from year to year. Singapore also has the advantage of being in a good location to access various countries in the Southeast Asia region, as well as being a very well-connected aerospace hub with direct flights to numerous countries around the world.

EntrePass (EP) is a Singapore workpass scheme for international entrepreneurs, that allow them to stay in Singapore to set up their businesses. It was introduced by the Singapore Government with the goal of turning Singapore into a leading business hub in the region.

The validity period for EP varies, for first-time applicants, it can be up to 1 year and subsequent renewals are up to 2 years based on how well the entrepreneur has met the requirements stipulated by MOM within the one-year period (Employment Requirement of local workers as well as Total Business Spending). Upon renewal of the EP, entrepreneurs can also apply for dependent passes for their family.

In August 2017 the EP scheme was improved to make it even easier for businesses to come to Singapore. The changes include:

1. Removal of the paid-up capital requirement

New EP applicants will no longer be required to have a paid-up capital of at least S$50,000 in their startup businesses here.

2. Broadening of evaluation criteria

  • Has funding from a Government-recognised VC or business angel of minimum S$100,000
  • Is an incubatee at a Government-recognized incubator/accelerator (E.g. SPRING Singapore’s Startup SG Accelerator Programme)
  • Has a significant business network and promising entrepreneurial track record
  • Holds intellectual property that cannot be easily replicated and holds a significant competitive advantage to the proposed business.
  • Has a research collaboration with an IHL or research institute in Singapore
  • Extraordinary achievements in key areas of expertise in the proposed area of business.
  • Has a good Investment track record of investing in new businesses or wanting to grow new businesses in Singapore.

3. Extension of the validity of each EntrePass

The validity period of each EP was extended to two years after the initial renewal, up from the original one-year validity.

Also read: Rejecting global protectionism, Singapore government lowers barrier to entry for foreign startups

4. Extension of EntrePass to more partner agencies

Apart from SPRING Singapore, the new partners include; the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), supported by SGInnovate.

5. Revised renewal criteria and Dependant’s Pass criteria

EntrePass holders can qualify for Dependant Passes for their spouse and children upon meeting the Year 2 renewal criteria, subject to having held the EntrePass for at least 3 months.

These changes allow EP holders to have more certainty to facilitate their longer-term strategic business planning, and gives them more time to build their businesses here. Also, with new partner agencies working with MOM in their respective sectors, the range of startups that are eligible for the EP has been greatly expanded.

This will contribute to the vibrancy of Singapore’s startup ecosystem.

To apply for an EP, a few documents are required: a completed EP form, the personal particulars page on your passport, any documentary evidence to solidify your application process. (This includes past employment testimonials, an MOU with potential client, or license agreements, etc.) and finally a business plan (consisting of a personal profile, business idea and an implementation strategy).

With these materials in hand, the steps to apply for the EP are as follows:

  1. Apply for the EP.
  2. Application period typically takes 6-8 weeks.
  3. Upon successful application, an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter will be given.
  4. Some applicants will be required to go through tests (e.g. medical test, etc) which will be stated on the IPA letter
  5. Incorporate your company with ACRA within 30 days — registration for company only takes 1-2 days.
  6. Register fingerprint and photo at the Employment Pass Service Centre (EPSC) and confirm your details, after which your EP is issued to you.
  7. Relocate to Singapore within 6 months of the initial approval date.
    (A one-time entry visa is usually issued along with the EP approval letter for nationalities who require an entry visa)
  8. Subsequent applications for Dependant Pass for spouse and children is typically done upon meeting Year 2 criteria. This process alone is estimated to be 16 weeks.

While it is not difficult to start a company or apply for Entrepass in Singapore, the process can be really tedious. There are numerous requirements, long procedures and strict timelines to manage when setting up and running a company in Singapore, which can be really daunting, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

The benefits of engaging a professional agency to manage these applications for you is that their experience with the compilation of the numerous documents, as well as submission and application status tracking, will help you save you a lot of time. The agency will be able to ensure that all the required and supporting documents are included and completed accurately, minimizing delays and increasing the chance of a successful application. They can also advise and assist with the drafting of business plans according to the requirements of the authorities. If the application is rejected, the agency is able to assist with exploring the reasons for the rejection and file for an appeal, if necessary.

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The author works with VentureHaven, an agency that provides a full suite of corporate services to assist businesses with this process, ensuring that your journey to success is a smooth and seamless one, free from administrative hassles.

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