Work Permit Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide for Foreign Workers

Marati is an SEO specialist with a passion for creating engaging content. With a proven track record in both organic and paid channels, Marati has helped one of biggest Singapore fashion E-Commerce drive significant growth in traffic and online sales.

Looking for Elite Digital Talent?
Hire vetted candidates within 2 weeks and save hiring cost up to 70%

Are you considering working in Singapore? Or you are currently working remotely in Singapore but your company asks you to apply for a work permit?

Getting a work permit in Singapore is an essential step for foreign workers who wish to pursue employment opportunities in the country.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide, providing valuable information and insights into the work permit application process, eligibility criteria, and other essential details.

What is a Singapore Work Permit?

Singapore is a thriving hub of business and employment opportunities, attracting a significant number of foreign workers from around the world.

To work legally in Singapore, foreign nationals must obtain a valid work permit.

Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and are categorized based on various factors such as skill level, qualifications, and salary.

A work permit, previously known as a work visa, is now commonly known as Work Pass.

Types of Work Permits

There are 5 main types of work permits or work passes. Pass type for Professionals, Skilled and Semi-skilled Workers, Trainees and Students, Family Members, and Exemptions and Working While on a Visit Pass.

work permit singapore

In the section below, we will list Professionals and Skilled and Semi-skilled Workers only. These are the most popular work permits in Singapore applied by remote tech talent.


1) Employment Pass (EP): The Employment Pass is designed for foreign professionals, executives, and skilled workers who hold recognized qualifications and have a job offer in Singapore. It targets t individuals with higher earning potential and expertise in specialized fields. They need to earn at least $5,000 a month.

2) EntrePass: Designed for foreign entrepreneurs who are eager to establish and run a business in Singapore with venture capital support or innovative technologies.

3) Personalised Employment Pass (PEP): Tailored for high-earning individuals who already hold an Employment Pass or foreign professionals residing overseas. The PEP provides more flexibility compared to an Employment Pass.

4) Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass: Intended for exceptional individuals with expertise in business, arts and culture, sports, academia, and research.

Skilled and semi-skilled workers

1) S Pass: The S Pass is meant for mid-level skilled workers who possess relevant qualifications and work experience. It is commonly issued to individuals who earn a fixed monthly salary above a certain threshold and have a job offer from a Singaporean employer. Applicants must earn a minimum of $3,000 per month.

2) Work Permit for migrant workers: Intended for semi-skilled migrant workers employed in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, or services.

3) Work Permit for migrant domestic workers: Available for migrant domestic workers (MDWs) seeking employment in Singapore.

4) Work Permit for confinement nanny: Specifically for Malaysian confinement nannies who wish to work in Singapore for a maximum period of 16 weeks starting from the birth of their employer's child.

5) Work Permit for performing artist: Designed for foreign performers employed in public entertainment venues like bars, hotels, and nightclubs.

Also read: Understanding Employer Branding and Effective Strategies to Develop It

Can We Apply Work Permit Online?

To apply for a Work Permit, you can do it online on WP Online as an employer or through an appointed employment agent.

How to Apply for Singapore Work Permit?

Requirement Steps

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. After receiving the in-principle approval (IPA), you must purchase the Primary Care Plan (PCP) for workers who live in dormitories with 7 or more workers or work in CMP sectors.
  2. Before the Work Permit can be issued, you need to declare the purchase of PCP on WP Online.
  3. All migrant workers, including those who are transferring employers, must meet the following two criteria before their Work Permits can be issued:
  4. They must be fully vaccinated.
  5. They need to update their overseas vaccination records in the National Immunisation Registry (NIR) during their pre-employment medical examination. Refer to the vaccination requirements for more details.

Steps Overview

  1. Submit an application: Employer or employment agent (EA) - Usually within 1 week for most cases.
  2. Prepare for workers' arrival: Employer or EA - Not applicable.
  3. Get the permit issued: Employer or EA - Immediate processing.
  4. If required, register fingerprints and photo: Worker - Not applicable.
  5. Receive the card: Employer or authorized recipients - You will receive it within 5 working days after fingerprint and photo registration or document verification.

Please refer to the pass map for an overview of what needs to be done before, during, and after applying for a Work Permit.

Important notes:

  • If you have never applied for a Work Permit before, you need to declare your business activity.
  • Non-Malaysian workers cannot be in Singapore during the Work Permit application process.
  • The duration of the Work Permit is usually 2 years, but it may be shorter based on the validity of the worker's passport and the security bond duration. The validity will be 1 month before the passport expires and 2 months before the security bond expires, respectively.

Submit an Application

Your application will typically be processed within 1 week. However, in some cases, it may take longer.

To submit an application, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain written consent from the worker to apply for a Work Permit.
  2. Log in to WP Online and complete the application form.
  3. Pay a fee of $35 for each application. You can pay using GIRO, VISA, MasterCard, or eNets debit.
  4. Check the application status after 1 week. If additional information is needed, it may take more time.
  5. If your application is approved, log in to WP Online to print the following documents:
  6. In-principle approval (IPA) letter
  7. Work Permit application formMake sure the worker's details on the IPA letter match their passport information. If there are any errors (such as misspelled names), you must correct them. Otherwise, the worker may be denied entry into Singapore.

Prepare for the Worker’s Arrival

To prepare for your workers' arrival in Singapore, follow these steps:

Before the worker's arrival:

  • For non-Malaysian CMP Work Permit holders on IPA, book a slot at the Onboard center at least 4 days before their arrival. Make sure you secure an onboarding slot before confirming their flight arrangements.
  • Purchase a security bond for non-Malaysian workers.
  • Ensure your insurer sends the security bond details to us. This process takes up to 3 working days.
  • The security bond must be effective upon the workers' arrival. Otherwise, they will be denied entry into Singapore, and you will have to bear the cost of sending them back immediately.
  • Purchase medical insurance, work injury compensation insurance (if applicable), and the Primary Care Plan (for those staying in dormitories or working in CMP sectors). Declare the purchase of the Primary Care Plan on WP Online before the Work Permit can be issued.

Upon the worker's arrival:

  • Within 2 weeks of their arrival, take them for a medical examination conducted by a Singapore-registered doctor or a MOM-appointed Anchor Operator (for workers eligible for the Primary Care Plan).
  • If applicable, arrange for the worker to attend the Settling-in Programme.
  • Print and complete the Security Bond form. For sole proprietorships and partnerships, the form should be signed by the sole proprietor or partner. For private limited companies, a director registered with ACRA should sign the form. If the director wishes to authorize an employee to sign the form, written authorization to MOM must be provided.
  • Non-Malaysian male Work Permit holders in the CMP sectors entering Singapore on IPA will complete a residential onboarding program at the Onboard center, which lasts up to 4 days.

Get the Permit Issued

Processing time: Immediate

To ensure the timely issuance of the Work Permit, follow these guidelines based on the worker's situation:

  1. For a newly-arrived Malaysian worker:
  2. Get the Work Permit issued after the worker enters Singapore but before the due date mentioned in the in-principle approval (IPA) letter.
  3. Log in to WP Online and extend the IPA expiry date before the stated due date if necessary.
  4. For a newly-arrived non-Malaysian worker:
  5. Get the Work Permit issued within 14 days of the worker's arrival in Singapore.
  6. Log in to WP Online and request a Special Pass to automatically extend the IPA.
  7. For a worker changing to a new employer:
  8. Get the Work Permit issued before the current permit expires and before the due date on the IPA letter.
  9. Log in to WP Online and extend the IPA expiry date before the stated due date if needed.

To get the Work Permit issued, follow these steps:

  1. Register the worker's residential address and mobile number using OFWAS.
  2. Wait for at least an hour, then log in to WP Online and request the issuance of the Work Permit.
  3. Make sure to print the IPA letter and the Work Permit application form before obtaining the pass.
  4. Note: For new workers in the construction sector who passed their SEC(K) test overseas, make an appointment with BCA to verify their identity and endorse the IPA within 4 months of the test. If using BCA's self-help kiosk, you will receive a BCA endorsement letter.

Additional instructions and considerations:

  • Ensure that the uploaded documents are correct and complete for successful verification.
  • Provide a delivery address (home or office) for the Work Permit card.
  • Nominate up to 3 authorized recipients and provide their identification details.
  • Pay the required fee of $35 for each issued Work Permit using GIRO, VISA, MasterCard, or eNETS debit.
  • After issuance, give the worker the printed notification letter, which allows them to travel in and out of Singapore while waiting for the Work Permit card.

Read Also: Employee Medical Benefits in Singapore

Register Fingerprints and Photo, If Required

  • Check the notification letter for instructions on fingerprint and photo registration.
  • If registration is required, schedule an appointment at MOM Services Centre - Hall C within 1 week after Work Permit issuance. The worker should bring their original passport, appointment letter, and notification letter.

Receive the Card

  • The Work Permit card will be delivered within 5 working days after successful registration or document verification.
  • In case of a failed delivery, you can collect the card at MOM Services Centre - Hall C after 2 unsuccessful attempts. Bring the worker's original passport, notification letter, and, if collecting on behalf of the employer, an authorization letter along with your identification documents.

How to Check Work Permit Status?

You can download the SGWorkPass app to check the card's status, expiry date, and more by scanning the QR code on the new card.

This mobile is 100% free to check the validity of the MOM work pass.

Key Considerations for Employers

Employers play a crucial role in facilitating work permit applications for foreign workers. Here are some key considerations for employers:

Hiring Foreign Workers

Employers should assess their specific workforce requirements and determine whether hiring foreign workers is necessary.

They should consider factors such as labor market conditions, skill shortages, and the need for specialized expertise.

Quota and Levy System

The Singaporean government regulates the number of foreign workers that employers can hire through a quota system.

Employers need to adhere to the prescribed quota limits and pay the necessary levies to employ foreign workers.

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers have certain responsibilities towards their foreign employees. These include ensuring fair employment practices, providing a safe and conducive working environment, and complying with employment laws and regulations.

What to Know about Work Permit Medical Check-up

To obtain the Work Permits for your workers, you must ensure they undergo a medical examination.

Requirements for the medical check-up:

  • Within 2 weeks of their arrival in Singapore, send your workers to a doctor registered in Singapore for a medical examination.
  • Make sure they bring the medical examination form provided when they go for the tests.

For non-Malaysian male Work Permit holders in the Construction, Marine shipyard, and Process (CMP) sectors who have received in-principle approval (IPA), they will participate in a residential onboarding program at MOM's Onboard center.

This program includes an enhanced medical examination and Settling-in Programme lasting up to 4 days.

Non-CMP workers who were vaccinated overseas need to visit a local clinic to update their vaccination records in the National Immunisation Registry (NIR).

You can arrange for this during their pre-employment medical examination. Contact the clinic beforehand to confirm if they offer this service.

The medical examination screens the worker for four infectious diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis, and malaria) and assesses their fitness to work.

Singapore Work Permit Renewal and Cancellation

Work permits in Singapore have a validity period and need to be renewed before expiration. Additionally, certain circumstances may require the cancellation of a work permit.

Renewing Work Permits

Employers can apply for the renewal of work permits before they expire. The renewal process typically involves verifying the continued employment of the worker and ensuring that all requirements are met.

Cancellation of Work Permits

Work permits may be canceled due to various reasons, such as the termination of employment, the worker's departure from Singapore, or the violation of work permit conditions. Employers must comply with the necessary procedures and inform the Ministry of Manpower accordingly.

Can You Bring Your Family Members With You With a Singapore Work Visa?

Work pass holders can bring the following family members to Singapore with a Dependent Pass:

  • Legally married spouse and
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old. This includes legally adopted children.

To bring dependents to Singapore, EP, PEP, and S Pass holders must make a minimum of S$6,000 per month.

Alternatively, to qualify to bring dependents, EntrePass holders must meet certain annual business spending and local hiring requirements for their company.

You Might Also Want to Read: The Happiness Index of Companies in Singapore

Obtaining a work permit in Singapore is an important step for foreign workers seeking employment opportunities in the country. This comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights into the types of work permits and the application process.

By following the necessary steps and meeting the requirements, foreign workers can navigate the work permit application process successfully and embark on a rewarding career in Singapore.

Grow your business faster with
Top Tier Remote Talents

Get 300% ROI from your hiring budget