Guides for Expats
This page explains about career and job opportunities in Singapore, CPF, Income Tax, Employment Passes. Including some links to job portals, government portals and career related site.
Please contact us to add your services to this directory.
Singapore is an open economy with strong presence in the service and manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is the economy's main engine of growth, with electronics accounting for nearly half of the sector. The chemical industry is the second largest manufacturing sector, and Singapore is also the third largest petroleum-refining center in the world. Singapore's workers are among the world's best for productivity, work attitude and technical skills. They speak English proficiently, and are dedicated, hardworking, and keen to upgrade their skills and knowledge.
The government is focusing its efforts on five industrial clusters: electronics, chemicals, engineering, IT, and biomedical sciences. Singapore relies on foreign workers and talents at both ends of the skills ladder. Singapore aims to continue to lure global talent and top management to its shores, most significantly in IT jobs and in the technology industry, and has introduced a new class of taxpayers, called "not ordinarily resident," who will earn tax exemptions on income earned outside of the country.
Recent evidence has shown weaker economic performance with unemployment rates reaching the highest levels in many years. On the contrary, Singapore's unemployment rate is still lower than that of other developed countries.
Foreign talents remain an important resource to Singapore as many companies face problems employing suitable employees to facilitate regionally and locally in the expansion of businesses or replacement requirements.
Some suitable career opportunities in the financial sector includes treasury and risk management, funds management, general debt issuance, investment analysis, corporate financial, venture capital, cross- border electronic banking, insurance, investment banking and tax planning. Other service industries include transport, logistics, media and advertising, F&B, wholesale and retail, healthcare, education, social/ community services. In a trying time in Singapore, it is relatively more difficult to find a suitable job, but like our prime minister always remind people to be more complacent and lower our expectations and after all, finding a job is all about managing our own expectations.
The management culture in Singapore is that the government financially supports many of the large corporations in Singapore, and the people generally work well under pressure as 'time is money' to many. Expatriates who live and work here can easily get adapted to the lifestyle and work-style in Singapore.
Average Wages in Singapore
You can find the average wages of specific occupations in Singapore HERE. The result will show the Median monthly gross wage which includes all remuneration received by an employee before deductions of the employee's CPF contributions and personal income tax. It includes overtime payments, commissions, allowances (e.g. shift, food, housing and transport) and other regular cash payments; but excludes employer's CPF contributions, bonuses, other lump sum payments and payments-in-kind.
Central Provident Fund (CPF)
CPF is a comprehensive social security savings scheme to which both employers and employees have to contribute. CPF takes care of members' needs in retirement, healthcare, home ownership, family protection and asset enhancement.
Foreigners only need to begin their monthly contributions to the CPF after having assumed permanent resident status. During the first two years as a permanent resident, contribution rates to CPF are reduced. Permanent residents can withdraw their savings at age 55, after a Minimum Sum in their Retirement Account is set aside. Members can also withdraw their CPF savings if they are permanently incapacitated or will leave Singapore and West Malaysia permanently. If members do return to Singapore, they must reimburse the CPF Board for the amount they had withdrawn with interest.
If you have left Singapore and West Malaysia permanently and have no intention of returning for further employment or residence, you may apply for the withdrawal of your CPF savings
For more information on CPF contributions, kindly contact CPF Board at:
Central Provident Fund Board
79 Robinson Road, Singapore 068897
Fax: (65) 6225 8732
1800 227 1188 (local)
(65) 6227 1188 (overseas)
CPF Service Centre
79 Robinson Road
#02-00, Singapore 068897
Fax: (65) 6229 3177
CPF Bishan Service Centre
3 Bishan Place
#01-01, Singapore 579838
Fax: (65) 6253 3931
CPF Jurong Service Centre
21 Jurong East Street 13
#01-01, Singapore 609646
Fax: (65) 6561 4102
CPF Tampines Service Centre
1 Tampines Central 5
#01-01, Singapore 529508
Fax: (65) 6780 3700
CPF Woodlands Service Centre
900 South Woodlands Drive
#01-02 Woodlands Civic Centre,
Fax: (65) 6767 9250
Employment for Foreign Spouse
A foreign spouse who wants to work in Singapore requires a valid work permit. It takes about two weeks to process an application. Please be aware of the following:
- Until the pass/ permit is issued, the foreign spouse cannot commence employment;
- Someone in Singapore on a Social Visit Pass is not allowed to work, even casually;
- Applications who are keen can make a trip to MOM, The Employment Pass Department and obtain a brochure on “A guide to applying for the Employment Pass”, which stipulates the eligibility and procedure.
You can also obtain this free guide from any Contact Singapore Centre.
The Employment Pass is a work pass for foreign professionals working in managerial, executive or specialised jobs.
Foreigners who are interested to work and has a job offer in Singapore may apply for an Employment Pass. The applicants will need to earn at least $3,300 and possess acceptable qualifications.
Examples of eligibility criteria:
Young graduates from good institutions could qualify if they earn at least $3,300.
Older applicants would have to command higher salaries to qualify, commensurate with the work experience and quality they are expected to bring.
Information for foreign job-seekers
Foreign job-seekers may refer to our Strategic and Skills-in-Demand List which compile jobs expected to be high in demand in Singapore over the next few years.
Employers are encouraged to use the online Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to check if the applicant meets the requirements. This tool gives you a preliminary indication of whether the applicant qualifies.
The SAT is accurate. If the SAT indicates that the candidate is not eligible, you should not send the Employment Pass application as it will be rejected. If the SAT indicates that the candidate is eligible, 9 out of 10 of such applications will be approved. The rejections that occur even when the SAT says yes are due to factors that the SAT cannot consider, such as poor company profiles and applicants with adverse records.
To check if you qualify for an Employment Pass, please take the Employment Pass Self-Assessment Tool.
Note to employers
Food-stall licensees operating in hawker centres, coffee shops and food courts are not allowed to employ foreign workers. Such operations are small scale and are expected to be manned by owners or family members.
Note to overseas employers
If the applicant's employer is based overseas and does not have a registered office in Singapore, another Singapore registered company can act as the sponsor and submit the application on behalf. Find out how you can apply.
The employer or the appointed agent may submit the Employment Pass application.
Passes for Family Members
Successful applicants can bring in their families under one of these passes:
|Qualifying criteria||Passes for family members|
|Fixed monthly salary = $8,000 and above||Dependant's Pass
|Fixed monthly salary = between $4,000 and $8,000||Dependant's Pass
For more information on Employment Pass, please visit the Ministry of Manpower website.
You may apply for an EntrePass if you are ready to start and operate a new business in Singapore. All applicants must fulfill these requirements:
- Must be a Private Limited Company registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. Applicants need not register the company first. If registered, it must not be more than six months from date of application.
- Company must have at least $50,000 paid-up-capital. A bank statement, from the Singapore-based company bank account, of at least $50,000 is required for verification.
- The business must not be illegal.
- Applicants must hold at least 30% of shares in the company.
In addition to the above criteria, applicants will have to show evidence that their businesses meet at least one of these requirements:
|1.||Receives funding or investment from a recognised third-party Venture Capitalist (VC) or business angel who is accredited by a Singapore Government agency||
|2.||Holds an Intellectual Property (IP) that is registered with an approved national IP institution||
|3.||Has ongoing research collaboration with a research institution recognised by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore||
|4.||Is an incubatee at a Singapore Government supported incubator||
Examples of businesses that will not be considered for the EntrePass include:
- Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts
- Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges
- Foot reflexology, massage parlours
- Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal dispensing
- Employment agencies, geomancy
Successful applicants will be required to submit the following documents via iSubmit (please select request type option 1) within the first six months of receiving the EntrePass to demonstrate proof of their business operations according to the business plans submitted:
- Latest ACRA business profile; and
- Tenancy contract/proof of operating address or employees' CPF statement/documentary proof to show effort to employ locals.
Failure to provide the documents to prove ongoing business operations by the end of the sixth month will result in revocation of the EntrePass.
EntrePass holders are only entitled to dependant privileges after they renew their passes.
EntrePass holders who have met the minimum Total Business Spending of at least $150,000 and have created at least four local jobs are able to bring in their families under one of the following passes:
- Dependant's Pass:
- Spouse (legally married)
- Unmarried children under 21 years of age, including those legally adopted
- Long Term Visit Pass:
- Common-law spouse
- Unmarried handicapped children above 21 years old
- Unmarried step-children under 21 years old
In addition, those who wish to bring in their parents must have met the minimum Total Business Spending of at least $300,000, and have created at least eight local jobs.
For more information, you may refer to our FAQs.
For more information on EntrePass, please visit the Ministry of Manpower website.
Mid-level skilled foreigners (e.g. technicians) who wish to work in Singapore may apply for an S Pass. Applicants will be assessed on a points system, taking into account multiple criteria. S Pass applicants accumulate points based on how far they meet the criteria. As a general guide, these criteria can be broadly described as (for illustrative purposes only):
- A minimum fixed monthly salary of $2,200
- Older applicants would have to command higher salaries to qualify, commensurate with the work experience and quality they are expected to bring
- Educational qualifications
> A degree, diploma
> Technical certificates can be considered. These are, very broadly, courses that train the applicant to be a qualified technician or specialist in their chosen field. The certification should comprise of at least one year of full-time study.
- Number of years of relevant work experience.
Work Permit holders who wish to apply for the S Pass must ensure that they meet the above requirements. You should refer to the Strategic Skills List to see what types of jobs are expected to be in high demand in Singapore over the next few years.
To check if you qualify for a S Pass, please take the S Pass Self-Assessment Tool.
The number of S Pass holders a company can employ is capped at a sub-Dependency Ceiling (sub-DC), of 15% of the company's total workforce in the Services sector and 20% in the remaining sectors.
Note: Employers are not allowed to retain foreign workers in excess of the DC allowed for their sector. Employers will need to increase their local workforce or MOM will cancel the work passes of excess Work Permit and S Pass holders.
Employers may refer to the Guidelines on Computation of Company's Quota and Levy Bill.
The requirement to purchase and maintain medical insurance is a Condition of an S Pass. For medical insurance policies taken up or renewed on/or after 1 January 2010, the insurance coverage must be at least $15,000 per year for each worker's inpatient care and day surgery during his/her stay in Singapore.
Passes for family members
S Pass applicants whose fixed monthly salary is at least $4,000 a month may apply for the Dependant's Pass (DP) for their family members. The DP application and supporting documents may be submitted together with the S Pass application or separately.
S Pass holders who earn less than $4,000 per month are not allowed to bring in their dependants, i.e. spouses (legally married) and children.
However, if the children of such S Pass holders wish to study in mainstream public schools in Singapore, they will have to pass the Admission Exercise for International Students (AEIS) or Supplementary Admission Exercise for International Students (S-AEIS). For more information on the tests including registration details and test dates, please visit the Ministry of Education's website.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) acts as an agent of the government and administers, assesses, collects and enforces payment of taxes. The IRAS also advises the government and represents Singapore internationally on matters relating to taxation.
A Singapore citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident who returns to work here will be liable to pay income tax. You will be required to complete and submit the relevant tax form that will be mailed to you.
Your employer may furnish your salary details to IRAS directly and this portion of your income need not be included in your tax return. However, you must still submit the tax form and report other income you received in Singapore in the previous year.
Should your employer not give IRAS your salary details, you should be issued with the IR8A form, which is the form that shows the gross employment income that you have earned in the previous year. You must include the IR8A with your completed tax form. The chargeable income, that is, your income after deduction of personal reliefs, will be taxed at resident rates of between 0% and 20% from Year of Assessment 2007. The resident rates only apply to a taxpayer who is considered a tax resident, that is, he has been in Singapore for more than 183 days or can prove so by other qualitative means in the previous year.
A person is considered a non resident when working (or living) in Singapore for less than 183 days per year. A non resident's employment income is taxed at 15 percent or the resident rate, whichever is higher. Only income derived in Singapore will be taxable. Non residents will not be considered for Personal Reliefs.
- Foreigners who are working in Singapore on a Employment Pass will be taxed regardless of the time spent working here.
- Foreigners who has rental income from a property in Singapore, director's fee or all other incomes will be taxed at 20 percent of the respective income.
- Foreigners who are on short term employment of less than 60 days per calendar year are exempted from income tax for their employment income.
- Foreigners whose main country of residence has an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Singapore are exempted from income tax for their employment income.
Reliefs and Rebates
As a tax resident, a person is taxed on all income earned in Singapore including overseas income which is transmitted, remitted or otherwise brought into Singapore.
There are personal reliefs given under the Income Tax Act. Income without personal reliefs are taxed on a graduated scale from 0% - 20%.
Tax reliefs and rebates are given in recognition of a person’s efforts. Instead of compensating for certain type of expenses fully, reliefs and rebates are given to promote certain social objectives.
There are reliefs available to encourage family formation, retraining, training and upgrading of skills as well as reliefs given to those serving National Service.
Submitting Your Income Tax
You can submit your tax return by post or through e-filing at www.iras.gov.sg, or by phone. If you fail to submit your return by 15th April or to pay your taxes within the specified due date, you will be penalised. To avoid late payment penalties on your tax payable, you may arrange to pay your taxes by GIRO or log on to do it electronically at www.iras.gov.sg for immediate payment. Do remember to print the acknowledge copy for your own records.
For more information, please contact:
Taxpayer Services Centre
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
1st Storey, Revenue House,
55 Newton Road, Singapore 307987
|Tax Hotline for General Enquiries & Payment Enquiries||Tel: 1800 356 8300|
|Business Income Tax Hotline||Tel: 1800 356 8611|
|Corporate Income Tax Hotline||Tel: 1800 356 8622|
|GST (Goods and Services Tax) Hotline||Tel: 1800 356 8633|
|Property Tax Hotline||Tel: 1800 356 8600|
|Tax Clearance Hotline||Tel: 1800 356 8655|
|Inland Revenue Information Service (IRIS)||Tel: 1800 356 8311|
|Fax Express Service||Tel: 1800 356 8677|
There are many different sources in which one can embark on a job search in Singapore. The most common ways are the newspapers, online job sites and depending on headhunters for referrals.
Most companies in Singapore still hire candidates through advertisements placed in newspapers. It is because the newspapers have been an effective mean of job matching for employers and employees. The widely used newspapers is The Straits Times, jobseekers should keep exceptionally close watch especially on the Saturday copies as there always more job advertisers. Other newspapers include TODAY.
Online Job Sites
The other commonly used source nowadays would be the websites, for a start, you may check our jobs section:
Singapore Jobs Classifieds
Career and Jobs section in the Singapore Expats Classifieds
Certain companies may post available positions on their websites. Try Googling to find the companies or industries you want to work for and you might find luck.
It is never wrong to take the imitative writing to the desired company you wish to work for available positions. If you do not know the name of the Human Resource personnel, contact the receptionist for the email, name of even contact number of the person-in-charge, so you would know where you letter or call is heading.
Employment Agencies / Recruitment Firms
These private commercial firms that match employers looking for employees. They would advertise on behalf of the Company and manage the interviews with the candidates. The recruitment process is mostly managed by the Employment Agency.
There is a Career Fair at times, do look out in the Straits Times newspapers for such events.
Employers can also target their candidates by advertising online, you can do so at our site - it is immediate and works for employers 24/7. Advertising Rates can be found at HERE.
Setting Up Business in Singapore
Business firms can be sole proprietorships or partnerships. Any individual may start his own business by registering with the Registrar under the Business Registration Act. Up to a maximum of 20 persons may operate a business as a partnership. A partnership must also be registered with the Registrar. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are not corporate bodies. Sole proprietorships and partnerships do not need to submit their annual accounts but they must renew their registration every three years. Some businesses such as banks, manufacturing of cigarettes, optical discs require special licenses.
Companies may be registered as branches of foreign companies, private limited or public companies. Any two or more persons may form an incorporated company by registering under the Companies Act. A company may be limited by share, limited by guarantee or unlimited.
For private limited companies, the number of shareholders is limited to a maximum of 50. Public companies may have more than 50 members and they can raise capital by offering shares and debentures to the public.
A public company must register a prospectus with the Registrar before making any public offer of shares and debentures.
The term, “Foreign Companies”, refers to companies incorporated outside Singapore and such companies wishing to set up a branch in Singapore must be registered as foreign companies under the Companies Act.
If you represent a foreign company and wish to only set up a representative office (RO). You would need to register your representative office with International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore). IE Singapore registers representative offices from the manufacturing, trading, trade logistics and trade-related services sectors for a nominal fee of S$200. Setting up a representative office is a good way of exploring business opportunities in Singapore or in the region.
Representative offices can only undertake promotional and trade liaison activities on behalf of its parent company. The representative office cannot conclude any contracts or even provide consultancy for a fee, undertake transshipment of goods, open or negotiate any letters or credit. More details information is listed below.
Representative Office In Singapore
Here are the steps and guidelines on how a foreign firm can set up a Representative Office in Singapore.
Representative Offices in banking, finance, insurance and legal industries - To set up, you need to register with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). More details can be found at: www.mas.gov.sg.
You will need to meet the guidelines and criteria set out by MAS.
Representative Offices in all other industries - To set up, you need to register with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore. More details can be found at: www.iesingapore.gov.sg.
Your Representative Offices can only carry out the following activities:
- Market research
- Feasibility studies
- Liaison work on behalf of parent company
Your Representative Offices cannot conduct any of the following activities (directly or on behalf of the parent company):
- Trade in goods or services (including import or export)
- Lease warehousing facilities
- Lease office to other establishments for a fee
- Conclude business contracts
- Issue invoices and receipts
- Issue and receive letters of credit
- Provide services for fees
If you wish to ship, transship or store goods in Singapore, you should get your parent company to appoint a local agent or distributor. You cannot use your RO to carry out these activities.
If you wish to carry on operations in Singapore, you should register a branch office or incorporate a company with ACRA.
Steps to setup a Business
1. You have to first apply for a name for the business. There is a fee of S$15 per application. The proposed name must not be currently in use by any other company or business firm.
2. To apply, you must submit Form A, “Application for Approval of a Business Name”, which is obtainable free of charge from Registry of Companies and Businesses or from its homepage at www.acra.gov.sg. You may also ask for the forms to be sent to you at (65) 1800 222 6266.
3. From 1 January 1994, self-employed persons are required to top-up their Medisave account with the CPF Board before they register or renew or become the owner of a business.
4. Food, liquor, music and entertainment businesses also require licences from the Ministry of Environment, Liquors Licensing Board and Public Entertainment Licensing Unit respectively.
5. The Technopreneur Home Office Scheme allows entrepreneurs to use their homes, both private residential and HDB property, as offices for their start-up businesses, subject to approval from the Economic Development Board. The business should be infocomm technology focused and in sectors which have been earmarked as high-growth, export-oriented and intellectual-property based (e.g. information technology, design of integrated circuits, internet software, etc.). The start-up must also be an unlisted company registered in Singapore. Foreigners, subject to the approval of Singapore Immigration and Registration and the Economic Development Board may also extend their Long Term Social Visit Pass in Singapore for up to a year for them to seed their business operations.
Tax and CPF Contributions
Under Singapore tax laws, tax is chargeable on the income of any person (including a company) accruing in or derived from Singapore or received in Singapore from outside Singapore. A company means any company incorporated or registered under any law in force in Singapore or elsewhere. Contact the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore for more information.
If you employ staff, you need to contribute to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) for your employees. For more details, please contact CPF Board.
Self-employed persons who have registered businesses as sole proprietorships need to contribute to their Medisave accounts with the CPF before they can renew their business registration. The amount payable is computed by the CPF based on their business earnings.
The Registry of Companies and Businesses has produced a guide titled “A Good Start”. It contains comprehensive information on setting up a business in Singapore and is obtainable from leading bookstores at S$15.
For more information on the following, please contact:
79 Robinson Road
CPF Building, Singapore 068897
Tel : (65) 1800 226 3877
Fax : (65) 6229 3880 / 6229 3881 / 6258 2778
Email : email@example.com
Website : www.cpf.gov.sg
Personal, Corporate and Business Taxation
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
55 Newton Road, #23-00
Revenue House, Singapore 307987
Tel : (65)-1800-6356 8300
Businesses Serving Liquor on its Premises
Customs & Excise Department
Liquors Licensing Board
55 Newton Road, #02-01 Podium Block
Revenue House, Singapore 307987
Tel : (65) 6272 8222
Fax : (65) 6250 8663
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.customs.gov.sg
Food Control Department
Ministry of Environment
5 Maxwell Road, #18-00 Tower Block,
MND Complex, Singapore 069110
Tel : (65) 6325 2579
Fax : (65) 6324 4563
Email : email@example.com
Website : www.env.gov.sg
Music and Entertainment Businesses
Police Cantonment Complex
391 New Bridge Road
Block B, #02-701
Tel : (65) 6835 0000
Fax: (65) 6226 2254
Registry of Companies and Businesses
10 Anson Road, #05-01/15
International Plaza, Singapore 079903
Tel : (65) 6248 6028
Fax : (65) 6225 1676
Website : www.acra.gov.sg
Jobseekers have to understand that certain specialized professions require professional registration before you can start work in Singapore. Professional registration is not associated with your residency or citizenship status.
These professions are governed by local regulations that all registered professionals must adhere to. The specialized professions include accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, land surveying, law, medicine, pharmaceutical and nursing.
For more information, please contact:
Employment Pass Department
Ministry of Manpower
9 Maxwell Road, #03-01
Annex A MND Complex, Singapore 069112
Tel : (65) 6438 5122
Fax : (65) 6293 2138, (65) 6296 2086
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.mom.gov.sg
Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore
20 Aljunied Road, #06-02
CPA House, Singapore 389805
Tel : (65) 6749 8060
Fax : (65) 6749 8061
Email : email@example.com
Website : www.accountants.org.sg
Professional Engineers Board
5 Maxwell Road, 1st Storey, MND Complex,
Tower Block, Singapore 069110
Tel : (65) 6222 9293
Fax : (65) 6222 9471
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.peb.gov.sg
Land Surveyors Board
c/o Singapore Land Authority
Land Survey Department
8 Shenton Way, #28-01
Temasek Tower, Singapore 068811
Tel : (65) 6323 1786
Fax : (65) 6323 9801
Email : email@example.com
Website : LSB Home
Board of Legal Education
Subordinate Courts Building
Conference Room, 9th Floor
1 Havelock Square, Singapore 059724
Tel : (65) 6534 1831/2
Fax : (65) 6538 7757
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.lawsoc.org.sg
Singapore Medical Council
16 College Road, #01-01
College of Medicine Building, Singapore 169854
Tel : (65) 6372 3061/2/3/4/5
Fax : (65) 6221 0558
Email : MOH_SMC@moh.gov.sg
Website : www.moh.gov.sg
Singapore Nursing Board
16 College Road, #01-01
College of Medicine Building, Singapore 169854
Tel : (65) 6372 3082, (65) 6372 3082
Fax : (65) 6221 1160
Email : email@example.com
Website : www.snb.gov.sg
Singapore Pharmacy Board
14 College Road, Singapore 169853
Tel : (65) 6223 7777
Fax : (65) 6325 1618
Website : www.spb.gov.sg
National Dental Council
16 College Road,
College of Medicine Building, Singapore 169854
Tel : (65) 6372 3076
Fax : (65) 6221 1275
Website : www.ndc.com.sg