Singapore attracts thousands of foreign entrepreneurs and business owners annually to set up their businesses in the city-state. Its strategic geographic location, bilateral treaties, straightforward registration procedure, and minimum annual compliance requirements make it an ideal choice to incorporate a business.

However, people who wish to relocate and set up their businesses in Singapore must obtain a work permit from the MOM (Ministry of Manpower) in Singapore.

Foreign professionals can obtain an Employment Pass or Personalized Employment Pass to work in Singapore. However, foreign entrepreneurs who wish to relocate and incorporate a Singapore startup can also avail an EntrePass, short for Entrepreneur Pass.

What is Singapore EntrePass?

An EntrePass is a work visa for foreign innovators, experienced investors, and serial entrepreneurs who want to set up innovative businesses that add value to the Singapore economy and inject innovation and vibrancy.

The Singapore authorities refined the EntrePass framework. This was done to attract technopreneurs and R&D-intensive enterprises in various sectors (including biotech and cleantech).

This guide about Singapore EntrePass provides a detailed insight into the EntrePass scheme.

Key Points about Singapore EntrePass

A candidate must learn the following key points about an EntrePass before proceeding with their EntrePass application.

  • An EntrePass can only be obtained if the candidate has not registered a private limited company in Singapore yet or the already-registered business is not more than six months old. After six months, the candidate must apply for an Employment Pass rather than an EntrePass.
  • EntrePass holders can apply for a Dependant Pass or a Long Term Visit Pass to bring their specific family members together with them but from 2nd year only. Dependant Pass/ LTVP privileges are not available in the year 1.
  • For a successful EntrePass application, the candidate must fulfill at least 1 out of 7 qualification requirements
  • A candidate can apply directly, and there is no minimum salary requirement
  • No requirement of foreign worker levy or any other similar quota
  • EntrePass holders can further apply for a Permanent Resident status

Eligibility Criteria

Three different government bodies review the EntrePass application in Singapore.

  • SPRING Singapore, short for Standard, Productivity, and Innovation Board
  • IMDA, short for Infocomm Media Development Authority
  • NRF, short for National Research Foundation

A person from any nationality can apply for an EntrePass in Singapore. However, one must fulfill the following criteria to become eligible for a successful EntrePass application:

Basic Requirements

An entrepreneur must fulfill the following basic requirements to apply for a Singapore EntrePass:

  • Must be at least 21 years old and possess relevant qualifications and experience
  • The entrepreneur intends to register a Singapore Limited Liability Company with ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). In case the company is already registered, it cannot be more than six months old.
  • The entrepreneur will relocate to Singapore to manage the new company’s operations
  • An innovative and entrepreneurial business proposal with the ability to create local employment
  • The entrepreneur must hold a minimum of 30% shares in the company. However this is not mandatory at the time of registration of the company. Instead it is checked at the first renewal.

Business Plan

A business plan is a significant part of your EntrePass application. It must provide a detailed insight into your professional business experience, your business idea’s viability, and its implementation plan.

Your business plan must comprehensively portray the following information:

Applicant’s Profile

The applicant’s profile must state the following information about an applicant:

  • Professional experiences, like track record in various startups and growing businesses
  • Academic qualifications
  • Awards or recognitions, like any award from a recognized media, organization, or a national authority
  • Resources or special skills, like technology, IP, financial, networks

Business Idea

The business idea must demonstrate the following critical data:

  • Details of product and service that your company is going to offer
  • An extensive market analysis
  • Supporting documents, like product certifications, licensing agreements, and endorsements

Implementation Plan

An implementation plan must include the following key elements:

  • Marketing plan
  • Operation plan
  • Management team’s profile
  • Financial projections

Minimum Eligibility Criteria

You must also meet the minimum eligibility criteria as an entrepreneur, investor, or innovator.

As an Entrepreneur

The candidate must meet any of the following minimum eligibility criteria to qualify as an entrepreneur.

Acquire funds from a business angel or government-recognized VC

  • Monetary funding of at least S$100,000
  • Documentary proof or a shareholder certificate as an investment proof from the business angel or Venture Capitalist firm
  • Some of the most prominent examples include Vertex Ventures, ESVF (Early Stage Venture Fund) scheme’s venture partners, and investors qualified under the StartupSG Equity scheme

 

Is an incubator at any of the government-recognized accelerator or incubator

Some of the examples of such incubators and accelerators include:

  • Accelerators and incubators partnered in the Startup SG Accelerator Programme of the Enterprise Singapore
  • Acceleration or incubation programs linked with SGInnovate
  • Accredited Mentor Partners under Startup SG Founder

 

Demonstrate a promising entrepreneurial track record and have an extensive business network

Under this category, the entrepreneur must possess significant professional experience or a business network and a prominent entrepreneurial track record of founding and operating a highly-scalable business. The entrepreneur must be willing to leverage the skills mentioned above to incorporate, manage, and scale a new or existing business in Singapore.

Following are the requirements to meet this qualification:

  • Founder of a tech company that was later sold
  • Have raised a significant amount of funds for a new or past venture
  • Currently being incubated or have been incubated by a world-renowned accelerator or incubator
  • Has strong business contacts or a sturdy business network that can be leveraged for your proposed business
  • A proven entrepreneurial track record in your proposed business
  • Has received an award of recognition relevant to your entrepreneurial, business, or professional track records and achievements by a national body, a credible organization, or a recognized media

As an Investor

The candidate demonstrates a promising track record of business investments and also wishes to invest and scale fresh or existing Singapore businesses.

Requirements:

  • Is willing to invest a substantial amount in a Singapore local company
  • A promising track record in investing and driving the growth of highly-scalable businesses
  • Significant experience of working as a senior management professional or at an executive position in a large corporation

As an Innovator

The candidate must meet any of these qualifications to pass as an innovator.

Holds an IP

The candidate or the respective corporation must hold a licensed IP (Intellectual Property).

However, the candidate must fulfill all of the below-mentioned requirements to pass this criterion:

  • Have a registered IP with an acclaimed IP institution
  • It must deliver a competitive advantage to the proposed business
  • It cannot be easily replicated
  • Intellectual Property’s owner must be a shareholder of the company
  • Expired IP can also be considered if one of the company’s shareholders is its inventor

 

Has research collaboration with a Singapore research institute

The research collaboration must be with an IHL (Institute of Higher Learning) in Singapore.

Some examples include:

  • Research institutions that come under A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research)
  • Entities that come under CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise)
  • Approved private sector and non-profit research groups
  • An IHL, e.g., Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore

You must meet the following criteria:

  • Your involvement is consistent in the research collaboration
  • Research collaboration and your proposed business are must be relevant to each other
  • A person to connect and verify the research collaboration’s details must be provided from the research institution
  • Services’ contract does not qualify as research collaboration

 

Exceptional skills and achievements

  • You possess extraordinary technical or domain expertise in critical areas of expertise that are relevant to your proposed business.
  • You have received international recognition or claimed achievements in your area of technical or domain expertise

It is not mandatory to fulfill all the requirements for each respective type or profile. Though, more qualifications are more helpful for a new application as approvals for them are limited.

Businesses not eligible for an EntrePass

The EntrePass is strictly for entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors that are going to bring innovation and new employment opportunities to Singapore. Therefore, some businesses that do not provide the required value to the city-state are excluded:

  • Nightclubs and bars
  • Hawker centers
  • Massage parlors and foot reflexology
  • Employment agencies
  • Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and herbal dispensing business
  • Food courts and coffee shops
  • Karaoke lounges
  • Geomancy businesses

Documents Required

The candidate must submit these documents for the EntrePass application:

  • Page on the passport that contains personal particulars
  • Testimonials from past employers or a resume that elaborate on your business experience, achievements, and awards
  • Business plan of 10 pages
  • Copies of relevant academic qualification
  • Company’s latest business profile if it has been registered with ACRA already
  • Other documents asked by MOM

Additional Documents

If you are submitting your application as an entrepreneur, investor, or an innovator, you must submit additional documents that support your claim.

For Entrepreneur

Claim

Proof

Funding from a government-approved VC or business angelDocuments that state that you have successfully raised over S$100,000 in funding, e.g., shareholder certificate and investment agreement
Participant at a government-approved accelerator or incubatorDocuments that

  • show that your company is a participant, and
  • Explain the relation between your business and the work you are doing as a participant in the incubator or accelerator program

For an extensive business record and an excellent entrepreneurial track record:

Claim

Proof

Founder of a tech company that was later sold
  • Documents that show you as the company’s key-decision maker
  • company’s profile and acquisition papers
Raised significant amount of funds for a past or recent venture from angel investors or VCsDocuments must

  • State that you were the venture’s key-decision maker,
  • Give extensive details of the venture, and
  • Include shareholder certificate or similar document to provide evidence of funding
Currently getting incubated or was incubated by an internationally-acclaimed accelerator or incubatorDocuments that serve as proof of you being a part of the program
Business contacts and industry networks that can be leveraged for the proposed businessDocuments that state

  • Your network’s strength, e.g., contact details with testimonials or letters of intent
  • Network’s estimated monetary value and also explain how the value was computed
  • How a network can contribute to the growth and expansion of your business, e.g., the network is an investor or a customer
Received awards or recognitionsDocuments that

  • Demonstrate your promising track record and achievements, e.g., media publications, certificates, CV, and testimonials
  • Convey how your track record or achievements will help your business grow

For Investor

For an investor who is going to invest a significant amount in a local company, you must provide:

  • Documents pertaining to current investments
  • Information about the sectors you are interested in
  • A pipeline of Singapore companies that you are considering for investment
  • Documents that show your engagement level with these companies, e.g., signed letter-of-intent, investment agreement

You must also meet the following criteria:

Claim

Proof

Investing and driving highly-scalable businesses’ growthDocuments that state:

  • Investment track record, e.g., shareholder certificate and investment agreement
  • Nurturing ability to nurture the companies you have invested in
Minimum of eight years of experience working as a senior management professional or at an executive position in a large corporationDocuments that demonstrate:

  • Required expertise, e.g., CV, testimonials
  • Companies’ profiles you had worked with
  • Your contribution to the companies

As an Innovator

As an innovator, the following documents are necessary:

Claim

Proof

Holds IPIP registration documents with an acclaimed IP Institution
Research collaboration with a Singapore IHLDocuments that:

  • Gives an overview of research collaboration and state its relevancy to the proposed business
  • Contact details of the concerned person from the research institution with whom you are collaborating with
Extraordinary achievements in key areas of expertiseDocuments that:

  • Serve as proof of your expertise, e.g., testimonials, certificates, articles
  • Demonstrate your ability to contribute to the growth and expansion of your proposed business