The Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) scheme was launched in 2004 to lure foreign entrepreneurs with innovative business proposals. It is part of Singapore’s overall plan to become a regional business hub and attract the best business and entrepreneurial minds to the country. The terms “EntrePass” and “Entrepreneurs Visa” both refer to the Entrepreneur Pass scheme and are used interchangeably in this guide.
The EntrePass scheme is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start a business and relocate to Singapore.
An application for EntrePass can be made before incorporating the Singapore company, and you would not be required to incur incorporation expenses until the outcome of the EntrePass is known. Once the pass is approved, you will generally be given 30 days to incorporate the proposed company and inject the necessary share capital.
The EntrePass allows you to bring your family (spouse and unmarried children under 21) to Singapore by applying for their Dependant’s Passes. EntrePass holders are eligible to apply for Singapore permanent residence in due course.
EntrePass Eligibility Requirements
In general, any foreigner above the age of 21 and with the requisite qualifications is eligible to apply for the EntrePass. The EntrePass scheme will be appropriate for you under the following conditions:
- You wish to establish a business in Singapore and relocate to Singapore to run it. The proposed business idea must be entrepreneurial and innovative in nature, and able to create local employment.
- You have an entrepreneurial and/or relevant background.
- You plan to register your business as a Singapore private limited company and not as a sole proprietorship or partnership.
- You have not yet incorporated your company, or the company is not more than six months old at the time of EntrePass application.
- You plan to have at least 30% shareholding in the proposed business.
- The company will have a minimum paid-up capital of S$50,000.
- You are sponsored by a well-established Singapore-registered company or are able to furnish a Banker’s Guarantee of $3,000 issued by a Singapore-based bank upon approval of application.
In addition to the above, you must also fulfill at least one of the new “innovativeness” conditions:
- The company is receiving monetary funding or investment of at least S$100,000 from a third-party Venture Capitalist (VC) or angel investor accredited by a Singapore Government agency.
- The company holds an Intellectual Property (IP) that is registered with a recognised national IP institution.
- The company has on-going research collaboration with an institution recognised by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore.
- The company is an incubatee at a Singapore Government-supported incubator.
Documents Needed for EntrePass
To apply for Entrepreneur Visa, the following documents are required:
- Completed EntrePass application form
- Documentary evidence to prove that you fulfill one of the “innovativeness” requirements
- A business plan in the prescribed format
- A copy of your company’s bank statement showing funds of at least S$ 50,000, if the company is incorporated prior to the submission of application
- A copy of your company’s latest business profile printout, if incorporated already
- A passport-sized photograph taken within the past three months
- A copy of the personal particulars page of your passport
- Documentary evidence of your previous employment(s) and/or business venture(s), if any
- Copies of your educational certificates, if any
- Other documents that can be useful to solidify your application include licensing agreements, MOUs with potential customers/suppliers, product certifications, endorsements, etc.
All documents submitted must be in English or translated into English by a certified translation body. Your EntrePass business visa application must be sponsored by a Singapore-registered company or you will also be asked to provide a banker’s guarantee of S$3,000 upon approval of the pass (we will sponsor your application when you engage our service).
Business Plan for EntrePass
Along with your EntrePass application form, you will need to furnish a comprehensive yet concise business plan of about 10 pages in a prescribed format as below:
- Business Idea: a short, self-explanatory summary covering your proposed business concept.
- Product/Service: details of product(s) and service(s) you are offering.
- Market Analysis: analysis of your industry potential in Singapore, target customers, key competitors, and potential for growth
- Marketing Plan: description of how the product/service will be marketed or distributed.
- Operational Plan: the operational plan description deals specifically with the internal operations and resources necessary to produce your product or service.
- Management Team: summary of key management individuals who will run the business along with their roles.
- Financial Projections: projected sales and net profit before tax for three years and the estimated break even point.
It’s useful to note that the EntrePass business plan is usually not the same as you would prepare when planning to raise, for example, venture funding for the business. Instead, it’s a simplified version and often the complexity will depend on the nature and size of the business you are planning to start. Still, preparing a good business plan might take considerable amount of your time and writing might not be your forte. When you engage our EntrePass application filing service, we will draft the business plan based on the information gathered from you.
EntrePass Application Procedure and Timeline
Once your EntrePass application, along with supporting documents, is ready, it must be filed with Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Your application will be reviewed by two government bodies – SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Singapore) Singapore and MOM. The application process works as follows:
- The application is submitted to MOM.
- Once submitted, the processing of Entrepreneur Pass application on the average takes about 6-8 weeks.
- If your application is successful, you will be issued an Approval In-Principle (AIP) letter, after which you have 30 days to register your Singapore company, open a corporate bank account and inject the necessary share capital (assuming the company has not been registered yet).
- MOM will require you to submit proof of company registration (ACRA business profile), and the injection of the minimum paid-up capital in the corporate bank account, before they can issue you a final approval letter (In-Principal Approval, or IPA, letter).
- You may be required to go through a medical test and produce the medical report when collecting your EntrePass. Whether or not you need to go through a medical test will be mentioned in the IPA approval letter (along with the list of tests). You can get the medical tests done in your own country through an established clinic/hospital or you can get it done when you arrive in Singapore.
- Once the final IPA approval letter has been issued, you must relocate to Singapore within 6 months of the approval date. If based on your nationality you require an entry visa to Singapore, a one-time entry visa is normally issued to you as part of the EntrePass approval letter.
- If you had applied for Dependant’s Passes (DP) for your family, you can collect the DPs at the same time when collecting your EntrePass.
Within the first 6 months of receiving your EntrePass, you will be required to submit the latest ACRA business profile together with either the tenancy contract (as proof of operative address) or employee’s CPF statement to verify on-going business operations in accordance to the submitted business plans. Failure to submit the documents at the end of the 6-month period will result in revocation of the EntrePass.
Company Registration Matters
You are not required to incorporate your new Singapore company until the EntrePass visa is approved. This works really well for those entrepreneurs who are less confident of their approval chances and don’t want to incur company registration expenses unless they are sure that they will be able to relocate to Singapore to run their business.
Once you have received Approval-In-Principle (AIP) letter from authorities, you will be required to register your Singapore company and open the corporate bank account within 30 days. This is usually not a problem because a company in Singapore can be registered in just 1-2 days.
If a) you meet the EntrePass eligibility requirements; and b) you have a good business background; and c) your business can create local employment opportunities, it’s unlikely that your entrepreneur visa application will be rejected. However, if your application gets rejected, an appeal can be filed within 90 days.
The processing of an appeal application can take another 4-6 weeks.
Do note the following example of businesses will not be considered for the EntrePass:
- Coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts
- Bars, night clubs, karaoke lounges
- Foot reflexology, massage parlours
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture, herbal dispensary
- Employment agencies, geomancy
Should You Hire A Professional Firm?
It depends. If you are tight on budget and have the necessary time and experience to deal with preparing the business plan, going through application forms/requirements, submitting an appeal in case of rejection, etc., you can file the EntrePass application on your own. In all other cases, hiring a reputable professional firm to handle your EntrePass application will be a better choice for the following reasons:
- An experienced professional firm will assist you in making sure that all the required and supporting documents are included and completed accurately so that delays are minimized and your chances of application approval are maximized.
- The firm will help you prepare the business plan as prescribed by authorities. Normally, you will need to give them the information about your proposed business venture and they will be able to draft a business plan accordingly.
- The professional firm will sponsor your entrepreneur pass application so you won’t be required to provide S$3000 banker’s guarantee to authorities.
- The firm will submit and track your application status with authorities, explore the reasons in case your application is rejected and file an appeal, if necessary.
Note, however, that the granting of an EntrePass is not as a matter of course but subject to review and approval by government authorities. A professional firm does not have any authority in the approval/rejection process.
EntrePass Renewal Guidelines
The Entrepreneur Pass is issued for one or two years at a time, which is decided solely by the authorities. Generally 3 months before its expiry, a renewal form will be sent to you by MOM. You should file the renewal application approximately two months before it expires. EntrePass renewal applications usually require the following documents (or as listed in the renewal reminder letter):
- Latest copy of business profile from ACRA.
- Latest audited accounts.
- Highest educational certificates of local employees. Note that the local employees need to possess at least National Technical Certificate (NTC2), National ITE Certificate (NITEC) or vocational qualifications obtained after at least two years of full-time studies.
- CPF statements for the employees.
- Office Tenancy Agreement.
- Other documentary evidence on the company’s activities such as office rental agreement, referral letters from clients, invoices issued, and/or contracts awarded. Note that the authorities want to make sure that you are actively doing business and that it’s not just a paper company.
The business venture has to be conducted based on the original declared business plans, in order to qualify for renewal.
For existing EntrePass holders who had applied for EntrePass before 1 September 2013, the criteria to be observed prior to 1 September 2014 are as follows:
|CATEGORY OF ENTREPASS||CRITERIA FOR RENEWAL||NUMBER OF YEARS GRANTED|
For all successful EntrePass applicants who submitted their application after 1 September 2013, there is a progressive renewal criteria to be observed, as follows:
|NO. OF YEARS AFTER AWARD OF ENTREPASS||NO. OF LOCAL JOBS CREATED||MINIMUM TOTAL BUSINESS SPENDING||EMPLOYMENT PASS (EP) STATUS|
- The processing time for renewals is at least 4-6 weeks
- Local jobs created refers to full-time employment of Singaporeans and PRs for at least 3 calendar months, under a contract of service with monthly salary and CPF contributions at prevailing salary threshold for full-time employees.
- Total Business Spending (TBS) = [Total Operating Expenses – (Royalties/Franchise Fees/Know How Fees to Overseas Companies + Work Subcontracted to Overseas Companies + Remuneration to Applicant & Immediate Family)]
From 1 September 2014, ALL EntrePass holders are required to meet the progressive renewal criteria as described in the above table.
From EntrePass to Permanent Residence
EntrePass holders are eligible to apply for permanent residence in due course, which is subject to approval by the Singapore immigration authority. When you file your PR application, you should demonstrate that you are running a viable and innovative business, and that you will not become a financial burden on Singapore.