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Can Work Pass Holders Start a Business in Singapore?

Updated: Jul 20

Can I start my own business if I am holding a valid Employment Pass (EP), S Pass or Work Permit (WP)? Can EP, S Pass or WP holders be registered as company directors? Is an EP, S Pass or WP holder allowed to invest in or hold shares of a Singapore-registered company?


Employment Pass (EP)


The general position is that an EP holder is only allowed to work for the employer the EP is approved for. The EP holder can also be appointed to the Board of Directors of the same company, without having to notify MOM.


However, companies seeking to appoint an EP holder employed by another company to be a director, prior to the appointment, will first have to seek approval from MOM.


When the request is approved, the MOM will grant a Letter of Consent (LOC) to the EP holder. The requesting company can then register their directorship positions with ACRA.


As the requesting company:


1. You must ensure that the EP holder’s employer has no objections to the EP holder taking on directorship.


2. You must get approval from MOM by applying for a LOC, as directorship duties are considered work.


3. If approved, you can then proceed to register the directorship position with ACRA.


The criteria for MOM granting LOCs are set out below:


1. The requesting company is related by shareholding to the EP holder’s employer. Such relationship can arise from by being a parent or subsidiary company or by being an investor with shares in the company. This must be reflected in ACRA records.


Secondary directorship positions in related companies, e.g. subsidiary, may be critical to the EP holder’s job role. As such, EP holders would generally be allowed to take up such secondary roles.


2. The EP holder is taking up the secondary directorship for purposes related to his/her primary employment.


If the secondary directorship position is in an unrelated company, e.g. fund entities, the LOC may still be granted if it is relevant to the EP holder’s primary occupation.


Similarly, EP holders must also seek MOM’s approval before registering a sole-proprietorship or partnership.


S Pass


S Pass holders are not allowed to carry on or manage any business in Singapore. As such, they are not allowed to be directors of any Singapore-registered company or sole-proprietors, partners of a business.


By doing so, they will have infringed the work pass conditions and their work passes will be revoked. They will also need to serve an employment ban.


If you are a S Pass holder who wants to set up a business in Singapore, you should terminate your current employment and apply for an EntrePass.


Work Permit (WP)


WP holders are not allowed to carry on or manage any business in Singapore. As such, they are not allowed to be directors of any Singapore-registered company or sole-proprietors or partners of a business.


By doing so, they will have infringed the work pass conditions and their work passes will be revoked. They will also need to serve an employment ban.


Dependent Pass (DP)


Dependents of EP holders, EntrePass or Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) holder can get a LOC to work in Singapore.


Dependents of S Pass holders will need to apply for a WP, S Pass or EP instead. They will have to meet the eligibility criteria for these passes.


Letter of Consent (LOC)


You can apply for a LOC to work in Singapore if you are an eligible Dependent Pass holder, or a LTVP/LTVP+ holder who is the spouse or unmarried child of a Singaporean or permanent resident.


Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP)


If you are holding a LTVP, you can work in Singapore only if you get a work pass.


Parents or parents-in-law of Singaporeans and permanent residents who are holding an LTVP can work in Singapore on a Work Permit.


If you are a Long Term Visit Pass holder accompanying a child who is studying in Singapore, you can find a job on a Work Permit, Employment Pass or S Pass after you have been in Singapore for a year


If you have any questions in relation to the notes above, please contact professionals from Bestar.


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