Singapore’s Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) Scheme
Ottavia’s Entrepreneur Pass guide details the eligibility requirements and application process applicants need to undertake in order to obtain this visa. The EntrePass is designed to attract innovative foreign entrepreneurs who want to incorporate a new business in Singapore and relocate to Singappore and manage the business. The main objective of this scheme is to increase Singapore’s profile as a world commerce hub and enrich the city’s entrepreneurial culture.
Applying for an EntrePass can be done before incorporating a company in Singapore and no incorporating is required until the outcome of the application. Once approved, entrepreneurs have 30 days to incorporate the company proposed in the application and collect the necessary share capital.
Entre-Pass holders are eligible to apply for a Dependent’s Pass to bring their immediate family into the country and having this type of visa also opens up avenues for permanent residency. The work pass holder can only bring in family members to Singapore after meeting the following criteria:
- The work pass is renewed
- Meeting the minimum amount of total business spending
- The company has created minimum number of local jobs
In order to be eligible for this type of pass, foreign national needs to be over 21 years of age with the requisite qualifications including:
- The intention to establish a business in Singapore and relocate to the city for the purpose of running it. The proposed idea needs to be both innovative and entrepreneurial as well as create opportunities for local employment.
- A background as an entrepreneur or relevant educational qualifications
- The intention to register a private limited company as opposed to a sole proprietorship or partnership.
- The planned company is not yet incorporated or is less than 6 months old at the time off application.
- The applicant must have planned to have at least 30% shareholding,
- The proposed company has a minimum paid up capital of S$50,000.
- The applicant is sponsored by an established company registered in Singapore or is able to provide a Banker’s Guarantee of S$3,000 issued upon EntrePass approval.
Applicants also need to satisfy one of four conditions which pertain to the innovative nature of the proposed business including:
- That the proposed company is receiving monetary funding (minimum S$100,000) from a third party venture capitalist (VC) or angel investor accredited by one of Singapore’s government agencies.
- The company holds a registered Intellectual Property (IP) with a recognised national institution. The IP registered must be innovative in nature and related to the proposed business
- The company has an on-going research collaboration with an institution which is recognised by the Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore or the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
- The company has a place as an incubate at a Government supported incubator
There are a number of forms and supporting documents which need to be submitted by the applicant for an EntrePass to be granted. All documents must be in English or need to be translated by a certified translation body. The required documents include:
- An application form
- Documents that prove the company satisfies one of the innovativeness conditions
- A properly formatted business plan
- If the company has been incorporated prior to application, a copy of the company’s bank statement with at least S$50,000 in funds needs to be provided.
- If already incorporated, an up to date version of the company’s business profile printout
- A passport sized photograph no more than 3 months old
- A copy of the applicant’s personal particulars page on their passport
- Evidence of previous employment experience in the relevant industries or evidence entrepreneurial endeavours
- Copies of educational certificates
- Other relevant documentation i.e. endorsements, licensing agreements, MOUs with potential customers or suppliers, and product certifications.
Business plan format
A comprehensive and concise business plan comprising of around ten pages needs to be included with your application. This is a simplified version of the style of plan you might use to raise funding for a business venture. The complexity of this plan will vary depending on the size of your proposed business and the complexity of operations. Ottavia is able to draft an EntrePass business plan which conforms to the necessary format. The format of this plan needs to follow set guidelines which are listed below.
- Business idea: this is a short summary which explains your proposed concept
- Product/service: this is a detailed account of the products or services you plan to offer
- Market analysis: an analysis of your industry potential. A market analysis needs to detail target customers, key competitors, and your company’s potential for growth.
- Marketing plan: detailing the way your product will be promoted and distributed
- Operational plan: deals with the specifics of the administrative and operational requirements of your company as well as the resources required to produce your produce.
- Management team: personal summaries of the management staff who will run the business and a definition of their roles.
- Financial projections: a projection of the sales and new profit before tax for three years. This also needs to include the estimated breakeven point.
Application procedure and timeline
The completed application along with the supporting documentation needs to be submitted to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) manually. Once submitted, the application will be reviewed by both MOM and the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Singapore (SPRING). The processing period takes between 6 to 8 weeks.
If successful, applicants will receive an Approval In-Principal (AIP) letter. Once this is issued, applicants who have not already established their business have 30 days to incorporate and inject share capital. An ACRA business profile proving company registration needs to be submitted to MOM and proof of the capital funds in the corporate bank account before an In-Principal Approval or IPA letter can be issued.
The IPA letter will state whether or not applicants need to undergo a medical exam prior to receiving their EntrePass and will also specify which tests are needed. Medical testing can be undertaken in the applicant’s own country through approved channels or upon their arrival in Singapore.
Once the IPA is issued, successful applicants need to relocate to Singapore within six months of approval. Some overseas applicants will require a onetime entry visa, which will be granted as part of the IPA.
Whilst the EntrePass application is pending, applicants do not need to incorporate their business. This helps entrepreneurs avoid wasting money on registration and setup costs in the cases where the application is rejected. Company registration and the opening of a corporate bank account are only required once the applicant receives their Approval-In-Principal (AIP) letter. Once the letter is issued, incorporation needs to occur within 30 days. The process for registering companies in Singapore is incredibly simple and takes only 1-2 days provided all the documentation is in order.
The EntrePass is generally granted if applicants meet the eligibility requirements, have a strong background in business, and are proposing a business venture which will create local employment opportunities. If the application is rejected, applicants can lodge an appeal within 90 days and the processing of an appeal will take between 4-6 weeks.
There are a number of businesses which are not considered under EntrePass requirements including:
- Food courts, hawkers centres and coffee shops
- Night clubs, bars, and karaoke lounges
- Massage parlours and foot reflexology
- Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbal dispensaries
- Employment agencies and geomancy
The EntrePass lasts for one or two years at a time and a renewal form will automatically be sent by MOM to holders 3 months before the expiry date. In order for renewal to be granted, businesses need to be operating along the original business plans. Renewal application processing takes between 4-6 weeks. Renewal applications need to filed approximately 2 months before expiry and require the following documentation:
- An up to date business profile from ACRA
- Up to date audited accounts
- CPF statements for all employees
- The office tenancy agreement as proof of local operations
- Other relevant documentation as stipulated in the renewal letter. This might include the rental agreement, contracts awarded, invoices issued or referral letters from clients. What authorities are looking for with this documentation is evidence that pass holders are actively operating a business in Singapore and are not just running a paper company.
Hiring a firm to undertake the EntrePass application
Choosing to hire a firm is often a question of your financial capabilities and the complexity of the proposed business. For entrepreneurs who are working on a tight budget and possess both the time and experience required to prepare a proper business plan, and properly manage the requirements of the rejection then submitting without the aid of a firm is a viable option. However, for those with more complex requirements, there are a number of advantages in choosing to hire a professional firm like Ottavia. Choosing to hire a firm can:
- Help reducing delays and ensuring the application process runs smoothly as experienced firms will be familiar with the application requirements and ensure the correct supporting documentation is provided to maximise the chances of approval.
- Assist in drafting a properly formatted business plan which conforms to the requirements of MOM.
- Ensure sponsorship. Ottavia will sponsor your Entrepreneur Pass application so that you don’t need to provide a S$3000 banker’s guarantee as part of your application requirements.
- Keep entrepreneurs up to date on the progress of their applications. Firms like Ottavia are also better equipped to explore the reasons why an application has been rejected and can assist applicants in filing an appeal.
Making the transition from EntrePass to permanent residency
Holders of the EntrePass are able to eventually apply for permanent residence in Singapore. This is assessed on a case by case basis by the Singapore immigration authority. When a PR application is filed by EntrePass holders, demonstrating that you run a profitable, innovative business and will not become a financial burden if you become a permanent resident in Singapore will substantially strengthen your claim.