Singapore Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) Scheme

The Singapore Entrepreneur Pass (Entrepass)

Launched in 2004, the Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) scheme was launched by the Government of Singapore in the hopes of attracting foreign entrepreneurs to Singapore. Designed to introduce innovative business ideas to the Singapore market, the scheme is part of Singapore’s overall plan to transform itself into a regional hub for business, and to entice the best entrepreneurial and business minds in the world to move to the city. ‘EntrePass’ and ‘Entrepreneurs Visa’ are both used interchangeably to refer to the Entrepreneur Pass scheme.

Introduction

Foreign entrepreneurs looking to relocate to Singapore and start a business are the intended users of the Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) scheme.

Applications for an EntrePass are to be made before incorporating the Singapore company, and applicants are not required to incur any incorporation expenses before knowing the outcome of the EntrePass application. Upon approval, successful applicants will generally have 30 days to incorporate the business and inject the necessary share capital before registration.

EntrePass allows successful applicants to bring their families (considered to be spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21) with them through application for Dependant’s Passes. EntrePass holders may apply for permanent residence in Singapore in due time.

EntrePass eligibility

As a guide, any foreigner older than 21 with the requisite tertiary qualifications is eligible to apply for the EntrePass. Should you meet the following conditions, the EntrePass scheme may be appropriate for you:

  • You wish to form a business in Singapore and relocate to the city to run it. All proposed business ideas are to be innovative and entrepreneurial in nature, and capable of creating local employment.
  • Your background, experience is relevant to the business you are forming, or you have an entrepreneurial background.
  • You intend to register the business as a private limited company in Singapore, not as a partnership or sole proprietorship.
  • You either have not yet incorporated the company, or the company is no older than six months at the time of you making the application.
  • You plan to hold a minimum of 30 per cent of shares in the proposed business.
  • The company is to have at least S$50,000 in paid-up capital.
  • You are either sponsored by a well-established company in Singapore, or are able to furnish a $3,000 Banker’s Guarantee issued by a Singapore-based bank upon approval of your application.
  • Your proposed business sector should not be a coffee shop, herbal dispensing business, massage parlour, geomancy business or employment agency.

In addition to the aforementioned conditions, the business must fulfil a minimum of one of the following ‘innovativeness’ conditions:

  • The business is receiving investment or monetary funding of minimum S$100,000 from either an angel investor or third-party Venture Capitalist (VC) accredited by a Singapore Government agency.
  • The company has registered Intellectual Property (IP) with a recognised national IP institution.
  • An institution recognised by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) or the Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore has an on-going research collaboration with the business.
  • The company is an incubatee at an incubator supported by the Singapore Government.

Necessary documents for Entrepreneur Pass

The following documents are required by the Ministry of Manpower for your application for an Entrepreneur Visa:

  • Completed application form for EntrePass
  • Documentary evidence proving your business’ ability to fulfil one of the ‘innovativeness’ requirements
  • A business plan in the prescribed format
  • A copy of the company’s bank statement showing a minimum of at least S$50,000, should the company be incorporated prior to the submission of the EntrePass application.
  • A passport-sized photograph no older than three months
  • A copy of the personal particulars page of the passport
  • Documentary evidence of previous business venture(s) and/or previous employment, if any.
  • Copies of educational qualifications or certificates.
  • If the company is incorporated at the point of application, a copy of the ACRA bizfile and bank statement that shows at least $50,000 in a Singapore-based company bank account.
  • Any other documents that could be useful in solidifying your application, including MOUs with potential suppliers and customers, licensing agreements, endorsements, product certifications, etc.

All documents are required to be submitted in English. If not originally in English, they are to be translated into English by a certified translation body. All EntrePass business visa applications are to be sponsored by a company registered in Singapore, otherwise the applicant will be required to provide a banker’s guarantee of S$3,000 upon approval of the pass (Ottavia will sponsor the application upon engagement of our services).

Providing a business plan

Singapore immigration requirements stipulate that alongside the EntrePass application form, applicants need to provide a concise, comprehensive business plan. This document will total roughly 10 pages and must be presented in the format described below:

  • Business idea: a short, self-explanatory summary outlining the concept of your proposed or registered business.
  • Product/Service: Detailed overview of the service(s) and product(s) your business will offer.
  • Market analysis: Analysis of the industry potential, details of your target customers, key competitors and your business’ overall potential for growth.
  • Marketing plan: Description of how you intend to distribute and market your business’ product or service.
  • Operational plan: This section of the document deals specifically with the necessary internal operations and resources that will contribute toward the production of your service or product.
  • Management team: Summary of key management individuals and their roles in running the business.
  • Financial projections: Projected sales and net profit before tax for the first three years of operation, and the business’ estimated break-even point.

Please note that the EntrePass business plan can differ significantly from a business plan prepared for the purposes of raising – for example – venture funding for your business. The EntrePass plan is a simplified version of this document. Additionally, the complexity of the EntrePass document will change depending on the size and nature of the business being started. This said, it is important to note that it may still take a significant amount of time to prepare the EntrePass business plan. Should writing not be your strong suit, we encourage you to speak to Ottavia about our application filing service, as part of which we will draft the business plan based on information you provide.

Application Procedure and Timeline

Once you’ve completed the EntrePass application and gathered the requisite supporting documents, all of them must be filed with the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Your application will then be reviewed by two government bodies – MOM itself and SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board Singapore) Singapore. The application process is described below:

  • The application is submitted to MOM.
  • Upon submission, processing the EntrePass application takes about 6 to 8 weeks on average.
  • Should your application be successful, you will be issued an Approval-in-Principle (AIP) letter. If the company has not been registered yet, you will have 30 days upon receiving the AIP letter to register the Singapore company, open a corporate bank account and contribute the required share capital.
  • MOM requires that you submit proof of company registration in the form of an ACRA business profile, and of the injection of the required paid-up share capital in the corporate bank account before you can be issued with your final approval letter, the In-Principal Approval (IPA) letter.
  • You may be required to undergo a series of medical tests and produce the subsequent report upon collection of your EntrePass. Whether you are required to go through medical tests will be stipulated in the IPA approval letter, and the list of specific tests detailed. If medical exam is required, you are required to produce the resulting report and the medical declaration form endorsed by a Singapore- registered general practitioner or hospital.
  • Once the IPA letter has been issued, you are required to relocate to Singapore within six months of the listed approval date. Should your nationality mean you require an entry visa to Singapore, a one-time entry visa is issued as standard as part of the EntrePass approval letter.
  • If you have applied for Dependant’s Passes for your family members, you may collect these at the same time as collecting your EntrePass.
  • Within your first six months of receiving your EntrePass, you will be required to submit the latest ACRA business profile alongside either the business’ tenancy contract as proof of an operative address, or an employee’s CPF statement to verify on-going business operations that reflect the submitted business plan.

Failing to submit these documents prior to the end of the six-month period will result in your EntrePass being revoked.

Company Registration

Applicants are not required to incorporate their new Singapore company as part of the application process. The company may be incorporated after the EntrePass visa has been approved. This is ideal for entrepreneurs less confident in their approval chances who don’t want to incur unnecessary company incorporation expenses until they are certain they will be permitted to relocate to Singapore for the purposes of running their business.

Within 30 days of receiving your Approval-in-Principle (AIP) letter from authorities, you are required to register your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and open a corporate bank account. This is usually not a problem as companies can be registered in Singapore in as little as one to two days. For more information, please see Ottavia’s Singapore Company Registration guide.

Entrepreneur Pass Application Rejection

Rejection of your Entrepreneur Pass application is unlikely if you a) meet the eligibility requirements; and b) have a good business background and c) can prove that your business will create opportunities for local employment. However, in the unlikely event that your application is rejected, you can file an appeal within 90 days of receiving notice of rejection.

It takes an addition four to six weeks for an appeal application to be processed.

Please note that the following forms of business will be automatically rejected as they are not considered eligible for EntrePass:

  • Food courts, coffee shops, hawker centres
  • Night clubs, bars, karaoke lounges
  • Massage parlours and foot reflexology clinics
  • Acupuncture clinics, herbal dispensaries, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics
  • Employment agencies and geomancy businesses

Why hire a professional firm?

Your decision whether or not to hire a professional firm to assist with the EntrePass application will depend on a few factors. If you are on a tight budget and have the time and experience necessary to prepare the business plan, go through the application forms and requirements, submit an appeal in the event of rejection and so on, filing the EntrePass application by yourself is an option. In all toher cases, it is preferable to hire a reputable, professional firm for the purposes of handling your application. This will help you in the following ways:

  • An experienced professional firm can ensure that all of the required and supporting documents are included in your application and completely fully and accurately. This minimises delays while maximising your chances of approval.
  • The firm can help you prepare the required business plan. In most cases all you will have to do is provide some information about your proposed business venture and the firm’s staff will draft an appropriate business plan.
  • The firm can sponsor your entrepreneur pass application, meaning you won’t have to provide a S$3,000 banker’s guarantee to the authorities.
  • Your application will be submitted and tracked by the firm, and can explore the reasons why your appeal was rejected and subsequently file an appeal, in the event of rejection.

Please note that the granting of an EntrePass is not a matter of course. All applications are subject to review and subsequent approval by the relevant government authorities. Any professional firm contracted to assist with the application process does not have authority with the approval/rejection process.

Renewal guidelines

An Entrepreneur Pass is issued for a period of up to one yearThree months prior to the expiry of the Pass, a renewal form will be sent to you by MOM. You will be required to file the renewal application two months prior to the Pass’ expiry. As standard EntrePass renewal applications will require the following documents (this can differ and will be stipulated on the renewal form):

  • Latest copy of ACRA business profile.
  • Latest audited accounts.
  • CPF statements for all employees.
  • Office Tenancy Agreement.
  • Any other documentary evidence on the activities of the company including office rental agreement, issued invoices, contracts awarded, referral letters from clients, et cetera. This is for the purpose of ascertaining that the company is actually doing business, and that it’s not a paper company.

 

The renewal is based on how well you meet your original business plan, the number of local full-time employees you hire and your total business spending, as shown in the table below:

NO. OF YEARS AFTER AWARD OF ENTREPASSNO. OF LOCAL JOBS CREATEDMINIMUM TOTAL BUSINESS SPENDING
12S$100,000
24S$150,000
36S$200,000
48S$300,000
≥510S$400,000

EntrePass applications submitted after 1 September 2013 will be subject to progressive renewal criteria based on the number of years the pass has been held.

Applicants who applied on or before 28 September 2009 are required to meet all the renewal criteria beginning from the first year applying to renewals from 1 September 2014 onwards.

 

Please note:

  • Renewals take between four and six weeks to process.
  • Local jobs created refers to the full-time employment of Singaporean citizens and permanent residents for a minimum of three calendar months, under a contract of service with monthly salary which is at least $1,000 and CPF contributions at prevailing salary threshold for full-time employees
  • Total Business Spending is calculated thus: TBS = [Total Operating Expenses – (Royalties/Franchise Fees/Know How Fees to Overseas Companies + Work Subcontracted to Overseas Companies + Remuneration to Applicant & Immediate Family)]

Transitioning from Entrepreneur Pass to Permanent Residence

In due course, EntrePass holders may apply for permanent residence for themselves and their families. This is subject to approval by the Singapore immigration authority. Upon filing your PR application, you will be required to demonstrate that you are running a business that is both viable and innovative, and that you will not become a financial burden on Singapore’.

For more information on the Entrepreneur Pass scheme, please view our EntrePass FAQs or visit the website of the Ministry of Manpower.