The Singapore EntrePass
The EntrePass, administered by the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), is a work visa for foreign entrepreneurs looking to set up and operate businesses in Singapore that are venture-backed or own innovative technologies. This article will elaborate on the objective and purpose of the EntrePass, the eligibility criteria for interested applicants, the passes available for the families of EntrePass holders and the requirements for EntrePass renewal.
Entrepreneurship in Singapore
Promoting entrepreneurship has always been prevalent in Singapore with the many government-backed initiatives and schemes that are available, in a bid to attract startups and businesses to transform Singapore as a hub for commerce and trade. In the 2023 global start-up ecosystem ranking, Singapore has climbed 10 places to place 8th globally, and is currently in 3rd place in Asia behind Tel Aviv (5th place globally) and Beijing (7th place globally). Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng has highlighted that start-ups offer disruptive business models and are key to driving economic growth, while contributing to Singapore’s “national vision and priorities”.1 With Singapore as a leading financial and business hub in the region, the government has aligned its migration policies to make it easier for foreigners to move to Singapore and start their businesses here with the introduction of the EntrePass in 2003.
What is the EntrePass?
The EntrePass is a work visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs who meet the eligibility requirements to set up and operate venture-backed or innovative technology businesses3 in Singapore. There is no minimum salary requirement and the new pass is valid for 1 year. Thereafter, if the applicant meets the renewal criteria, the first renewal will be valid for 1 year and subsequent renewals will be valid for 2 years. The EntrePass is unique in the sense that it is not just a work pass, but it provides the holder access to Singapore’s local tech startup community with networking, fundraising and co-innovation opportunities via Startup SG, a platform by Enterprise Singapore (a government agency that supports enterprise development and works with MOM to evaluate EntrePass applications) to support Singapore’s startup ecosystem both locally and overseas. As such, holders of the EntrePass can capitalise on a network of like-minded individuals and access the various initiatives and avenues of support that the Startup SG community can offer. As at 31 July 2022, there are currently around 700 EntrePass holders in Singapore, of which more than half are renewed passholders, and the remainder first-time passholders.
According to the MOM, the EntrePass is intended for serial entrepreneurs, high-calibre innovators or experienced investors looking to run a business in Singapore that is venture-backed or owns innovative technologies. To apply for an EntrePass, an applicant must (i) have started or intend to start a private limited company registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (“ACRA”) (if registered, the company must be less than 6 months old as at the date of the EntrePass application), and (ii) meet any of the following criteria that fall under the applicant’s relevant profile as follows:
|(a) The company raised funding of at least S$100,000 from a government investment vehicle, venture capitalist (“VC”) or business angel that is recognised by a Singapore government agency*
|(b) The company is an existing incubatee at an incubator or accelerator in Singapore that is recognised by the government*
|(c) The applicant has significant business experience and promising entrepreneurial track record of starting highly-scalable businesses, and must fulfil any of the following:
· founded and sold a tech company
· raised significant funding from investors for a current or past venture
· have been or are being incubated by an internationally renowned incubator or accelerator
· able to demonstrate how their business networks and track record can contribute to the growth of their proposed business in Singapore
|(a) The applicant or the company holds an intellectual property (“IP”) and must fulfil all of the following:
· IP must be registered with an approved national IP institution
· IP delivers a competitive advantage to the proposed business and cannot be easily replicated
· one of the shareholders or the company must be the owner of the IP
· expired IP can be considered as long as one of the shareholders is the inventor of the IP
|(b) The company has an ongoing research collaboration with a research institution under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (“A*STAR”) or an Institute of Higher Learning (“IHL”) in Singapore, and must fulfil all of the following:
· the research collaboration must be related to the proposed business
· the research institution needs to provide a contact person to verify details of the research collaboration
· the applicant must be involved with the ongoing research collaboration
Note: A contract of services is not considered a research collaboration
|(c) The applicant has exceptional technical or domain expertise in an area related to the proposed business, and must fulfil all of the following:
· area of expertise must be related to the proposed business
· have outstanding achievements or received international recognition in the applicant’s area of technical or domain expertise
|The applicant has a good track record of investing in businesses and want to grow new or existing businesses in Singapore by starting an investment-related company, and is willing to invest a substantial amount of money in other local tech startups and can prove any of the following:
· a strong track record of investing in and driving growth of highly-scalable businesses
· plans (i.e. quantum, period and pipeline) to invest in other local innovative or tech startups
· at least 8 years’ experience as a senior management professional or executive in a large corporation that can help to scale up local innovative or tech startups
|Businesses that are not eligible for the EntrePass include, amongst others, coffee shops, bars, night clubs, massage parlours, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, employment agencies and geomancy.*
Source: Ministry of Manpower
* For a comprehensive list, visit https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/entrepass/eligibility
Passes for Family
An EntrePass holder can also apply for (i) Dependant’s Pass for a legally-married spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age (including those legally adopted) or (ii) Long-Term Visit Pass for a common-law spouse, unmarried handicapped children aged 21 years and above, unmarried step-children under 21 years old and/or parents. This is subject to the EntrePass holder meeting the requirements for total annual business spending and local employment as follows:
- For spouse (common-law or legally married) and/or children – achieve total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and hire at least 1 local professional, manager or executive (“PME”) who is earning the minimum qualifying salary of S$3,900 and receiving CPF contributions for at least 3 months5; and
For parents – achieve total annual business spending of at least S$200,000 and hire at least 2 local4 PMEs who are earning the minimum qualifying salary of S$3,900 and receiving CPF contributions for at least 3 months5.
The time window for renewal is about 3 months before the pass expires. To be eligible for renewal, the EntrePass holder must:
- own at least 30% shareholding of the company;
- provide proof of ongoing business activity;
- provide proof that the business is venture-backed or owns innovative technologies3;
- have created an individual profile and claimed the company profile on the Startup SG Network (“SSN”); and
- after 2 years of holding the EntrePass, achieve (i) a minimum total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and (ii) hire at least 1 local4 PME who is earning the minimum qualifying salary of S$3,900 (this amount increases to S$4,700 for the 10th year of renewal onwards) and receiving CPF contributions for at least 3 months. The minimum business spending and local hiring criteria would increase progressively with the number of years that the individual is holding an EntrePass for renewal.
The SSN was established in 2018 to create a community of tech startups and encourage innovative and collaborative partnerships. The platform allows entrepreneurs and businesses to connect with each other and enhance their profiles’ visibility for growth opportunities.
Currently, there are approximately 4,000 tech start-ups and 200 incubators in Singapore, and the country has consistently ranked among the top 10 countries in the Global Innovation Index.1 Singapore is also ranked among the world’s top 15 countries for ease of source funding.1 With the various government-backed programmes and initiatives to support entrepreneurship, applicants who meet MOM’s EntrePass requirements will benefit from having a visa that allows them and their families to relocate here, while having a robust infrastructure in place to help them set up and grow their businesses in Singapore.
As a private client firm, our Immigration and Family Offices department has a wealth of experience in navigating work pass applications such as the EntrePass, Employment Pass and Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (“ONE Pass”) for clients looking to live and work in Singapore, including applications for Dependant’s Passes and Long-Term Visit Passes for their families. Our lawyers work closely with clients and their advisors, adopting a tailored approach to address families’ specific needs and requirements.
Should you or your clients require any assistance or advice, please feel free to contact our Business Development Team to schedule a consultation.
 A company is considered venture-backed or own innovative technologies if it has (i) raised funding from capital providers including government investment vehicles, venture capitalists, corporates, family offices, and business angels, (ii) developed, produced or commercialised tech products, services or platforms, (iii) registered patents with an approved national IP institution, or (iv) ongoing research collaboration with a research institution.
 Singaporean or Permanent Resident
 3 local employees who earn a monthly salary of at least S$1,400 and receive CPF contributions for at least 3 months is equivalent to 1 PME