Guide on Singapore Work Permit

Guide on Singapore Work Permit

Singapore has a vast number of expats moving in for a number of reasons. This is because of its booming economy, cosmopolitan setting, and vibrant culture that generates a wide-ranging opportunities. Several expats choose to come to the city-state to either find a good job or start a business. This explains the reason for having a significant percentage of the labour force, approximately 40%, is made up of non-residents.

Are you an employer in Singapore?

Are you looking forward to hire a foreign domestic worker?

A Work Permit is all you need to pursue.

What is a Work Permit in Singapore?

Work Permit (WP) is a pass that allows semi-skilled workers in labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, construction, marine or service sector to work in Singapore. Work permits in Singapore are determined mostly by your monthly salary. Private sectors essentially have a separate criteria for the issuance of work permits.

Being granted this kind of work permit for Singapore has become more difficult in recent years. The government has tightened quotas and many businesses have started focusing on retaining existing staff.

Each industry has its own quota, and every month an employer with foreign employees is expected to give a monthly levy and provide compulsory medical insurance for every employee. Expats in the country on this permit also can’t sponsor any family members to join them.

Key Facts about Work Permit 

There are three kinds of WPs issued by the government, depending on the sector of the applicant’s job. These are: WP for foreign domestic workers; WP for confinement nanny; and WP for performing artists.

The following are other key facts about the Work Permit:

  • Only workers from approved countries are eligible for work permits;
  • An employer or authorised agent applies the WP for the worker;
  • Employees on a WP are not allowed to apply for Dependent Pass for family members; 
  • Processing time is up to 7 working days unless more information is required;
  • Valid for up to 2 years, but it may be shorter depending on:
    • Validity of the worker’s passport: validity is 1 month before the passport expires.
    • Duration of the security bond: validity is 2 months before the security bond expires.

Compared to S Pass, WP holders have lower salary distribution as no pre-education qualification is needed.

WP Terms and Conditions for Employers and Employees

If you want to employ foreign workers, you can apply for their Work Permits online via the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website. You can check the status of the application online, which reduces the processing time remarkably.  

To be considered eligible for a Work Permit, employers must fulfil the following:

  • Operate in these sectors: construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process & services;
  • Only employ foreign workers who have a valid work pass;
  • Send your workers for a medical examination by a Singapore-registered doctor;
  • Pay workers the fixed monthly salary declare to MOM;
  • Ensure foreign workers have proper housing;
  • Pay the monthly foreign worker levy for each worker;
  • Buy a security bond for each non-Malaysian worker;
  • Buy and maintain medical insurance for each worker to cover in-patient care and surgery costs.

To remain eligible for a Work Permit, employees must fulfil the following:

  • Work only for the employer specified in the WP card and the same occupation;
  • Avoid starting any business or participating in any other business;
  • Residential address should be the one set by the employer;
  • Always carry the original WP and produce it when any public officer demands for it;
  • Avoid marital arrangements involving Singapore citizens within or outside Singapore; 
  • Not get pregnant or deliver a child in Singapore during the validity of their WP.

Note: The last two applies even after their WP is expired, cancelled or revoked.

Procedure for Application

Your employer or a registered employment agent must complete the following steps to apply for a WP:

Step One: Submit an Application

First, an employer must get a written consent from the foreign worker to apply for the WP.

All applications are submitted through WP Online, which takes up to 1 week to process. WP Online also provides you with the following services:  

  • Check application status;
  • Check card delivery status; and
  • Make an appointment.

You can check application status by SMS. The fee for each application is SGD$35.

Step Two: Prepare for Employee’s Arrival to Singapore

While preparing for the foreign worker to enter Singapore, the following steps are indispensable for the success of his/her WP application.

  • Buy medical insurance for the employee.
  • Buy a SGD$5,000 security bond for each non-Malaysian WP holder.

It is important to note that the bond is between the employer and the Government of Singapore to ensure that both the worker and the company remains compliant with the conditions of the WP. It is deemed illegal to ask the worker to pay for the bond.

Once the employee arrives in Singapore, he/she must go for a medical examination to any Singapore-registered doctor within 2 weeks of arrival. The employer must also print and duly fill the Security Bond form.

Step Three: Issuance of Work Permit

Whether you are a Malaysian or non-Malaysian, the WP is issued after entering Singapore. However, Malaysians are issued with the WP before the expiry of the short-term visit pass, while non-Malaysians receive it within 14 days after arriving in Singapore. 

The following process must be adhered to before the WP issued:

  • Register the worker’s residential address and mobile number using Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).
  • After at least 1 hour, request for issuance through WP Online.
  • Provide a home or an office address to facilitate card delivery.
  • Appoint up to 3 authorised recipients to receive the card, including their:
    • National Registration Identity Card;
    • FIN or passport number;
    • Mobile numbers; and
    • Email address.
  • Pay $35 for each WP issued (GIRO, VISA, MasterCard or eNETS debit are allowed).
  • Once the WP is issued, print the notification letter.

Step Four: Receipt of a Notification Letter

A notification letter will be issued to the candidate once the WP is issued.

The notification letter has a one-month validity and permits the candidate to work and travel in and out of Singapore. Furthermore, it will state if candidates should have their photo taken and fingerprints registered.

Step Five: Registration of Fingerprints and Photo Taking (if necessary).

The notification letter usually indicates whether the worker needs to register for fingerprints and photo taking at MOM Services Centre – Hall C. If yes, the worker needs to register within 1 week of WP issuance.

The worker should carry the following documents:

  • Original passport
  • Appointment letter
  • Notification letter
  • Documents listed in the IPA letter and notification letter

Step Six: Receipt of Your Employment Pass Card.

Within 4 working days after registration, the employee will receive the WP card. After two unsuccessful deliveries, you’ll have to collect the card at the MOM Services Centre – Hall C.


Applying for a Work Permit can be a dreadful experience. Therefore, it is advisable to engage a professional service provider that offers various immigration and visa services. At Tianlong Services, we are well known in providing these services and will ensure to fulfil your immigration needs.

share this article!


What do Tianlong Services do?

Tianlong Services provides accounting services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We provide useful articles for business owners like you to understand more about accounting, tax and business in general to better understand the terms used in the business world.

Learn more about our accounting services and bookkeeping services on how we can help your business.

Not sure what is the difference? Learn about the similaries and differences of bookkeeping.

Online Accounting Services

Request a free trial

You will get a month’s worth of bookkeeping. Whether or not you continue with us, your reports for the month are yours to keep.