Work Permit for Foreign Workers in Singapore

Complete Guide to the Application Process and Requirements for the Work Permit in Singapore

Are you contemplating working in Singapore? Renowned for its robust economy and abundant opportunities, Singapore magnetizes foreign workers worldwide. To work here as a foreigner, you must secure a Work Permit, accessible to nationals from designated source countries and sectors. This guide navigates you through the application process and requirements for a Singapore Work Permit, ensuring clarity on obtaining one.

The Work Permit in Singapore is available to semi-skilled migrant workers from approved source countries/regions to work in certain sectors, such as construction, marine shipyard, process, manufacturing, and services. The Work Permit is valid for a maximum of two years and is subject to a foreign worker levy and quota. Employers are responsible for applying for the Work Permit on behalf of the foreign worker, and the application process involves submitting a written consent from the worker and paying a processing fee. Once the application is approved, the Work Permit card is issued within four working days after the documents are submitted.

The Different Sectors and Eligibility

Singapore offers different types of work passes and permits for foreign workers, each tailored to the individual’s skill set and qualifications. The Work Permit for foreign workers is available for the following sectors:



Marine Shipyard



The eligibility for a Work Permit depends on the sector in which you intend to work. Let’s take a closer look at the eligible countries for each sector:

Construction, Marine Shipyard, and Process Sectors

Foreign workers from the following countries are eligible to apply for a Work Permit in the construction, marine shipyard, and process sectors:

  • Bangladesh
  • Hong Kong* (with a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport – HKSAR)
  • India
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • People’s Republic of China (PRC)
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand

Manufacturing and Services Sectors

For the manufacturing and services sectors, foreign workers from the following countries can apply for a Work Permit:

  • Hong Kong* (with a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport – HKSAR)
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • People’s Republic of China (PRC)
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

Conditions of the Foreign Workers Work Permit for Singapore

Before applying for a Work Permit, both the foreign worker and the employer must understand and comply with the conditions set by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Here are the essential conditions for both parties:

Conditions for the Foreign Worker

  • The foreign worker can only work for the employer stated on their Work Permit Card.
  • Engaging in any form of self-employment or working in a different occupation is strictly prohibited.
  • The worker must reside at the address initially stated, and any change of address must be promptly reported to the employer, who will inform MOM.
  • The Work Permit Card must be kept with the worker at all times, as random inspections may occur.
  • Without prior approval from MOM, the foreign worker cannot marry a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, both within and outside of Singapore, even after the Work Permit has expired.
  • The foreign worker cannot give birth or become pregnant while holding a Work Permit, unless they are married to a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, and have obtained MOM’s approval. This rule also applies after the Work Permit has expired.
  • A medical examination conducted by a Singapore-registered doctor is mandatory before commencing employment, and the employer is responsible for arranging it.

Conditions for the Employer

The employer must also comply with the following conditions:

  • Pay the fixed monthly salary as declared during the Work Permit application process.
  • Set up a POSB Payroll Account for the foreign worker to receive their salary.
  • Provide proper living accommodations for the worker.
  • Ensure that the worker has adequate medical insurance, covering at least $15,000 per year, including hospitalisation and surgery (whether work-related or not).
  • Pay the monthly foreign worker levy as required by the Singaporean authorities.
  • Obtain a security bond for the foreign worker and all other foreign employees, except for Malaysian workers. This bond is a commitment to follow the rules of the Work Permit, and failure to comply may result in a S$5,000 fine.
  • The employer cannot receive any monetary gains or benefits related to the foreign worker’s employment.
  • Within 7 days of the worker’s employment ending, the employer must cancel their Work Permit and arrange for their repatriation.

Please note that additional conditions may apply depending on the specific sector of employment.

Requirements for the Singapore Work Permit for Foreign Workers

When applying for a Work Permit for a foreign worker, the employer must submit several supporting documents to the MOM. These documents include:

  1. A photocopy of the worker’s passport showing personal information and any relevant amendments.
  2. Photocopies of the worker’s educational certificates.
  3. For employers who have not hired foreign workers before:
    • A photocopy of their business profile from ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority).
    • The business’s three most recent monthly CPF Contribution Statements.
    • If it’s a food establishment, a photocopy of the Food Establishment Licence.

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of required documents. The Singapore authorities reserve the right to request any additional documents during the application process.

The Application Process for a Singapore Work Permit

The application process for a Work Permit for a foreign worker is initiated by the employer on behalf of the employee. Here is a step-by-step guide to the application process:

Applying for the Work Permit

The foreign worker does not need to be in Singapore during the application process, but they must provide written consent to the employer to apply on their behalf. Once the employer receives consent, they must:

  • Sign in to WP Online, MOM’s online application tool, and fill out the application form.
  • Pay the Work Permit processing fee of S$35.

If the application is approved, the employer will receive an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter, allowing the worker to enter Singapore.

Requesting for the Work Permit to be Issued

Before requesting the issuance of the Work Permit, the employer must obtain medical insurance and a security bond for the foreign worker. This step requires the worker to be in Singapore. The employer must apply within 14 days of the worker’s entry to Singapore and follow these steps:

  • Register the worker’s address and phone number through MOM’s Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS).
  • Sign in to MOM’s WP Online to request the issuance of the Work Permit.
  • Provide an address where the worker can receive their Work Permit Card (up to three people can be nominated to receive it).
  • Pay an additional S$35 fee for the issuance of the Work Permit Card.
  • Print the notification letter, which allows the worker to travel in and out of Singapore until they receive their Work Permit Card. The letter will also specify if the worker needs to register their picture and fingerprints.

Registering Picture and Fingerprints

If required, the foreign worker must register their picture and fingerprints within one week at the MOM Services Centre. An appointment must be made through the MOM website in advance. The following documents are required for the appointment:

  • The original passport (not a copy).
  • The appointment letter.
  • The notification letter.
  • Any other documents specified in the notification letter.

Once the registration is complete, the Work Permit Card will be issued within four working days.

Foreign Worker Levy and Quota

All Singapore employers hiring foreign workers on a Work Permit are subject to foreign worker levies and quotas. This means that there are limitations on the number of foreign workers they can hire, and the employer must pay a monthly levy for each of them. The foreign worker levy rate varies depending on the sector and the worker’s skill set, ranging from S$300 to S$700 per month.

The number of foreign workers an employer can hire is determined by the number of local workers they employ. Typically, a company can have a maximum of approximately 60% of its total workforce consisting of foreign workers.

Foreign Worker Levy Waiver

In certain situations, the employer can request a foreign worker levy waiver. Some of the occasions where a waiver may be granted include:

  • The worker being on an overseas or hospital leave for at least seven consecutive days.
  • The worker failing to return to their job after the leave period ends.
  • The worker being arrested.
  • The worker obtaining Singapore Permanent Residency.
  • If the worker is Malaysian, and they are serving National Service.
  • If the worker is in the harbour-craft industry, and they are away on a vessel for at least three consecutive days.

What is the duration of a Work permit in Singapore

The duration of a Work Permit in Singapore varies depending on the type of pass. For the Work Permit for Migrant Workers in sectors like construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, and services, the initial duration is two years with a renewal option for up to three years. Similarly, the Work Permit for Migrant Domestic Workers is valid for a two-year stay. Additionally, the Work Permit for Performance Artists offers a non-renewable six-month pass. It’s important to note that some work passes in Singapore have specific minimum salary requirements and qualifications.

In conclusion, securing a Work Permit for foreign workers in Singapore involves understanding the specific eligibility criteria, complying with the set conditions, and providing the necessary supporting documents. The application process is initiated by the employer on behalf of the foreign worker, and it is essential for both parties to be aware of their respective responsibilities. With Singapore’s diverse opportunities and vibrant economy, obtaining a Work Permit can open up new horizons for foreign workers seeking to advance their careers and contribute to the nation’s growth.

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Remember, the Work Permit application process may be subject to changes and updates by the Singaporean authorities, so it is crucial to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest regulations. By adhering to the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, both employers and foreign workers can navigate the process smoothly, making the journey to work in Singapore a successful and rewarding one.

Working in Singapore can be a life-changing experience, and obtaining the right Work Permit is the first step towards making your dreams a reality. If you are a foreign worker looking to explore Singapore’s dynamic job market, remember to follow the guidelines provided in this article and consult with the Ministry of Manpower for any specific queries or updates related to the application process.