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Singapore Expats Working Guide - Work pass for foreigners

Updated on January 12, 2014

Employment in Singapore


Foreigners entering Singapore to work must obtain either of three passes – P, Q1 or S Passes – from the Comptroller of Immigration. 

P Pass 

A P Pass is given to a foreigner in a professional, managerial, executive or specialist position. The P Pass is further split into two categories according to different criteria. A P1 Pass will be issued to the applicant if his monthly basic salary is more than S$7,000. A P2 Pass will be issued if his monthly basic salary is more than S$3,500 and he possesses recognised qualifi cations. 

Q1 Pass 

The Q1 pass is meant for a foreigner whose monthly basic salary is more than S$2,500 and possesses recognised qualifi cations. In addition, compensatory factors such as the applicant’s skills and years of experience may be taken into consideration for Q1 applications. 

Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) 

The Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) is a new pass granted to an individual employment pass (P1, P2 & Q1) holder based on individual merits and the length of working experience in Singapore. It is not tied to an employer. This is to facilitate the contributions of global talent to Singapore, allowing such foreign talent temporary stay of up to six months while evaluating employment opportunities. 

S Pass 

A foreigner whose monthly basic salary is at least S$1,800 is eligible for an S Pass. S Pass applicants will be assessed on a points system, where various criteria such as salary, education qualifi cations, skills, job type and work experience will be taken into account. A levy of S$50 per month is payable by the employer. Effective October 2006, the number of S Pass holders in each company is increased from 5% to 10%, based on the company’s number of local workers. This additional 5% will come from the companies’ existing Work Permit quota, meaning that more S Pass holders can be employed, in lieu of Work Permit holders. 

Work Permit 

A foreigner whose monthly basic salary is not more than S$1,800 will need to apply for a work permit. The permit can be categorised into skilled and unskilled depending on the educational level and the industry sector he/she is employed under. A levy of S$150 to S$470 per month is payable by the employer. 

Social Security 

Central Provident Fund 

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a compulsory and comprehensive social security savings scheme, to which both employers and employees (citizens and permanent residents) contribute. The aim of the Fund is to provide fi nancial security for wage-earners in their retirement. In addition, the CPF Board has introduced various schemes for members that cater to home-ownership, insurance, hospitalisation, investments and education at approved local institutions. 

Effective 1 July 2007, the maximum contribution for employees and employers are 20% and 14.5% of wages respectively, on a monthly salary ceiling of S$4,500. For employees aged above 50, the maximum total contribution will be 28.5% with effect from 1 July 2007. Contributions paid into the CPF are allocated primarily to an employee’s Ordinary Account in the CPF. Additional accounts are the Special Account and the Medisave Account.

CPF withdrawals may be made when the CPF member: 

  • reaches age 55 after setting aside his/her CPF Minimum Sum and Medisave Required Amount; or
  • is permanently disabled; or
  • leaves 

Foreign Worker Levy

Employers of foreign workers holding work permits processed by the Work Pass Division of the Ministry of Manpower are required to pay levies for foreign workers. These are workers in the construction, manufacturing and marine industries as well as domestic servants. Different rates are applicable to different industries. 

Skills Development Fund

Employers are subject to a Skills Development Fund (SDF) levy of 1% on the emoluments of employees earning up to S$2,000 a month. This SDF is used to promote training in skills relevant to Singapore’s economic restructuring efforts and provides training grants for companies to upgrade the skills of their employees. 


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