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Can EP Employment Pass Holder Start business and Set up Company in Singapore

Are you an Employment Pass (EP) holder in Singapore wondering if you can start your own business? We look into the opportunities available for EP holders to venture into entrepreneurship in the Lion City. From investing in a friend's company to setting up your own venture, we discuss the various scenarios EP holders can consider.

Can EP Employment Pass Holder Start business
Can EP Employment Pass Holder Start business

We provide guidance on the steps of registering a company in Singapore, understanding the roles of shareholders and directors, and highlighting the differences between EP directors and EntrePass holders. Discover the possibilities that await EP holders looking to start a business in Singapore.


Starting a business in Singapore as an Employment Pass (EP) holder involves navigating various regulations and procedures set by authorities like the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

As an EP holder, it is crucial to understand the steps required for company incorporation in Singapore. You need to apply for an EntrePass with the MOM to establish a company.

Upon approval, the next step involves registering your business with ACRA. Through this process, you will be appointed as a director of the company, which carries legal responsibilities. It is imperative to ensure compliance with all regulations and guidelines throughout the incorporation journey.

Seeking professional assistance can streamline the incorporation processes and facilitate a smooth start to your business venture.

Can EP Holders Start a Business in Singapore?

EP holders have the opportunity to start a business in Singapore under specific scenarios and guidelines provided by regulatory bodies such as MOM and ACRA.

One key condition for EP holders seeking to engage in business activities in Singapore is to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before venturing into any form of business ownership or management. This approval process ensures compliance with the regulations governing EP holders' involvement in business operations in Singapore.

EP holders must ensure that their business activities align with the scope specified in their work pass. It is imperative for EP holders to adhere strictly to these guidelines to avoid any legal repercussions or violations.

Scenario 1: Investing in a Friend's Company

One possible scenario for EP holders looking to engage in business in Singapore is investing in a friend's existing company, subject to regulatory approval and compliance requirements.

Before proceeding with such an investment, it is crucial for the EP holder to determine the legal implications and consider various factors. The EP holder should check if the investment aligns with the restrictions set by the Singapore government for foreign workers. Seeking approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and ensuring compliance with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) guidelines are essential steps.

Regulatory approvals are imperative to avoid any legal issues that may arise later on. Transparency and accurate documentation are key aspects, underlining the importance of seeking professional advice to navigate through the intricacies of investment regulations in Singapore.

Scenario 2: Setting Up a Company in Singapore as a Foreigner Shareholder

Another scenario for EP holders is setting up a new company in Singapore as a shareholder, entailing the process of incorporation, registration, and compliance with relevant laws.

EP holders looking to establish a company in Singapore must first decide on the business structure and name of the company, ensuring that it complies with the regulations set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

This is followed by the submission of necessary documents to ACRA for company registration. These include the company's constitution, details of shareholders and directors, and the appointment of a company secretary.

It is vital for these individuals to comply with the guidelines from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) concerning the employment of foreign workers and claiming the rights and responsibilities of shareholders.

Scenario 3: Starting a New Venture as an Entrepreneur

EP holders can explore the option of starting a new business venture in Singapore as an entrepreneur, leveraging their skills and expertise in a competitive business landscape.

  1. When embarking on this entrepreneurial journey, one of the key steps for EP holders is obtaining an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) from the Singapore government. This pass is specifically designed for foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish and operate a business in the country. To qualify for the EntrePass, applicants need to meet certain criteria, including having a solid business proposal that demonstrates innovation and economic viability.

  2. EP holders need to conduct thorough market research and create a detailed business plan that outlines their objectives, target market, financial projections, and operational strategies. This plan plays a crucial role not only in the EntrePass application process but also in guiding the overall direction of the business.

Opportunities for EP Holders

EP holders in Singapore can access a range of opportunities to engage in business activities, from investing in existing ventures to establishing new companies.

Opportunities for EP holders in Singapore extend far beyond employment. With the right qualifications and determination, EP holders can seize the opportunity to set up their own businesses in this thriving environment. As a foreigner, starting a company in Singapore may seem daunting, but with the proper guidance and support, EP holders can navigate the process smoothly.

Whether you wish to register a Singapore company, become a director and shareholder, or explore various business entities, EP holders have the flexibility to establish their presence in the Singaporean business landscape. With the ability to live, work, and actively participate in the corporate realm, EP holders can unlock a world of opportunities and contribute to Singapore's dynamic economy.

Steps to Register a Company in Singapore

Registering a company in Singapore as an EP holder involves several key steps, starting from choosing a company name to opening a corporate bank account.

Once you have decided on a suitable company name that complies with the regulatory requirements, the next step is to engage a reputable corporate service provider who can guide you through the incorporation process. They will assist you in preparing the necessary documents, such as the memorandum and articles of association, and obtaining all the relevant approvals from authorities.

After this, the crucial task of registering your company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) comes into play. This involves submitting the required paperwork, including details of shareholders, directors, and the company's activities.

Once your company is successfully registered, the final step is to set up a corporate bank account to conduct your business transactions. This is vital for separating personal and business finances and ensuring compliance with banking regulations.

Choosing a Singapore Company Name

Selecting a suitable company name is the initial step for EP holders seeking to register a business in Singapore, ensuring compliance with ACRA guidelines and availability checks.

When choosing a company name, EP holders should consider a name that is unique, distinguishable, and reflective of the business's nature or activities. It's vital to conduct a comprehensive search on ACRA's online directory to ensure that the proposed name is not already in use or similar to existing company names.

In addition, the chosen name should not infringe on any trademarks and must comply with regulations regarding offensive or sensitive terms. EP holders should also bear in mind that the company name plays a crucial role in establishing the brand identity and market positioning.

Engaging a Corporate Service Provider (CSP)

EP holders can streamline the company registration process by engaging a reputable Corporate Service Provider (CSP) in Singapore, facilitating compliance with regulatory requirements.

Engaging a Corporate Service Provider (CSP) can streamline the process of setting up a company in Singapore, especially for foreigners navigating the intricacies of Singapore's business landscape. Whether you're applying for an employment pass, establishing a subsidiary company, or registering a Singaporean entity, a CSP can provide invaluable assistance. From facilitating employment pass applications to ensuring compliance with Singapore company law, they play a crucial role in guiding entrepreneurs through the right business structures.

With their expertise, you can focus on starting your business while leaving the administrative tasks, such as appointing resident directors or handling paid-up capital requirements, to professionals well-versed in Singapore's regulatory framework.

One of the primary benefits of involving a Corporate Service Provider is their expertise in navigating the complex legal landscape of business registration.

These professionals have a deep understanding of the regulatory framework and can ensure that all necessary documentation is prepared accurately and submitted promptly.

Additionally, CSPs can act as liaisons between the company and regulatory entities, simplifying communication and expediting the approval process.

Gathering Required Documents

EP holders must gather the necessary documents such as identification proofs, passports, and business plans to fulfil the requirements for company registration in Singapore.

Aside from the basic identification documents like NRIC, passport, or employment pass, EP holders need to provide a detailed business proposal outlining their company's objectives, structure, and key activities. This proposal should include a comprehensive business plan which covers market analysis, financial projections, and operational strategies.

Plus these, documents required by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) may also be necessary, such as proof of address, shareholder agreements, and company constitution. Ensuring that all the necessary paperwork is in order is crucial for a smooth and efficient company registration process in Singapore.

Company Registration with ACRA

The next crucial step for EP holders is the actual company registration with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore, marking the formal establishment of the business.

When proceeding with the registration process, the EP holder needs to ensure that all necessary documentation, such as a proposed company name, details of shareholders and directors, and the business activities, are accurately prepared.

Once the documents are in order, they must be submitted to ACRA for review and approval, which includes compliance checks to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements.

Following successful validation, ACRA issues a Certificate of Incorporation and a Business Profile, signifying the completion of the registration process and granting the company legal recognition in Singapore.

Opening a Corporate Bank Account

EP holders must finalise the company setup process by opening a corporate bank account in Singapore, enabling financial transactions and business operations.

Opening a corporate bank account is a crucial step for EP holders post company registration. One of the primary benefits is the ability to segregate personal and business finances, ensuring clear distinction between the two realms. This segregation not only simplifies financial tracking but also enhances financial transparency and credibility, vital for accounting and audit purposes. With a dedicated corporate bank account, managing transactions becomes more efficient, allowing for streamlined record-keeping and easier access to financial data for analysis and decision-making.

Understanding Shareholders and Local Directors

EP holders in Singapore need a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of shareholders and directors within a company structure to ensure compliance and effective management.

  1. Shareholders play a pivotal role in a company as they are the individuals who own a portion of the company through the shares they hold. Their main responsibility is to participate in key decision-making processes, such as appointing or removing directors, approving significant company transactions, and distributing profits.

  2. On the other hand, directors are responsible for managing the company's operations, making strategic decisions, and ensuring that the company complies with all regulatory requirements. To protect the interests of shareholders, directors must act in the best interest of the company, exercise due care and diligence, and adhere to their fiduciary duties.

Can EP Holders Be Shareholders?

Can EP holders be shareholders? Absolutely. EP holders, whether they're foreigners or residents of Singapore, can indeed hold shares in a company in Singapore. Whether you've already incorporated a company in Singapore or are in the process of setting one up, EP holders can play a pivotal role as shareholders, directors, or both. Singapore offers various business structures, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and companies, allowing entrepreneurs who wish to start and operate a business in this dynamic city-state to choose the right structure for their ventures.

Additionally, EP holders can also or letter of consent to manage any business in Singapore, ensuring they can fully participate in the thriving business opportunities this country has to offer.

EP holders are eligible to become shareholders in Singapore companies, subject to the restrictions and guidelines outlined by regulatory authorities like MOM and ACRA.

EP holders are allowed to hold shares in private limited companies registered in Singapore; however, they are prohibited from engaging in entrepreneurial or business activities without obtaining further permissions. The regulatory framework ensures that EP holders do not exceed a certain percentage of ownership in a company which is usually capped at 30%. EP holders are required to comply with reporting and disclosure obligations to MOM and ACRA, ensuring transparency and accountability in their shareholding activities.

Differences Between EP Directors and EntrePass Holders

Understanding the distinctions between EP directors and EntrePass holders is crucial for EP holders navigating the nuances of company leadership and management in Singapore.

EP directors, also known as Employment Pass holders, play a vital role in overseeing the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of a company in Singapore. They are required to meet specific eligibility criteria, including possessing relevant qualifications and experience, demonstrating the ability to contribute to the local economy, and holding a senior position within the organisation.

On the other hand, EntrePass holders are entrepreneurs who establish and operate their own businesses in Singapore. They must demonstrate innovative business ideas, invest a certain amount of capital, and fulfil other entrepreneurial criteria set by the authorities.

EP Director

An EP director in Singapore is an individual authorised to oversee and manage the operations of a company, requiring compliance with regulatory standards and corporate governance principles.

It is crucial for an EP director to possess a deep understanding of the company's business activities, its financial position, and strategic objectives. This role requires the director to actively participate in board meetings, decision-making processes, and ensure that all actions are aligned with the company's mission and values.

The EP director is responsible for maintaining effective communication channels between the board, shareholders, management, and other stakeholders, fostering transparency and accountability. Legal duties include ensuring compliance with the Companies Act, maintaining proper financial records, and safeguarding company assets.

Qualifications for an EP director typically include a strong educational background in business, finance, or law, coupled with relevant industry experience. Professional certifications such as the Chartered Director (CDir) or Certified Governance Professional (CGP) can enhance credibility and competence in fulfilling the responsibilities of this crucial position.

EntrePass Holder

EntrePass holders in Singapore are entrepreneurs granted the opportunity to establish and operate businesses in the country, subject to specific criteria and regulatory approval.

Eligibility criteria for EntrePass holders include having a business that is registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and owning at least 30% of the company's shares. They should have a solid business plan that demonstrates the potential for job creation and contribution to the local economy.

EntrePass holders are expected to comply with various obligations such as employing local workers, maintaining a certain level of business spending, and meeting annual business revenue targets as outlined by the authorities.

Excluded Business Types for EntrePass

Certain business activities are excluded from eligibility under the EntrePass scheme in Singapore, with restrictions placed on specific industries and ventures.

Under the EntrePass scheme in Singapore, there are certain types of businesses and sectors that are not permitted to apply for this visa. These include activities related to retail, food and beverage services, as well as traditional hawker centres. Businesses involved in massage parlours, geomancy services, and employment agencies are also excluded from the EntrePass scheme.

The restrictions and regulations are in place to ensure that the EntrePass scheme supports innovative and high-growth ventures that contribute significantly to the Singaporean economy. Compliance criteria for eligible businesses under the EntrePass scheme include demonstrating a solid business plan, innovative products or services, as well as the potential for job creation and growth.


EP holders seeking to establish and operate businesses in Singapore must adhere to regulatory frameworks, engage with relevant authorities, and fulfil compliance requirements to ensure the success and legality of their ventures.

The Employment Pass (EP) is a valuable work visa that allows foreign professionals to work and potentially start a business in Singapore.

When venturing into entrepreneurship, EP holders need to navigate the regulatory landscape efficiently. Close collaboration with entities such as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is essential. Complying with legal standards, keeping accurate records, and meeting reporting obligations are critical aspects for maintaining operational transparency and upholding ethical practices in business endeavours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an Employment Pass (EP) holder start a business in Singapore?

Yes, an EP holder is allowed to start a business in Singapore. The EP is a work visa that allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore, and it also allows them to register and run their own business.

What are the requirements for an EP holder to start a business in Singapore?

To start a business in Singapore as an EP holder, you must first obtain approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). You must also have a valid EP, a business plan, and sufficient funds to cover the business expenses.

Can an EP holder register a business on their own?

Yes, an EP holder can register a business on their own. However, they must fulfill the necessary requirements and procedures set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and MOM.

What type of business can an EP holder register in Singapore?

As an EP holder, you can register any type of business in Singapore, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or private limited company. However, certain business activities may require additional licenses or permits.

Can an EP holder be the sole director and shareholder of a company?

Yes, an EP holder can be the sole director and shareholder of a company in Singapore. However, for private limited companies, there must be at least one local director who is either a Singapore citizen, permanent resident, or an Employment Pass holder.

Is there any restriction on the EP holder's involvement in the business?

No, there are no restrictions on an EP holder's involvement in the business. They are allowed to actively manage and run their business, as long as they have a valid EP and comply with the relevant laws and regulations.


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