Singapore: Country and Foreign Investment
Entry and Residence
Visitors to Singapore must meet the following entry requirements:
- A travel document such as a passport or permit, valid for a minimum of six months;
- An onward or return ticket;
- Entry facilities to their next destination; and
- Sufficient funds to stay in Singapore.
Visitors from the following countries require either a business visa or a social visit visa: Afghanistan; Algeria; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Burma (Myanmar); Egypt; Georgia; India; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Libya; Moldova; Morocco; Nigeria; Pakistan; People’s Republic of China; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; and Yemen. Holders of a Hong Kong Document of Identity, a Macao Special Administrative Region Travel Permit, a Palestinian Authority Passport, a temporary passport issued by the United Arab Emirates or a Refugee Travel Document issued by Middle-East countries must also apply for a visa.
Those wishing to work in Singapore require a Work Pass, which can be one of the following:
- Employment pass – for foreigners earning a fixed monthly salary of more than SGD3,000 and having recognised qualifications.
- Personalised employment pass – for either overseas foreign professionals whose last drawn monthly salary overseas was at least SGD12,000; foreign graduates from institutions of higher learning in Singapore; and those who currently hold an employment pass.
- S pass – for mid-level skilled foreigners earning a fixed monthly salary of at least SGD2,000.
- Work permit – for unskilled foreign workers.
- Dependant’s pass – Employment Pass and certain S Pass holders can apply for this pass for their spouse and for unmarried or legally adopted children under age 21 to live with them in Singapore.
There are various other Work Passes, including for employment of foreign students, training employment, the work holiday programme and work passes for foreign spouses of Singapore citizens.
Foreigners eligible to apply for permanent residence in Singapore are:
- Spouses, unmarried children aged under 21 and aged parents of Singapore citizens and Singapore permanent residents;
- Work pass holders; and
- Investors who have substantial capital investment in the country and entrepreneurs with a proven track record, under a scheme run by the Singapore Economic Development Board which aims to attract foreign investors and businesses to Singapore.
Note that all male Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents must register for National Service on reaching 16½ years of age. They must serve two years of full-time National Service from 18 years, followed by 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service per year till the age of 50 years (for officers) or 40 years (for other ranks).
Singapore Permanent Residents who wish to travel out of Singapore must obtain a Re-Entry Permit to enable the person to retain permanent residence status while away from Singapore. Failure to do so will result in the person automatically losing their Singapore Permanent Resident status.
An individual is generally assumed to be tax resident if they are present in Singapore for longer than 183 days during a year, or is present in Singapore in the year preceding the year of assessment.
However, there are two and three year administrative concessions in place (for foreign employees, generally). In the former instance, an individual residing or working in Singapore for a continuous 183 days over a 2 year period (except if they are a company director or public entertainer) will be deemed tax resident in Singapore for both years, even if they would not otherwise be deemed to be tax resident due to the start or end date of their stay.
Under the three year concession, a foreign individual residing or working in Singapore for three consecutive years can be tax resident for all three years, even if the number of days spent in Singapore is less than 183 in their departure and arrival years.
Benefits are also afforded under the ‘Not Ordinarily Resident’ scheme for certain expatriate workers, and with the primary benefit being tax exemption on the portion of Singapore employment income corresponding to time spent outside of Singapore on business trips, as long as the worker in question has been resident in Singapore for the two years prior to the year of assessment, spends at least 90 days out of Singapore on business, and has total Singapore employment income of SGD160,000.
Pre-assignment income remitted to Singapore is also exempted, as is the employer’s contribution to a non-mandatory overseas pension fund or social security scheme.
These benefits do not apply to directors’ fees, which are taxable in full, and as the scheme is primarily directed at not ordinarily resident employees, it is likely to be of limited interest to self-employed expatriates and business owners.