The New Tech.Pass: Easiest Way to Start a Singapore Company

This article provides an overview of the requirements for and procedures to obtain the new Singapore Tech.Pass.

Introducing the new work pass

S ingapore’s government is keen to develop Singapore's status as a tech hub, with the aim of becoming the Silicon Valley of Asia. Numerous programmes and strategies have been implemented to support Singapore’s tech ecosystem, boost the talent pool, and make the country more attractive for global tech professionals to relocate, launch their venture, and pursue their dreams.

One such initiative, Tech.Pass, was introduced in November 2020 by the Economic Development Board (EDB). At the beginning of 2021, Singapore opened applications for this brand new work visa designed to attract highly accomplished tech experts, founders, and upscale foreign tech professionals from well-known and fast-growing tech companies all over the world.

Tech.Pass is basically an expansion of the [email protected] programme launched by EDB in 2019, and is administered by the EDB with support from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The [email protected] programme supports the extension of Singapore's high-potential IT businesses. Both programmes make it easier for fast-growing tech businesses and experienced tech professionals to come to Singapore and settle there. The [email protected] programme also facilitates Employment Pass applications for core technical team members on a company level and reduces the risk of rejections from the MOM.

The goal of the Tech.Pass programme is to contribute to the growth of the Lion City’s technology ecosystem and ensure that Singapore remains globally competitive. By attracting talented foreign tech professionals, Singapore is developing a strong technology base and creating opportunities for the local workforce to work alongside top-tier foreign tech specialists contributing their knowledge and experience to Singapore’s IT industry.

Tech.Pass is targeted at “the movers and shakers of the tech world”, and it will help us to attract talent to Singapore.
Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s Prime Minister

Ben King, director of Google Singapore, said the tech giant welcomes the new Tech.Pass programme to facilitate the growth of Singapore's tech industry.

The article covers the following topics:

Key benefits of Tech.Pass

Tech.Pass lets holders enjoy greater flexibility by allowing them to participate in a broad range of business activities and contribute to Singapore's tech ecosystem without having to apply for different passes. Unlike other work passes, Tech.Pass is tied to an individual, not a company.

Some key benefits of Singapore Tech.Pass:

  • Transit between employers;
  • Become a tech entrepreneur, mentor, consultant and lecturer;
  • Be employed in multiple companies at a time;
  • Be a director and an investor in more than one tech company;
  • Bring spouse, children, and parents to Singapore;
  • No job offer or sponsorship is required from employer.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the new work pass, an applicant must meet any two of the following criteria:

  • Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary of at least S$20,000 (or its equivalent in any foreign currency) during the last 12 months. Candidates with annual income that cumulatively exceeds S$240,000 (or its equivalent in any foreign currency) will also be considered.
  • Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a managing role in a tech company with:
    • a valuation or market cap of at least US$500 million; OR
    • at least US$30 million funding raised.
  • Have at least 5 cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product (e.g., made major contributions to the design or/and deployment of a tech product) that has:
    • at least 100,000 monthly active users; OR
    • at least US$100 million annual revenue.

The Tech.Pass will be valid for two years, and pass holders can apply for one-time renewal for another two years. To apply for the pass renewal, Tech.Pass holders must meet certain eligibility criteria, which are listed further below.

Application procedure

To apply for the Tech.Pass, a candidate must complete the following steps:

1. Prepare to apply.

Before applying for the Tech.Pass, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria as described in the previous section of this article, and prepare relevant supporting documents. Non-English documents must be translated into English by a translation service provider.

The applicant must download and complete the Tech.Pass application form as a soft copy for him or herself and any dependants and get the application form(s) signed.

2. Payment.

The application form automatically generates a payment reference number. Before submitting the application and relevant documents, follow the payment steps stated on the application form and proceed with payment. The application fee of S$105 is non-refundable.

The payment can be settled via PayNow or wire transfer.

3. Submit an application.

When all documents are ready and full payment is received by EDB, Tech.Pass applicants should submit the online Tech.Pass application form via this MOM webpage. The whole application process should not take more than 30 minutes. In this form, the candidate must indicate personal contact details and upload the following supporting documents:

  • Completed and signed application form;
  • Screenshot of banking page confirming the payment;
  • Travel document page indicating the applicant’s personal particulars;
  • Documents confirming relationship with the applicant’s dependants (if applicable) and dependants’ Verification of Vaccination Requirements document issued by the Health Promotion Board (if required);
  • Documents confirming that the relevant eligibility criteria are met. These documents should be uploaded via this MOM webpage before or after submission of the Tech.Pass application. Depending on which criteria the applicant is using to support the application, the relevant confirming documents should be uploaded:
    • Criterion 1:
      • Applicant’s payslips for the past 3 months, or latest tax statements.
    • Criterion 2:
      • Company valuation report, annual report or financial statements, with company valuation highlighted;
      • Company funding data;
      • Other documents indicating valuation, e.g. public sources such as Pitchbook or Crunchbase.
    • Criterion 3:
      • Product monthly active users reports;
      • Screenshots of application download figures;
      • Other documents indicating product monthly active users or revenue generated from such products (e.g. pitch document).

NOTE: Only the Tech.Pass applicant can use this form to submit the application for him- or herself or any dependants. If an applicant wishes to apply for the relevant pass for a dependant, a separate application should be submitted via the same webpage (i.e. the form should be submitted twice). 

4. Application processing.

The EDB will start processing the application only after it has received full payment and a full set of documents. It takes around 8 weeks to process the application. It may take longer if additional information is required.

If the application is approved, Tech.Pass applicants will receive an in-principle approval (IPA) letter by email. Once the IPA has been received, the candidate has 6 months to enter Singapore and get the pass issued. This period cannot be further extended.

5. Get the pass issued.

Within 6 months of receiving the IPA letter, the candidate must travel to Singapore to request to issue the pass. The relevant application can be submitted through EP Online (if the applicant has a SingPass), or in person at the MOM Employment Pass Services Centre with a prior appointment.

Your Tech.Pass will be issued by MOM and the card issuance fee is S$225 for each pass.

Tech.Pass and starting your own company

Besides other notable advantages, the Tech.Pass immigration scheme also allows you to start up your own tech company, and even multiple companies, in an easy and simple way. Tech.Pass holders are also permitted to serve on the Board of Directors of a Singapore company and be an investor in more than one Singapore-based company (not necessarily a tech company).

If you are already employed under Tech.Pass and have come up with an idea to incorporate your own company in Singapore, Tech.Pass provides a way to switch your status from “employee” to “entrepreneur” without special efforts or complicated application procedures. As Tech.Pass is not tied to a company or employer you can easily set up your company without having to apply for different passes.

Also, note that having a tech company incorporated in Singapore will give you strong grounds to prolong the duration of your pass for another two subsequent years, if the relevant eligibility criteria for the renewal are satisfied, as described below in this article.

Singapore is well known for its fast, straightforward and simple process of company formation. In most cases, a new business venture can be incorporated in a matter of days, if not hours. If you are interested in starting a Singapore company and looking for a streamlined way to do that, we would be delighted to have you as our client. We offer a full-range of corporate services in Singapore.

Renewing your Tech.Pass

Tech.Pass holders can apply for pass renewal after 2 years. Tech.Pass can be renewed just once. To be eligible to apply, the pass holder must meet one of the following conditions:

  1. Have earned at least S$240,000 in assessable income based on the latest Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The Notice of Assessment can be made up of salaries and/or business income, or
  2. Demonstrate total annual business spending of at least S$100,000 and employ:
    1. at least 1 local professional, manager, and executive (Singaporean or Singapore PR) who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,900 and receive CPF contributions for at least 3 months, as aligned with the definition in the EntrePass renewal criteria; OR
    2. 3 Singaporeans and Singapore PRs who earn a monthly salary of at least S$1,400 and receive CPF contributions for at least 3 months, as aligned with the definition in the EntrePass renewal criteria.

Also, one of the renewal requirements is to perform at least two achievements listed below, one of which must be in Column A:

A B
A1. Founded a tech company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service B1. Served on Board of Directors of a Singapore company (not necessarily of a tech company)
A2. Performed a leading role (e.g. CEO, CTO, APAC MD) in a Singapore tech company B2. Acted as advisor or mentor to a Singapore startup
A3. Performed a leading role in two or more Singapore tech companies B3. Served as professor, lecturer, adjunct professor, or adjunct lecturer in a Singapore Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)
A4. Employed by a Singapore company in a technical role (e.g. senior engineer or senior researcher) leading a team in a particular tech field

B4. Provided training in some form not covered by paragraphs B2 or B3 (e.g. workshops or corporate training classes)

A5. Employed in a technical role leading a team in two or more Singapore companies B5. Invested in one or more Singapore tech companies

If you do not meet the renewal criteria, check our guide to understand whether you meet the requirements for other Singapore work passes to continue working and living in Singapore.

Immigration options for family members

Tech.Pass holders are allowed to bring their family members to Singapore. Family members can move to Singapore on either a Dependant Pass (DP), or a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by MOM.

The following family members are eligible for a DP issued by MOM:

  • A legally married spouse;
  • Unmarried children under 21, including those legally adopted.

The following family members are eligible for a LTVP issued by MOM:

  • A common-law spouse;
  • Unmarried disabled children above 21;
  • Unmarried stepchildren below 21;
  • Parents.

Final thoughts

Tech.Pass is part of Singapore's ongoing efforts to establish itself as an unrelenting leader in the global tech industry. As this program anchors and supports the advancement of Singapore's high-potential tech businesses, it will be of interest to tech investors, experts and entrepreneurs. The programme was initially opened with a quota of just 500 places available since its launch in January 2021. Applications are assessed based on a first come first served basis.

If you’re an established tech expert looking for a great opportunity and a better lifestyle, Singapore is one of the most dynamic, exciting, and modern places to live and work. Even if it is quite easy to apply for the Tech.Pass in comparison to other visa programmes, there are still some things you need to be aware of.

Tech.Pass is a newly launched work pass category with a restrictive quota basis, which involves multiple stages and requires meticulously prepared documentation. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure you choose a reliable and experienced service provider who will analyze your credentials and contribute to a positive result for your application.

We offer a full range of company incorporation, accounting, tax, immigration, and related corporate services in Singapore. If you have any questions or need our assistance, feel free to contact us.

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