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Self employed foreigner in Singapore - possible?

Posted: Wed, 25 Nov 2015 4:21 pm
by Thomas Gude

This question has probably already been answered a few times on the forum but did a search and couldn't really find anything specific.

I am a UK citizen who has just recently moved here with my fiancee as she has a 4.5 month (although likely to be extended) contract with a film vfx studio. I am here on a 90day tourist visa although I intend to change this to an extended visitors pass if my circumstances don't change (read on). We tried to apply for a Dependent's Pass but you have to be married and we only got engaged last month, although we have been living together for the last 5 years.

I am a Design Engineer but I have also worked in events as well as film production. I have been applying for engineering based jobs but, like most, I have been getting little bite. I think mostly due to the visa restrictions and short stay in SG (fair).

I also want to apply for event and film jobs, however not having a EP obviously prevents me from doing so as everyone who works in these industries are self employed freelancers. In fact I have been working for the past year in the UK as a freelancer.

So my question is: What processes and restrictions are there in applying for self employed status in Singapore as a foreigner? Is it even possible?

Apologies for all the waffle but I think its good to give the whole picture so people can see what the situation is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated - especially from anyone who's been in the same situation.


Re: Self employed foreigner in Singapore - possible?

Posted: Wed, 25 Nov 2015 4:37 pm
by Thomas Gude

Tuns out the "similar topics" shown after I posted this tell me a lot.

So it looks like I would only be able to become self employed from already being employed on an EP or PEP. Is this correct?

To become self employed would I need to set up a Ltd company? Is there not an option for registering as a "sole trader"?

I am doing this so I can get some extra cash and not go insane holed up in the apartment all day - in other words I am not expecting to make a big earning. Are there any cost implications? Or an expected income required?


Re: Self employed foreigner in Singapore - possible?

Posted: Thu, 26 Nov 2015 12:10 am
by Strong Eagle
So it looks like I would only be able to become self employed from already being employed on an EP or PEP.

Wrong. In fact, a PEP holder is specifically prohibited from owning and working for her own company, as this was/is a common way for PEP holders nearing the end of their six months of unemployment to all of a sudden "find" a job. An EP holder can go this route... chances are better if the change is made before expiration of the EP as it otherwise looks a lot like a last ditch effort to stay in the country.

Your options are as follows.

a) Have plenty of money, experience in a solid profitable business, customers or contracts in Singapore or proof overseas income and a desire to move to Singapore. Back it up with a business plan, money in the bank, and use a nominee director to form a private limited and apply for your EP. Whether you get it or not depends in a large part whether or not MoM determines you to be legit or one of the many scammers who tries to get into the country by forming a company. Read my threads about the Entrepass, then search my several posts for more info on this subject.

b) Get married. As I recall, you cannot get a legal document from the British Consulate stating that you are common law marriage, therefore, marriage is the only way you can get a dependent's pass (DP) based upon your fiancee's EP. With your DP, you can form a sole proprietorship and apply for a letter of consent (LOC) to work for it. See the several threads in the Careers forum for more information.

To close, I judge it to be nearly impossible for you to get any sort of sole proprietorship going with out a valid permanent residence pass first. It may be very difficult for you to get a LVTP as well since you cannot prove common law marriage and are not formally married. Or... maybe you will be granted LTVP because your finance's job duration is so short... but then again, that plays against them giving you a LOC in a SP because of the short time frames.

I'd plan on being a regional tourist if I were you.

Edit: At the very least, I'd do nothing until you know if your fiance's EP is going to be renewed and for how long. If you're starting out cold, you'll be lucky to find anything in four months.

Re: Self employed foreigner in Singapore - possible?

Posted: Mon, 30 Nov 2015 2:52 pm
by Thomas Gude
Hi Strong Eagle,

Thank you for your reply and candour :-k That has given me a lot to dwell on. Thanks also for clearing up the matter of what is considered a common law marriage in the uk as I did wonder about that.
First options unrealistic for me I think and the second... well watch this space perhaps.

I am still applying for jobs at the moment even if in vain it still gives me something to do lol. If nothing comes of it I hope that I could perhaps do some training / courses here or some volunteer work.


Re: Self employed foreigner in Singapore - possible?

Posted: Tue, 01 Dec 2015 8:58 pm
by Travelwithme