Singapore’s Economic Development Board announces the launch of the Tech.Pass, a new work pass for top-tier foreign tech talents

Lisa ThengManaging Partner, CNPLaw LLP

A. Introduction

As an expansion of the Tech@SG programme launched by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) in 2019, the EDB has announced the launch of a new work pass in Singapore – the Tech.Pass.

The Tech.Pass, which is administered by the EDB and supported by the Ministry of Manpower, is targeted at top-tier foreign professionals and experts looking to start businesses, lead corporate teams or teach in Singapore.

Pass holders are granted the flexibility and freedom to pursue a range of activities, such as starting and operating a business, being an investor, employee, consultant or director in Singapore-based companies, mentoring companies, conducting corporate training or workshops, or lecturing at institutes of higher learning.


B. Eligibility

Applicants must meet at least two of the three following requirements:

  • Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary in the past year of at least S$20,000 (or its equivalent in foreign currency).
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation or market cap of at least US$500 million or at least US$30 million funding and beyond
  • Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least US$100 million in revenue. Examples of what would constitute a leading role include making major contributions to the design, development, and/or deployment of a tech product.

Unlike the Employment Pass, which requires the sponsorship of an employer, the Tech.Pass will be tied to the individual, who can apply for the pass directly and need not secure employment in Singapore prior to their application. Applicants will be assessed based on their track record and prior experience in leading teams or developing a tech product.

While existing Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass, or EntrePass holders who meet the Tech.Pass criteria may apply if they can also meet the prevailing eligibility or renewal criteria of their respective work passes, they should consider whether they require the flexibilities provided by the Tech.Pass and if their existing pass is sufficient for the activities that they undertake in Singapore.


C. Applications, length of pass and renewals

Up to 500 passes will be available, on a first come first serve basis, with applications for passes commencing in January 2021. Each Tech.Pass will be valid for two years in the first instance.

A one-time renewal for a subsequent two years may be granted, subject to the satisfaction of certain criteria, including minimum requirements in respect of assessable income or total annual business spending. Pass holders also have to be performing at least two prescribed roles at the time of renewal, including at least one of:  founding a company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service, or serving a leading role in a Singapore-based tech company, being employed in a technical role leading a team in a Singapore-based company.


The EDB’s press release is available at this link.


Disclaimer: This update is provided to you for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.


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Contributing Advisors

Subramanian PillaiPartner, CNPLaw LLP