As a foreigner in Singapore, if you to open your own company and stay in Singapore, you need an EntrePass from MOM. The process is very simple and straightforward, however the waiting time is long (Note: you don’t have to stay in Singapore for the whole time, just for some of the processes).

First, read MOM website and make sure you’re eligible for the pass. You’ll need to write a business plan to describe your business and fill in a long form from MOM. Submit ANY document that you think might help with the application: testimonial, letter of recommendation, etc… If you need to apply pass for your spouse/children, make sure to fill in their details as well. Submit your application at any SingPost office together with your fee.

Now, it could take up to 6 weeks for MOM to get back to you. In may case it was 3 weeks. If they like your business proposal, you will receive a letter from MOM. The letter will state more things you need to do before you can get your pass:

  1. Incorporate a company.
  2. Open a corporate bank account (with the minimum balance stated in the letter).
  3. Fax the business profile, bank account balance and the letter to MOM.

Here’s the tricky part. In order to open a company, you need a SingPass. You can’t have a SingPass if you don’t have a valid pass. You can’t have a pass if you don’t open your company first (according to the letter). These are what they will tell you when you call them on the phone (MOM, SingPass and ACRA). What they don’t tell you is that you can get a SingPass immediately at ACRA office with your letter. Bring your letter and your passport to ACRA office and it should be ready in 15 minutes. Use your SingPass to login and open a company. Note that the ACRA website sucks big time and it could take a while to figure out things, but it can be done ;). Make a payment and you’re done with ACRA (for now). Make sure to request for the business profile after you incoporated, you’ll need it.

Bring your business profile to any bank in Singapore and open a business account, ask them for a statement. Then fax your papers to MOM, and wait. It took me exactly 2 weeks for MOM to finally approved my application.

You’ll need something called banker’s guarantee to finish your application. This can be done at any bank, I picked DBS as they’re my usual bank. It takes up to 7 days for them to issue this, so if you don’t have time, do it as soon as you fax the paper to MOM. You need a format for the bank to issue a banker’s guarantee, you can call MOM to ask them for the format, or you can download it here (MOM sent me this one). Make sure the banker’s guarantee expire date is longer than the valid period of your pass, otherwise it’ll be shorten. Since DBS charge 1% per year or a minimum of 100 SGD, you might as well ask for a 3 years period to maximize your value. Note that the banker’s guarantee can be applied from any branch but only can be collected at DBS Shenton Way.

After everything is ready, make an e-appointment on MOM website. Bring all the documents needed in the IPA letter to your appointment. After 4 working days, go there again to collect the pass. Yay!

If you have any question, ping me @ jason@jasondinh.com or on twitter @xuki, I might be able to help with my little experience :-). Good luck.