How to get PR and citizenship in Singapore with a business or investment

Written by Andrew Henderson
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Dateline: Singapore

In the world of second citizenships, Singapore is about as good as it gets in some ways.

A Singapore passport comes with excellent visa-free travel that rivals or exceeds most developed North American and European countries. Taxes in Singapore are levied on a territorial basis, meaning that citizenship in Singapore has no effect on your offshore companies or investments.

Additionally, Singapore is one of the world’s most peaceful countries, has zero net debt, and is the second freest economy on earth.

There are downsides, however. For example, compulsory military service for all men. And dual citizenship in Singapore is prohibited.

Obtaining Singapore PR — short for permanent residence — is one way to take advantage of most benefits that come with citizenship, including the right to live in Singapore full-time, while avoiding some of the issues that come with citizenship in Singapore.

For years, obtaining Singapore PR was easy. The country — which is currently celebrating “SG50”, its 50th birthday — was built on immigration and diversity. English is the official language of Singapore, but the city-state is a mix of Chinese, Malaysians, Indians, and folks from all around the world.

On top of that, Singapore’s banking sector largely employs expats who hail from literally all over. It’s a very worldly city, and immigration has played a big role in Singapore’s ascension to one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

However, Singapore’s government has started to listen to frustrated Singapore natives who feel foreigners are taking their jobs and driving up prices on everything from real estate to certificates of entitlement to buy cars.

As a result, moving to Singapore as a legal resident has become harder. However, getting in the country isn’t that hard if you have a decent business idea or millions of dollars to invest, but the rules have changed.

Obtaining permanent residence is a process that now takes up to two years after spending the first year of residence in the country. That’s an eternity for such a tiny country with such an efficient government.

While that means you could qualify for citizenship in Singapore after eight or nine years, immigration authorities are making it harder to become a naturalized Singaporean and get the coveted citizenship as well.

My friends on the ground here tell my the government is now looking at citizenship applicants’ volunteer work, tax records, and other factors before deciding whether to grant them a Singapore passport.

If you don’t mind the high cost of living in Singapore, here are several ways to become a Singapore resident, past and present:

Singapore EntrePass

Entrepreneurs may have read about Singapore’s second residency program that extends visas to those willing to start a Singapore company and hire one or two workers. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this program is basically dead.

I warned readers more than two years ago that the EntrePass program would become far more difficult, and it has. Qualifying now requires grants or venture capital funding from a state university or a short list of approved financiers.

You used to be able to open an ice cream parlor, put S$250,000 into the company, hire a few Singapore residents, and get your EntrePass.

Not anymore.

Singapore Employment Pass

There are two categories of work passes offered to employees as well as entrepreneurs. Of course, skilled workers can qualify for a skilled worker pass to perform jobs that are in high-demand in Singapore.

However, entrepreneurs can now hire themselves as directors of their own Singapore company. Companies here are not cheap to start because local directors are required on top of an annual audit. Nor is Singapore a tax haven; businesses pay up to 17% tax on worldwide income.

However, if you can make a compelling case as to why you need to move to Singapore to run your company — for instance because you are opening up a new market in Asia — you may be able to get a work permit to be an employee of your own company.

Obtaining a Singapore Employment Pass as an entrepreneur is not for newbies or the stingy, though. As a director of your own company, you will be expected to pay yourself a salary of around S$125,000 — a little less than US$100,000 — in order to live here.

In addition to the relatively high costs of incorporating in Singapore, a director of a Singapore company living in Singapore will pay a personal income tax of 20% on his or her salary. The business will also be expected to show some profit, which will be taxable.

That means that your business costs to live in Singapore will be at least US$30,000 per year in business and salary taxes, plus the high cost of living here. In just one example, I found a decent 100 sqm apartment with a view of Marina Bay for US$6,500 a month.

Global Investor Program

If you’re a high net worth individual who isn’t turned off by the multi-million dollar housing prices or the $50,000 price tag to buy a permit for a car (NOT the car itself), Singapore’s Global Investor Program may be of interest to you.

As Singapore becomes more particular about who it lets immigrate, its Global Investor Program mirrors this level of scrutiny.

Not only are investors under this migration scheme expected to bring millions of dollars into the country, they are also expected to have business experience and a stake in a company doing as high as $50 million a year in revenue.

Becoming a citizen in Singapore isn’t as easy as some make it sound. There is no way to obtain citizenship here in only two or three years; becoming a permanent resident may take at least that long.

If you are interested in living in Singapore and have a business or investments that can support the high cost of living and other requirements, it is possible to obtain second residency in Singapore now and — if you keep your nose clean — citizenship within roughly a decade.

That said, there are much cheaper options for the casual citizenship seeker or someone who wants dual citizenship or is unwilling to renounce their existing citizenship.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Feb 7, 2020 at 3:05PM

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19 Comments

  1. share

    Grеat article.

    Reply
  2. Omer

    All games for people with hefty amounts money, Nothing for ordinary people.

    Reply
  3. SURENDRA SHARMA

    I need more info about it.

    Reply
  4. sh3r

    good insight

    Reply
  5. Gilberto Dominguez

    I run and manage my own company in Tanzania Africa but wish residency and citizenship in Singapore because I am expanding my business ventures into Asia and nearby markets. I certainly earn more than $50,000,000. Singapore dollars per year in business profits. My earnings are not taxed in Tanzania because their Investment center qualifies my company for a 10 tax holiday. Since I will be earning all of my income outside of Singapore then Singapore will also not tax my income.

    The problem is the best way to obtain singapore residency and citizenship.

    Reply
    • Long Nguyen

      Hi, just a little bit curious may I ask what business are you in ?

      Reply
    • Long Nguyen

      Hi, just a little curious may I ask what business are you in

      Reply
  6. Pawan Sharma

    Hi my name is pawan sharma from india and my company name is bright future Consultancy I will investment in singhpour five lac U S dolor

    Reply
  7. sargealsamiulahamed

    i need a cityzenship in singapore

    Reply
  8. sargealsamiulahamed

    neea a cityzenship

    Reply
  9. Long Nguyen

    Hi Gilberto Dominguez, just a little curious may I ask what business are you in ?

    Reply
    • richard

      coltan business

      Reply
  10. Nisha

    I want to settle in Singapore

    Reply
  11. Gilberto Dominguez

    Yes sorry, I did not notice your inquiry until today. I have not been keeping up with this website. However I own a mining equipment sale and leasing company and a division of that company in gold mining. We also have business interest in Rel Estate Development in Vietnam if you care to become a part of our company and join us as a joint venture partner.

    Reply
    • gam zo

      yeh, right, makes 50 million sing dollars a year and looking for investors on the comment section…hhhahaha

      Reply
  12. Gilberto Dominguez

    My second post here is directed at Mr. Long Nguyen

    Reply
  13. Felicia Lew

    Currently I am Hong Kong citizen. What is criterion to apply Singapore citizen as a investor?

    Reply
  14. Ronald casio

    I’m an English /Spanish translator from the USA hee on Panama. I also help start ups obtain seed funding. I’m highly interested in becoming a Singaporean resident. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thanks to all

    Reply
  15. gam zo

    the city-state is NOT a mix of “Chinese, Malaysians, Indians, and folks from all around the world”.
    Singapore is 86% chinese and many visible and hidden immigration policies are making sure it will stay chinese.
    So the question is, with all due respect for chinese – who really want to become a country of chinese, with
    all the implications, like state controlled media, corporal punishments and snitchers everywhere, telling the authorities how you walk and how you talk just because you are not…chinese…

    Reply

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