Singapore has become one of the most attractive destinations for high and ultra-high-net-worth individuals to move to educate their children and store their wealth. However, moving to the city-state has become a lot more expensive, quadrupling in price.
Ranking 30th on the Nomad Passport Index, 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, as well as the 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 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.
Navigating the permanent residence and citizenship world has become increasingly complex and is rapidly changing. Apply to become a Nomad Capitalist client, and we will help you secure the right second residence and passport and legally go where you are treated best.
Singapore Permanent Residence
For years, obtaining Singapore permanent residence was easy. The country, which was built on immigration and diversity, celebrated its 58th birthday in 2023. 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 significant 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 into the country isn’t that hard if you have a decent business idea or multi-millions of dollars to invest, but the rules have changed.
Obtaining permanent residence is a process that theoretically 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.
If you don’t mind the high cost of living in Singapore, here are several ways to become a Singapore resident:
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.
Suppose 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. In that case, 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$250,000, a little more than $182,000, 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 22% on their salary. The business will also be expected to show some profit, which will be taxable.
Global Investor Program
Singapore has long had a global investor program, which has always been more expensive than similar European programs.
If you’re a high net-worth individual, who isn’t turned off by the multi-million dollar housing prices or upwards of $106,000 to buy a permit that allows you to own a car. 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, but they are also expected to have business experience and a stake in a company with millions a year in revenue.
The options include:
- A minimum investment of SGD 10 Million (USD 7.4 million) in a new local business entity or in the expansion of an existing local business (hiring at least 30 employees)
- A minimum investment of SGD 25 Million (USD 18.5 million) in companies based in Singapore.
- Establishing a Singapore-based family office with assets under management of at least S$200 million (USD 148 million). With at least five years of entrepreneurial, investment, or management experience.
Becoming a citizen in Singapore isn’t easy, and there is no way to obtain citizenship here in only two or three years; becoming a permanent resident may take at least that long. Numbers are not exact, but they do seem to reject a lot of people who apply for permanent residence and citizenship.
Are you interested in living in Singapore and having a business or investments? Can you support the high cost of living and other requirements? Would you like to learn from and mingle with truly successful global entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals?
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