Recruitment in Singapore

Recruitment in Singapore: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the monthly cost of using an Umbrella Company in Singapore? 

5% with a minimum of $350 USD.


What is the cost of a Work Permit in Singapore?

Currently it’s only $250 USD.

How long does it take to get a work permit in Singapore?

4 weeks.

What is the estimated net retention in Singapore for a contractor earning USD 500 per day?

*update pending

What is the estimated net retention in Singapore for a contractor earning USD 1000 per day?

Between 83-86%.

Read more about the work permit process.

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Recruitment in Singapore can be a challenge, but you don’t have to drown in time-consuming admin just to place a candidate. You can simplify complications by using an Umbrella Company (or “contractor management company”), as long as you pick the right one.

Skip ahead to find out how we can help you place candidates faster, or simply read on to find out more about the specific issues you’ll face.

Placing a new contractor in Singapore: what are the challenges?


Recruiting in Singapore generally requires a lot of complex admin duties, and contractors might end up paying too much in taxes or failing to comply with Singapore tax law. It’s important to know what kind of concerns you’ll be facing.

  • Double taxation: Contractors can incur a tax liability in both their home country and in Singapore. Many countries have agreements that mitigate this type of issue, but whether or not you can take advantage of them will depend on factors like the length of the contractor’s stay, or the laws of the contractor’s home country. You can learn more about double taxation here (note: this info was written with respect to the UK, but the general concepts will still apply).
  • Withholding tax: If a foreign company is used to provide services overseas, the payments made to that company by the Singapore client could be liable for withholding tax under Singapore tax law. Find out more about withholding tax.
  • Individual taxation and tax residency: A contractor’s tax liability will often be determined by his or her residency status in their home country and in Singapore. Figuring out their tax residency can be difficult and is often tied to the length of their stay in Singapore (or out of their home country). Read more about tax residency and individual tax liability here.
  • Permanent establishment: Most double taxation agreements limit the scope of taxation in the host country by providing that a business is only taxable in another state if it has a permanent establishment in that state. A permanent establishment is a fixed base such as a branch, office, factory, workshop, mine or oil well. To find out how to avoid permanent establishment and unnecessary tax liability, read more about the issue.

Work permits

Contractors will need to find a sponsored work permit, which can be difficult and may seriously slow the placement process. Additionally, they’ll need a new permit for each new contract, spawning even more paperwork.

See our FAQ to find out more about the cost and processing time of Singapore work permits.

Why use a contractor management company?

An efficient way to manage these problems is to outsource them to a contractor management company. They’ll act as the contractor’s “employer,” handling all of their invoicing, fees, and social security. As Singapore tax experts, they also help contractors comply with local tax law while maximising the amount they get to keep.

A quicker, better recruitment process: Working with an Umbrella Company means saving time, effort, and resources. Higher earnings and a smoother transition also make contracting a more attractive opportunity, helping you place candidates more quickly and successfully.

Still, you’ll need to find the right company for you and your candidate.

How to find the right Umbrella Company?

Making sense of the optionsFor free, we match contractors with Umbrella Companies and can help dramatically reduce waiting times. There are numerous Umbrella Companies in Singapore and each has its own specialties, services, and payment structures. Choosing the right one is crucial, but it can be difficult when you’re facing a bunch of unfamiliar options.

We’ve developed an extensive database of these companies. We can guide you through your options and help connect you with the best company for you and the contractor.

Get in touch: If you want straightforward, honest advice on recruitment in Singapore, we’re easy to contact. Call, e-mail, or chat with us online - for free.

Send your details for more information

Work Permits & Payroll - Frequently Asked Questions


What documentation is required for a Singapore work permit?

Copy of the candidates personal page of their passport, 2 passport photos, copy of their CV, police report (country dependent), certified copies of the candidates educational qualifications.

What is the work permit process in Singapore?

The company sponsoring the work permit (EP) will apply to the Singaporean Immigration Department for the EP and once approved the candidate can enter the country. The process can take place in Singapore without a need for the candidate to leave as long as the candidate has a valid visa. Once the EP is approved the individual may be required to undergo a medical examination, they will also need to have their fingerprints and a photo taken at the Employment Pass Service Centre. The candidate will also need to apply for the SingPass online,  it is used to transact between different government online services.

Can you transfer from a Business Visa to a Work Permit in Singapore?

Yes, you can!

Can we organise Business Visas in Singapore?


How long does it take to process a Business Visa in Singapore?

1 week.

How much does a Work Permit cost in Singapore?

 $150 USD.

Can nationals of certain countries enter Singapore without a Business Visa (ex. on an entry visa or visa waiver)?


Only the following countries do require a Business visa to enter Singapore:
India, Myanmar, Nigeria, China (PRC), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and holders of Palestinian Authority Passport, Temporary Passport issued by the United Arab Emirates, Refugee Travel Document issued by Middle-East countries, Hong Kong Document of Identity, Macao Special Administrative Region Travel Permit.


$4000 SGD.

What is the monthly cost to run a local payroll in Singapore?


5% with a minimum of $350 USD.

How does payroll work in Singapore?


Your employer (the company sponsoring your visa) pays the candidate on a monthly basis. They deduct social security  - where employers contribute 16% of gross salary and employees contribute 20% of gross salary into the CPF. They also deduct income tax - which is progressive and varies from 0-20% (Non-residents pay 15% on employment income and 20% on director's fees, consulting fees and other income) pendant on salary level. These deductions are made at source and paid to the Singapore tax authorities. Candidates are able to offset their taxable income with relevant business expenses. The World Bank estimates it takes employers in Singapore 10 man days to ensure compliance with payroll and labour taxes each year.



Client comment

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Shell International Trading & Shipping