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Malaysians’ Guide To Finding Employment In Singapore

Some Malaysians choose to work in Singapore due to a stronger currency and similar culture.


Today most Malaysians who work overseas are based in Singapore. Located right next to Malaysia, Singapore has a relatively similar culture, stronger currency and gives Malaysians the opportunity to gain international work experience. 

For those planning to work in Singapore, there are a few things you may need to know and prepare prior to securing a job across the causeway. 

Finding A Job – Roadshows, Online Job Portals, Referrals  

One of the ways to secure a job in Singapore is to attend recruitment roadshows in Malaysia. For example, Singapore’s The New paper reported that over 2,500 job hopefuls turned up at a roadshow in Johor Bahru, where only 300 vacancies were listed by Singaporean employers.    

You don’t have to confine yourself to physical roadshows. Online job portals are an equally, if not more popular way to land a job in Singapore. Malaysian job portal Maukerja has a dedicated section for job openings in Singapore. Similarly, you can browse Singapore job portals for openings that accept foreign applicants as well.  

Finding a job through referrals may also improve your chances of landing a job as the hirer would have some idea of your qualifications and ability, and may feel more confident hiring you.  

Work Passes In Singapore – Employment Pass (EP), S Pass, Work Permit  

Singaporean employers will typically apply for a work pass or applicable work visa with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for Malaysian employees. There are several types of work passes available in Singapore, depending on the nature of your work, job level and salary. 

Work Pass   What Is It  Requirements 
Employment Pass (EP)  A work pass for professionals that is valid for two years for new applicants and can be renewed for three years after. 
  • Earn a minimum of S$5,000. Those in the finance industry need to meet a higher minimum salary requirement of at least S$5,500. 
  • Pass the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). COMPASS is a points-based system that awards points to workers based on salary, qualifications, national diversity, and support for local employment. For example, a worker with a degree is awarded 10 points. Meanwhile, a diploma holder doesn’t get any points. Applicants need 40 points to pass. 
  • Be vaccinated with WHO EUL vaccines (including an additional dose when required) 
S Pass  A work pass for skilled and semi-skilled workers that is valid for the first two years and can be renewed for up to three years after.  The S Pass is not available to certain occupations including masseurs, bar and lounge hostesses.


  • Earn a minimum of S$3,150. Those in the finance industry need to meet a higher minimum salary of S$3,650. 
  • Able to provide details of qualifications from accredited institutions and work experience. 
  • Use the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to get an indicative outcome of the application including a COMPASS score. If the tool shows that the candidate is eligible, it indicates that there’s a 90% chance the candidate will get the S Pass. If the tool shows that the candidate is not eligible, then you should not apply as you will be rejected.  
  • Be vaccinated with WHO EUL vaccines (including an additional dose when required) for those who work in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors as well as staying in dormitories. 
Work Permit  For skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers in construction, marine shipyard, process and services sectors that is generally valid for two years. The Work Permit allows holders to work only for the employer for the specific job. 
  • Aged between 18 and 58 years old. 
  • Be vaccinated with WHO EUL vaccines (including an additional dose when required) for those who work in the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors as well as staying in dormitories.  



Read Also: VDR, VP(TE) And EP: Guide To Hiring Foreign Workers For Your Company In Malaysia

Documents Required For Your Work Pass Application 

Before you can start working, employers or employment agencies will need to submit an application for your work pass. It will typically take 10 days to process for EP and S Pass while Work Permits may take about one week. 

You should prepare the following documents beforehand to smoothen the application process for your EP and S Pass: 

  • Personal particulars page of candidate’s passport. 
  • Company’s latest business profile or instant information registered with ACRA. 
  • Additional documents are required for healthcare professionals, lawyers, football players, coaches and workers in the food industry. 

For Work Permit applications, employers will need to submit written consent from the worker. 

After issuance of the work passes, the employers need to check the notification letter to see if the workers need to register their fingerprints and photos.  

If they’re required to do so, workers will need to complete the registration within one to two weeks. Employers of EP holders need to make an appointment for them to head to the Employment Pass Services Centre to complete registration in two weeks’ time. 

For S Pass and Work Permit, employers need to make an appointment for the workers to complete the registration at the Ministry of Manpower Services Centre within a week’s time. 

To complete the registration, candidates will need to prepare the documents below: 

  • Original Passport 
  • Appointment Letter 
  • Notification Letter 

Within five days of registration of the fingerprints and photos, the cards will be delivered to the given address. Recipients will be notified at least one day before the card arrives.    

Paying Tax As A Malaysian Working In Singapore 

Similar to working in Malaysia, you need to pay income tax in Singapore to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). 

The tax scheme applicable to you depends on whether you are considered as a tax resident or not. A foreigner who is considered as a tax resident includes someone who has stayed or worked in Singapore: 

  • For a minimum of 183 days 
  • For three years straight 
  • For a continuous period of two years with a total period of stay accumulating to at least 183 days    
  • With a work pass that is valid for at least one year. However, your tax residency status will be reviewed at tax clearance when you stop your employment. If the period of stay is less than 183 days, you are counted as a non-tax resident. 

For foreigners who are residents, you’re subject to progressive tax rates from 0% to 22% depending on your pay. The tax rates progress as the income increases so the more you earn, the higher rates will apply. 

Chargeable Income (S$)  Tax Rate (%)  Tax Payable (S$) 
First 20,000  0  0 
Next 10,000  2  200 
First 30,000    200 
Next 10,000  3.5  350 
First 40,000    550 
Next 40,000  7  2,800 
First 80,000    3,350 
Next 40,000  11.5  4,600 
First 120,000    7,950 
Next 40,000  15  6,000 
First 160,000    13,950 
Next 40,000  18  7,200 
First 200,000    21,150 
Next 40,000  19  7,600 
First 240,000    28,750 
Next 40,000  19.5  7,800 
First 280,000    36,550 
Next 40,000  20  8,000 
First 320,000    44,550 
In excess 320000  22   


If you are a non-resident, you will still need to pay tax on income earned in Singapore. You will either be charged at a flat rate of 15% or the progressive tax rate, whichever is higher. 

Living In Singapore As An Employee 

Once your work pass has been approved, you should arrange for your accommodation in Singapore. If you have an EP or S Pass, you’re eligible to rent a room in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat or the entire flat. Moreover, only Malaysian work permit holders, from the construction, marine and process sectors as well as manufacturing sector, are able to rent a room in an HDB flat or an entire HDB flat. 

In general, non-Malaysian work permit holders may not be able to rent HDB flats or rooms unless stated otherwise. 

Do note that your pass needs to be valid for at least six months as at the date of application from flat owners. You can only check the median rent for HDB flats in different locations here – ranging from S$2,300 for a three-room flat (with two bedrooms) to S$4,300 for a four-room flat (with three bedrooms). 

Read Also: Malaysians’ Guide To Enrolling Into Universities In Singapore: Visa, Academic Requirements, And Scholarships


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