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Singapore: What are ‘business visitor activities’ and do I require work authorisation?

By 27 August, 2019February 23rd, 2020No Comments4 min read

Whether you require work authorisation in Singapore, or can simply undertake your business visitor activities on a Short Term Visit Pass will depend on your passport country and upon the activities you wish to undertake in Singapore.

What are ‘business visitor activities’?

Singapore immigration law details business visitor activities as the following (non-exhaustive):

  • attending company meetings or discussions (company or with business partners);
  • attending conferences or seminars;
  • receiving training courses as a participant in a classroom setting (no-hands on training);
  • attending exhibitions as a trade visitor.

The activities being performed on a Short Term Visit Pass should not involve a contract of service or a contract for service.

If I am undertaking ‘business visitor activities’, do I require a visa for Singapore?

If you are undertaking business visitor activities, it means you do not require work authorisation in Singapore, but you may still require an Entry visa depending on your country of passport.

Broadly speaking, European Union, the United States, Australia and many other nationals do not require a visa for entry to Singapore (exempt nationals).

Other nationals, including those from India, PRC China and Russia, are required to obtain an Entry visa which involves submission of an advance application to the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) or the Singaporean Embassy in their home location.

Upon entry (either with an Entry visa or by being an exempt national) all travellers are granted a Short-Term Visit Pass upon arrival which indicates the permitted period of their stay (typically ranging from 30-90 days).

What sorts of activities clearly require work authorisation?

The following activities, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute as work under Singaporean law. This is not a comprehensive list and even short periods of work activities will require work authorisation:

  • hands on technical work;
  • productive work tasks;
  • repairs and maintenance;
  • project planning and implementation;
  • marketing;
  • activities which involve the sale of products or services with a company in Singapore.

Certain “work” activities may qualify for a Work Pass Exemption under specific circumstances, provided the Ministry of Manpower is notified.

What are work pass exemption activities?

The Work Pass Exempt Activities (WPEA) scheme covers and exempts work pass authorisation for certain work activities that are short term in duration and sporadic in nature.

Broadly speaking, foreigners can permit WPEA for the duration of a Short Term Visit Pass or 60 days (whichever is shorter) up to a cumulative total of 90 days in a calendar year provided they fall under one of the following categories:

  • organising or conducting training, speaking or facilitating at a seminar, workshop or conference providing the subject matter does not relate to race, religion or politics;
  • participating in any exhibition as an exhibitor;
  • the commissioning or audit of new plant or equipment;
  • activities relating to the installation, dismantling, transfer, repair or maintenance of any equipment, process or machine;
  • journalism activities supported by Singaporean government or any statutory board;
  • activities relating to sports competition, event or training supported by Singaporean government or any statutory board;
  • arbitration or mediation services providing the subject matter does not relate to race, religion or politics;
  • junket activities;
  • facilitating a tour by tour leaders / facilitators employed by a foreign company.

Upon arrival in Singapore, the foreigner must complete an e-notification procedure online. Following submission, a latter of acknowledgement is issued which must be carried by the individual while in Singapore.

Any questions?

Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you require further guidance.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the firms immigration work flow.

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