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Expat Guide to Moving to Singapore

Vivre à Singapour : le guide


Moving to Singapore is an experience often motivated by professional reasons.

Ideally located, the city-state is indeed a hub of the world economy, especially in finance.

This fact has earned it the nickname of the “Switzerland of Asia”.

The Economy, the Main Reason to Move to Singapore

A dynamic and international environment

More than a third of the population of Singapore is of foreign origin, so the environment is very cosmopolitan. Thus, English is an important language when it comes to moving to Singapore.

For Europeans and Americans, moving to Singapore is mainly for qualified profiles such as engineers or consultants.

The activity in Singapore is diversified, and many large international groups are established, particularly in sectors such as:

  • Finance
  • Services
  • Information technology
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The sectors most likely to recruit foreign candidates are:

  • Information and communication technologies (ICT) and software
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical.

Professional expatriation in Singapore must be anticipated

A “pass”, or specific residence permit, is mandatory to hold a job during after moving to Singapore.

In addition, it is advisable to obtain a position before departure.

Ideally, the contract should be long-term, as it is not easy to find and follow temporary contracts in Singapore when you come from abroad.

To obtain a position, you must be able to prove your qualifications and skills.

It is very important to find out in advance what proof you need to provide, but also what restrictions apply and what obligations you must fulfill.

Some professions are closed to foreigners or regulated, and require validation of prior learning, accreditation, or retaking of exams.

This is the case for all professions in the health sector (dentists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.), lawyers, and architects.

Moving to Singapore: The Formalities

Entry into Singapore and a stay of up to 90 days are possible, provided that you can present:

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Proof of sufficient resources.

But for living in Singapore for more than three months, it is necessary to obtain a residence permit, or “pass”, from the country’s authorities.

There is a wide range of passes, including :

  • P Pass (P1 or P2): valid for up to two years, and renewable, for expatriates holding a higher education degree and justifying salaries of at least SGD 4500
  • Q Pass: valid for up to two years and renewable, for foreigners with a technical degree or a salary of 3000 to 4500 SGD.

The spouses and children of holders of one of these passes can in turn benefit from a residence permit, the duration of which depends on that of the spouse or parent’s permit.

How to obtain a pass?

To obtain one of these passes, you must be sponsored by a Singapore-based company.

There are also passes for less qualified workers, as well as for students and trainees, or for entrepreneurs.

Note that it is also possible to consider a short expatriation to Singapore by benefiting from the Working Holiday Program (WHP), provided you are a student and under 25 years old.

You can then benefit from the right to work in Singapore. But this type of permit is subject to annual quotas.

The conditions for obtaining these passes and their categorization are subject to regular changes: it is therefore advisable to anticipate your expatriation to Singapore and regularly inform yourself of the conditions in force.

Which Health Insurance Plan to Choose When Moving to Singapore?

The quality of medical care in Singapore

Singapore offers an excellent quality of care and health facilities, so much so that medical tourism is growing rapidly.

The country has public hospitals and many high quality private clinics. But this quality comes at a cost, and it is high.

Health coverage during an expatriation in Singapore depends on the expatriate’s status:

  • The seconded worker remains affiliated to the French Social Security system during his expatriation
  • The expatriate worker depends on the local health insurance system.

Although there is a compulsory health insurance system in Singapore, it is only open to foreigners with permanent resident status, which is the case for a very small minority of expatriates.

Private health insurance is essential when moving to Singapore

In order to be covered in case of illness or hospitalization during an expatriation in Singapore, it is, therefore, necessary to take out private health insurance.

In some cases, the employer provides one. However, it often does not provide all the necessary care and guarantees, especially in terms of repatriation.

This is why it is recommended to take out an international health insurance policy for moving to Singapore.

Online insurance comparisons make it easy to find the best offer.

This type of contract covers the expatriate anywhere in the world, even in his country of origin, and generally offers excellent value for money, as well as efficient, reactive, and English-speaking assistance.

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This is also interesting:

What countries should I move to? The best countries to move to are not the same for everyone! Finding the ideal destination depends first of all on what is expected on a personal level.

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