An employment agency needs to have a licence to operate in Singapore. Below you will find the key steps to setting up an employment agency in Singapore. Before we delve into more details, let us first discuss who needs to get an employment agency licence. According to Ministry of Manpower (MOM), organisations and individuals who place job seekers with employers must get an employment agency licence to operate in Singapore, unless otherwise stated. An employment agency licence is needed if organisations or individuals does any of the following:

  • Communicates with any jobseeker for the purpose of processing any employment-related application by that jobseeker.
  • Collates the biodata or resume of any jobseeker for the purpose of helping the jobseeker establish an employer-employee relationship.
  • Submits any work pass application on behalf of any employer or jobseeker.
  • Helps place any jobseeker with an employer.

The licence however is not required when recruiting persons for the sole purpose of employing them for own company or business and outsourcing the company’s own staff to customers’ premises or offices.

MOM website prescribes a comprehensive lists of activities where employment agency licence is not required. The followings do not require an employment agency licence:

  • Wholly web-based job portals
  • Organisations and individuals who maintain and operate any job bulletin board and who do not otherwise carry out any matching or placement
  • Organisations who submit work pass applications and who do not otherwise carry out any matching or placement
  • Recognised universities or educational institutions
  • Community Development Councils
  • Employment and Employability Institute Pte Ltd
  • Singapore Workforce Development Agency

Next, let us further discuss on the key steps involved to set up an employment agency in Singapore.

1. Register the business
The first step is to register the business with one of the following principal activities as registered with ACRA:
-Maid Agencies (SSIC 78103)
-Employment Agencies (excluding maid agencies) (SSIC 78104)
-Executive Search Agencies (SSIC 78105)

There are several different options to choose from when registering a business such as sole-proprietorship, partnership, private limited company, limited liability partnership or limited partnership. The choice will depend on personal circumstances. The popular option is to incorporate a priviate limited company.

2. Choose the right office space
While the traditional agency model of a high-street shop front is still a valid option, there are several options such as home office and co-sharing office unit, depending on the available budget . Kindly note that home office option is subject to a prior approval from HDB if the unit is a public housing address or the approval from URA for condominium unit. Please refer here for more information on registered office address of a business in Singapore.

3. Apply employment agency licence
The steps involved in this phase are to submit the application to MOM, to submit security bond and banker’s guarantee documents and finally to get the licence issued. Kindly note that all new employment agencies are required to furnish a security deposit ranging from $20,000 to $60,000. The employment agency which is under any of the Comprehensive Licences, key appointment holders and employment agency personnel must get the Certificate of Employment Intermediaries.

4.Register employment agency personnel
Employment agencies must register all their key appointment holders and other personnel. If employment agency is under a Comprehensive Licence (All), Comprehensive Licence (Local) or Comprehensive Licence (non-FDW), each candidate must also be certified to be registered. Those who are successfully registered will get a registration number and have their information uploaded to MOM’s EA directory.

If you require any further information, please refer to MOM FAQ corner.