From 16 March 2015, all Employment Pass Applicants in Singapore must have a Notification Letter before they will be allowed to start work. The former In-Principal Approval Letter will no longer be in use.

Employment Pass

SINGAPORE – Employment Pass Applicants Will Require a Notification Letter to Start Work

With effect from 16th March 2015, Employment Pass applicants will need a Notification Letter before they can commence work.

Meaning Employment Pass (EP) applicants can only start work once their pass has been issued and they have received a Notification Letter (NL). The In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter will no longer allow Employment Pass (EP) applicants to start work.

The new rule reflects recent faster EP issuance times, but is likely to delay the date that work can be started. Employment Pass applicants who with to live and work in Singapore must ensure all their supporting documents are in order before lodging the application to ensure that their EP visas get issued as soon as possible. Applications can be lodged via EP online via the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore’s official website.


Currently, the In-Principal Approval (IPA) given to an EP applicant is valid for six months. The IPA is meant as confirmation that the work pass application has been approved, and to allow applicants time to make plans to come to Singapore to work.

On arrival, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) needs to be notified before the Employment Pass (EP) applicant can start work with their employers. Employers must notify MOM by requesting for issuance of the work pass through Employment Pass Online (EPOL).

In the past, as request for EP issuance involved multiple steps and could take some time, EP applicants were allowed to work on the IPAs while waiting for the issuance of the work passes. More recently, MOM says it has streamlined the EP issuance process. Requests for issuance can be done almost immediately upon the EP applicants’ arrival in Singapore.

In view of this, from 16 March 2015 MOM will require that issuance of work passes be completed before the EP applicant can start work, and the IPA letters will be amended to reflect this change.

Action Items

  • Employers should begin the Employment Pass issuance process as soon as possible upon arrival in Singapore.
  • EP holders should then proceed for work pass card registration(with notification letter) as soon as possible, as the Notification Letter is only valid for one month.

This article was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore.