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Operating an Employment Agency (EA) in Singapore

Updated: May 20, 2023

Setting up an Employment Agency

Operating an Employment Agency (EA) in Singapore
Operating an Employment Agency (EA) in Singapore

Employment Agencies (EAs) need to be licensed to operate in Singapore.

Who Needs an Employment Agency License

Unless otherwise stated, organizations and individuals who place job seekers with employers must obtain an employment agency license to operate in Singapore.

You must be licensed as an Employment Agency (EA) if your organization does any of the following:

  • Communicates with any job seeker for the processing of any employment-related application from that job seeker.

  • Collates any job seeker's bio data or resume to help job seeker establish an employment relationship.

  • Submits any work pass application on behalf of any employer or job seeker.

  • Helps any job seeker find an employer.

You must obtain licence before undertaking any or all of the above activities in Singapore, regardless of whether the job seeker is placed in job in Singapore or overseas.

A license is not required if:

  • The sole purpose of recruiting persons is to hire them for your own company or business.

  • Outsourcing your own staff to your client's premises or offices.


The following do not require an EA license:

  • Fully web-based job portals.

  • Organizations and individuals that maintain and operate any job boards and do not otherwise make any matches or placements.

  • Organizations that submit work pass applications and do not otherwise do any matching or placement.

Eligibility for Employment Agency License

To be eligible to apply for an Employment Agency (EA) license, you must meet the following minimum criteria:

- Be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident at the time of application.

- Set up a company or business with ACRA.

- Hold one of the following positions within your organization, as registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA):

  • Managing Director and Director (Company)

  • Owner (Sole Proprietorship and Partnership)

  • Partner (Limited Liability Partnership)

  • General Partner (Limited Partnership)

- Have one of the following key activities registered with ACRA:

  • Maid Agencies (SSIC 78103)

  • Employment Agencies (excluding Maid Agencies) (SSIC 78104)

  • Executive Search Agencies (SSIC 78105)

If you are a foreigner who wants to work in an employment agency, you need to obtain a valid Professional Work Pass, which will allow you to work in that particular agency.

Key Appointment Holder

A Key Appointment Holder is any person in the Employment Agency who has general control and management of any EA job.

The following are key appointment holders:

  • Managing Director and Director (Company)

  • Owner (Sole Proprietorship and Partnership)

  • Partner (Limited Liability Partnership (LLP))

  • General Partner (Limited Partnership (LP))

Which Employment Agency License to Get

If you are planning to apply for an Employment Agency (EA) license, you can choose from different types of licenses depending on the type of workers you will be placing.

Type of License

There are four types of licenses:

  • Comprehensive License (All)

  • Comprehensive License (Local)

  • Comprehensive license (non-FDW)

  • Select License (SL)

These are the types of workers you can arrange for each type of license:

​Comprehensive License (All)

​Any type of workers

Comprehensive License (Local)

​Local workers

​Comprehensive License (non-FDW)

Local workers or foreign workers, except FDWs

​Select License (SL)

Workers earning more than $4,500 a month

Certification Requirements

If you are obtaining any Comprehensive License, all key appointment holders must obtain a Certificate of Employment Intermediary (CEI) before applying for a license, whether or not they perform EA work.

CEI requirements apply to employment agencies with any of the following licenses:

  • Comprehensive License (All)

  • Comprehensive License (Local)

  • Comprehensive license (non-MDW)

What is CEI

The Certificate of Employment Intermediaries (CEI) is designed to provide employment agency (EA) personnel with an understanding of employment laws and regulations.

This ensures that EA personnel understand their obligations under the law and are able to inform their clients of their rights and responsibilities.

Which CEI Course to Choose

Key Appointment Holders (KAHs) are to attend CEI (KAH).

If you set up an EA whose license does not allow it to house foreign staff, you can choose to take the CEI (KAH) and CEI (Basic) courses without the Employment of Foreign Manpower (EFMA) and Immigration Act (IA) modules.

The CEI (KAH) course for Key Appointment Holders covers key legislation such as Employment Law, Foreign Manpower Employment Act (EFMA) and Companies Law.

Application for Employment Agency License

These are the steps to apply:

  1. Apply for CEI, if required.

  2. Submit an EA application.

  3. Submit security bond and bank guarantee documents.

  4. Obtain issued license.

After the license is issued, you can start operating an employment agency.

Arrange a Security Bond

You will need to arrange a security bond and submit relevant documents before a license can be issued.

You will need to purchase a security bond (in the form of a banker's guarantee) and submit the required forms and documents. You need to do this within 4 weeks of getting your IPA.

For all Comprehensive Licenses, the security deposit is $60,000. The deposit for a Select License is $20,000.

Processing Time

In-Principle Approval (IPA): 7 working days

Processing documents: 7 working days

Issuance of license: 3 working days after receipt of documents


Application Fee: $400

License Fee: $100

All licenses are valid for 3 years.

Connect with Us

For inquiries regarding company formation through ACRA, employment agency licensing issues and applications, please contact Bestar.

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