5 Steps to Having Your Own Employment Agency

6 min read

If you've wanted to start an employment agency, then now is a perfect time. You’ll need to know the requirements and steps of how you or your firm can get an Employment Agency (EA) license in Singapore to help you begin working on these new programmes.

Before we begin, we’d like to let you know that we can assist you with registering a company in Singapore for you to start an Employment Agency, and then with any corporate secretarial and accounting work, you’ll need help with after that. However, we do not provide the services to help you get a license for you. We’ve provided the information for you below to get you started. Once you’ve decided to open a company or need help with corporate secretarial services, simply drop us a chat.

What you will learn

Register your Singapore company
Select your Employment Agency Licence type
Pay Security Deposit
Get certified with the Certificate of Employment Intermediaries (CEI)
Apply for the Employment Agency Licence
Summing up

So you want to set up your very own employment agency? You’ll need to set up your own company first. Here are 5 things things you need to do:

Register Singapore company

First, incorporate a company in Singapore, and select the right business activity code: Maid Agencies (SSIC 78103), Employment Agencies (excluding maid agencies) (SSIC 78104) or Executive Search Agencies (SSIC 78105).

To register a business in Singapore you need to have a local address, a corporate secretary, and a resident director. Paid-up capital starts at $1. Drop us a chat if you need help with this.

Select your Employment Agency Licence type

The Employment Agency (EA) licence, is a legal document required under the Employment Agencies Act (Cap 92), that allows companies to place people who are looking for jobs, to employers.

Your company must obtain Employment Agency Licence- either a Comprehensive License or a Select License, issued by Singapore Ministry of Manpower.

What are the requirements to get the Employment Agency Licence? Use the Ministry of Manpower’s self-assessment tool to check for your eligibility.

The relevant key appointment holders (CEO, COO, CFO etc.) of the company would need to apply for the licence under your company name, and it is valid for up to 3 years. After that, you can renew it.  

In which situations would you need an Employment Agency licence?

A licence, specifically the Employment Agency (EA) is needed if your company does any of the following business activities:

  • Working with any jobseeker to process an employment-related application by the job seeker
  • Collate the profile, resume or CV of any jobseeker to help the jobseeker establish an employer-employee relationship.
  • Submit any work pass application on behalf of the employer or jobseeker.
  • Helps place any jobseeker with an employer, local or overseas.

As part of his company’s business, Sam is collecting resumes for digital marketers to submit to relevant job vacancies in various companies. If he successfully places a worker to a job, he receives a commission from the company he places the worker at. He would need to have an employment agency licence to continue operating legally in Singapore.

When do you not need a licence?

A licence is not required for:

  1. Recruiting to employ job seekers for your own company or business.
  2. Outsourcing your staff to your customers' premises or offices.
  3. Web-based job portals.
  4. Maintaining and operate any job bulletin board with no matching or job placement activities (eg: forums, Facebook groups, Whatsapp or Telegram groups)
  5. Organisations who submit work pass applications and who do not otherwise carry out any matching or placement services

David creates an app to match jobs with applicants called DragonJobs. Applicants can submit their resumes directly through employers via the app. He won’t need to apply for an Employment Agency licence for this.

Khadijah runs a Facebook group called ‘Creative Jobs in Singapore’ and regularly posts job vacancies for the benefit of her members looking for jobs. She does not earn from this and job seekers apply directly to the employers. She will not need to apply for an Employment Agency.

Type of licences available

The type of licence you have determines what type of workers you can place. So, before applying for a licence, you’d need to figure out what kind of clients you want to serve, and if you have the network to get that kind of job for them. After all, you’re running a business here.

Type of Licence Type of Workers you can place
Comprehensive Licence (All) Any type of workers, for all jobs
Comprehensive Licence (Local) With this, you can only place local workers for jobs in Singapore or overseas.
Comprehensive Licence (non-FDW) With this licence, you can place local and foreign workers for jobs, except for foreign domestic workers (FDWs).
Select Licence (SL) If you are placing workers only to jobs with a monthly salary of more than $4,500.

Pay security deposit

Employment agencies must provide a security bond too in the form of a banker’s guarantee. It’s also known as the security deposit. You’ll get back this deposit 6 months after the licence ends.

Type of Licence Type of Workers you can place
Comprehensive Licence (All) For new Employment Agencies, it is $60,000.
Comprehensive Licence (Local)
Comprehensive Licence (non-FDW)
Select Licence (SL) For new agencies, it is $20,000.

Get you, your key appointment holders, and staff, certified with the Certificate of Employment Intermediaries (CEI)

To work in an employment agency with a Comprehensive Licence, and as a step to get your licence, key appointment holders and your staff will need to get take this course to get the Certificate of Employment Intermediaries (CEI). This certificate will equip you and your staff with knowledge of employment laws and regulations. This ensures that your staff will understand their obligations under the law and can advise their clients of their rights and responsibilities.

Your key appointment holders must get this certificate. However, not everyone in your employment agency would need to have this certificate. Those who are involved in your daily business operations of matching job seekers to employers would not need the certificate.  

Type of staff CEI course What the certificate covers
Key appointment holders CEI (KAH) The course covers key legislation such as the Employment Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), and Companies Act.

It will take between 24 - 40 hours.

Other staff dealing with daily operations of matching or placement of jobs CEI (Basic)

This course covers only the key legislation relevant to their work.

It will take 32 hours.

To be on the safe, get the relevant people certified before you submit your application, for a smoother process. For more details, you can refer here.

Apply for your Employment Agency licence

Get an in-principle approval

The processing time for this will take around 7 working days. The fee to apply at this step is $400.

Here are the steps:

  1. Log in to GoBusiness Licensing to apply.
  2. Pay the $400 fee online.
  3. Wait for an in-principal approval notification by email or SMS
  4. Login to GoBusiness Licensing to download the in-principal approval document to get your banker’s guarantee (security deposit). The document is valid for 4 weeks. After that, you’d need to make a new application.

Submit security bond and banker’s guarantee documents

Within 4 weeks after receiving your in-principle approval letter, you need to buy the security bond and submit the required Security Bond and Banker’s Guarantee forms. It takes 7 working days to process your documents. If it’s successful, you can expect to receive a notification from GoBusiness Licensing stating that your application is approved. Woo hoo!

Steps to submit the documents:

  1. Complete the Security Bond and Banker’s Guarantee forms.
    The start date of the Banker’s Guarantee should be your IPA expiry date.
  2. Bring your IPA letter and Banker’s Guarantee Form to any bank to get the guarantee.
  3. Submit the Security Bond form, Banker’s Guarantee form and other required documents in hard copy, by post to:

    Employment Agency Licensing Branch
    Foreign Manpower Management Division
    MOM Services Centre
    1500 Bendemeer Road
    Level 2
    Singapore 339946


You must use the Security Bond and Banker’s Guarantee forms provided. Any other format of the form will be rejected.

Get the licence issued

After you receive a notification from GoBusiness Licensing, you can collect your licence. This is what you need to do to get the licence issued to you. The processing time here would be around 3 working days.

  1. Log in to GoBusiness Licensing and pay the $100 issuance fee via PayPal.
  2. (Optional) Once the licence is issued, login to GoBusiness Licensing to print your e-licence.

You can start operating your employment agency only after the licence is issued.

Summing up

Remember that there a few steps to go through before you can have your very own employment agency. The first step is always to have your company incorporated and then going through the necessary steps of getting a Certificate of Employment Intermediaries, and paying the security deposit to gain your employment agency licence.

While growing your business, there might be too many things to keep track of. Leave the task of remembering all these dates to us. We can help you track the deadlines you need to be aware of while helping you file the necessary reports your company needs.

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