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Work Permit - Before you apply

Basic Skills Certification

About the Certificates

The Skills Evaluation Certificate (SEC) and Skills Evaluation Certificate (Knowledge) (SEC(K)) schemes are initiatives by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to raise the skill levels and productivity of the construction, as well as to enhance safety in the construction sector.

All new Non-Traditional Source (NTS) and People's Republic of China (PRC) workers who have been approved under the Prior Approval (Type: New), must possess either the SEC or SEC(K) before they are allowed to work in Singapore.

All North Asian Source (NAS) workers, i.e. workers from Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan, must possess either the SEC or SEC(K).

All Malaysian workers must possess either Secondary 4 education or its equivalent, the SEC or SEC(K), before they are allowed to work in Singapore.

These workers will be classified as basic skilled workers.

Note: SEC or SEC(K) must be issued or accepted by BCA

Foreign Worker Levy

Basic Skilled Workers:

  • NTS, PRC and NAS workers who possess SEC or SEC(K)
  • Malaysian workers who possess SPM, SEC or SEC(K)
Higher Skilled Workers:

Higher skilled workers are those who are registered with the Construction Registration of Tradesmen (CoreTrade), issued with trade certifications recognised by BCA with at least four years of construction experience in Singapore or under Multi-skilled scheme.

Construction companies can hire NTS or PRC workers who have at least two or more years of working experience in the construction industry without the need for Man-Year Entitlements (MYE). 

The levy payable for basic skilled worker will be higher than the higher skilled worker, regardless of the MYE. You may view the levy rates here.

Employment period

The maximum employment period that an NTS or PRC worker can work in Singapore is:

Worker category Maximum Period of Employment (POE)
Basic Skilled Workers
10 years
Higher Skilled Workers
22 years

There is no POE restriction for workers from Malaysia and North Asian Source (NAS). They can work up to 60 years old.

Employers were originally given a two-year transition period (up till 31 December 2013) to upgrade their former Skilled (R1) workers, who were reclassified into Basic Skilled (R2) workers. This grace period will be further extended by up to another two years. Details of the revised transition arrangement are found in the following tables:

Worker category Maximum Period of Employment (POE)
  • For Existing former Skilled (R1) workers
    • Work Permits expire between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2014; and
    • Have worked in Singapore for 9 years or more.
To be granted a final one-time renewal of 2 years from the date of expiry of their existing Work Permits.
  • For Returning former Skilled (R1) workers
    • Work Permit application is between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2014; and
    • Have worked in Singapore for 10 years or more.
To be granted a final one-time extension of 2 years from the date of Work Permit issuance.

Obtaining the Skills Evaluation Certificate (Knowledge)

Upon receiving Prior Approval (PA) and Form T1, the company should register its NTS/PRC workers for the SEC(K) test as soon as possible.

Registration can be done at selected Singapore office(s) of the Overseas Test Centre(s). A list of the Overseas Test Centres and scheduled test dates can be obtained from the BCA Academy.

The original PA* and Form T1 (BCA Academy copy) will be required for registration.

* The PA must be valid for at least two months from the closing dates of the tests in the home countries.

Malaysian workers without Secondary 4 education or its equivalent and NAS workers are required to register for SEC(K) with the BCA Academy.

For details on the test fees and registration, please call the BCA Academy at +65 6248 9868.

Upon the workers’ arrival

Upon the NTS/PRC workers' arrival in Singapore, the employer must bring them to the Trade Enrolment Unit of the BCA Academy to verify their identities. This should be done within four months after the Skills Evaluation Centre (Knowledge) test was taken.


Workers can register for courses with the BCA Academy or visit them at:

BCA Academy
200 Braddell Road
Singapore 579700

Last updated on 30 April 2014 05:41:53