Guidance

Living in Brunei

Advice for British people living in Brunei, including information on health, education, benefits, employment and more.

Overview

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals moving to, or living in Brunei, including where to find advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements, finance and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See British High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan for more details of what our embassies, high commissions and consulates can and cannot do to help. This information supplements our foreign travel advice for Brunei.

Our publication Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide sets out the steps that British nationals can take to stay safe abroad, and provides details on what help the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) can provide if you do get into difficulty.

Before you go

See our travel advice for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

See COVID-19 travel advice guidance if you are waiting to return to the UK.

For information on vaccines abroad, see our COVID-19 travel guidance.

Link to the foreign travel advice for Brunei and the Ministry of Health Brunei Darussalam COVID-19 webpage.

Stay up to date

You should:

Entry and residency requirements

Please visit the Department of Immigration and National Registration website for further information and contact details of your nearest office if you wish to settle, visit or work in Brunei.

British Citizen passport holders may enter Brunei for up to 90 days without a visa. If you have another type of British nationality, check with Brunei immigration authorities about visa requirements.

Make sure the entry stamp in your passport indicates the validity of your stay. There are strict penalties for overstaying.

If you’re staying longer than 90 days and/or visiting for non-tourist purposes, you will need to get a visa from the nearest Brunei diplomatic mission before you travel.

See High Commission of Brunei Darussalam in the United Kingdom.

For more information on sponsoring visas for family members/dependants, it be may be helpful to refer to the Human Resources section of your company based either in Brunei or an affiliate based outside of Brunei.

Healthcare and medication

Visit the Health section of our Travel Advice page for detailed advice on medical services, vaccinations and health risks in Brunei.

Medical care is generally good in Brunei and relatively reasonable unless you opt for private hospital services. Healthcare is not provided free of charge in Brunei, but the government run hospital would extend their treatment without the need for any form of payment guarantee. You are expected to settle your bill prior to your discharge.

There is no reciprocal National Health Service agreement in Brunei and medical costs are to be borne by the individual.

If you need emergency medical assistance, you can attend any medical clinic, hospital emergency room or dial 991 for an ambulance.

See list of medical facilities and practitioners in Brunei.

Medicine

If you are on a prescription for any form of medication you should ensure you have a supply of it available, or are able to obtain it once in Brunei. Certain medicines may not be available in Brunei (including major brands readily available in the UK), and may be prohibited from entering the country. You should consult your GP before travelling to Brunei to learn of any alternatives which may be available.

Health insurance

If you are resident in Brunei ensure you have taken out an appropriate health insurance policy. Check with your employer on your insurance coverage while living and working in Brunei.

If you are a visitor, arrange comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers the following:

  • an air ambulance, in case you need to be flown home by this means

  • full medical cover (medical bills can be expensive)

  • repatriation of your remains in the event of death

  • repatriation of your family in the event it is necessary for you to return home due to illness or injury

Working in Brunei

The Department of Immigration and National Registration issues work visas. Please liaise with your company’s HR department or their affiliates for further information on work visa requirements and applying for one.

Money and Banking

The official currency of Brunei is the Brunei dollar. Singapore dollars may be used in Brunei and are interchangeable with the Brunei dollar, although if paying in Singapore dollars, some may insist on notes in pristine condition before accepting them.

Credit cards are accepted at most major establishments. However, a number of shops and restaurants will only accept cash and will not have a credit card facility. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at banks or major hotels. Most other major currencies are convertible at banks, hotels, or official moneychangers.

There are no foreign exchange controls in Brunei, although exchanges and movements of currency are monitored.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

The UK and Brunei have had a Double Taxation Agreement in force since 1950.

The Revenue Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economy is the local tax authority of Brunei.

Brunei does not currently levy income tax on resident and non-resident individuals, nor do they have any sales tax or value added tax (VAT). There are no social security taxes in Brunei, although all citizens and permanent residents must contribute 5 percent of their salary to a state-managed provident fund (Tabung Amanah Pekerja).

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Brunei.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

Driving in Brunei

See driving abroad.

You can drive in Brunei with a valid UK driving licence for up to a year. If residing in Brunei for more than 12 months, you must take the Highway Code Test and Practical Driving Test. Those who fail the test will need to register with appointed driving schools to undergo a Highway Code Class and Practical Driving Training course.

For more information on the matter, please contact the Land Transport Department of the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications at Darussalam Line 123.

Driving standards differ from the UK. Traffic will not always stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings. Speeding and non-use of seatbelts is common. Road conditions are generally good but you should take extra care while driving through heavy rain as road surfaces are uneven.

If you’re asked for a letter authenticating, certifying or validating your UK driver’s licence, you should contact your UK issuing office (eg the DVLA).

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Language, social ethics and traditions

The official language of Brunei is Malay, although English is widely spoken and also used in official matters.

Islam is the official religion of the country and is intimately woven into the culture and life-style of Brunei Malays. Muslims take their religious beliefs and duties very seriously and expect non-Muslims to respect these beliefs. There is a government department of religious affairs to check on and prosecute breaches of Islamic conduct, and there have been a few occasions when expatriates too have been liable to prosecution in the Islamic Courts. Propagation of other religions is a serious offence and could result in deportation.

It is an offence to criticise Islam, and for any person to consume food, drink or tobacco in public during the fasting hours of the holy month of Ramadan. For information on travelling during Ramadan, see Travelling during Ramadan.

Homosexual activity is illegal in Brunei and may carry heavy penalties. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It is important for expatriates in Brunei to be conscious of the need for appropriate behaviour. In the interests of good relations with your colleagues, neighbours and government officials, it is essential that every effort be made to behave according to local customs.

Voting

British citizens living abroad can register to vote – see voting when abroad.

Births, deaths and getting married

See register a birth abroad. For information about local birth registration, please visit the Department of Immigration and National Registration Brunei Darussalam website.

See what to do after someone dies and bereavement information.

See getting married abroad.

List of lawyers and interpreters

List of lawyers who may be able to provide you with legal services and official translations in Brunei.

Please note that inclusion in this list does not constitute official endorsement by the British Embassy or the UK government.

Notarial and documentary services

Information on how to apply for notarial services in Brunei, such as official documents, certificates, and notes.

British passport facilities

The British High Commission does not deal with passport applications and cannot provide advice on this. For information on how to apply for your first passport or renew an existing passport, please visit the overseas passport section of this website.

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

Dial 991 for the ambulance service.

Dial 995 for fire and rescue.

Dial 993 for police.

Dial 998 for Search and Rescue.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

From 2017 onwards, foreign nationals can own properties through strata titles, although only Brunei citizens can own land in Brunei. Please refer to a local lawyer for further advice on buying or renting property in Brunei.

Leaving Brunei

Please seek the advice of your company’s Human Resources department for advice on leaving Brunei.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Returning to the UK

If you live in Brunei and are considering returning to live in the UK (for example on retirement) you should consider how you will support yourself, and how non-British members of your family may be able to accompany you. There is information available to help you make informed choices about living abroad and thinking about returning to the UK.

National Insurance

National Insurance: if you have not made full National Insurance (NI) contributions, you may not be eligible for state benefits or support. HM Revenue & Customs provide some useful information on returning to live in the UK for non-residents, including how to make NI contributions from abroad.

Healthcare

Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. You must be able to show UK residency to be eligible for free treatment, even if you are a British citizen. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau or NHS can provide further information.

Visas

If you wish to return to live in the UK with family members who do not hold British citizenship, they will need to meet the UK’s immigration requirements for settlement in the UK. See the UK Visa and Immigration page for more details.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Brunei authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 18 December 2013
Last updated 4 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. New information on living in Brunei and updated website links.

  2. Coronavirus section added with a link to guidance on vaccines.

  3. Updated list of medical facilities and practitioners

  4. Updated list of medical facilities and practitioners

  5. First published.