Guidance

Living in Singapore

Advice for British people living in Singapore, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Health

The Singapore heath care system comprises of a number of private and government hospitals, several specialist clinics and a large number of general practices. Medical care is generally good but it can be expensive. There is no reciprocal National Health Service agreement in Singapore and medical costs are to be borne by the individual. Insurance is essential; therefore ensure that comprehensive travel insurance is taken out before you travel. Make sure your policy provides for the following:

  • an air ambulance, in case you need to be flown home
  • full medical cover (bills can be expensive)
  • repatriation of the body home, in the event of death
  • repatriation your family home, in the event of your illness or injury

Patients are free to choose providers either from the government or private sectors and can walk in for a consultation at any clinic. For emergency services, patients can go at any time to the 24-hour Accident & Emergency departments located in the government and some private hospitals. Short -term visitors and work pass holders including their dependents may be required to provide a credit card and pay a deposit upon admittance to hospital.

Ministry Of Health (MOH)

Clinics and hospitals in Singapore

Ambulance

Call 995 (24-hour line) if there is an emergency. This number is provided by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Please be aware that if the patient is deemed to be a non-emergency by the paramedics, the patient will be liable to pay the ambulance fee.

Call 1777 for non-emergency cases. Non-emergency ambulance services have charges.

Education

Singapore has a wide variety of local and international schools. Local schools are registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) while international schools are registered with the Council for Private Education (CPE). Some international schools offer both UK curriculum and International Baccalaureate programmes.

Employment and recognised qualifications

British nationals must obtain visas to study, workt, train, invest, or reside in Singapore.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is the authority that handles employment pass applications including dependant’s passes.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is responsible for visit passes and permanent resident passes.

Entry and residence requirements

Any British national coming to Singapore for the purpose of study, employment, training, investment or residence must obtain a visa from the relevant Singaporean authority.

Information on entry requirements to Singapore.

Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) issues visas for visitors, student visas and permanent residents.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is responsible for issuing employment passes, dependant’s passes and long term visit passes.

Benefits

British nationals who are not permanent residents in Singapore are not entitled to any social welfare benefits. British nationals who have permanent residence (PR) status in Singapore could be eligible to access contributions that they had made to the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

Visit the benefits if you’re abroad page to find out what benefits you might be able to get while abroad and how to claim them.

You need to tell the relevant government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax that you are moving or retiring abroad.

Driving licences and vehicles

A British national above 18 years old who holds a work pass/dependent’s pass/student pass may drive in Singapore with a valid class 3, 3A or 2B UK licence, for a period of not more than 12 months. A Singapore driving licence is required after 12 months. Those on short term social visits may drive with their foreign licence for up to 12 months each time they enter into Singapore. Here’s information on how to convert a UK driving licence to a Singapore driving licence.

See our information on UK driving licences.

Finance

Banking

Singapore has a number of local and international banks that offer commercial banking services. All banks handle travellers cheques and change foreign currencies. ATM’s can be found in most shopping malls. British nationals who have been granted employment passes can make an application to open a bank account. For information on how to open an account and what documents are required please refer to individual banks’ websites.

Compulsory Social Security Savings Plans

British nationals who are working and have permanent residence (PR) status in Singapore are required to contribute to the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

Taxation

British nationals are liable to pay taxes in Singapore on all income accrued in, or derived from Singapore. The extent of your tax liability will depend on your tax residency status. For more information please go to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) website.

Guidance on bringing medication into Singapore

The Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) website has guidance on bringing medicines into Singapore for personal use. Please be aware that some over the counter medicines from the UK may contain ingredients that are on the restricted list.

If the medicine you require is on the restricted list you may need to seek prior approval from HSA before you can bring them into Singapore. It is advised to have a letter from your doctor and/or a copy of the prescription to prove the medicines are for your personal use.

Sponsoring family members

For information on how to sponsor family members to join you in Singapore, please find out more about Employment Pass and permanent residence (PR).

Social ethics and traditions

Death Penalty

The mandatory death penalty exists in Singapore for certain capital offences e.g. drug trafficking. Murder, weapons offences and abduction may also attract the death penalty.

Corporal punishment (rattan cane)

Corporal punishment may be imposed for lesser crimes including overstaying, drugs offences, rape, rioting, outrage of modesty, air rage, extortion and vandalism.

Drink Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence in Singapore and the traffic police regularly carry out breath tests. Sentences can be up to 10 years in prison.

Other offences

On-the-spot fines are common. You can be fined for smoking indoors and in public places, for littering, and jaywalking. Eating (including chewing gum) or drinking on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train system is also banned. Bringing chewing gum into Singapore is banned.

Police permission is required for certain kinds of public gatherings in Singapore. You should therefore avoid street gatherings and public demonstrations, which might place you at risk.

For more information visit the Singapore Customs.

National Service (NS) Liability

Here’s a leaflet detailing National Service obligations for dual nationals and permanent residents in Singapore.

Leaving Singapore

If you are thinking about returning to the UK to live, you should consider how you will support yourself and how non-British members of your family may be able to accompany you. More information can be found at the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.

Prior to leaving Singapore your employment pass/dependant’s pass will need to be cancelled by your employer. You will be granted a 30-day short term visit pass. The short term visit pass must be surrendered on your departure from Singapore.

Singapore Income Tax Clearance - you will need to pay any outstanding income tax liabilities before you will be allowed to exit Singapore.

Consular Assistance

If you are contacting us about a consular emergency (e.g. the death of a British national, you have been the victim of a crime, hospitalised or arrested) please call (+65) 6424 4200 and follow the instructions to speak to a consular officer.

If you are in the UK and need help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad contact our Consular Assistance team: 020 7008 1500 (24 hours)

Passports

Full information on how to apply for a British passport from Singapore is available here.

If the passport is almost full with stamps, extra pages CANNOT be added. The passport will need to be renewed. Most countries around the region, including Singapore, require 6 months validity on a passport to enter the country. Do not make travel bookings if your passport has less than 6 months validity. The passport will need to be renewed. British passport holders do not need six months validity on the passport to return to the United Kingdom.

For any passport enquiries, please contact Her Majesty’s Passport Office through the Passport Adviceline.

Newborn baby’s passport

It is advisable to obtain an extension to the 42-day deadline for newborn baby’s dependent’s pass after sending off the passport application to Her Majesty’s Passport Office .  Go to the relevant Immigration & Checkpoints Authority office with the airway bill receipt from the courier and a copy of the declaration form from the passport application. These will serve as proof that you have sent off your baby’s passport application to HMPO, We are unable to provide a letter that your baby’s passport application is in process.

Premium passport service

Information on how to apply for a passport in the UK via the Premium one-day service or Fast Track one week service can be found here. You must be in the UK to qualify for one of these services.

Emergency Travel Document (ETD)

If your passport expires in less than six months, is full, was lost / stolen, or is unavailable because it is with Her Majesty’s Passport Office for renewal, we may be able to issue an Emergency Travel Document if you need to travel urgently. 

Some countries require that you obtain a visa before you travel on an Emergency Travel Document. Please check contact the embassy of the country you wish to visit for any visa requirements. We are unable to advise whether a visa is required for your journey.

UK Visas

The British High Commission operates separately from the UK Visas & Immigration. We are therefore unable to help with any visa-related enquiries. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration pages or the UK visas enquiry page for information on visas.

If you wish to lodge a complaint with UK Visas & Immigration, click here

Marriage

Please note that since we are in a Commonwealth country, staff at the British High Commission in Singapore are unable to conduct marriages.

To find out whether you require a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) to marry overseas, click here. Contact the British consulate in the country where your marriage will be conducted for their local procedures. The British High Commission in Singapore is unable to receive notice of marriage on your behalf.

If you plan to marry in the UK, it is not possible to give notice of marriage at the British High Commission, Singapore. Follow the procedures on getting married in the UK.

Certified true copies of marriage certificates can be ordered online here.

If you are planning to marry in Singapore, please refer to the Registry of Marriages, Singapore to follow their procedures.  If you are asked to provide a CNI or a similar document to prove you’re allowed to marry, you will need to explain that the UK doesn’t issue CNIs for marriages in Commonwealth countries. However, you can swear an affidavit (written statement of facts) that you’re free to marry in front of a local Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths. Find one here.

Your marriage or civil partnership should be recognised in the UK if you follow the correct process according to local law - you won’t need to register it in the UK. For definitive advice on whether your marriage is recognised in the UK, please consult a lawyer.

Civil Partnerships and Same Sex Marriage

Civil partnerships and same sex marriage are not recognised under Singapore law. The British High Commission is unable to conduct same sex marriages or civil partnerships.

If you wish to marry in the UK, follow the procedures.

Follow these guidelines if you wish to marry abroad.

Birth

The birth of a child in Singapore must be registered with the hospital; a birth certificate will then be issued. You may request that the birth certificate not be laminated.

Singapore birth certificates are recognised in the UK.

You may submit an application online for a British consular birth registration, but this is not mandatory.

Certified true copies of UK birth certificates including those registered at British consulates overseas can be ordered online.

Expectant mother coming to Singapore to give birth

An expectant mother who travels to Singapore to give birth may be asked by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to present a letter from her embassy stating the nationality of her unborn child. The British High Commission is unable to issue such a letter as we do not handle nationality matters. Please contact ICA ahead of time to explain this and to find out what other options are available to you.

Death

When a person dies in Singapore, you have to inform the local authorities or police. A Singapore death certificate will be issued. You may request that the death certificate not be laminated.

Singapore death certificates are accepted recognised in the UK.

You may submit an application online for a British consular death registration, but this is not mandatory.

Certified true copies of UK death certificates, including those registered at British consulates overseas before 2015 can be ordered online.

Common Law Partners

Common Law Partner Letters for Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP): The Ministry of Manpower requires a letter from the embassy of the applicant’s partner stating that common-law partnerships are recognised in his/her country.  We are unable to issues such as letter because common-law partnerships are not recognised in the UK.

British Citizenship

Registration, Naturalisation, Renunciation, Resumption and Confirmation of British Nationality We no longer handle such applications with effect from 16 July 2012. If you have enquiries on British nationality or any pending application, email nationalityenquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk or telephone: (+44) 300 123 2253 (UK number). These applications are now handled by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and more information can be found at:

British citizenship

Renunciation

Resume your British nationality

Confirmation of British nationality status

Please send completed applications direct to the UKVI Home Office.  Applicants are encouraged to use courier services wherever possible in order to ensure the safe delivery of documents.

Adoption

If you are not habitually resident in the UK, you will not be adopting under UK law. You’ll need to follow the laws of the country where the adoption is taking place.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore has stated that British nationals are not allowed to adopt any children in Singapore. You may wish to consider adopting from another country. You must follow that country’s laws on adoption.

If the local authorities of the country where you wish to adopt require a letter of no objection, please contact the British embassy or consulate.

To find out more about Singapore’s entry and visa requirements for children adopted from another country, please contact Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

To find out if a child adopted from abroad is entitled to British citizenship, please read this information on inter-country adoption and British citizenship

To find out if adoptions conducted abroad are recognised in the UK, please see the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) Order 2013 and the Hague Convention on Adoptions.

The British High Commission in Singapore is unable to give any further advice on adoptions. Please seek legal advice on this.

Travel Advice

If you are travelling to Singapore, it is important to read Singapore’s current travel advice.

Foreign Travel Advice

For the full list of foreign travel advice, click here.

British nationals can tweet @fcotravel to receive a response between 9am and 6pm GMT.

FCO travel feeds are also available on Facebook and Twitter.

UK Elections

Information on voting overseas

Registering Your Presence

We do not hold a register of British residents or visitors to Singapore. We cannot issue a letter to prove your residence in Singapore.

We strongly advise that you subscribe to email alerts of the Singapore Travel Advice page.

You may also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Legalisations

Please visit our notarial and documentary services guide

We do not have a Legal Section. Consular staff are not legally trained. We are unable to advise you on legal matters, commercial matters, property disputes, employment, or other issues.

However, we can provide you with a list of English speaking lawyers. Please note the disclaimer.

The complete list of practising lawyers in Singapore and their specialities including Qualifying Foreign Law Practices is on the Law Society of Singapore website.

Criminal Record

Certificate of Clearance, Certificate of Good Conduct, CRB check, Certificate of No Criminal Conviction

For Singapore: please log on to the Singapore Police Force website or write to SPF_CID_COC@spf.gov.sg.  The British High Commission is not able to provide any supporting letter for your application.  A letter from the party/employer that is requiring it should be produced to the police as evidence for your requirement of a COC stating that they will not accept a statutory declaration for their purposes.

For UK: GOV.UK has information on how to obtain a copy of the information the UK police may hold on you, as well as information on obtaining police certificates for immigration purposes for certain countries.

Internet Scams

Job Offers, Internet Friendships

We are unable to confirm the legitimacy of job offers or appeals for monetary help from internet friendships received via e-mail or through social media.  However, we can say that fraudulent offers of this nature are very common.  You should be extremely wary of any organisation that has approached you online, especially if they request your personal details, documents or funds via wire transfer.  You should never submit personal information or banking details via e-mail.  If you think you may have been the victim of fraud, you should report this incident to your local police.

Others

Visa or entry enquiries into Singapore

Refer to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). We cannot assist you with immigration matters.  If you are denied entry to Singapore by ICA and you want to follow up or need to contact ICA on your stay in Singapore, you should send an email including all details of your case to ICA_feedback@ica.gov.sg. We are unable to provide visa information for entry into other countries.  Please contact the embassy of the country you wish to visit.

UK Driving licence

Information on UK driving licence and renewals.

Pension

Refer to GOV.UK and make direct enquiries with the pension department.

Life Certificates

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has changed their policy on who can now sign these “Life Certificates”. The list is now the same as the list of people who can countersign a passport photograph. Details of the list can be found here.

Will

The British High Commission is unable to advise whether a will issued overseas will be valid in the United Kingdom.  You may require legal advice from a solicitor.

UK maps, accommodation and travel tips,

VisitBritain

APEC

APEC cards are not available to British nationals as the UK is not a member of APEC.

Post Restante

The British High Commission does not provide post restante service. Please visit the Singapore Post website for procedures.

Bringing Food, Animals or Plants into the UK

Information is available here.

Bringing personal medications into Singapore

Health Science Authority

Value Added Tax (VAT)

The British High Commission does not provide tax refunds for goods purchased in the United Kingdom or any European Union countries. Tax refunds must be claimed at a UK airport or any other EU airport before departure, otherwise you will not be able to claim the refund. Please visit the EU taxation and customs website for information.

Click here If you wish to complain about VAT procedures.

To enquire/complain/follow up:

By email

By Letter:

HM Revenue and Customs – VAT Written Enquiries Team
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend-On-Sea
SS99 1BD

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the British High Commission will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 16 December 2013