Living in Singapore
Advice for British people living in Singapore, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
Singapore heath care system comprises of a number of private and government hospitals, several specialist clinics and a large number of general practices. The medical care is generally good although 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.
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.
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 a visa for the purpose of study, taking up employment, training, investment or residence 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) are responsible for visit passes and permanent resident passes.
Entry and residence requirements
Any British national coming to Singapore for the purpose of study, taking up 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 the issuing employment passes, dependant’s passes and long term visit passes.
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).
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 of age and holding 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 visit may drive with their foreign licence for up to 12 months each time they enter into Singapore. Information on how to convert a UK driving licence to a Singapore driving licence.
See our information on UK driving licences.
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 an Employment Pass 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).
British nationals are liable to tax 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
Social ethics and traditions
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.
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.
On-the-spot fines are common. You can be fined for smoking indoors and publics places, for littering, jaywalking and eating (including chewing gum) or drinking on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train system. 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
Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore Citizens (including dual nationals) and Permanent Residents, unless exempted, are liable to register for National Service (NS). Main applicants who are granted PR status under the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers (PTS) Scheme or the Investor Scheme are exempted from NS. Male children who are granted PR status under their parents’ sponsorship are liable for NS under the Enlistment Act. They are required to register for NS upon reaching 16½ years old and will be scheduled for enlistment at the earliest opportunity upon reaching 18 years old.
For information on the criteria for deferment or exemption of NS.
Central Manpower Base
3, Depot Road
Tel : 1800-3676767 (local)
If you are considering returning to live in the UK, 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/dependents 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.
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.