Citizenship

Introduction

Although a person may fulfil all conditions for citizenship by registration and naturalisation, he/she may not be granted citizenship. The right to grant or refuse citizenship lies with the Government. Indeed, the Government has time and again emphasised that citizenship is a privilege and all applications are considered strictly.

Acquisition

There are four ways of acquiring Singapore citizenship:

  1. By birth
  2. By registration
  3. By descent
  4. By naturalisation

Citizenship by birth

Every person born in Singapore whose father or mother is a Singapore citizen is automatically a citizen. However, this rule does not apply if at the time of birth:

  1. his/her father (non-Singaporean citizen) was a member of the diplomatic corps of a foreign country; or
  2. his/her father was an enemy alien and Singapore was under enemy occupation when the birth occurred.

The government can grant citizenship even if the applicant’s parents are both non-Singaporean citizens.

Births have to be registered at Birth Registration Centres available at: –

  • Registry of Births and Deaths at Citizen Services Centre at 3rd Floor of SIR Building;
  • KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital;
  • East Shore Hospital;
  • Gleneagles Hospital;
  • Mount Alvernia Hospital;
  • Mount Elizabeth Hospital;
  • National University Hospital;
  • Singapore General Hospital; and
  • Thomson Medical Centre.

If your child was born in hospitals or places not listed above, please register your child’s birth at the Citizen Services Centre. Notification of Live Birth must be obtained from doctors/midwife/ambulance staff who delivered the baby if the baby is not born in hospitals.

Q: When do I have to register the birth of my child?

Births must be registered within 14 to 42 days from the date of birth, including Sundays and public holidays. A letter stating the reason for late registration must be given to the Registrar approval if the birth is not registered within the stipulated time frame. Birth Certificates will only be issued after approval is given and the birth is registered.

Q: What is the penalty for late registration?

You will be liable for a fine of $100.00 and your case would be classified as ‘late registration” in our records.

While applying for birth registration, the child’s name must be furnished. The Chinese characters of the baby’s name must be reflected in the Birth Certificate if the baby has been given a Hanyu Pinyin name. Ethnic characters of the child’s name in Chinese/Jawi/Tamil can be included in the Birth Certificate but the accuracy of the characters must be ensured by the parents.

Procedure and Fees

The procedure for birth registration is relatively simple and fast as one has to apply by filing up the relevant form. The Officer will verify the documents produced and prints out the Birth Certificate. After verification from the applicant on the particulars in the BC, any ethnic characters will be written on the BC before it is laminated and issued instantly. Processing Fee is charged by SIR for only $18.00 but hospitals may charge a higher fee due to the inclusion of administrative fee for the hospital’s services.

Q: If the child is born overseas and both parents are Singapore citizens, must they come back to Singapore to register the birth?

This is not required as they can register the child’s birth at the country where the child is born. The parents may, at a later time, apply for the child’s Singapore Citizenship through the Singapore High Commission/Embassy at the country that the child was born or get a local sponsor to submit an application on their behalf to the Singapore Immigration and Registration Department.

Citizenship by descent

A person born outside Singapore has to fulfil the following requirements before being entitled to be a citizen by descent: –

  1. His/her father was a citizen of Singapore when the applicant was born;
  2. His/her birth must have been registered within one year at either the Registry of citizens or any Singapore embassy or mission abroad;
  3. Where his/her father is a citizen of Singapore by registration, the applicant must not have become a citizen of the country in which he/she was born;
  4. The applicant must within one year of turning 21, take an oath of Renunciation, Allegiance & Loyalty to Singapore. If not, he/she will cease to become a Singapore citizen when he/she reaches 22.

It is also necessary for the applicant to visit Singapore at least once in 10 years otherwise he/she may be deprived of his/her citizenship.

Citizenship by registration

A person over the age of 21 years and resident in Singapore, may apply to the Registrar of Citizens to become a citizen by registration subjected to meeting the following requirements: –

  1. He/she is of good character;
  2. He/she has resided in Singapore throughout the 12 months immediately before the application and has, in the 12 years before the application, resided in Singapore for at least 10 years. However, the government may, in special cases waive this requirement so long as the person has resided in Singapore for a total of at least 5 years during the 6 years before the application;
  3. He/she intends to reside permanently in Singapore; and
  4. He/she has an elementary knowledge of one of the 4 official languages. This requirement does not apply to applicants who are above 45 years or who are deaf and dumb.

Wife of a citizen

The wife of a Singapore citizen may be registered as a citizen if she can satisfy the Government that she:

  1. has resided continuously in Singapore for at least 2 years before the application;
  2. intends to reside permanently in Singapore; and
  3. is of good character.

Minors

A parent/guardian may apply for citizenship for his/her child that is under 21. The government must be satisfied that the child is the child of a Singapore citizen and residing in Singapore. However, the child may lose his/her citizenship if he/she does not take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance & Loyalty within a year of turning 21.

Citizenship by naturalisation

A person who is at least 21 may apply to the Registrar of Citizens for citizenship by naturalisation. The applicant must however satisfy the Government that he/she: –

  1. has in the last 12 years before the application resided in Singapore for at least 10 years;
  2. is of good character;
  3. has an adequate knowledge of one of the 4 official language.

Citizenship by naturalisation is no longer granted by the government. Instead, applicants are requested to apply for citizenship by registration.

Application Procedure

Application has to be made at the Citizen Services Centre located on the 6th floor of SIR Building 10 Kallang Road Singapore 208718.

The appropriate application forms and a list of documents to be brought will be issued to you.

Upon completion and submission of the forms, a quick assessment of your eligibility will be conducted. If found to be eligible, the officer will proceed to fix an appointment for an interview.

At the interview, the officer will verify the documents and you will be required to make a declaration that information provided in your application form is true and accurate.

Wait for notification of result of application. Processing time for an application usually takes around 3 to 6 months.

Please note that travelling is allowed while the application is being processed.

Q: What is the maximum length of time can a Singapore PR be away and still fulfill the residential requirement for citizenship?

6 months during the qualifying period unless it is due to work or business matters or even overseas posting by your employer can be treated as residence for purpose of Citizenship application on a case by case basis.

Q: Can I apply for citizenship if I was granted PR under the sponsorship of my spouse?

You can apply for citizenship based on your own merits if you are presently working and meet the residential requirements. The same applies for you if your spouse is a PR and you want to apply for citizenship.

Q: How long after approval of my citizenship must I register my Singapore citizenship?

You will be given an appointment date 1 month from the approval date to renounce your foreign citizenship and to register for Singapore citizenship. You may request for a new appointment date if you have valid reasons for not doing so.

Q: Do I automatically become a Singapore citizen if I complete my National Service?

Unfortunately, no. However, your NS term will be taken into consideration during your application for citizenship.

Q: After I became a Singapore citizen, I had a child. What is his/her citizenship and can I sponsor my siblings for citizenship?

Your child will automatically become a Singapore citizen. However, you cannot sponsor your siblings for Singapore citizen, only your spouse and children.

Deprivation of citizenship

A person may lose his/her Singapore citizenship in the following cases:

  1. in the case of a minor citizen, if he/she failed to take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance & Loyalty within 1 year of turning 21;
  2. Where the person, while 18 years or older, acquired the citizenship of another country;
  3. Where the person renounced his/her citizenship.

The government may, by order, deprive a person of his/her citizenship, if it is satisfied that the person: –

  1. had, (when 18 years or older) voluntarily claimed and exercised rights accorded exclusively to citizens or nationals of foreign countries, such as the right to vote; or
  2. had, (when 18 years old or older) applied for or used a foreign passport; or
  3. is 18 years or older and has failed to return to Singapore over a continuous period of 10 years, including any period before 2 January 1986.

The Government cannot deprive a person of his/her citizenship if in so doing he/she will be rendered Stateless. A child of a person losing his/her citizenship, cannot be deprived of his/her citizenship, if in so doing, such child will be rendered Stateless.

Before the government issues an order depriving a person of his/her citizenship, it must give the person written notice informing him/her of the ground on which the order is proposed to be made and the right to have the case referred to a committee of inquiry.

Upon receiving the notice, an application must be made within the prescribed time to have the case referred to a committee of inquiry. The government will then have to set up a committee consisting of a Supreme Court Judge and 2 Government nominees. After hearing the explanation on why the citizenship should not be taken away, the committee will submit a report to the Government for its consideration.

Permanent Resident Status

Under the Immigration (Prohibition of Entry) Order 1973, the government may permit the following persons the right to stay in Singapore:

  1. person with professional/specialist qualifications or specialized/technical skills;
  2. wife or children aged under 6 years, of the professional/skilled person;
  3. any child under 6, of a Singapore citizen;
  4. any person, whom the Government certifies to be in economic interest of Singapore to give permanent residence status, and his wife and child under 6. Presently, such persons are required to invest S$1 Million in Singapore.

The permanent resident status granted to any person can be revoked at any time at the sole discretion of the Government. The Government takes the stand that it does not need to give any reasons.

It is commonly believed that a permanent resident will in due course be granted the status of a citizen however this is not the position in law. There is no automatic right to citizenship.

Certificates of Identity (CI) are normally issued to Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) who are stateless to facilitate their travels abroad. You should apply personally at the PR Services Centre at 5th Floor of the SIR Building 10 Kallang Road Singapore 208718 or if you are abroad at the time of application, you may submit your application through the following: –

  1. a Singapore Overseas Mission;
  2. a representative of a foreign government performing consular functions on our behalf in that country;
  3. a local sponsor; or
  4. by post direct to the PR Services Centre.

Please note that applications are to be submitted at least 2 months before the expiry of the current CI/Re-entry Permit.

Processing fee for a CI, which has a validity of 5 years on the first application, is $125.00 and $25.00 per year or part thereof. The processing time for a CI application is about 2 hours. A surcharge of $50 for the 1st replacement and $100 for the second and subsequent replacement, is imposed for the replacement of a lost CI on top of the usual fee for a CI. However, a replacement CI has a validity of only 1 year.

Your identity card

Singaporeans who reach the age of 15 must register for their Identity Cards (IC). From the year 2002 onwards, citizens are also required to re-register when you reached the age of 30. This rule also applies to Singapore Permanent Residents (PR), holders of Singapore Blue IC.

Processing fee for an IC is just $10.00 and $50.00 for PRs. Processing would usually take 7 working days from the date of registration. Students would receive theirs as they are sent to their respective schools at the end of the month. If you are unable to collect your IC personally, you can send someone else on your behalf. The representative must bring his/her IC upon collection of your IC and a letter of authorisation from the child’s parent, consenting parent’s IC and the collection slip.

Your identity card which contains your vital particulars such as your name, citizenship status, age, place of birth and address is very much a part of you. Like most people, you probably produce it quite freely on request and sometimes even without thinking of whether the person who asked for its production has the right to do so.

Q: Must I produce my Identity Card to a Police Officer?

The National Registration Regulations 1991, provide that any registration officer, immigration officer. Police officer, officer of customs, officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau or Special Investigator of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and any other officer authorised in writing by the Commissioner, may at any time require any person to produce his/her identity card for inspection, within such time to such person and at such as the officer may think fit.

You have the right to ask the officer, who wishes to inspect your Identity Card, for written authority under which he/she claims to be acting

Q: Is it an offence not to carry my Identity Card?

Under the present law, it would appear that it is not an offence to be without your identity card but the officer stopping you has the right to require that it be produced at a stated time and place.

There are other instances in which a person is obliged to produce his/her Identity card eg.

  1. to the owner, manager or other person in charge of a hotel, boarding house, hostel or other dwelling place for accommodation purposes;
  2. to a pawnbroker if a person wishes to pawn an article; or
  3. to a licensed dealer in second hand goods if a person wishes to sell such goods.

Q: Can a Security Guard legally ask you to surrender your Identity Card?

No.

Q: Can your identity card be detained?

The regulations provide that any registration officer, immigration officer, police officer, officer of customs, officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau or Special Investigator of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau may retain your Identity Card for the purpose of investigation.