Bankruptcy Filing FAQs for Singapore Permanent Residents

Last updated on March 2, 2022

man stressed while looking at papers

If you are a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) who has decided to file, or are considering filing, for bankruptcy, you may be concerned over how this decision may affect you as a PR. Some of the frequently asked questions are answered below.

This article will discuss:

Can Singapore PRs File for Bankruptcy in Singapore?

Singapore PRs may file for bankruptcy in Singapore provided that you fall within any one of the following situations:

  • You are domiciled in Singapore
  • You have property in Singapore
  • You have been ordinarily resident, or had a place of residence, in Singapore for at least 1 year immediately before filing for bankruptcy
  • You have carried on business in Singapore for at least 1 year immediately before filing for bankruptcy

“Domiciled in Singapore”

Domicile is difficult to define precisely but it generally means the place where a person has his permanent home. The law presumes that your domicile is the place of your citizenship. To prove that you are domiciled in Singapore despite not being a Singapore citizen, then there must be objective evidence that you have the intention to permanently live in Singapore.

“Ordinarily resident or has a place of residence in Singapore”

The requirement of being ordinarily resident, or having a place of residence, in Singapore is easier to meet than the domicile requirement. This requirement is satisfied as long as you have been voluntarily living in Singapore for a settled purpose for at least 1 year, even if you have been travelling frequently during that period.

What are the Consequences of Filing for Bankruptcy?

Upon successfully filing for bankruptcy, your assets will form your bankruptcy estate and be controlled by the Official Assignee (OA). You will not be able to sell them or give them away. However, some assets are protected from being included in your bankruptcy estate, such as:

  • Properties held on trust by you
  • HDB flats where at least one of the owners is a Singapore Citizen
  • CPF contributions (see below)
  • Necessary household furniture
  • Personal items such as clothing
  • Life insurance policies held on express trust for the benefit of your spouse or children
  • Compensation awarded for legal action in respect of your personal injuries or wrongs committed against you

The OA is an officer of the court assigned to administer the assets in your bankruptcy estate and distribute them as fairly as possible among your creditors.

Further, the interest on your debts stops accumulating and your creditors are barred from suing you for debts owed to them. The OA will also determine a monthly contribution that is within your means for repaying your debt.

Will I Lose My PR Status If I File for Bankruptcy? Can I Renounce My PR Status After Filing for Bankruptcy?

You will retain your PR status. Your PR status is unaffected by your status as an undischarged bankrupt.

Should you wish to renounce your PR status after having been made a bankrupt, you can still make the application subject to approval from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). However, even if you have successfully renounced your PR status, you must still obtain permission from the OA to leave, remain or reside outside Singapore.

Can I Still Travel Overseas After Filing for Bankruptcy?

As earlier mentioned, you must obtain permission from the OA to travel overseas. This permission may be granted as a privilege if you are categorised in the “Green Zone”. Bankrupts who have conducted themselves well during bankruptcy, including cooperating with the OA, are generally placed in the Green Zone. Green Zone privileges include being granted a travel permit of more than a month to any country. 

Even for urgent travel, you must still seek permission.

It is an offence to travel without permission from the OA. If convicted, you may be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to 2 years, or both.

If the OA finds it necessary to ensure you do not leave Singapore while administering your estate, he may direct the ICA to prevent you from leaving Singapore. The possible measures that can be taken by the ICA include detaining your passport, certification of identity or travel document authorising you to leave or enter Singapore.

For further reading, refer to our other article on what a bankrupt cannot do and what they must do in Singapore.

Will I Lose My CPF Monies If I File for Bankruptcy?

No, the money in your CPF account is protected from your creditors. It will not form part of your bankruptcy estate, which the Official Assignee deals with.

This is the case even if you renounce your PR status. Your CPF monies remain protected.

How Do I File for Bankruptcy?

The application must be filed at the Supreme Court and it will cost $1,850. If you file for bankruptcy, this cost will be borne by you. However, the costs will be paid by the creditors if they are the ones applying for your bankruptcy.

Once the court declares you a bankrupt, you will have to submit to the OA your Statement of Affairs (containing information on your assets, liabilities, current employment status and monthly expenses) via the Ministry of Law’s Insolvency Office E-Services portal.

Refer to our other article for more details on the procedure to file for bankruptcy in Singapore and the related costs.

The bankruptcy regime in Singapore covers Singapore PRs as well, as long they meet the requirements for filing for bankruptcy. As an undischarged bankrupt, your PR status does not cause you to be treated differently from Singapore citizens. However, if travel is extremely important to you, you should consider the likely restrictions on your ability to travel if you are successfully declared a bankrupt.

If you require advice on bankruptcy proceedings or related matters, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from a bankruptcy lawyer.

A bankruptcy lawyer will be able to advise you on whether there are better alternatives than bankruptcy for your situation. He/she will also be able to advise you on how you may be specifically affected as a bankrupt, and assist you with the application and related procedures such as the filing of documents.

Get in touch with experienced bankruptcy lawyers here.