Singapore Citizenship: How to Obtain & Can It Be Renounced?
Why Apply for Singapore Citizenship?
If you are planning to make Singapore your home, you may consider becoming a Singapore citizen.
There are many benefits that come with a Singapore citizenship. The most famous one is the ease of travel – ranked as one of the top passports in the world, Singapore citizens enjoy visa-free travel to 127 countries in the world.
Beyond travel, Singapore citizens also enjoy many other benefits in the form of housing policies, education and healthcare.
Only Singapore citizens (and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) if they are buying with a citizen) can purchase new apartments from the Housing Development Board (HDB), and receive housing grants/subsidies. Similarly, the Singapore government heavily subsidises tuition fees, as well as medical bills, of Singapore citizens with schemes such as Edusave and MediFund.
Do note, however, that all male Singaporean citizens have an obligation to serve National Service (NS) once they turn 18 years of age. For more information, please refer to our article on NS obligations and eligibility.
How can Singapore Citizenship be Acquired?
- Citizenship can be acquired by birth if:
- A person is born in Singapore with at least 1 parent who is a Singapore citizen.
- Citizenship can be acquired by descent if:
- A person is born outside Singapore on or after 15 May 2004, with at least 1 parent who is a Singaporean citizen.
- A person is born outside Singapore before 15 May 2004, and his father is a Singapore citizen by birth or by registration.
- Citizenship can be acquired by naturalisation if a person of or above 21:
- Has resided in Singapore for at least 10 years prior to the application for the certificate of naturalisation, and intends to do so permanently;
- Is of good character; and
- Has adequate knowledge of Singapore’s national language (i.e the Malay language).
- Citizenship can also be acquired by registration. The details of which will be the focus of this article.
How to Register for Singapore Citizenship
You are eligible to register for Singapore Citizenship if:
- You have been a PR of Singapore for at least 2 years and are above the age of 21
- You can also apply together with your spouse and any unmarried children aged below 21 years old born to or adopted by you.
- You have been a PR of Singapore, and have been married to a Singapore citizen, for at least 2 years
- Your spouse will need to sponsor (i.e. support) your application
- If you are an unmarried child aged below 21 born to or adopted by a Singapore citizen
- Your parent will sponsor your application
- You are a PR studying in Singapore and you have been residing in Singapore for more than 3 years, of which at least 1 year as a PR, and you have passed at least 1 national exam (such as PSLE, GCE N/O/A levels) or you are in the Integrated Programme (IP).
- If you are below the age of 15, any Singapore citizen can sponsor your application
- If you are a PR and an aged parent of a Singapore citizen
- Your child will sponsor your application
- You have been a PR of Singapore for at least 2 years and are above the age of 21
If you are applying under the sponsorship of a Singapore citizen, your sponsor will need to log in via his or her SingPass account.
Please do refer to this helpful user guide before commencing your application on how to use the e-service and fill in the relevant sections of the application form.
You and your sponsor (if any) are also required to submit the following documents, which may differ depending on who the applicant is (i.e. adult, child, or aged parent):
- Photograph of the applicant
- Foreign identity card and passport
- Certificate of Marriage/Birth (For marriages and births not registered in Singapore)
- Educational certificates
- Employment documents of applicant and sponsor
For a complete checklist on the documents required for submission, as well as information on the application fees, please refer to the ICA website.
Processing time for your application
The average time for applications is usually between 6 and 12 months. If you are a Singaporean citizen applying for citizenship for your child born overseas, the processing time is within 2 to 3 months from the receipt of the documents.
What factors are considered when assessing my application? Can my application be rejected?
Each application is assessed on its own terms and merits and the Singapore Government can reject your application. Some of the factors which are considered when assessing your application are:
- Whether you can contribute significantly to the Singapore economy and society
- Whether you intend to reside in the country permanently
- Your education and technical qualification levels
- Your efforts in socially integrating into the community
- Whether you have demonstrated good conduct – determined via your employment records or the presence of criminal records
- Any other special commendations and awards you have on a personal or professional level
- Your talents such as sporting and/or artistic excellence
- Whether you have any existing family and relatives in Singapore that are PRs or citizens
Attend an interview with ICA
Upon submitting your documents, you and your sponsor will be required to attend an interview with an ICA officer who will verify your submitted documents against your application form. You will be required to declare that all the information stated in your application is true and correct.
If you are applying on behalf of your child, your child must be present at least once during the interview stage or the collection of citizenship certificate at the ICA or Embassy.
What Happens Once My Application is Approved?
Complete the Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ)
If your application is successful, you will receive an Approval in Principle letter. You are required to complete the mandatory Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ) within 2 months of receiving the letter.
The SCJ programme is to enrich and familiarise new citizens with Singapore’s history, values and cultures, so that the new citizens have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country. The SCJ has three components:
- The online e-journey which consists of 4 modules on the key national policies, and information on Singapore’s history and development;
- The Singapore Experiential Tour, which is a half-day tour that brings new citizens to key historical landmarks and national institutions to learn about Singapore history and national challenges are overcome; and
- The Community Sharing Session with other residents and Grassroots Leaders from the new citizen’s constituency, to learn how to actively participate in the community.
Renounce your prior foreign citizenship
Once you have completed your SCJ, the next step is to renounce your prior citizenship. This is only applicable to citizenship applicants who are 21 years old and above.
To renounce your current citizenship, please visit the Embassy or High Commission of your current citizenship country with your passport. You will be issued with letters stating the renunciation of your citizenship, and you will need to surrender your passport.
The duration for this depends on your respective embassy, but may take about 1-2 months on average.
Register for Singapore Citizenship
Once you have renounced your foreign citizenship, you will receive a notification letter from the ICA informing you to register your Singapore citizenship. Report to the ICA on the date and time stated in that notification letter to complete your registration and apply for the NRIC and Singaporean passport.
Please prepare the original and a photocopy of the renunciation letter of foreign citizenship and a letter stating the surrender of your foreign passport from the relevant authorities. You will also be required to take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty (ORAL) before a Commissioner for Oaths.
Attend the citizenship ceremony
Finally, you will have to attend the citizenship ceremony. This will typically be held from 3-6 months from the renunciation and registration of Singapore citizenship.
During the ceremony, you receive your Singapore citizenship certificate and the pink NRIC which is your Singapore identity card.
After Obtaining Singapore Citizenship
Will my new-born child be automatically considered a Singapore citizen?
A child born in Singapore will be granted Singapore citizenship as long as the child has at least 1 parent who is a Singapore citizen. The NRIC of the Singaporean parent(s) is required to complete the registration of the birth of your child.
If, after you have become a Singapore citizen, your child is born outside of Singapore, you will need to log on to MyICA to register your child’s birth and apply for citizenship by descent for your child.
Can I renounce my Singapore Citizenship?
To renounce your citizenship you must be:
- At least 21 years old;
- Of sound mind; and
- Have acquired the citizenship of another country.
You will need to complete the personal particulars form and supplementary forms as well as other documents required and submit them in person to a Singapore Overseas Mission, the ICA building or by post to the ICA.
If you are a male citizen, do note that the government may withhold your renunciation if you have not:
- Discharged your liability for full-time NS;
- Rendered at least 3 years of operationally ready NS in lieu of full-time service; or
- Complied with such conditions as may be determined by the Government.
Can my citizenship be revoked?
The most straightforward manner in which the Singapore citizenship can be revoked is the failure to take the ORAL before your 22nd birthday, if you were registered as a Singapore citizen prior to the age of 21. This results in the automatic loss of your citizenship.
The government may also, among other reasons, revoke your citizenship if:
- It was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact
- Was granted by mistake
- You have shown by act or speech that you are disloyal or disaffected towards Singapore
Most importantly, the government may not revoke your citizenship in certain situations (such as if the citizenship was granted by mistake) if it will leave you stateless.
If my citizenship is revoked, will my child’s citizenship also be revoked?
If you have renounced your citizenship or had it revoked, the Government may also revoke your child’s citizenship if your child is under 21 years old and was registered as a citizen of Singapore with you as the child’s sponsor.
What happens once my citizenship ceases?
Can I still remain in Singapore?
Once your citizenship ceases, you will be treated as a foreigner. Therefore, you cannot remain for more than 24 hours in Singapore after the date of cessation of your citizenship unless you have a permit or pass authorising you to remain in Singapore.
Will my CPF savings be released to me?
You will need to apply to withdraw all of your CPF savings once you lose your citizenship, and have no intention of returning back to Singapore (and West Malaysia) for the purpose of employment or residence.
If you are in Singapore when you lose your citizenship, you will need to complete the form entitled “Withdraw CPF Savings on Ground of Leaving Singapore and West Malaysia Permanently”, along with the supporting documents listed in the form.
If you are applying by mail from overseas, you will need to complete the same form, but have it and all your supporting documents witnessed and certified by an official from a Singapore Overseas Mission.
What happens to my HDB flat?
If you own any HDB flats in Singapore, you will need to sell your property if you lose your citizenship.
While this article provides an overview on the citizenship process, it is best to reach out to the ICA Citizenship Unit should you have any queries. You could also approach immigration consultancy firms for advice on the steps to make a citizenship application.
Do note that lawyers are unfortunately unable to help you with the citizenship process.
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