Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore

Last updated on January 21, 2019

A man's hand holding onto the prison bars.

Visits from family members, friends and loved ones play an important role in the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

For many inmates, these visits can enhance family bonding and help develop positive social support towards their rehabilitative efforts. This will in turn facilitate their eventual re-integration into the community.

This article aims to answer some common questions that family members might have when visiting a loved one who is in prison or on death row. It covers the following:

Who can Visit an Inmate?

Generally, family members and close relatives are allowed to visit the inmate. A close relative/family member is confined to the family line of descent, which means:

  • Grandparents (both paternal and maternal);
  • Parents;
  • Spouse;
  • Siblings; or
  • Children.

For certain categories of inmates, friends who have registered and have been approved by the Prison authorities are also permitted to visit the inmate.

Registration is done via the Singapore Prison Service e-Services Portal. Do note that you are required to login with your SingPass ID to access this platform.

A Visit Card will be issued to the family member whom the inmate has declared as his/her next-of-kin upon admission. Family members who are able to produce the relevant documentary proofs of their relationship (see below) will help speed up and facilitate the administration process for visitation requests.

This Visit Card must be produced at every visit session. For family members who have forgotten or lost their Visit Card, they are still able to visit an inmate. They will need to report the loss to the visit officers at the Prison Link Centres or the institutions, and a replacement Visit Card will be issued.

Do note that each inmate is only entitled to 1 Visit Card. Requests for 2 Visit Cards can only be made strictly under exceptional circumstances, and subject to approval by the Prison authorities.

Non-family members who wish to visit an inmate need to make a visitation request through the main Visit Card holder. The Visit Card holder will need to complete an ‘Application Form for Request to Visit an Inmate’ at the Changi Prison Link Centre.

There is no minimum age imposed on visitors who wish to visit a loved one in prison.

Are There Any Documents that I am Required to Bring for a Visit Session?

You are required to bring along your:

  • Visit Card (issued to the family whom the inmate has declared as his/her next-of-kin);
  • NRIC or passport and/or Work Permit; and
  • Letters of identity (if any).

Birth certificates and Marriage Certificates are also required for relationship verification purposes during the first registration. For a comprehensive list of the types of documents to be produced by each family member, please click here.

Where will the Visit Session be Held?

Visit sessions are held in visiting cubicles. However, a prisoner who has completed 4 years of his sentence and has displayed excellent conduct may be authorised by the Superintendent to receive visitors in a visiting room.

A prison officer will supervise this visiting room.

Can I Arrange for a Tele-Visit Instead of a Face-to-Face Visit?

Tele-visits allow loved ones and friends to see and talk to an inmate through television via tele-conferencing technology, which can be more convenient and cost-effective.

Tele-visits can be arranged from Mondays to Saturdays, subject to availability of slots and other factors. It is a more convenient option over face-to-face visits which are limited to a fixed day of the week (e.g. visits to inmates housed in Institution A1 of the Changi Prison Complex are arranged every Monday).

There are 8 tele-visit centres located island-wide for the convenience of family members and relatives. The addresses and contact details of the tele-visit centres are available here.

How Often can I Visit My Loved One, and How Many Visitors are Permitted for Each Visit?

In general, you are able to do a face-to-face visit either once or twice every month.

Prisoners who are in remand (detained in prison until a later date when a trial or sentencing hearing will take place) are allowed to be visited every weekday.

Most inmates are allowed to be visited by a maximum of 3 visitors in a visit session. The Visit Card holder must accompany additional visitors, who would need to register (see above) and be approved by the Prison authorities.

According to section 127(2) of the Prison Regulations, an inmate is only allowed to receive a visit from relatives or friends 1 month after his or her admission to prison.

Family members may choose to opt for 2 tele-visits a month, as most categories of inmates can be visited twice a month, out of which at most 1 face-to-face visit is allowed.

For prisoners who are in remand, they are only allowed tele-visits during the initial phase. After this, face-to-face visits are allowed up to 2 times a week. Subsequent visits in the same week have to be through tele-visits.

Family members should note that the frequencies could vary depending on the the category of inmate. It is always best to verify this with the visit officer on the number of visits allowed.

Can I Send or Receive Letters from My Loved One?

You are able to send standard correspondence materials such as:

  • Letters;
  • Greeting cards; and
  • Postcards.

However, these materials are subject to screening and approval from the Prison authorities. Non-standard correspondence materials will not be allowed. These include materials that are:

  • Musical,
  • Perfumed,
  • pop-up,
  • Irregular-shaped,
  • Very large in size;
  • Have a glossy surface; or
  • Are pasted with stickers or printed with personal photographs.

An inmate is allowed to write and receive 1 letter every month. If an inmate’s relatives or friends live far away and it is inconvenient for them to visit (despite them being allowed to do so), the inmate is allowed to write and receive an additional letter in lieu of a visit.

A prisoner who has completed 4 years of his sentence and has displayed excellent conduct may be authorised by the Superintendent to write and receive unrestricted number of letters.

What Items am I Allowed to Bring with Me when Visiting an Inmate?

You are only allowed to bring approved items (either brought in or purchased from the Prison for the inmate during the visit). A list of approved items is available at the Visit Office of the Institution for your reference.

For common items including:

  • Reading materials;
  • Spectacles;
  • Medication;
  • Hearing aids; and
  • Dentures,

family members need to seek approval by the Prison authorities before these items can be passed to the inmates. Further details on the relevant procedures for obtaining approval to bring in these items are available here.

Do note that visitors are not allowed to bring food for inmates throughout the year.

Can My Loved One Visit a Family Member in Hospital?

Compassionate leave allows an inmate to:

  • Visit a family member or close relative who is gravely ill either at home, in hospital or any other place in Singapore;
  • Attend the last rites/funeral of a close relative.

If you wish to apply for compassionate leave on the inmate’s behalf, you may proceed to the Changi Prison Link Centre during office hours (Mondays to Saturdays from 8am to 4.30pm).

Please note that you are also required to bring the following documents to process your application:

  • Original NRIC of applicant;
  • Original documents proving relationship between inmate and family member who has passed away or is certified to be dangerously ill; and
  • Original copy of the death certificate or medical memo.

How can I Know the Release Date of My Loved One?

As the Prison authorities do not disclose confidential inmate information, family members should ask the inmate personally for such information during their visit.

For Family Members of Inmates on Death Row

When would we receive the notice of execution?

As death sentences in Singapore are usually carried out on Fridays, families of death row inmates may be given the notice of execution on the Monday of that week.

Is it possible to receive an extension of visit time when visiting an inmate on death row?

Generally, the family of an inmate on death row is allowed to visit the inmate more frequently and for an extended period of time at each visit after receiving the notice of execution.

The Prison authorities will do their best to facilitate requests from the inmate and his or her family as much as possible.

However, physical contact is not allowed to ensure the safety and security of the inmate.

What other arrangements are available for the family members?

Family members of inmates awaiting execution have access to a private room at the Changi Prison Link Centre. They are able to use the room from the eve of the execution itself, and trained counsellors will be on hand to provide emotional support and assistance should they require it.

It is understandable for friends and family members to experience stress or anxiety at the thought of visiting a loved one who is in prison or on death row.

Nevertheless, we hope you can alleviate these fears and concerns by understanding what to expect when visiting an inmate and being prepared for the procedures involved in arranging for a visit.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. Singapore’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: What Does It Mean?
  2. Your Right to a Lawyer After Being Arrested in Singapore
  3. What to Do If Your Loved One is Under Police Investigation
  4. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  5. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  6. What Happens When You Voluntarily Surrender to the Police
  7. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  8. Seized Assets in Money Laundering Investigations: What Happens To Them?
  9. Tasers, Batons, Shields & Firearms: When Do the Police Use Them?
  10. Stopped by the Singapore Police For Spot Checks, Etc: What to Do
  11. What is the Appropriate Adult Scheme in Singapore?
  12. Police Investigation Process for Crimes in Singapore (4 Steps)
  13. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  14. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  15. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  16. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  17. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  18. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  19. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  20. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  21. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  22. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  23. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  24. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  25. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Composition Offers and Fines for Criminal Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. Making Objections at Trial in the Singapore Courts
  2. When is a Witness Testimony Unreliable in Singapore?
  3. Burden of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases in Singapore
  4. Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps
  5. What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
  6. Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
  7. Death of a Party in a Legal Case in Singapore: What Happens?
  8. The "Unusually Convincing" Test in "He Said, She Said" Cases
  9. How to Adjourn or Postpone a Criminal Court Hearing
  10. TIC: Guide to Charges Taken Into Consideration in Singapore
  11. Can I Use the Defence of Intoxication in Singapore?
  12. When Can I Raise the Defence of Provocation in Singapore?
  13. Writing Character References For Court: What’s Their Purpose?
  14. Giving False vs. Wrong Evidence: What’s the Difference?
  15. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  16. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  17. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  18. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  19. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  20. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
  2. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  3. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  4. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  5. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  6. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  7. Criminal Records in Singapore
  8. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  9. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. Fined for an Offence: What to Do If I Can't Afford to Pay Them?
  2. How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  3. Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
  4. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  5. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  6. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  7. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  8. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  9. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  10. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  11. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
  1. Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
  2. Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
  3. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
  4. Breach of Protection Orders: What Can Victims Do?
  5. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  6. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
Offences Against the Human Body
  1. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  4. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
Sexual Offences
  1. Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
  2. Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
  3. Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
  4. Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
  5. How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
  6. Cybersexual Crimes in Singapore and Their Penalties
  7. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  8. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  9. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  10. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  11. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  12. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  13. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  14. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  15. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore: Can You Refuse it?
  2. Are Sex Toys and Sex Dolls Legal in Singapore?
  3. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  4. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  6. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  7. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  8. Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
  9. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  10. Gambling Legally (at Home, in Public or Online) in Singapore
  11. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
  1. Penalties For Buying Stolen Goods in Singapore
  2. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  3. Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  4. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  5. Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
  6. Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
  7. Penalties for Littering Offences in Singapore
  1. What is a POFMA Correction Direction and How to Appeal
  2. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  3. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  4. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  5. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Tax Evasion in Singapore: Penalties and Examples
  2. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
  3. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  4. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  5. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  6. Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
Road Offences
  1. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  2. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  3. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  4. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
  6. Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
  7. Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  8. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
Animal-Related Offences
  1. Taxidermy of Animals in Singapore: Is It Legal?
  2. Legal and Illegal Pets in Singapore (HDB/Private Property)
  3. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  4. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
  2. Causing a Public Nuisance in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  3. Causing Public Alarm in Singapore: Examples & Penalties
  4. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  5. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  6. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  7. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  8. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Gang and Riot-related Offences
  1. Penalties for Unlawful Assembly and Rioting in Singapore
  2. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  3. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
Marriage-Related Offences
  1. Bigamy: Is It Legal to Marry a Married Person in Singapore?
  2. Marriage Offences in Singapore Involving Minors, Same-Sex, Etc.
  3. What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal in Singapore?
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Penalties for Abetting Minors or Committing Crimes Against Them
  2. Misusing the Singapore Flag and Other National Symbols
  3. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  4. Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
  5. Offences Against the Dead and What Family Members Can Do
  6. Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
  7. Laws to Tackle High-Rise Littering in Singapore
  8. Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Singapore
  9. Penalties for Assaulting a Person in Singapore
  10. Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
  11. What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
  12. What Are Ponzi Schemes? Are They Illegal in Singapore?
  13. Modification of Cars, Motorcycles, Etc: Is It Legal in Singapore?
  14. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  15. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore