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

Last updated on February 21, 2024

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, relatives and friends are allowed to visit the inmate.

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 proof 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.

If you are not a family member/relative of the inmate or are unable to produce any documentary proof of relationship with the inmate, you are required to submit the online visit application here. This application will be processed within three weeks. The inmate’s Visit Card Holder (if any) and you, will be notified on the outcome of the visit application via SMS at your declared mobile phone numbers.

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

How Do I Make A Visit Booking?

Visit bookings must be made at least 2 days prior to the visit, and can be done in the following ways:

(a) Online Booking Portal

The Main Card Holder and authorised visitors can make visit bookings using their SingPass via the online booking portal.

(b) Self-Service Kiosks

The Main Card Holders and authorised visitors can also make visit bookings using their SingPass, via the Self-Service Kiosks located at the Prison Link Centres during operating hours set out below. Do note that the Centres are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Mondays to Fridays: 8am – 5pm
Saturdays: 8am – 4pm

(c) Visit Booking Hotline

Visit bookings can also be made by calling the Visit Booking Hotline 1800-PRISONS (1800-774-7667) during operating hours:

Mondays to Fridays: 8.45am – 5pm
Saturdays: 8.45am – 12.30pm

The hotline is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

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 currently 9 tele-visit centres located island-wide (five Prison Link Centres and four Satellite Visit Centres) 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?

The table below sets out the visit frequencies and maximum number of visits permitted, which differ for different categories of inmates:

Remand inmates Frequency Maximum no. of visits
Penal inmates (Short Sentence / Long Sentence) 2 visits per month Maximum 1 face-to-face visit per month
Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) inmates 2 visits per month Maximum 1 face-to-face visit per month
Inhalant Abusers (IA) 2 visits per month Maximum 1 face-to-face visit per month
Remand inmates 4 visits per
week
Maximum 2 face-to-face visit per week

For face-to-face visits, the visit duration is 20 minutes; for tele-visits, the visit duration is 30 minutes. Family members can also refer to this schedule for face-to-face visit days, and plan their visits accordingly.

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.

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.

The Digitisation of Inmate Rehabilitation and Corrections Tool (DIRECT) allows inmates to connect with their families and friends through e-letters, in addition to regular visits. The hardcopy letters, postcards and greeting cards that are sent will be scanned and made available to inmates on their DIRECT electronic tablets, before being discarded.

You may send 1 e-letter to each inmate contact per day. Do note that all e-Letters undergo screening and approval by SPS. Processing of the e-letters can take up to 10 days, but may be longer if additional security screening is required.

However, inmates with no access to DIRECT e-letters will continue to receive their incoming correspondences and write their letters in hardcopy format.

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).

Reading materials

Visitors are allowed to bring a maximum of three reading materials per visit. For remand inmates, the three reading materials are allowed to be brought once a week. All materials received will be screened. Please click here for specifications of reading materials.

Food items

Pre-approved snack packs can be purchased at any of the five Prison Link Centres. Visitors are allowed to purchase these snack packs for the following categories of inmates during each visit:

  • Remand inmates (allowed to receive one snack pack through visits weekly)
  • Inmates undergoing the Drug Rehabilitation Regime
  • Inmates undergoing the Inhalant Abuse Regime

Other items

For items such as spectacles, dentures, photographs and medications, inmates have to submit their requests through the institutions.

These requests are subject to approval before visitors are allowed to hand over the items during a visit. Unapproved items will not be accepted. For specifications of permitted items, please click here for more information.

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.

A family member is defined as a family line of descent which includes:

  • Great-grandparents and grandparents (both paternal and maternal)
  • Parents
  • Siblings (including step-siblings)
  • Spouse
  • Children (including step-children)
  • Grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Family members who wish to apply for compassionate leave may do so electronically via the forms below:

Compassionate Leave Form (SingPass)
Compassionate Leave Form (Without SingPass)

Alternatively, you may  proceed to Prison Link Centre Changi during operating hours or the Changi Complex Main Entrance (located next to Prison Link Centre Changi) during non-operating hours with the following documents:

  • 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.

For applications being made in-person at the Prison Link Centre Changi, do approach the counter staff to fill up an application form.

Please note that applications for compassionate leave are subject to approval.

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

As inmates are aware of their release dates, family members can ask the inmate personally for such information during their visit, or via e-letters.

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. A list of resources to support family members, provided by the Singapore Prison Service, can also be found here.

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