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Legal Requirements for Obtaining Citizenship in Singapore

Legal Requirements for Obtaining Citizenship in Singapore

Becoming a Singapore citizen has many benefits for those relocating to the city-state. The nationality law derives from the Singapore Civil Law which allows a foreign citizen to obtain Singapore citizenship if they meet certain requirements. There are several ways of acquiring citizenship in Singapore.

These are:

  • citizenship by birth;
  • citizenship by descent;
  • citizenship by registration;
  • citizenship by naturalization;
  • citizenship by investment.

For information related to obtaining citizenship by investment and its qualification requirements you can refer to our law firm in Singapore.

 Quick Facts  
 Ways to acquire citizenship 

Citizenship can be acquired through:

– naturalization (by various categories of permanent residents);

– marriage with a Singaporean national;

– descent (as the child of a Singaporean national).     

 Law on citizenship  

 Singapore Citizenship Rules 1999

 Fees charged for citizenship application 

 The legal requirements for obtaining citizenship in Singapore provides for 2 categories of fees:

– processing fees, S$18 (for overseas born children) or S$100 (for all other categories);

– fees for successful applicants –  S$10 (for the issuance of a Singapore identity card), S$70 (for the citizenship certificate).  

 Minimum requirements for citizenship by naturalization 

 – have permanent residency in Singapore for 2 years or 3 years (it depends on the visa issued to the foreigner);

– have an age above 21 years old;

– be of good character;

– show commitment to living in Singapore (from social and financial points of view). 

 Minimum requirements for citizenship by marriage 

 – have permanent residency in Singapore for minimum 2 years;

– be married to a Singapore national for 2 years (legal marriage only);

– have the Singapore spouse as the sponsor of the citizenship application;

– show commitment to living permanently in Singapore.  

 Requirements for citizenship by descent 

 The legal requirements for obtaining citizenship in Singapore by descent require applicants to have an age below 21 years old at the moment of the application and be the child of at least one parent who has Singaporean citizenship.

The applicant must be unmarried.

It is also necessary to be the child (by birth or by adoption) of two married spouses. 

 Fees charged for minor children citizenship application  

 The legal requirements for obtaining citizenship in Singapore state that for minor children born overseas, the application fee is S$18, and for children born in Singapore, S$100. 

 Duration of the citizenship process 

The standard application processing is of 6 to 12 months.

For children born overseas, the application can take around 2-3 months.   

 Application stamps fees  

Not applicable.  

 Institution in charge with the review of the application  Immigration &Checkpoints Authority Singapore.  
 Dual citizenship allowed (yes/no) 

No (dual citizenship is allowed up until a child reaches the age of 21 years old, when he or she is legally required to choose one citizenship).  

 Fees for the issuance of a passport 

 – S$70 for online applications;

– S$80 for applications through consular missions.   

Passport validity  

Starting with 1 October 2021, the validity of the passport for a citizen with an age above 16 years old was increased to 10 years (from 5).

For those below 16 years old, the passport is valid for 5 years.  

 Difference between permanent residency and citizenship  

 A Singapore permanent resident has more limitations and these can include:

– access to healthcare;

– higher costs for various services;

– limited maternity leave rights;

– immigration impediments (one has to be very careful regarding the validity of visas when outside Singapore). 

A permanent resident can't vote, can't have a Singaporean passport, as opposed to a citizen. 

However, both permanent residents and citizens must enlist in the military service.     

 Authentication/translation of foreign documents required (yes/no)  Yes 

Obtaining Singapore citizenship in 2024 

As a general rule, the legislation on obtaining citizenship in Singapore has not been subjected to any amendments lately. However, those who are interested in starting the application process should address a lawyer specialized in immigration matters.

It is also recommended to verify the current fees one may need to pay. For instance, in 2024, the processing of the application fee is of S$100, according to the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)

All successful applicants will have to pay a fee of $70 in 2024 for the issuance of the Singapore Citizenship Certificate. For the issuance of the identity document there is a small fee, of $10. This fee is charged only for persons who have an age above 15 years old. A different fee for the issuance of the same document is charged for applicants who are permanent residents. In 2024, if they want to obtain an identity document, the fee is $50. 

Persons who want to apply for citizenship in 2024 must know that there are 2 types of fees – fees charged to all applicants, regardless of the outcome of the procedure, and fees charged later on, only to the applicants who met the criteria for citizenship

In 2024, the Singaporean authorities charge fees based on 3 main criteria: for adult permanent residents and their children, for the children born overseas from Singaporean parents and for all other categories of children born overseas or in the country. 

Applying for a Singapore passport

In order to obtain a Singapore passport, foreign citizens must comply with certain requirements depending on the way they want to obtain citizenship. The following categories of foreign citizens can apply for Singapore citizenship:

  • persons who are least 21 years old and have a Singapore permanent residence permit for at least 2 years;
  • the spouses of Singapore citizens who have been married for at least 2 years and have a permanent residence permit for the same period of time;
  • children who have at least a parent who is a Singapore citizen.

All foreign citizens applying for a Singapore passport must have a clean criminal record, must be willing to relocate to the city-state and live there permanently and must be able to support themselves and their families.

Documents required to apply for citizenship in Singapore in 2024

Foreign citizens relocating to Singapore are required to submit the following documents when applying for citizenship:

  • an application form, the passport, a recent passport-size photo; 
  • the residence permit, the birth certificate, the identity card; 
  • a marriage or divorce certificate, death certificate of the spouse, if applicable; 
  • education diplomas, a letter of employment from the Singapore company, if applicable; 
  • an income tax notice for the past 3 years; 
  • proof of payments related to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) in the last year; 
  • the balance sheet of the company, if the applicant has opened a company in Singapore
  • birth certificate and passport of the children, if applicable.

What happens after the citizenship application is made? 

The law on immigration in Singapore states that the applicants are required to submit an online application. Although one can submit the documentation by using online platforms, the application must also be completed via a in-person meeting with the Singaporean authorities

Therefore, the online procedure will also involve booking a date for an appointment with the ICA representatives

Regarding this final step on immigration in Singapore, you must know the following: 

  • there is a mandatory requirement to book an appointment for the review of the application, starting with 1 June 2016;
  • in general, a person will obtain an answer, whether it is negative or positive, in a period of 6 to 12 months;
  • persons who wish to acquire Singaporean citizenship have to renounce their previous citizenship, a process which can take 1 to 12 months;
  • once you are a citizen, you will be entitled to a Singaporean passport – if you want to obtain one, you will have to pay a fee of S$70;
  • the passport can be issued in a period of 3 to 5 business days and it can be sent via postal services in the region where you have your residency in Singapore

As said above, you will have to complete steps for renouncing your previous citizenship. This is because Singapore does not recognize dual citizenship and during the formalities for becoming a citizen, you will have to take an Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty to Singapore

This particular step involves the presentation of many documents, including your residence permit in SingaporeOur immigration lawyers in Singapore can present more information on the rest of papers you have to prepare for the Citizenship Oath

As a successful citizenship applicant, once the initial citizenship formalities are completed, you will receive an Approval in Principle letter, this being the final step prior to actually receiving citizenship.

After this letter, the applicant will receive information on the registration of citizenship (the appointment, time, and place). These are all part of the Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ) program, applicable to all persons who have an age between 16 to 60 years old. 

Persons who will apply for citizenship in 2024 can complete an online application form. The online forms and procedures can be completed in around 90 minutes. The procedure is safe and it can be accessed either by using a password code or by scanning a QR code, to ensure the privacy of the information. 

Below, we invite you to watch a short video on the legal requirements for obtaining citizenship in Singapore

Is there a citizenship ceremony in Singapore? 

Yes, the citizenship process is completed with a citizenship ceremony. After the formalities necessary for the citizenship oath are completed, it is considered, from a legal point of view, that you are a Singaporean citizen, but the formalities must be followed by a citizenship ceremony

Thus, in a period of 3 to 4 months after the Oath formalities have been completed, you will receive, at the address where you have your residency in Singapore, a formal letter that invites you to participate in a citizenship ceremony

The event can take place at the nearest location to the place that is registered as your address on your residence permit in Singapore (the location has to be a local community center). 

Please mind that this procedure is not an optional one, it is mandatory to participate, unless exempted by the law; our immigration lawyers in Singapore can offer information on what these exemptions are. 

The event will not be organized for each individual who has obtained the citizenship, but rather for a group of people living in the same area, who have become citizens in the same period of time. 

The event will generally last around 2 hours, and you will be asked to bring your invitation letter and the new citizenship documents that you have been issued with prior to the ceremony. 

During the event, all new citizens will be asked to recite the pledge of allegiance and to sing the national anthem. They will obtain the citizenship certificates and the Singaporean identity cards and will take group photos and participate in a buffet reception. 

Thus, the ceremony will have a formal part and an informal part. Please mind that in Singapore men are required by law to enlist in the national service (military service). Our lawyers in Singaporecan offer more details about the law applicable for military service. 

This applies to all males who have an age above 18 years old and who have become permanent residents and citizens, unless exempted. You can find out more about this legal obligation from our law firm in Singapore

All documents for citizenship must be provided in original or certified copies. Our Singapore lawyers provide notary services. You can also contact us if you want to open a company in Singapore.