December 19, 2022

Moving to Singapore FAQ

Are you moving to Singapore? We answer your top questions about the relocation process.


Do you need a visa to move to Singapore?

If you are not a citizen of Singapore and you would like to stay in Singapore longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa. If you want to work in Singapore, you will also need to apply for a work permit. Some permits can take up to 6 months to obtain.*

What type of visa do you need for Singapore?

To live, work or study in Singapore, you can apply for a:

  • Long-term Visit Pass
  • Student’s Pass
  • Employment Pass (work permit for those earning over S$5,000 per month)
  • S Pass (work permit for mid-level employees earning a minimum of S$3,000 per month, increasing with age)
  • Dependent Pass for spouses and dependents of Employment Pass or S Pass holders

The Employment Pass and S Pass both must be sponsored by a potential employer in Singapore.

*Information provided above is for awareness purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Please ensure you consult with a qualified immigration lawyer. For complete information about visa eligibility to live, work and study in Singapore, visit the website of Singapore's Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.



Can you move a pet with you to Singapore?

According to the Government of Singapore website, these are the required steps to bring a pet into Singapore:*

  1. Identify the exporting country’s rabies risk to determine related requirements
  2. Ensure that your dog or cat’s breed is allowed in Singapore and in your intended residence
  3. Send your pet for rabies vaccination and a rabies serology test according to the government’s timeframe, if applicable
  4. Send your pet for general vaccinations
  5. Reserve quarantine space for your dog or cat if applicable
  6. Obtain a dog license before applying for an import license
  7. Book an inspection for your dog or cat. Pets arriving by air will be checked at Changi International Airport
  8. Send your pet for parasitic treatments and obtain a Veterinary Health Certificate
  9. Present your pet import license when you check in at the airport

*Requirements for pet importation in Singapore may change. Before planning to relocate your pet, visit the Singapore government website.

What pets are prohibited in Singapore?

The following dog breeds are not permitted in Singapore:

  • Pit Bull, including:
    • American Pit Bull Terrier (also known as American Pit Bull and Pit Bull Terrier).
    • American Staffordshire Terrier.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
    • American Bulldog.
    • Crosses of these and other breeds
  • Akita
  • Boerboe
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Tosa
  • Perro De Presa Canario
  • Crosses of any of the above breeds

The following cat breeds are not permitted in Singapore:

  • First to fourth generation Bengal or Savannah cat crosses (proof of lineage required)

*Requirements for pet importation in Singapore may change. Before planning to relocate your pet, visit the Singapore government website.

Will my pet need to quarantine in Singapore?

Pet quarantine requirements in Singapore are dependent upon the country of export.*

If you are moving to Singapore from Australia, New Zealand or other rabies-free “A” countries, your pet should not need to quarantine in Singapore.

Pets from “B” countries with low risk of rabies (eg. most of Western Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan) will not have to quarantine as long as they are healthy upon arrival.

Pets from “C” countries with some risk of rabies (eg. Spain, the US or Canada) fall within two categories based on their vaccination schedule. Pets who follow a C1 process may have to quarantine no less than 10 days, while pets who follow the C2 process may have to quarantine for no less than 30 days. To review the process that determines if your pet is considered C1 or C2, visit the government’s website.

*Requirements for pet importation in Singapore may change. Before planning to relocate your pet, visit the Singapore government website.

For everything you need to know about pet relocation, visit our Pet Relocation Guide.



Do expats need health insurance in Singapore?

Yes, as an expat in Singapore, you will need to arrange for health insurance. The government’s Medishield Life plan, which covers basic hospital stays, is only available to Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Most Singaporeans purchase Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) which boost their coverage above government policy limits.

Expats can also purchase IPs, but they will not receive any subsidies from the Singapore government. A number of private companies offer IPs specifically for expats. These include coverage for hospitalisations, out-patient treatments, and travel insurance.



What are the customs requirements for moving to Singapore?

All household goods are subject to a 7% GST upon arrival in Singapore. However, if you are an expat relocating to Singapore, it is possible to apply for GST relief. To qualify, your items must have been in your possession for more than 3 months before you move to Singapore, and you may not sell them within the first three months after your arrival.

According to the Singapore government’s website, certain items are not eligible for GST relief. These include:

  • Certain liquors
  • Tobacco products
  • Motor vehicles
  • Private aircraft, boats, yachts
  • Commercial goods

If you decide to import items that are subject to Duty or GST, you may need to obtain a Customs In-Payment (Duty and GST) permit or an In-Payment (GST) permit.

To help simplify this process, Sterling Lexicon move specialists assist our clients with completing customs documentation and clearing customs. We have an office in Singapore that helps us with this process.

The list of items that cannot be imported into Singapore – even as personal effects – is extensive. It includes but is not limited to:

  • Chewing gum
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Bones/tusks from endangered species
  • Obscene articles
  • Shisha and certain nicotine products

For a complete list of prohibited items, consult with your Move Specialist and view the Singapore government’s list of prohibited items.



What are the best neighbourhoods for expats in Singapore?

Singapore is separated into 28 districts. Some of the most popular for expats include:

Marina Bay (District 1)
Tanjong Pagar (District 2)
Tiong Bahru (District 3)
Sentosa (District 4)
Orchard Road and River Valley (District 9)
Holland Village (District 10)
East Coast (Districts 15 and 16)
Woodlands (District 25)

For helpful information about each district, visit our Guide to Singapore’s Main Districts.

And don’t miss our other guides:

Moving to Singapore from the UK

Moving to Singapore from Germany

Our move specialists are experts in the process of relocating to Singapore. If you have any questions or would like to book a free, no obligation moving survey, contact us today!

Learn more about our Moving Services



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