Special Travel Circumstances in Singapore

Singapore customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items you might be carrying while transiting Singapore (temporary importation or exportation) such as: weapons, ammunition, illegal drugs, certain religious materials, pornographic material, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and software. Singapore customs authorities’ definition of "weapon" is very broad, and, in addition to firearms and ammunition, including a single bullet, includes many items which may not be considered to be weapons in the United States, such as dive knives, kitchen knives, handcuffs, and expended shell casings. You may be arrested for carrying any of these items without permission. All baggage is x-rayed at every port of entry, so checked baggage will also be inspected for regulated items.

Dutiable Goods: Generally, there are four types of dutiable goods in Singapore: alcoholic beverages, tobacco, gasoline, and motor vehicles. If you enter Singapore at any port of entry you must approach an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer at the "Red Channel" for payment of duty (e.g. alcohol and tobacco) and goods and services tax (GST) if your dutiable goods exceed the GST relief or duty-free concession. You will be liable to prosecution if you proceed to the "Green Channel" for customs clearance but have items that are subject to payment of duty and/or GST.

Please visit the Singapore Customs’ website for specific information regarding Singapore customs requirements.

Cash: Automated teller machines (ATMs) are plentiful in Singapore, and they are the best method of obtaining cash. There are also facilities for changing money at the airport and at many large commercial centers and shopping malls. Bank transfers generally take weeks, and surcharges are steep. Transfers from commercial services such as American Express and Western Union are generally efficient.

Surrendering Your Passport: Police officers, hotels, or your employer may ask you to surrender your passport in lieu of surety (guaranteed) bonds; you should carefully consider whether you wish to surrender your passport rather than seek some other type of surety, particularly if the passport is requested by someone who is not a government official (e.g., an employer or hotel employee). However, at check-in, some hotels may legitimately ask to see the passport for identification/registration. In those cases, the passport is immediately returned to you.

Dual Nationality: Singapore does not recognize dual nationality beyond the age of 21, and it strictly enforces universal national service (NS) for all male citizens and permanent residents. If you are a male U.S. citizen who automatically acquired Singaporean citizenship at birth, you are liable for Singapore national service (NS) once you reach the age of 18. You may require Singaporean government approval for travel abroad as you approach national service age, and your travel may be restricted when you reach sixteen-and-a-half years of age. Under Singaporean law, an individual who acquires Singaporean citizenship at birth retains that status even after acquiring the citizenship of another country, including U.S. citizenship.

You may renounce Singaporean citizenship only after you have completed at least two years of national service. U.S. citizens are subject to this law. To determine if there will be a national service obligation, you should contact the Ministry of Defense in Singapore. For additional information, please see the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website for information on dual nationality, and contact the Ministry of Defense Central Manpower Base (tel. 65-6373-3127), or visit Singapore’s National Service Pre-Enlistee information page.

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You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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2019 edition