The front cover of a contemporary Singaporean biometric passport
|Type of document||Passport|
|Eligibility requirements||Singaporean citizenship|
The Singaporean passport is a travel document issued to the citizens of Singapore. It is issued by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore. Only Singaporean citizens can apply for this passport.
The passport is a popular target for counterfeiters, due to the relatively liberal visa requirements for Singaporean travellers to destinations such as the United States and the United Kingdom, and the tendency for immigration to clear Singaporean passport holders more quickly. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority thus adopted several measures to foil forgers, including utilizing digital photos and special ink since October 1999, and the Biometric passport from August 2006.
The Singaporean passport is valid for a period of five years for passports issued since April 1, 2005 and ten years for passports issued before 1 April 2005. Before biometric passports were issued in August 2006, passports for male citizens between 11 and 18 were only valid for two years, and had to be renewed or replaced every two years. Biometric passports cannot be modified due to the "write once" policy by ICAO. A new passport is valid for a total period of five years. For the renewal of a passport that has a validity of nine months or less, the new one will have a validity of five years plus the remaining validity in the old passport. However, if a passport is being renewed with a validity of more than nine months, it will be valid for five years and nine months. To travel overseas, a passport must be valid for at least six months.
Since 15 August 2006, all newly issued Singaporean passports contain biometric features (BioPass). A major reason for this addition is to comply with the requirements for the US Visa Waiver Program. The features also help to prevent forgery and minimize the abuse of Singaporean passports. The biometric passports contain 64 pages, unlike the machine readable passports, which contain 96 pages. It costs S$80 for a passport, with the higher cost due to the special features encoded into the passport. There is a ten dollar rebate if one applies for the passport on the Internet, by post or by deposit box with applicants having to collect the passport personally.
The biometric passport is valid for 5 years for first time applicants, compared with 10 years for previously issued passports without biometric features. Also, the new passport does not accept modifications such as extensions of validity, and updating of photographs due to ICAO's "write once" policy. In a break from long standing practice, the passport number is now unique to each passport, instead of being identical to the holder's NRIC number. Children are no longer allowed to travel on their parents' passports.
The biometric passport project cost the Singaporean government a total of S$9.7 million.
National Service issues
All male citizens are required to be conscripted for two years as National Service (NS). Previously, the Singapore government had a policy of limiting the validity of the passport for boys aged 11 and above. Before travel, they had to apply for a 9 month extension of their passports. Such extensions were added with a rubber stamp. The Singapore government has stated that the objective of such exit control measures is to deter NS-evasion, and that these measures serve as a "psychological reminder" of the citizen's NS obligations.
Since the new biometric passport does not permit such modifications, a decision was made by the Ministry of Defence to do away with limited-validity passports. Exit permits are still required for overseas trips which last longer than three months.
- Zaihan Mohd Yusof, Serangoon Rd man asks undercover reporter: Psst, want to buy a passport?, The New Paper, 9 Jun 2004. Accessed 11 Nov 2006.
- Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Application for Singapore Passport, accessed 17 Dec 2006
- U.S. State Department, Visa Waiver Program (VWP), accessed 10 Nov 2006.
- Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore, Biopass FAQ, accessed 11 Nov 2006.
- Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore, Deletion of Child's Particulars, accessed 11 Nov 2006.
- Channel NewsAsia, Singapore's biometric passport project to cost S$9.7 million, accessed 3 Dec 2006.
- MINDEF, Introduction of the Singapore Biometric Passport - Revisions To Exit Control Measures, 25 July 2006. Accessed 14 Nov 2006.
- Issuing of Singapore passports
- Images of a 1951 Singapore passport
- History of the Singapore passport From passport-collector.com