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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Singapore

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2015

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to a new country, you are able to bring the rest of your family with you. This way, you can all help each other to get through the disorientation and possible culture shock that can be experienced when moving to a new country. All non-nationals must fulfil certain requirements to be eligible to reside in the country. This applies whether you and your family are all first-time immigrants into Singapore or you are a returning Singaporean citizen with a family of non-nationals.

There are several restrictions on the immigration of family members into Singapore. The main factor is which work permit or work pass you hold. Generally, your family members will only be able to reside in Singapore if you create adequate wealth for the country. If this is not the case, it may be difficult or simply impossible to bring family members with you into Singapore.

If you hold an Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass, S Pass or EntrePass you may be able to bring in family members into the country, though further restrictions apply. For example, with an Employment Pass, you need to earn at least S$4,000 per month for family members other than your parents to immigrate into the country. For parents, the applicable minimum salary is S$8,000 a month (S$96,000 p.a.). Additionally, you will need to obtain sponsorship from your employer. For more information on work passes, see Expats Working.

Family members are eligible for two different types of permit, depending on their relationship to you as the work pass holder. Your spouse and any dependent children under 21 need to apply for Dependant’s Passes. All other relations (including common-law spouses, stepchildren under 21 and parents) should apply for Long-Term Visit Passes. In all important respects, the two passes are equivalent; both allow the holder to work in Singapore and both are renewable, subject to the validity of the head of the family’s pass.

There may be financial other reasons why your family members are not able to immigrate at the same time as you. There may also be legal barriers: if you are a holder of a work pass other than the ones listen above, your family will not be able to live with you in Singapore until you gain permanent residence.

In such cases, you may need to spend some time residing and working in Singapore, perhaps remitting money to your home country to help support your family there. During the wait, you can take the time to familiarise yourself with your new country of residence. Once you have taken care of matters such as finding suitable family accommodation and looking into schools, childcare and the like, the rest of your family should find that their move into Singapore runs more smoothly.

In the meantime, family members will of course want to visit you if this is practicable. To do so, they will need to obtain a Visit Pass, or, for longer stays, a Short-Term Visit Pass. They will also need to provide documentary evidence that they have enough money to support themselves.


Singapore is a popular country in which to get married and there is little bureaucracy involved. Getting married in Singapore is possible for residents and non-residents alike. The minimum marriageable age for both sexes is 18 with parental consent, and 21 without it.

Either you or your spouse needs to have been resident in Singapore before you can start the marriage process, though only for a 15-day period. After this, you are eligible to file notice of your intention to marry. This can only be done online, either at the Registry of Marriages or the Registry of Muslim Marriages for Muslims. It is at this stage that you pay your registration fee (currently S$298), so you will also need a valid credit card available. The respective registry will then make an appointment to verify your documents and complete the official declaration notice. Documents you will need to take include, as a minimum, are as follows:

The last stage is the wedding itself, which must take place within three months of the initial notice of intention to marry. The ceremony can take place within registry buildings, or outside, providing an official solemniser is present.

No form of same-sex partnership is recognised. In fact, homosexuality is illegal in Singapore, and LGBT people are advised to show caution when in the country.




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