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Expats Relocating with Families and Pets in Singapore

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: February 2015

Relocating with Families

Moving to a new country with your family can be an exciting adventure for all. Singapore has been rated the safest place in the world to bring up children, and has a great deal to offer immigrating families. For example, the education system is excellent and there are plenty of child-friendly venues and activities. Bear in mind, though, that it will take time to work through bureaucratic immigration procedures, find appropriate accommodation, schooling and/or childcare and prepare your children for living abroad. Hence it is crucial to start planning the move well in advance!

First of all, you should look into the entry requirements for moving to Singapore with family members. These are quite tightly restricted in Singapore. To bring your spouse and most other family members with you, you need to earn at least S$48,000 or create substantial wealth for the country as an entrepreneur. For parents, the amounts are doubled. For detailed information on passes and visa requirements, see the Ministry of Manpower website. For more information on family entry requirements, see Family Members and Marriage and the other articles in our Immigration section.

Though the whole country is safe, some areas of Singapore are more suitable for families than others. Jurong, for example, contains several manufacturing plants to the south so it is a less desirable area. It is worth taking the time to find an area that has adequate facilities for children, access to good medical care and schooling and is otherwise family-friendly. To help find such a place, have a look at municipality websites local to your area and consult online blogs and forums for first-hand information. See for example the Expat Briefing Forum.

Another important step is to look into schooling and childcare options. The quality of education in Singapore is generally excellent. Most expats in Singapore prefer to send their children to private or international schools and nurseries. Of course, even these institutions vary in quality and cost. Hence it is best to do a thorough online research and check online forums for school and nursery reviews! Bear in mind that popular institutions have long waiting lists, and you may need to contact them before you move. This may also affect your decision on where to live in the country. For further information on schooling options in Singapore, see our Education section. To read more on childcare, see Family Life and Childcare.

Last but not least, children can find moving to another country stressful, so make sure you take the time to prepare them. If approached the right way, they will be able to see the move as an exciting new start. Before you leave your home country, tell your children about Singapore and talk with them about any anxieties they may have. Make sure they are able to stay in touch with their friends in your home country. These days, with Skype, email and social media, this is quite easy.

You can also teach your children what you know about the local culture, and, if possible, take them for a visit to their new homeland. Also, if they do not yet speak one of Singapore’s four official languages (English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil) it is a good idea to enrol them at a language school. For further guidance on preparing children for relocation, see our What’s Best for the Kids article and Kids’ Relocation Issues.


Relocating Pets

The body responsible for controlling the movement of pets into Singapore is the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), which ensures that pet imports are tightly regulated. Expats relocating from countries that are deemed rabies-free (the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) or with a negligible risk of rabies (see the above page for a list) do not have to worry about their pets being quarantined.

Pets from all other countries are subject to a mandatory quarantine of either 10 or 30 days. Additionally, all animals under 4 months of age are quarantined until they reach 4 months, plus another 30 days. As spaces are limited, it is recommended that you arrange for quarantining three months in advance, using the Quarantine Management System.

Furthermore, you must ensure that each animal is licensed. The licensing fee in S$50 per pet, and you must complete the procedure two weeks before moving to Singapore. In all cases, you will also need to submit a veterinary health certificate signed no more than a week before. The pet must be microchipped and the vet must also sign a document stating that the animal has lived in your previous home country for at least six months. Rabies vaccination documents must also be up-to-date.

Several breeds of dog and one breed of cat cannot be brought into Singapore; see the above AVA webpage for more details. There is also a list of ‘approved dogs’ which are the only breeds allowed in government accommodation. Among the most prominent companies offering pet relocations to Singapore are:




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