Citizenship Introduction

Although a person may fulfil all conditions for citizenship by registration and naturalisation, he/she may not be granted citizenship. The right to grant or refuse citizenship lies with the Government. Indeed, the Government has time and again emphasised that citizenship is a privilege and all applications are considered strictly.


There are four ways of acquiring Singapore citizenship:

  1. By birth
  2. By registration
  3. By descent
  4. By naturalisation

Under the Immigration (Prohibition of Entry) Order 1973, the government may permit the following persons the right to stay in Singapore:

  1. person with professional/specialist qualifications or specialized/technical skills;
  2. wife or children aged under 6 years, of the professional/skilled person;
  3. any child under 6, of a Singapore citizen;
  4. any person, whom the Government certifies to be in economic interest of Singapore to give permanent residence status, and his wife and child under 6. Presently, such persons are required to invest S$1 Million in Singapore.

The permanent resident status granted to any person can be revoked at any time at the sole discretion of the Government. The Government takes the stand that it does not need to give any reasons.It is commonly believed that a permanent resident will in due course be granted the status of a citizen however this is not the position in law. There is no automatic right to citizenship.

Certificates of Identity (CI) are normally issued to Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) who are stateless to facilitate their travels abroad. You should apply personally at the PR Services Centre at 5th Floor of the SIR Building 10 Kallang Road Singapore 208718 or if you are abroad at the time of application, you may submit your application through the following: -

  1. a Singapore Overseas Mission;
  2. a representative of a foreign government performing consular functions on our behalf in that country;
  3. a local sponsor; or
  4. by post direct to the PR Services Centre.

Please note that applications are to be submitted at least 2 months before the expiry of the current CI/Re-entry Permit.Processing fee for a CI, which has a validity of 5 years on the first application, is $125.00 and $25.00 per year or part thereof. The processing time for a CI application is about 2 hours. A surcharge of $50 for the 1st replacement and $100 for the second and subsequent replacement, is imposed for the replacement of a lost CI on top of the usual fee for a CI. However, a replacement CI has a validity of only 1 year.

Singaporeans who reach the age of 15 must register for their Identity Cards (IC). From the year 2002 onwards, citizens are also required to re-register when you reached the age of 30. This rule also applies to Singapore Permanent Residents (PR), holders of Singapore Blue IC.

Processing fee for an IC is just $10.00 and $50.00 for PRs. Processing would usually take 7 working days from the date of registration. Students would receive theirs as they are sent to their respective schools at the end of the month. If you are unable to collect your IC personally, you can send someone else on your behalf. The representative must bring his/her IC upon collection of your IC and a letter of authorisation from the child’s parent, consenting parent’s IC and the collection slip.

Your identity card which contains your vital particulars such as your name, citizenship status, age, place of birth and address is very much a part of you. Like most people, you probably produce it quite freely on request and sometimes even without thinking of whether the person who asked for its production has the right to do so.

Q: Must I produce my Identity Card to a Police Officer?

The National Registration Regulations 1991, provide that any registration officer, immigration officer. Police officer, officer of customs, officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau or Special Investigator of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and any other officer authorised in writing by the Commissioner, may at any time require any person to produce his/her identity card for inspection, within such time to such person and at such as the officer may think fit.

You have the right to ask the officer, who wishes to inspect your Identity Card, for written authority under which he/she claims to be acting

Q: Is it an offence not to carry my Identity Card?

Under the present law, it would appear that it is not an offence to be without your identity card but the officer stopping you has the right to require that it be produced at a stated time and place.

There are other instances in which a person is obliged to produce his/her Identity card eg.

  1. to the owner, manager or other person in charge of a hotel, boarding house, hostel or other dwelling place for accommodation purposes;
  2. to a pawnbroker if a person wishes to pawn an article; or
  3. to a licensed dealer in second hand goods if a person wishes to sell such goods.

Q: Can a Security Guard legally ask you to surrender your Identity Card?No.

Q: Can your identity card be detained?

The regulations provide that any registration officer, immigration officer, police officer, officer of customs, officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau or Special Investigator of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau may retain your Identity Card for the purpose of investigation.