Becoming a Singapore citizen comes with a lot of benefits. You will have access to the Singapore social security savings plan, you’ll be able to purchase an apartment within the Housing & Development Board (HDB) scheme, and you’ll have access to more affordable healthcare. You would also enjoy visa-free travel to 189 countries and territories.

However, becoming a Singapore citizen or permanent residence holder also means you have to comply with the obligations of other Singaporeans.

One of them is military service, which in Singapore is called National Service.

Every Singapore male has to finish the National Service (NS) before they turn 18. If a foreign national moves to Singapore with a dependent son (under 21) and they both obtain permanent residency, the son has to undergo NS well, even if he is not a Singapore citizen.

In addition, once a Singapore male turns 13, he becomes subject to the Exit Permit.

Every Singaporean male over 13 has to get an Exit Permit to be allowed to leave the country if they have not finished NS yet. Leaving Singapore without obtaining an Exit Permit is considered an offense. The Singapore Exit Permit is required in order to make sure that the Singaporean male in question will eventually return to Singapore to finish his military service.

Singapore Exit Permit Requirements

A Singapore male is required to enlist to National Service once he turns 16.5. He will be called to service before he is 18. However, if he wishes to continue education or remain outside the country for any reason during this time, he is required to obtain an Exit Permit.

The Singapore Exit Permit requirements are as follows:

  • If you are between 13 and 16.5 years of age and you want to remain out of the country for a period not exceeding two years:
    • You will have to obtain an Exit Permit from the proper authorities.
  • If you are between 13 and 16.5 years of age and you want to remain out of the country for a period of over two years; or
  • If you are over 16.5 and you want to remain outside Singapore for a period of over three months:
    • You will have to obtain an Exit Permit.
    • Your family will have to pay a security bond of S$75,000 or an amount which is equal to 50% of both parents’ annual income, whichever amount is higher.
    • Submit a document proving your study status overseas.
    • Submit a document showing your parents’ employment status and their income tax assessment notices from the past year. These serve as preparation for the security bond.

In addition:

  • Once you have received your Exit Permit, you are only allowed to stay out of the country for only as long as the Exit Permit is issued.
  • If you are studying abroad, you will be granted an Exit Permit for the duration of your studies.
  • If for some reason, you cannot return to Singapore before the Exit Permit expires, you will be required to apply for an extension.
  • If you do not return to Singapore before your Exit Permit expires, the Singapore government considers you have committed an offense.
    • If you are between 13 and 16.5 years of age: You will have to pay a fine of up to S$2,000 as will your parents or guardians.
    • If you are over the age of 16.5: You may have to pay a fine of up to S$10,000 or be imprisoned for up to three years. In some cases, you may be subject to both.
  • Singaporeans who have finished NS will be required to obtain an Exit Permit if they will stay outside the country for a period of over six months.
  • They can receive an annual Exit Permit if they are employed, permanent residents, or studying abroad.

Keep in mind, the NS requirements apply to second-generation Permanent Residents as well. However, you can renounce your PR status anytime, unlike Singapore citizenship, which cannot be renounced before the age of 21.

How to Apply for a Singapore Exit Permit?

You have to apply online on the NS Portal via a SingPass account.

You have to apply no more than three months before your planned date of travel. If your application is accepted, you will only receive an electronic Exit Permit (eEP) number. There is no physical copy of an Exit Permit.

Documents required for Singapore Exit Permit

You may have to submit the following documents to support your Exit Permit application, depending on your purpose of travel.

  • Personal particulars.
  • Family particulars, such as the NRIC number, citizenship, the home address, occupation, etc.)
  • Education details.
  • If you’ll be going on a social visit:
    • Relevant visa, if applicable.
    • Travel itinerary.
  • If you’ll be accompanying a spouse who is employed overseas:
    • Marriage certificate.
    • Documents related to their employment.
  • If you’ll be pursuing studies abroad:
    • Letter of enrollment, stating the level of study and duration.
    • Student visa, if applicable.
    • Paid school fees, if applicable.
  • If you’ll be employed overseas:
    • Company Letter
    • Work contract.
  • Any relevant documents, depending on your purpose of travel, such as:
    • Business trip.
    • Medical treatment.
    • Training.