I’ve learnt this the hard way. Before you proceed to book your holiday to Bangkok for the next school holidays 2022, the very first thing you should do is check the validity of your passport.
There are a few things worse than being turned away at an airport because of a careless oversight. I cried, my wallet bled. It’s a sob story.
A general rule of thumb is that your passport should at least have six months of validity before departure. However, there are exceptions to the case.
Before you book your flights, buy your travel insurance, and pack your luggage, do your due diligence to check the passport validity required by the country of your travel.
|Months of passport validity required||Countries|
|3 months||Albania*, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras*, Hong Kong*, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon*, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau*, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia*, Norway, Panama*, Poland, Portugal, Senegal*, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa*, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Maldives*,|
|4 months||Zambia, Micronesia|
|6 months||Afghanistan, Algeria, Anguilla, Australia, Bahrain, Bhutan, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Curacao, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam|
*These countries require a 3-month passport validity from your arrival date into the country.
Another thing that’s important to note is that some countries can be really, really specific about the date of your passport validity.
If you’re travelling to countries like Hong Kong and Panama, your passport validity only counts from the date of your arrival into the country.
So, do the math very carefully if you’re planning to get through immigration by the skin of your teeth.
How to apply & renew Singapore passport?
If you, like me, hate having to to deal with banal administrative paperwork, this is the best news you could possibly receive. You can apply for and renew your Singapore passport online if:
- It is your first time applying for a passport.
- Your passport is running out of pages.
- Your passport has expired, or is expiring in nine months or less.
- Your passport is lost or damaged.
If you fall into one of the four above-mentioned categories and are currently residing in Singapore, the online passport application process will take you no more than 15 minutes.
Log into Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) e-Service using your Singpass to complete the online application form, hit submit and you’re done!
Alternatively, if you prefer doing things the old school way by snail mail, download the Singapore passport application form here.
Once completed, post your form over to: Passport Unit Citizen Services Centre ICA Building 10 Kallang Road, Level 2 Singapore 208718
What documents do I need to apply for or renew passport in Singapore?
If you’re applying for a new passport for your newborn child, you will be able to apply for free before his/her first birthday (from January 1, 2020 onwards). You will be notified through the MyICA online portal to make a free application for your child’s first passport.
If you’re renewing your passport online, you will need to prepare a passport-sized photo (45mm by 35mm). Your passport photo needs to be digital, coloured taken within the last three months.
This is the trickiest part of the process. ICA has notoriously strict photo guidelines you need to comply. They’re not being a prick for the sake of it lah.
ICA imposes global International Standards Organisation (ISO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) passport photo guidelines so that we can be easily admitted into foreign countries.
How to take a passport photo at home?
passport photo criteria:
- Ensure that your camera lens is clean for better photo quality.
- The background has to be a plain, white, and even wall.
- The photo has to be bright and evenly lit.
- Leave enough headroom between the top of your head and the edge of the frame.
- Maintain a neutral express with your mouth closed ensuring all your facial features are visible (no tinted glasses or coloured contact lens).
- Ensure that your shoulders are seen in the photo.
- Wear darker colours to prevent blending into the white background.
Also, do note the photo has to be taken through your front-facing camera. Selfies will be rejected! Lastly, if you’re uploading the photo online, you have to keep the file size below 2MB.
Where to take passport photo in Singapore?
The safest place to get your passport photo taken used to be the photo booths located on Level 1, ICA Building. However, you can no longer get your passport photos taken at the ICA Building.
The photo booths at ICA were removed in June 2019. Good riddance, anyway. The grumpy aunties were professionals at making everyone look ugly.
You will need to get your passport photo taken at one of those ID photo booths instead. This would cost you $8 to $10 for six copies of your passport photo.
Thankfully, these photo booths for passport photos are very accessible — you can find them at most MRT Stations, bus interchanges, and shopping malls.
Where to take nicer passport photos? You will have to visit neighbourhood malls for Foto Express shops for passport photo taking. The staff members usually have scarves, combs, and accessories to help you fulfil the ICA passport requirements.
How much does passport renewal cost in Singapore?
Applying or renewing your passport in Singapore costs $70. Well, the ICA officers have to get paid somehow.
|Passport renewal/ application fee Singapore||Price|
|Passport renewal & application||$70|
|Passport renewal & application (in foreign currency)||$80|
|Lost passport penalty (first time)||$50|
|Loss passport penalty (subsequent times)||$100|
The moral of the story here is not to lose your passport folks! Otherwise, you’d just be flushing your money down the toilet.
How long does it take to apply or renew passport?
processing time of passport applications now entails a month long wait. You’ve waited for two years to travel, what’s another month?
Once you’ve successfully sent in your application, you can check on the status online at MyICA everyday as you eagerly await for your passport to be ready for collection.
Where do you collect your passport?
You will be notified by SMS, email, or post when your passport is ready for collection.
You can then proceed to make an appointment to either collect it at a post office near you or at the ICA building. All you’ll need is your IC to verify your identity before you collect your passport.
If you miss your first appointment at the post office, you’ll subsequently have to schedule another appointment for collection at the ICA building.
Do make the appointment within three months of being notified of collection. Otherwise, prepare to bid farewell to your passport and the money you paid for it.
Unless you’re willing to waste hours away just waiting, always book an appointment ahead for the collection. If you’re Singaporean, you’re well aware of the ridiculously long waiting times at ICA. An hour, perhaps three hours, you’ll never know!
This article was first published in MoneySmart.