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Applying for a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Work Permit

Applying for – and managing – a foreign domestic helper’s work permit is a relatively straightforward process, with many steps doable online. Fortunately, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) provides all required information on its website where you can also submit applications and contract terminations.

Work permit applications can be made by either the employer or the employer’s appointed employment agency. Applying yourself can save you time and money.

Applying for the work permit

It costs S$60 to apply for a foreign domestic worker’s work permit ($30 when submitting an application and $30 on collection). The online route is the fastest option – especially if you already have a SingPass – as your application can be processed within a day, while manual submissions take around seven working days.

Before applying, make sure you have important documents at hand. You will need the passport details of your foreign domestic worker, as well as your personal particulars – including your income details. You also need written consent from the domestic worker that she agrees to be employed by you. This can be in the form of a signed employment contract.

Once granted, you need to print the initial approval letter and send a copy to your domestic worker so that she can enter Singapore.

Note that there are a number of schemes you can apply under, depending on the marital status, income status and age of the prime applicant.

Next, the employer needs to buy a security bond as well as medical and personal accident insurance for the maid. Generally, all three can be bought in one insurance package to keep things simple.

Some packages also include bonds required by the maid’s embassy. For example, the Philippines requires a bond over and above the one lodged with the MOM. When starting the work permit application process, you should also check with your helper’s embassy whether there are any other requirements for her to leave her country.

Employers of first-time maids in Singapore should also sign their maids up for the Settling-in Programme (which she will need to attend within three days of her arrival), while all domestic workers need to undergo a medical examination.

After your domestic worker arrives, you need to request a permanent work permit online. The work permit will state whether or not your helper needs to register her fingerprints and photo with the MOM.

Renewing your foreign domestic worker’s work permit

Helper work permits are usually valid for two years. If the employer and maid both agree, the work permit can be renewed before the old one expires. Generally speaking, employers should receive a letter from the ministry five weeks before expiry. Again, you can submit the application online (renewals are processed immediately) and the cost is $30.

For the application, you will need a scanned copy of the helper’s passport, a new security bond, and an extension of the personal accident and medical insurance (or a new policy). Once the new permit is issued, your maid should return her old work pass by sending it to the Work Pass Division.

In most cases, the new permit is valid for two years, unless your security bond is valid for less than 26 months or your helper turns 60. The work permit does not consider your maid’s passport validity, so you will need to check that it is still valid.

Avoid leaving the renewal too late, as you can be fined $500 if the permit has already expired.

Cancelling the work permit

In some instances, employers may have to cancel the work permits of their foreign workers. Before cancelling the permit, employers and maids should agree on the last working day and only cancel the permit after the domestic helper’s last day. Buy a travel ticket for your domestic helper with a departure day that falls within two weeks from the cancellation date. Settle any outstanding monthly salaries and all other mandatory living costs. Either the employer or an appointed employment agency can cancel the permit with the government, which process will take effect immediately. The security bond will only be returned when the now-expired work permit is returned and the ministry has verified that the domestic helper in question has left Singapore.

Obligations of employers related to the work permit

Employers must pay the $265 FDW levy every month using the General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO), starting from the 5th day of the maid’s arrival if she is a first-timer, or the next day for any other maid. Employers who hired maids to take care of their Singaporean children (up to 16 years old), an elderly family member, or a disabled person, qualify for the concessionary rate of $60.

Employers must also ensure that their foreign domestic workers take the required 6-monthly medical examinations. If the helper fails the exam because she is pregnant or she has an illness such as syphilis, she will be sent back to her home country immediately.

The application for a work permit in Singapore for domestic workers is relatively simple. Since maids will take care of their employers’ families and households, and since hiring the wrong helper can cause complications, it is important to hire the best domestic helper candidate for your needs.

As employers know their family best, it is advised to hire a domestic helper without an agency. If you are uncertain about your eligibility to be an employer, you can check our eligibility guide.