This morning the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced that after 16 years, Singapore passports would finally be returning to a 10-year validity period, for new applications submitted from 1st October 2021.
That will save adult Singaporeans an average of S$7 a year to hold a passport, with the current documents valid for only five years.
The validity period of new passports issued to children below 16 years old will remain at five years, however, to allow for faster changes in facial features.
Why the change?
Singapore passports have been valid for 10 years before, like those of most other countries. That was the case until April 2005, when validity was halved to five years in preparation for biometric passports to be introduced the following year.
“Reducing the validity period in 2005 was to allow ICA to monitor the stability of the technology and incorporate enhancements, as necessary, when Singaporeans renew their passport…
“In view of these developments, ICA has assessed that it is now viable to increase the validity of the Singapore passport to 10 years without compromising security or global confidence in the Singapore passport.”Singapore ICA
It took just over 16 years for ICA to be fully satisfied with the changes, but they now are and new passports issued from 1st October 2021 will have a full 10-year validity.
You cannot ‘carry over’ any previous validity
Note that unlike the setup with the current five-year passport, where you can ‘carry over’ up to nine months of unused validity onto your next document, this will cease to apply when the 10-year passports are issued, with that new period representing the maximum permissible validity.
That is is order to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) recommendation that travel documents should not be valid for more than 10 years.
It will therefore be better to renew your passport closer to its expiry date in future, once the new 10-year ones come in, since you’ll probably always lose some validity at the end of your existing one.
However, remember that most countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months when you arrive, so regular travellers will probably have to get used to losing six months’ validity at the end of their passport’s life, giving the more realistic duration of the document a maximum of 9.5 years for most of our readers.
What about the cost?
Thankfully, the new 10-year Singapore passport will not cost any more than a five year one – it remains set at S$70, the same rate it has been (remarkably) since 2006.Fun fact: Singapore’s passport fee is actually fairly competitive compared to many other countries. In the UK, for example, the cost of an adult passport was £51 (S$94) in 2006 and it has risen by nearly 50% since then to £75.50 (S$140) today.
In Australia, an adult 10-year passport costs over S$300!
One drawback to consider is that the 10-year passport will have no additional pages compared to the existing five-year ones, so those who travel frequently to countries with large stamps or full-page visas may find themselves having to renew long before the expiry date anyway!
Expiry coming up? Consider renewing later
If your passport has expired, or is expiring between now and October 2021, you may want to hold off applying for a replacement until then, since your S$70 fee will then cover you for a 10-year period.
Any passports applied for between now and 30th September 2021 will continue to be valid for only five years.
That’s particularly relevant given the likely continued lack of significant travel options over the coming months.
However, if your passport is expiring and you’re planning to go on the Hong Kong ATB, or you have your fingers crossed for a similar bubble arrangement coming up with the likes of Australia or Taiwan this summer, you may have no choice but to apply for a new 5-year passport.
You’ll also need a valid passport to take a ‘cruise to nowhere’, and don’t forget when Singapore Airlines ran its A380 Restaurant@Changi dining event, a valid passport was also required to attend, even though the plane (sadly) never even moved from the gate!
The link to apply for a new Singapore passport remains the same: go.gov.sg/passport
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)