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FAQ: Planning to travel? Here's what you need to know about renewing your Singapore passport

LaksaNews

Myth
Member
SINGAPORE: The minimum processing time for the renewal of Singaporean passports has risen to six weeks, with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) citing an "overwhelming" number of applications for the delay.

Since Singapore eased travel restrictions at the end of April, ICA said the number of passport applications has "spiked" to more than 7,000 per day, with 14,000 applications received in a day at its peak. In contrast, about 2,000 applications were made per day before the COVID-19 pandemic.

To handle the high demand of applications, ICA said its officers are working longer hours during this period, with more passport counters and additional queue areas set up at the ICA building.

If you are planning an overseas trip and your passport is expiring soon, here are some tips to ensure the renewal goes smoothly.

Q: When should you renew my passport?​


You do not have to renew your passport if you are currently in Singapore and have no plans to travel for the next six months, said ICA.

"The Singapore passport is not a mandatory identity document and there is no penalty for not renewing passports which have expired," said the authority.

Singaporeans travelling overseas need to make sure their passport is valid for at least six months before departure.

According to ICA, you should apply for a passport online if it is your first time applying for one, your passport is running out of pages, if it has expired or is expiring in nine months or less.

Q: What do you need to renew your passport?​


A passport-sized, digital, colour photo taken within the last three months is required for your passport application.

The photo must meet ICA's passport photo requirements, which are based on specifications by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Printed photos must be on a matte or semi-matte finish.

For photos uploaded via e-Services for online applications, the recommended dimension is 400 pixels by 514 pixels. They should be uploaded in jpg, jpeg or png format and have a file size of no more than 2MB, said ICA.

If you are taking a photo using your mobile phone, ICA recommends that you download and use mobile apps that are specifically designed to take photos for passport applications.

"These apps usually come with features that will help you take photographs in the required dimensions," said the authority on its website.

Some of these apps can be found on the Android Play Store or Apple App Store by searching "Singapore Passport", "Singapore IC" and "Photo".

"The photograph will be accepted if it complies with our photo guidelines," said ICA.

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Screengrabs showing passport photo apps that are available on the Google Play store, and examples of the app interface.

Selfie photos are also not recommended as the "result is usually not ideal" and will delay your application. ICA recommends that people applying for their passports should get someone to help take their photos.

Passport applications, with a S$70 fee, can be done online using ICA's e-service. You can also do it by post or by dropping the completed application form in the deposit box outside the ICA building.

Q: WHAT ARE THE PHOTO REQUIREMENTS?


Under ICA's photo guidelines, photos must be taken with even brightness, with no shadows cast over your face.

It should be clear, in sharp focus and not pixelated. It should also not be flipped or distorted.

The photo background must be white, and your headgear or attire must be dark coloured against the background.

Your facial expression in the photos should be neutral, with your mouth closed. Your shoulders, hair and eyes must be fully visible.

Non-coloured contacts should be worn and spectacles must have clear lenses where the eyes are clearly visible. You should also ensure there is no red-eye in your photos.

Your eyes must be looking at the camera in your photos, with your facial features taken in full frontal view.

The photo should also not be altered or enhanced in any way, which includes the modification of facial features.

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Photo guidelines provided by ICA for passport photos. (Image: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority)
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Photo guidelines provided by ICA for passport photos. (Image: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority)
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Photo guidelines provided by ICA for passport photos. (Image: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority)
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Photo guidelines provided by ICA for passport photos. (Image: Immigration and Checkpoints Authority)

To avoid delays in processing your passport application, you should ensure your photo submitted meets the requirements, said ICA.

If not, you will have to resubmit a new photo and your application may be delayed, ICA said in response to CNA's queries. The authority will notify applicants via post or email if their photos are rejected.

Q: HOW LONG IS THE RENEWAL PROCESS?​


At the moment, you can expect a processing time of at least six weeks, due to overwhelming passport applications.

After submitting your application, you can check the status of your application via the MyICA mobile app or on the ICA website.

ICA said it could take even longer if there is a greater surge in the number of applications or if there are issues with the application, such as the photo submitted does not meet the requirements.

The processing time will also be longer if ICA requires additional information or clarification from the applicant.

For Singaporeans who need to travel urgently, they are required to produce supporting documents in person at the ICA Building for assessment on a case-by-case basis, said the authority.

Related:​

Q: WHEN AND WHERE CAN YOU COLLECT MY PASSPORT?​


You should collect your passport within three months of it being ready for collection. To do so, make an appointment online.

You are allowed to change or withdraw your appointment if you are unable to make it in time. ICA only allows a maximum of six changes to your appointment.

Alternatively, you may walk in for your passport collection without an appointment, but the waiting time may be two hours or longer, said ICA on its website.

Your passport can be collected at post offices or at Level 2 of the ICA building.

ICA is encouraging people to collect their passports at post offices, instead of at the ICA building, as there are still many appointment slots available at post offices.

No additional collection fee is required and the post offices may offer wider operating hours, including weekends.

When collecting your passport, you will need to bring your digital or physical identification card (IC) and your current passport.

For applicants below 16 years old, they must come with the parent who submitted the application. They should bring the child's original birth certificate, current passport and the parent's digital or physical IC.

Passports not collected after three months will be cancelled and no refund of the passport fee will be given.

Q: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISTAKES?​


ICA said many cases where applications take a longer processing time involve photos not meeting its requirements.

As the requirements are based on international specifications, ICA needs to ensure that Singapore passports comply with these specifications, so that they would be accepted by immigration authorities overseas.

Common problems with submitted photos include those with non-white backgrounds, flipped or laterally inverted images, or people using photos that are not current.

Additionally, photos with uneven backgrounds or shadows on the applicant's face, or reflection or glare on the applicant's spectacles may also be rejected.

These can create inconsistent patches on the facial image when it is laser engraved on the passport, said ICA.

"These issues, if left unchecked, may result in Singaporeans facing delays or even refusal of entry at immigration clearance overseas," the authority added.

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