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Guide to moving to Singapore

International relocations are never easy, even for seasoned expats – there's always so much to plan and prepare for.

But with the right kind of help, a move can be a journey of discovery, rather than a time of worry.

We break down what you'll need to do when you arrive in Singapore so you can settle easily in your new home.

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Banking in Singapore

Singapore's efficient regulatory framework and economic stability makes it well suited for expatriates, investors and businesses looking to expand into key Asian markets. 

The Singapore Dollar (SGD) is the nation’s official currency. For everyday spending, credit cards are widely accepted across the island.

How to open a Singapore bank account from overseas

local bank account is essential to getting settled into your new life. You'll need it to pay bills, receive your salary and have access to cash via a debit card.

There are a few types to choose from. A current account, also known as a chequing or transactional account, is good for day-to-day spending. A multi-currency account allows you to send and receive foreign currencies. At HSBC, we offer remote international account openings so you set up an account before leaving your home country.

Debit cards

HSBC offers debit cards equipped for contactless modes of payment, so you can tap and go while you dine, take public transport or shop at most major retailers. Withdraw cash from over 800 locations across Singapore, including 7-Eleven, Cold Storage and the Guardian network.

How to transfer money in Singapore

We know it’s important for you to be able to move your money around freely both within Singapore and internationally.

Locally, you can use:

  • FAST (Fast And Secure Transfers)
  • GIRO (General Interbank Recurring Order)
  • PayNow, which allows you to send money to your family and friends via a mobile number, and to make payments with the HSBC Singapore app

For international money transfers, HSBC Global View and Global Transfers service allows you to link and view eligible global HSBC accounts together. Once your accounts are linked, you can transfer money safely and instantly between them, at real-time exchange rates.

If you have an HSBC Everyday Global Account and HSBC Singapore app, you can send money to over 50 countries/territories overseas with HSBC Global Money Transfers.

Learn more about Global Money Transfers here:

Finding accommodation

Singapore has property options to suit a wide price range and different lifestyles.

HSBC has partnered with relocation specialists to help you move and settle comfortably into Singapore life. This service is available to all HSBC Premier customers.

How to rent in Singapore

Singapore's well-established expat community means that renting is straightforward.

Many people work with a property agent to find a home. This may cost around half a month’s rent for a one-year lease, or a full month’s rent for a two-year lease. The agent may handle any paperwork or negotiations with the landlord.

Searching for accommodation independently is also possible. You’ll find a large selection of listings and useful info on online property search platforms.

Understanding tenancy terms

In Singapore, tenancy agreements start at a minimum of 3 consecutive months and the length may be negotiable depending on the property. You may be asked to pay Stamp, or Lease, Duty on your rental property. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore is a good website to refer to for property taxes and other charges

Making an offer

A prospective tenant may need to provide a Letter of Intent (LOI) and deposit of two months’ rent before signing a tenancy agreement with the landlord.

Planning long term? There are special rules when it comes to foreigners buying property in Singapore.

How to buy property in Singapore

The purchase of landed property, such as bungalows and semi-detached houses, is restricted for non-citizens and is subject to approval by the Singapore Land Authority on a case-by-case basis. Expats can, however, buy condominiums, but are required to put down a substantial deposit and can expect to pay Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty of 20%. This tax is waived for Singapore citizens if it's their first property.

If you're a foreigner who is keen to purchase a property in Singapore, find out more about the privileges of HSBC Premier International.

Exclusively for HSBC Premier customers

It helps to have relocation experts get you through the nitty gritty of your relocation journey.

With HSBC Premier, you'll get complimentary:

  • Meet and Greet[@guide-to-moving-to-singapore-fn-1] service
  • booking of temporary accommodation[@guide-to-moving-to-singapore-fn-2]
  • home search[@guide-to-moving-to-singapore-fn-3]
  • relocation consultation[@guide-to-moving-to-singapore-fn-4]
  • cheque book service for a deposit on property
  • wide range of home loan packages

For your relocation needs, we partner with Santa Fe Relocation Services and other global companies. Make your transition to expat life easier by taking advantage of our specially selected partner offers.

Immigration and taxes

Visas

If you plan on working in Singapore, you will need to have a work pass. The type of pass or permit required will depend on your profession and the work you intend to do. These include the Employment Pass, the EntrePass and the S Pass. If you've been accepted to study full time at a university in Singapore, you'll need to obtain the Student’s Pass.

Once you've successfully been issued a work visa or pass, you should apply for the SingPass digital identity account, which gives you access to essential Singapore government e-services.

Taxes

Low income tax makes Singapore an attractive place to work but different rules may apply based on your tax residency status. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) website is the best place for you to find information on anything tax related, such as basic guides for new taxpayers, Stamp and Estate Duty tax, and GST (Goods and Services Tax).

Mobile and broadband service

There's so much to explore and do in sunny Singapore, but you need to stay connected with everything happening back at home.

On your mobile

Choose between SIM-only plans, or plans that include a phone. SIM-only plans are 'postpaid plans', which means you'll get a bill at the end of the month. A prepaid mobile plan is good if you're on a budget and don't want to be tied down with a contract, or if you don't have a fixed address just yet.

At home

Singapore boasts some of the fastest fixed broadband speeds in the world. In fact, it was the first country in the world to be covered by a standalone 5G network!

While you should shop around to get the broadband plan, it's also worth checking if your employer participates in any corporate schemes that may offer extra value and perks.

Transport

The easiest way to get around Singapore is via the highly efficient Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system that connects most of the city and is supplemented with an extensive bus network. An EZ-Link transit card can be used to pay fares on buses, trains and taxis.

Owning a new car in Singapore requires a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and includes a number of substantial fees and taxes on top of the price of purchasing a car. This may make purchasing a second-hand car with a reduced COE fee or short-term car leasing a more attractive choice for your family.

Taxis are plentiful and popular, while ridesharing services are readily available and widely accept debit and credit cards. Sign up for a TransitLink SimplyGo account and register your HSBC credit and debit cards to use them as transport cards, too.

Education and healthcare

Education

Singapore’s schools have a reputation for excellent education, with students regularly topping global academic rankings. You’ll find a range of options in Singapore that provide high-quality schooling for your children.

In Singapore, demand is high for public and international schools. Register as soon as possible to ensure your child gets a place.

HSBC works with overseas education partners to provide consultancy services, including assessments, school tours and placements tests.  We also offer banking solutions for international students and parents.

Healthcare

Singapore offers some of the best healthcare in the world. Your company may offer health insurance as part of its benefits plan. If it doesn't, or if you feel you're not adequately covered, add-ons can supplement your basic insurance. While only Singaporeans can access MediShield – the national healthcare plan – you can still purchase a more affordable Integrated Shield plan as long as you have a valid visa. There are also plenty of international healthcare plans with excellent coverage on offer for expats.

Have fun, eat and enjoy!

Ask any Global Citizen here and chances are, they'll agree that one of the best perks of living in the Lion City is its endless variety of cuisines. For a real Singapore dining experience, make your way to one of the bustling hawker centres. 

Some of the main ones to try include:

  • Chomp Chomp Food Centre
  • Amoy Street Food Centre
  • Maxwell Food Centre
  • Chinatown Complex Food Centre
  • Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
  • Old Airport Road Food Centre

Have more questions?

No matter which stage of your relocation journey to Singapore, HSBC can help you smoothen your transition. Leave us your contact details and we will contact you within 2 business days to answer all your enquiries.

Contact us

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Additional information

    Deposit Insurance Scheme

    Singapore dollar deposits of non-bank depositors are insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation, for up to SGD75,000 in aggregate per depositor per Scheme member by law. Foreign currency deposits, dual currency investments, structured deposits and other investment products are not insured.