Domestic Helpers

Apply, Renew or Cancel Maid Work Permit in Singapore: A How to Guide

byLauren Dado
  • Jan 15, 2024
  • 9 mins
helper maid cleaning kitchen

Domestic helpers are indispensable members of many Singapore households. They keep everything running smoothly and help you save time on house chores. But before a foreign domestic helper (FDW) can begin working for you, she needs to be issued a maid permit or a FDW permit.

Maid agencies can take care of applying, renewing, or cancelling a maid permit for you. However, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $400, excluding charges like renewal fees and maid insurance. 

As the helper’s employer, you can actually do the FDW permit application yourself. It’s a simple and straightforward process that can be done online within minutes. While you still have to pay the application fees set by the MOM, handling the FDW permit application saves you hundreds on agency fees. 

As the name suggests, a maid permit is a special type of work pass just for foreign domestic workers. The maid permit is valid for 2 years and allows your helper to work at your home, or travel to and from her home country.

FDW permit conditions employers must know 

The FDW permit also comes with conditions and limitations, which is helpful to know before you begin your arrangement. We’ve listed the most important conditions below, but you can view the full list here.

Your FDW can only perform work at your home, which is the residential address stated in the work permit. Your helper is not allowed to work at other households, even if they are your family members. However, certain exceptions are allowed. 

Your FDW is allowed to take care of your child or parent at a relative’s house if you notify MOM beforehand. This includes getting your FDW’s written agreement on the arrangement, as well as ensuring she is not overworked at both households and has proper accommodation if she needs to stay overnight. 

Make sure that you can pay the monthly salary and allowances you’ve agreed upon. You are not allowed to reduce the FDW’s basic monthly salary or fixed monthly allowances without her written agreement.

Finally, you must also provide safe working conditions, comfortable accommodation, and take measures to ensure the health and safety of your helper. 

applying for maid work permit

Applying for a maid permit is simple and straightforward. Follow these steps, and you’ll have your helper settled at your household in no time.

At least 4 weeks before arrival

Step 1: Apply online

Before applying for a work permit, get your FDW’s written consent to do so. Once you have that, use your SingPass to log into the FDW eService. Fill in the online form and submit. You’ll need to pay the $35 application fee using Visa, MasterCard or eNets direct debit.

Wait for the application to be processed, which takes around 1 - 3 weeks. You can log on to the FDW eService at any time to check the status of your application at any time.

Step 2: Send the In-Principle Approval Letter

When your application has been approved, you will receive a Letter of Notification or In-Principal Approval Letter. Send this letter to your helper. If she is not in Singapore, she will need to show this letter to enter the country. 

Step 3: Buy the security bond and maid insurance

Before your helper can join your household, you must place a security bond worth $5,000 unless your helper is from Malaysia. In the event that you or your helper fails to comply with the conditions of the work permit, you will have to pay the government up to $5,000. You can usually get this bond through your domestic helper insurance policy, but this does not mean that you do not have to pay a cent if the bond is called by the government. The insurer will make the upfront payment to the government, and you will have to pay the insurer back afterwards.

To protect yourself and limit your liability to $250 if you did not cause the breach of the bond, you may add a security bond protector under Income’s Domestic Helper Insurance.

You must also purchase and maintain personal accident insurance for your helper with coverage of at least $60,000 in case of accidents, death, or permanent disability. In addition, you must provide your helper with medical insurance that has coverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery. 

Consider using Income’s Domestic Helper Insurance for this. It offers personal accident coverage, covers hospital and surgical expenses, and provides a Letter of Guarantee (LOG)^ that removes the need for an upfront deposit and allows for cashless admission when your helper is hospitalised. It also offers wage compensation in case your helper falls ill and is unable to work.

Finally, make sure your helper attends the Settling-in Programme for First Time FDWs. This 1-day programme tells her everything she needs to know about living and working in Singapore, and is done in her native language. Make sure to book a slot for her before she arrives in Singapore.

After your helper's arrival

Step 1: Issue the permit

Log in to the FDW eService to make the request for the permit, and provide the home or office address where the card will be delivered. You can nominate up to 3 authorised recipients to receive their card, and provide their personal particulars and contact information.

Then, pay the $35 fee through VISA, Mastercard, or eNets. Print out the Temporary Work Permit and hold on to it until the card arrives. 

If your FDW is arriving from overseas, she must complete her SHN before you can begin issuing her work permit. The validity of their Short Term Visit Pass and IPAs will automatically be extended by 2 weeks. 

Step 1-A: Register her fingerprints

If the Temporary Work Permit indicates that your helper needs to register her fingerprints and photo at MOM Services Centre - Hall C, make an appointment for her immediately and arrange to have her sent there within 1 week of issuance of the pass. She should bring along her original passport, Appointment Letter and Temporary Work Permit at her appointment.

Step 2: Receive the card

Within 4 working days after your helper has been registered and had her documents verified, you or one of your authorised recipients will receive an SMS notifying you of delivery of the card. 

If your helper did not require registration, the Work Permit card will be delivered 4 working days after her documents are verified. After two unsuccessful delivery attempts, you will have to pick up the card at MOM Services Centre - Hall C 3 working days after the second attempted delivery.

woman on laptop

You are required to renew your domestic helper’s maid permit every 2 years. To make it easy for you to remember, the MOM will send you a Renewal Letter 8 weeks before your helper’s work permit expires. Once you receive this, you can begin the renewal process. 

It’s critical to renew the permit on time. Otherwise, you will still be liable for the levy as well as levy penalties and overstaying fines. 

As with applying for a maid permit, you can renew a maid permit through an agency, or save money by doing it yourself. Here’s how. 

Step 1: Prepare the necessary documents

Having the documents ready makes the renewal process more efficient. Make sure your helper’s passport is currently valid, and renew her personal accident insurance and medical insurance. You must also obtain a new security bond.

Step 2: Fill the online form for renewal

Use your SingPass to log into the FDW eService. Fill in the online form, using the instructions from the renewal letter as a guide. You will need to upload a scanned copy of your helper’s passport’s personal particulars page, security bond (not applicable for Malaysian helpers), personal accident insurance, medical insurance and address for secure card delivery.

Pay $35 for the pass using Visa, MasterCard or eNets direct debit. The outcome of the renewal is immediate.

Step 3: Print out the temporary work permit

You’ll get a temporary work permit issued to you. Print it out and read the instructions for what to do with your helper’s old pass.

If it states get a new card, you can cut her old pass in half to prevent misuse. There is no need to return the old pass to the MOM.

If it states continue using the existing card, your helper simply needs to keep the old card and you don’t have to wait for a new one to arrive. Note that if the pass is returned when it’s not needed, you’ll have to pay $60 to replace it.

The best approach is to keep it in a separate savings account that’s earmarked strictly for emergencies, so you don’t risk spending it on non-emergency items.

Optional: Receive the card

Within 4 working days after the documents are verified, you or one of your authorised recipients will receive an SMS notifying you of delivery of the card. After two unsuccessful delivery attempts, you will have to pick up the card at MOM Services Centre - Hall C 3 working days after the second attempted delivery.

Extending an existing maid permit

You can also get an 8-week extension if you need more time before renewing or cancelling the maid permit. The extension application must be submitted 2 months before the permit expires

woman on laptop at home

Cancel your helper’s FDW permit if she wishes to go home and stop working in Singapore. But if the arrangement is not working out for you and your helper, you can look into transferring her to a new employer directly or through an employment agency

Follow this process for how to cancel a FDW permit.

Step 1: Settle all outstanding issues

Cancelling a FDW permit takes effect immediately. Before you do so, take a moment to iron out the details of her final day and settle your obligations. This includes talking to your helper and agreeing on her final day, paying her outstanding salary, and ensuring her passport’s validity.

Air travel in the pandemic might involve complex layovers and delays. Before buying her flight tickets, discuss and agree on transit arrangements, including layovers, and provide an allowance to sustain her during the transit. Make sure you provide transport fare from the airport to her hometown.  

Step 2: Decide when to cancel the work permit

The FDW work permit must be cancelled a day before it expires, or within 1 week from her last day at work.  Note that your FDW’s departure date must happen within 2 weeks of the work permit cancellation.

Step 3: Cancel the work permit

Use your SingPass to log into the FDW eService. Fill up the form and print the Special Pass. This allows your helper to stay in Singapore before her departure date. She will also need to show this to the immigration officer when she departs.

The levy will stop one day before cancelling the work permit. 

Step 4: After cancelling the permit

Remember that once the work permit is cancelled, your helper is no longer allowed to work for you, even if she is waiting for her flight. She can use this time to pack her belongings and settle her affairs. 

Make sure your helper leaves Singapore as planned. The security bond will only be discharged 1 week after your helper’s departure, and other conditions are met.

Applying, renewing, and cancelling a FDW permit yourself is an easy and straightforward process that helps you save on agency fees. Once your helper has joined your household, you can save even more by ensuring that she is protected with a good maid insurance policy. That way, she can get the care she needs in case of illness or injury, while reducing your out-of-pocket costs.

Take a look at Income’s Domestic Helper Insurance, which offers personal accident coverage, hospital and surgical expenses, and wage compensation so your helper can work with peace of mind.


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