Skip to main content



Explainer: What is a short-term visit pass?

SINGAPORE — The growing cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to KTV nightclubs involving non-Singaporeans has cast a spotlight on short-term visit pass holders.

Explainer: What is a short-term visit pass?
Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — The growing cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to KTV nightclubs involving non-Singaporeans has cast a spotlight on short-term visit pass holders.

These pass holders are not supposed to work as part of immigration rules, but it emerged on Friday (July 16) that at least eight short-term visit pass holders have been linked to the KTV cluster.

The eight include the Vietnamese hostess first linked to the cluster.

She had entered Singapore in February this year on a short-term visit pass via the Familial Ties Lane sponsored by her Singaporean boyfriend, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said.

ICA clarified later on Friday that this allowance was made in October last year so that Singaporeans who were in relationships with foreign partners could be reunited after being separated for long periods due to the pandemic. This allowance was, however, removed in March this year.

The authority was making a clarification on the matter because now, those who are applying for entry through the Familial Ties Lane need to be an immediate family member, relative or a spouse-to-be of a Singapore citizen or a Singapore permanent resident.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said in February that between January 2020 and January 2021, 4.9 million short-term visit pass holders entered Singapore, of whom 4.1 million entered before April 2020.

TODAY looks at what short-term visit passes are and finds out who can apply for one and under what conditions.

What is a short-term visit pass?

A short-term visit pass is issued to eligible foreigners entering Singapore for short visits.

Short-term visits by foreigners via travel lanes are now allowed only for countries or regions with low risk of Covid-19 importation, the SafeTravel website states.

It adds that these lanes have been made available to facilitate controlled entry to Singapore, “based on the traveller’s profile and purpose of travel”.

Who can apply for a short-term visit pass?

All short-term visitors, including those with a previously issued short-term visa or multiple-visit visa, are not allowed to enter Singapore, ICA’s website states.

Visitors are only allowed to enter the country if they have a valid SafeTravel Pass and Air Travel Pass or if they have an approval letter of entry from the relevant agency in Singapore.

Those who need to visit Singapore due to “extenuating reasons” may submit an application for a short-term visit pass through the Familial Ties Lane for Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

This lane was implemented on March 30 last year.

The visitor needs to be an immediate family member, relative or a spouse-to-be of a Singapore citizen or a Singapore permanent resident.

For reasons such as the death of a family member or critical illness of a family member in Singapore, non-residents may also apply for the pass. However, only a maximum of two visitors for each case is allowed.

How can one enter Singapore?

Business and official travellers may commute between Singapore and mainland China — Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang — and Singapore and Brunei Darussalam under the Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement.

These travellers will need to apply for the SafeTravel Pass with ICA for entry into Singapore.

Alternatively, foreigners who are short-term visitors, including business and official travellers, travelling from Brunei and mainland China may seek entry into Singapore by applying for an Air Travel Pass. Those travelling from New Zealand may also apply for this pass.

Changi Airport’s website states that the main difference between the SafeTravel Pass and the Air Travel Pass lies in the nature of the intended travel.

While the SafeTravel Pass facilitates only essential business and official travel, the Air Travel Pass enables all forms of short-term travel from approved countries or regions, including leisure travel to Singapore.

Applications must be made between seven and 30 calendar days before the visitor’s intended date of entry into Singapore.

The pass is valid for single entry anytime from the visitor’s intended date of entry and up to seven calendar days after that.

Visitors must also remain in their declared point of departure in the last 21 consecutive days before departing for Singapore.

For those hoping to obtain a pass via the Familial Ties Lane, applications are allowed for all travellers except those who have travel or transit history to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the past 21 days before arriving in Singapore.

The purpose of the visit includes to reunite with their Singaporean or permanent resident family here or to complete long-term immigration facilities.

How long can a short-term visitor stay in Singapore?

Foreigners with family ties here such as spouses, siblings, parents, children, parents-in-laws of a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, or are seeking medical treatment here are eligible to apply for an extension of stay of up to 90 days.

Applicants have to include original supporting documentary evidence in support of the application.

ICA’S joint statement with MOM on Friday stated: “During this pandemic, ICA has been assessing applications to extend short-term visit passes on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration extenuating reasons, such as international travel restrictions and flight availability, and whether the applicants have family ties in Singapore.”

Are short-term visit pass holders allowed to work?

The authorities said that short-term visitors cannot engage in any form of employment (paid or unpaid), or in any business, profession or occupation in Singapore. Offenders caught breaking this law could have their visit pass cancelled, be deported and be barred from re-entering Singapore.

What is the penalty for overstayers?

The Immigration Act states that any person who remains in Singapore unlawfully for a period not exceeding 90 days can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to S$4,000, or both.

Those who overstayed for longer than 90 days will also be caned.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus KTV karaoke ICA MOM immigration

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.