Updated: Nov 8, 2021
In the past year and a half, the world as we know it changed forever. When Covid hit and spread worldwide, travel has never been the same again. Travel became a lot more difficult, and with constant rule changes traveling has been more troublesome.
Relocation in the past was exciting. However, relocation during Covid, I will say it is more stressful than exciting. Honestly, the thought of quarantining with a toddler and a baby will put many people off relocation. Quarantine aside, the rules also keep changing depending on the current situation, so no one is 100% sure what the rules may be until you fly.
So I thought I would do a blog post about what I wish I knew before I relocated to Singapore. If I knew this and have prepared myself better, this past two months, would have made my life a lot easier.
Before You Fly
1. Dig up your certificates
There is so much paperwork that you will need to fill out when you relocate to Singapore, and not just for the person who is applying for the work visa, but for everyone in the family. One of the parts that took us the longest was filling out our qualifications.
Get your high school certificates, university degree certificates etc ready, as you will need them to fill out the forms. My husband and I had to dig ours up, as we don't remember the exact dates we did our GCSEs and A-Levels etc. I mean, who does! (I am sure there are people with good memories who will remember them, but I certainly am not one of them.)
2. Immunisation verifications for children
If you have children, you will need your local Pediatrician to sign and verify all the jabs your child has taken. Your local immunisation card does not count. This is very important, as my husband's company's HR department did not tell us in advance, we had to rush to get this after my husband's and my visa were approved. They will not approve your child's visa without it.
Here is a link for all the information you need for the Verification of Vaccination Requirements.
3 . Rabies serology certificate for pets
If you are relocating with your pet, your fur baby will have to take a rabies shot and get a rabies antibody test 30 days after. If they fail their Rabies antibody test, they will need to take a booster shot and get another test 30 days after.
For Hong Kong, to get the test results, it takes about 3 - 4 weeks, because they have to send the blood to be tested in UK. So the whole process will take approximately 2 months, if not more if they fail their Rabies anti-body test.
Misty, unfortunately, failed her first, so she had to do another one. So we are still waiting until she can get her second blood test. (Sigh). Hopefully, she will be with us soon.
Here is a link with more information about relocating your pet to Singapore.
4. Get your paperwork inline
Before you fly, make sure all your documents are printed and in order. It will speed up immigration. Immigration takes awhile, especially if you are travelling with children. So the more organized you are, the faster it will be for them during immigration.
Tip: If you are travelling with kids, make sure they are fed, changed with plenty of entertainment (iPad, toys bring the lot) while waiting in line during immigration. The last thing you want is a screaming child while you are waiting in line or when they are going through your documents. I mean a screaming baby or toddler is never fun.
5. Book your COVID test for the airport
When you arrive in Singapore, you will need to do a COVID test before you leave the airport. Each test cost S$160 (including GST). Travellers with a travel history that includes a specified Category (IV) country/region (Please see table below) will be required to take an additional Antigen Rapid test, which costs S$67 (including GST). FYI You cannot pay cash when you arrive, so you must book and pay in advance.
Here is the link to book your COVID test for the airport.
6. Book a taxi to pick you up at the airport
You cannot just get in any taxis when you first land in Singapore. There are specific taxis that are dedicated to pick people up who just flew in from other countries. So you will need to book in advance.
Here is the list of numbers you can call:
1 ComfortDelgro Taxi (Comfort & CityCab taxis) 6333 1133 or via ComfortDelGro app 2 TransCab 6213 0997 3 SMRT 6477 5971 4 Prime 6776 7553 5 Premier 6681 9462 6 GrabSHN, Go-Jek, Ryde, MVL(TADA) via respective providers’ app
7. Get a Singapore SIM card
If you can, get a friend or the company you will be working for to send you a SIM card.
Why? Because the MOM will be calling you around 4 -5 times a day to check if you are in quarantine. And they will keep asking you the same question every time, when will you have a Singapore number. It gets annoying after awhile.
8. Get a local bank account
If possible, I would set up a bank account before you arrive. I know you can do that with HSBC Premium accounts, but HSBC is actually not the best bank to get here in Singapore.
We only opened a HSBC account here because we have HSBC accounts in Hong Kong, and it will be easier and cheaper for us to transfer money here. If possible, I would suggest opening an account with a local bank such as DBS.
Some places (and even websites) here do not accept Visa and Master or overseas credit cards. Some of them only accept Nets, which is like a local Debit Card system, and you can only set it up with a local bank.
Trust me, I had so much trouble paying for stuff here at the beginning, it drove me nuts. If you can't set it up before you arrive, I would suggest that to be the first on your to-do list after quarantine.
What to do after you land
1. Change your App Store account to Singapore
Without a local SIM card and bank account, you won't be able to do this. If you can, I would update your App Store region to Singapore as soon as you.
2. Get in touch with a real estate agent
At the moment, Singapore is a landlords market. Apartments go fast, and due to Covid, there are a limited amount of viewings each day. (Although this might change once Singapore's vaccination number goes up.) So if you like the look of an apartment, book a viewing in fast.
We wanted to view so many places, but most of them went before we even had a chance to see it. If you want to get in touch with a good estate agent, send me a DM or email. I will put you in touch with her, she is really good.
3. Do your research and narrow down the areas you like and dislike.
I know this is hard, especially if you have never been to Singapore. But Google or talk to people who have lived in Singapore to get a better idea what the areas are like.
This will save you a lot of time when you are looking for an apartment. It will also give your estate agent something to work with. If the area you live in is not important to you, think of your priorities.
Is convenience important to you? Or is size the priority? Or is budget your biggest concern? Or do you have a dream school you want to send your child into? All these things will come into play when you are looking for your dream apartment.
4. Book your Covid Test appointment
After your quarantine is over, you will need to go and do another Covid test to prove that you are negative. You will need to book this online, and you can only book specific assigned taxis to take you. (The same taxi companies as I have listed above.)
Here is the link to book your Covid test.
5. Register Fingerprint & Photo
While you are bored in your hotel room or service apartment during quarentine, you can book your appointment at the Employment Pass Services Centre (EPSC). It is super quick, and as it is COVID, it isn't very busy. It took us less than an hour to do all four of us. (And this included taking multiply shots for Joshua's pass as he kept moving.)
Please remember, you will need to do this within 2 weeks after you pass has been issued. You will have to bring with you:
What you need to do after quarantine
1. Download the Trace Together App
If you want to go in anywhere in Singapore, you need to download this app. There are security guards at the door at most places, and they will not let you in if you do not have this.
te didn't know about this, so after our quarantine, we still wasn't able to go in anywhere! We were not allowed inside a mall, restaurant etc. So it was like we were still in quarantine.
If you are the one with the EP, you will have no problem downloading and registering on the app. However, if you are holding a DP, you might run into some trouble. I wasn't allowed to register my trace together app until I got my DP card. Which was frustrating, because it meant I couldn't get into any where without my husband. My husband was able to register us all under his trace together app as a group. But I had to be with him.
So what do you do if you cannot register the app? You can get a token.
2. Get a Trace Together Token
The tokens are for people who cannot register on the app. Some helpers use them, children (because some international school requires them) and the elderly, as some don't have a smartphone.
You can find the nearest token collection point here.
3. Get your vaccination status verified
If you have been vaccinated in your country before arriving in Singapore, you will need to do a blood test to get your status updated on your Trace Together app.
With the way moving forward, this is very important. Because you cannot dine in without a vaccinated status. And with the way things are moving forward, I am guessing they will make it harder and harder for people who are not vaccinated to access into a lot of places.
Below is the list of places you can go to to get the blood test.
Do you need to do a Covid Test before you fly
This depends on the country and airline you are flying with. For Hong Kong, the Singapore Government does not require you to take a Covid Test before you fly. However, depending on the airline you are flying with, you will have to. So when we flew, Singpore Airline does not require you to take a Covid test before flying, but Cathay does.
But I will double-check before you fly, as rules are constantly changing depending on current circumstances.
Don't pack too much luggage
As we were relocating and have two young children, we had a lot of stuff to bring with us because we needed it from day one. We had 14 pieces of luggage in total, and we could not fit it all on one trolley.
It was fine when we departed from Hong Kong, as we had family who could help us out. But when we arrived in Singapore, there was no one there to help us, and we really struggled. Due to Covid, the staff there won't help you out even if you are struggling.
Once you pass immigration, you have to collect all your luggage first BEFORE you go and do your COVID test. And the path you need to take to do your COVID test is slightly uphill! So you can imagine we really struggled.
We ended up with me carrying Jasper, Joshua sitting in one of the double stroller seats, and luggage in the second seat of the stroller, and Finch struggling with the rest of the suitcases. It was not fun!
Get Vaccinated before you relocate
If your country is offering free vaccinations, take it. We are very glad that we got vaccinated back in Hong Kong. For one, it is free. Secondly, it is one less thing on our to-do list. As I mentioned above, if you are not vaccinated, you are very restricted to what you can do here in Singapore. Unless you don't mind never eating out again, just get the jab.
I hope you find this blog post useful and helpful. Of course, these are all just my personal experience when we moved here in July 2021. For the most up-to-date information, please go to the Singapore Government website.
Sending you love & positive thoughts,