Applying Working Permit for FDW (Maid) in SG

33 Comments 18 May 2012 / by

after 4 years of working for us, our maid has finally decided that she will go home this year, at the end of validity of her working permit in early june. she has been with us since naia was 3 months old and has been working with my family even way longer than that. she started working for my mom when i was still in the US.

so now that it means we need to look for a new maid, we decided that we should take care of the working permit application ourselves. no need to involve a maid agency in the process. from my past experience when applying for the renewal of the working permit, it seems that the process is quite fast and easy. everything in singapore is fast and easy, and everything is spelled out clearly on the websites. as long as we can find someone from indonesia who would be willing to work for us for at least the next 2 years, we’re all set.

my mom is the one who helped finding this new maid. she worked in kuwait before, for 5 years, taking care of her employer’s children. so it’d be perfect. the only different is that, she is much older than my current one. fortunately, still within the legal limit to work in singapore. i figured, i want someone older this time because i need someone who’s serious about working here and hopefully will stay with us long enough.

FDW - Foreign Domestic Worker

after identifying that she is ready to come and work for us in singapore, we helped her to make her new passport. she has her old passport before but because it was done through PJTKI (somehow marked and can be used as a “target” when she enters or leaves indonesian immigration), we decided to make a new one for her. in the meantime, i asked her to prepare the translation of her secondary school diploma, birth certificate and a letter from her husband stating that he gives permission for her to work.

i’ve had too many experiences with my current maid that everytime she enters indonesia, she got stopped and told to go through a different lane specifically for TKW (indonesian non-skilled worker sent abroad). upon going into this lane, they become the target for some unauthorized people who would try to ask for money. of course, i wound interrupted and dismissed this. though there are plenty of stories we heard about this. and i couldn’t quite understand why indonesian immigration would stop my maid when entering her own country. it’s like she cannot work outside of indonesia, when in fact she was making good money for her and her family. she has the permit to work in singapore and legal to stay. for this purpose, and since our maid is not going through any employment agency, we want her passport to be unmarked and treated like the general tourist.

so, once the passport is ready, i apply for an IPA (In-Principle Approval) letter which she will need to bring once she enters the country. along with IPA, i also apply the medical insurance and security bond, which is mandatory by the MOM (ministry of manpower) before she enters the country. all is done through MOM’s website.

for a first-time maid (FDW – foreign domestic worker) to be eligible to work in singapore, she must:
1. be a minimum of 23 years old, max of 50 years old.
2. has completed a min of 8 years of education (secondary school or junior high school)
3. medically fit to work
4. enrolled in a Settling In Programme (SIP) which is a replacement of the entry english test.

the english test was a mandatory for all FDW who come to singapore to work. they must pass the test after 3 tries in 3 days. if she does not pass the test, she will have to leave singapore and try again. as of May 1, 2012 this test was omitted and replaced with SIP, an all day program where the FDWs are required to attend the workshop about working and living in singapore. the SIP is currently organized by 2 vendors (both names can be found in MOM’s website) and the fee is $75.

for a first time employer of FDW, s/he has to go through an employer orientation. this can be done online and only takes about 3 hours. you can also attend the class if you want. i did it online during my first maternity leave, so i don’t have to go through it again this time. oh, btw, this whole application thing must be done using your singpass. so, better apply for it once you receive your pass (dependent pass, employment pass, or PR)

an employer is allowed to apply for a FDW in her household if she has child(ren) below 12 years old or parents who needed help (sick).

once everything is in place, i applied the working permit online for the IPA. i applied at 9.30AM and got the approval by 3.30PM, the same day! after the approval came, i contacted NTUC and requested for a Foreign Maid Package. this package is bundled specifically for FDW employer to buy. it has all the requirements that MOM requested, health insurance and $5000 security bond. for 2 years period, the cost is about $256.

since everything is done online, they only requested for the transmission number appears in the IPA, so that they can linked and apply for the health insurance for the said FDW. all these documents must be brought by the FDW when she enters the country. the immigration will then scan the docs to ensure all the necessary items have been applied and in place.

hubby took an overnight trip to jakarta to pick up my new maid. since he needs to bring all the documents, we wanted to make sure that everything is safe and proper when she enters the country. of course, our main concern was not on the singapore immigration, it was in fact in indonesian immigration that we were worried. from the KTKLN requirements, to a marked passport. good thing, it was done smoothly, though she was asked and given weird comments from the indonesian immigration.

so on her way out leaving indonesia, the indonesian immigration officer asked my maid on her intention to travel. she answered that she’s going on a trip to singapore with her cousin (pointed to my husband). the immigration officer then asked, “for how long?”. she picked up a number from a sky and answered, “10 days”. the officer replied, “make sure you don’t work there!”

excuse me? who says she cannot work? even if she does want to work, it’s not up to him to deny it. it’s up to the government and immigration in the destination country who can say that she is allowed or not allowed to work. weird, isn’t it?

anyway, she entered singapore smoothly since all docs are on hand.

early on monday morning, the next day after she arrived to singapore, my hubby took my maid to attend the SIP. during the registration, they checked the documents such as the school diploma, passport and birth certificate of the FDW. as mentioned, it’s a whole day program, so she was there pretty much from 9am to 6pm. hubby picked her up at 6pm and she was given a certificate to proof that she has completed it.

since it was too late to go for medical check up, the next day we took her to see a doctor at the local clinic nearby our apartment. we brought the medical check-up form that we printed off of the MOM website so that the doctor knows what kind of things needed to be checked. this includes a blood test and an x-ray test (cost about $72 in total, i went to a local clinic). it took less than 2 days for the result to come up. once the result is received, we would know that based on the tests, the doctor would give his OK to confirm that the FDW is fit or unfit to work. once the result shows as fit to work, i applied for the issuance of the working permit online. for this we will need to pay $20 for processing of the card. the approval came in an instant, where we would be given an instruction on what to bring for the card issuance. this includes the medical check up form (signed by the doctor), birth certificates of the employer’s children, passport, photo, etc.

this is done through the work permit office at the tanjong pagar complex. my hubby and my maid went there for the submitting all the docs requested (most of them needed the signature, therefore we need to submit the hardcopies), fingerprint and photo image. once this is done, then she’s all set.

4 days after, we just need to go back to pick up the working permit, which took less than 5 minutes to do. the whole process is completed in less than 2 weeks after her arrival to singapore.

when my first maid arrived here, i didn’t think that it was this easy to go through the whole process ourselves. so we engaged with a maid agency. we spent about $1K for the whole thing. going through the process ourselves only costs us less than $200. yes, it also costs us time, but not too much time as everything is done very fast and simple.

i guess it’s worth taking our leave than paying that much money to a maid agency. so if you are new in singapore or going to move to singapore with your maid, just follow the above steps. log on to MOM website and apply for your singpass. that’s all you need to have and you’re all set!

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Your Comments

33 Comments so far

  1. Ramliburger says:


    Chanced upon your blog as I’m currently bringing in my ex-maid to work for me again after her contract ended 3 mnths ago.

    Can i check did you end up doing the KTKLN card eventually? cos i had probe with that so she is now coming on on 2 way tickets on ‘holiday’ but traveling on her own though.

    So once your maid reached sg immigration then she ‘revealed’ that she was here to work? I’m having a similar situation and could use some urgent advise. Syukran.


  2. sLesTa says:

    hi, sorry for the late reply.
    i never apply for KTKLN for my maid. the Indonesian immigration never asked for it either. at least for the two occassions i was leaving indonesia with my maid.

    she only revealed that she was working in sg immigration because that’s without it, my maid would not be able to proceed to apply for her work permit.

    hope my answer helps.

  3. Cindy says:


    i wanna ask, so if i am indonesian and i wanna work in sg, i can’t make my own work permit?


  4. sLesTa says:

    cindy: unless you already hold a PR or LPR, very unlikely you can apply your own permit. the company you will be working for would need to apply for the permit before you are eligible to work in SG.

  5. Cindy says:

    slesta : by the way, how you get know your maid before she work with you?

  6. sakitseven says:

    greetings to u.
    i intended to have my own maid n have one. but e only issue that bothering me that some people say if wanted to take a new maid direct from their country who never in spore before, the maid must undergoing a maid training course. is it true?? kindly advise me pls as the MOM website never indicate any as you had done all e process. i agree with you that the agencies here really cut our throat. thank you n await for ur reply.

  7. sLesTa says:

    @cindy: at some point or another, the maid works for my family or know someone in my extended family so that we know exactly where they live, how they been, etc.

    @sakit seven: yes that’s true. it’s part of the process, MOM does document that. once they arrive in singapore, the maid must undergo the orientation for the whole day before the work permit can be issued to them.

  8. jamie says:

    hi slesta,

    you are lucky to be able to find a maid who can come and work for you without going through agency. may i know how did your mother get to know that maid or get that lobang? how did she know whether she is ok? just purely through interview? I could do the direct hire myself too but a pity I could not find anyone from Indonesia. 🙁

  9. sLesTa says:

    hi jamie, mostly because the person at one time or another also has worked for my mom. there’s no other way to trust anyone (esp those who will look after my children) without good credentials from my own mom 🙂

  10. Lucky says:

    Hi mrs. Slesta,

    Thank you for post this blog, it did help me a lot.
    After read this blog, i try to find my employer by myself since the agency making the way so hard for some of us who willing to work as a maid in singapore. And luckily, i found one, and they willing to go a process like what you did. And now i finished all the process and get my work permit.

    By the way, there is one thing i wanna ask, because i didn’t go through a agency, with them usually i need to sign a contract, so how about you? Did your maid also sign a contract with you? Or how it goes?

    Thank you 🙂

  11. Lucky says:

    And then, about the fee for medical check up and SIP, do yout maid need to paid it back to you? Thank you

  12. Jel says:

    Wow, urs is much more current. Thanks for that. I’m applying for maid for the 2nd time. Here’s my old posts

  13. Lina says:

    Hi Slesta,
    I would like to know how much is the levy you need to pay to the government? and the $265 from MTUC is it one time payment or monthly payment? Also do you need to declare the maid salary to the government as well?

    Thank You.

  14. omar says:

    Hi Slesta. Thx for the detailed explanation. Very useful. I am in the midst of getting a WP for my FDW. She just arrived yesterday from India. Any clinic you would recommend for the medical check-up? All the clinics I checked with said they don’t have x-ray facilities. Any clinic that does both FDW check-up and the x-ray? Thank you. 🙂

  15. sLesTa says:

    hi lucky,
    yes i also have a contract with my maid. it helps to protect both myself and her. as for SIP and check up, i took it upon myself to pay for them. but i’m sure there are employers who would ask the FDW to pay for those themselves.

  16. sLesTa says:

    lina: i think it’s standard for the levy fees as stated in MOM website, which is for me, it’s $265 per month currently. and yes i declare the salary to the govt.

  17. sLesTa says:

    omar: i believe most of the clinics should have those facilities. i live in the east, most of the clinics in the area would have it, or if they don’t, they wud make a referral to the clinic that has.

  18. Gera says:

    Hi there

    can i check there is now a new component called Safety agreement for first time or transfer FDW, one portion of it needs endorsement by Agency.

    So how then if I wish to direct hire? Is this agreement necessary?

  19. zhcel says:

    i need your advice…
    I currently working as a nanny..and this November my contract will be finish..

    I will not go back in my country,,coz i want to apply as a skilled worker..

    What should i do?
    What i tell ,to my employer..

    pls.reply tnx a lot

  20. Gina says:

    Hi. My former maid wants to come back to work and we are hiring her directly without going through an agency at indonesia. however, I was told by a friend that we will not be able to recruit domestic help without going through an agency in singapore. I do not mind paying the agency a fee to help with the administration but the agency wants to collect 2 months of my maid’s pay as fee too. Is there anyway I can get her in without her forfeiting two months of her pay?

  21. wanztan says:

    Hi sLesta,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Really informative!

    i am also thinking of bringing a indonesian domestic worker directly too. She is my current maid’s cousin, which will be working for my mother.

    This route of applying for the tourist indonesian passport without ktkln card in indonesia and leaving indonesia worked successfully for u? Any obstacles to look out for?

  22. sLesTa says:

    wanztan yes so far, it has worked fine for us. but then again, my maid hardly goes on home leave, so i can’t really say much.

  23. sLesTa says:

    Gina sorry to reply so late. by the time i replied, i think it’s too late, nonetheless i still want to answer your question. of course you can hire directly without going through an agency. that’s what i did, and it works fine. if you need to go through an agency for help, but you don’t want the agency to collect pay from your maid, ask them to help you for direct hire. so they only help with the admin fee and charge you for the service fee, but they can’t interfere with your maid’s pay since you are the one identifying the maid, not them. so no need to pay their service to look for the maid, only admin fee.

  24. Nurabdah says:

    good day,

    was just wondering what is IPA letter? how do i get it?

  25. Nurabdah says:

    good day,

    i have a lil bit confused how do i apply for IPA?before work permit or after?
    then how do i take up for the insurance? after everything is done meaning the work permit and ipa approved?
    sorry im first time trying to apply on my own…
    so its abit tricky for myself.. could kindly advise me further?


  26. Janice says:

    Hi, I found a suitable helper in Indonesia, recommended by my ex-helper. But she never go overseas and work before and I do not know how to apply a passport for her. Can you please advise??

  27. sLesTa says:

    Nurabdah please visit MOM website. all the information are stated there and they are quite straightforward. for the insurance, you can just call NTUC and ask for insurance for the domestic worker, they already have a packaged ready. if you’re not sure if what you’re doing is correct, you can always call MOM hotline, they are very helpful too. good luck!

  28. sLesTa says:

    Janice if you’re not in indonesia, then you should ask her to find someone to help in Indonesia. you may contact an agent, i think it’s the best way though it doesn’t come cheap but will save you a lot of trouble.

  29. May says:

    Hi sLesta,
    Nice reading your posts.
    Btw, would like to have advise if it’s normal for us to pick up our new FDW from the agency then after few days let the agency pick up our new FDW from our house to go for thumbprint.
    Or should we pick up our new FDW from the agency only after everything is done, including thunbprint.

  30. sLesTa says:

    May: yes that’s normal. when you pick up the maid from the agency, it means they have gone through the training and just waiting for the working permit to be ready. this takes a few days and they need to set up an appointment and the maid need to come in person for thumbprint. so when the agency releases the maid to you, the maid is actually had passed all the necessary requirements and can start working.

  31. May says:

    Hi sLesta, so do you think it’ll be better that I pick up my new maid from my the agency only after her thumbprint is done too.

  32. sLesTa says:

    May: if you can wait until everything is done, and the agency agrees, you can ask them.

  33. Pauline says:

    Regretted to sent my Indo maid home last saturday who has been with us for 10 years.
    Pls advise what is the procedure to bring her back.
    Passport expiry on 2017

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Profile sLesTa

a worker by choice, a mother and a wife by nature / owner of / co-founder of the urban mama / the urban muslimah | email: slesta[at]slesta[dot]com

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