Singapore FDW bureaucracy

MOM's Work Permit Online Web application in 2015

Note: Correct as of time of writing. I have NO PLANS to keep it up to date and this information will likely be out of date within six months!

Hiring a FDW in Singapore tested my abilities to cope with bureaucracy, an unclear process and forms that only work in Internet Explorer. The good news for you, is that the WPOL is about to be replaced... so with any luck this process will be better, since it looks like it hasn't been touched since the 90s!

Let me try summarise what you need to in order to hire a transfer maid. I found mine via Anisya. You can pay an agency to conduct these steps for you. Doing them yourself can save you >500SGD!

There is a FDW Employers' Orientation Programme you MUST conduct as an online course at Be sure that the person who does this course is the same as the employer. i.e. decide between you and your spouse who is going to be tackling the bureaucracy. You cannot share the load as a couple.

The course is terribly implemented and only seems to work in Internet Explorer. There are some quizzes, but I don't think you can fail them. You will probably get more out of watching the Ministry of Manpower's Youtube channel. It's a shame they don't improve their videos or have a playlist for FDW.

First step: IPA

At this stage you must have good contact with the current employer of your FDW and you need all the particulars of your FDW. DOB, passport details, issuance dates, expiry dates.

100SGD GOTCHA: Note on transfer your helper's 6 month medical will reset. Somewhere on the MOM Website it is noted that the current employer (the one your are transferring from) will be obligated to pay. On a successful IPA the current employer will get a letter from MOM requesting the employer to send the helper to a medical. If the employer does not do this by the time the transfer is complete, the problem then becomes yours. So you MUST press the employer to get the helper's medical done before applying for the final work permit.

Next you need a valid Singpass and a Singapore bank accounts that's able to do an online NETs payment.

Getting all these ducks in a row can actually be quite difficult. With any luck you had a successful application from WPOL and you will get an email like:

Dear Sir/Madam,

	XXXX XXXX XXXXXXX, Work permit no: 0 00000000
	Applied on: 19/08/2015 is approved on 20/08/2015.

Yours faithfully,
Work Pass Division

This is a system generated email. Please do not reply to this email

Next you will need to log back into WPOL and download the:

  1. IPA PDF

I recommend you read them.

2nd step: Buy insurance (security bond)

In the IPA PDF, you will find the SB Transmission Ref No. This is the main "gotcha" from filling in my insurance application online via NTUC Foreign Maid Insurance.

Again prepare your self for a torturous form filling affair with terrible design. Another tip that I failed to do, is you might want to adjust the effective date to be one or two days earlier, since this will allow you to submit the application earlier too. Confusingly in the IPA PDF it will give you a deadline which is impossible to meet unless you have insurance effective from that date.

Don't panic, the IPA is actually valid for at least a week after that Submission of Documents to Process Work Permit deadline passes.

If everything goes well with your insurance application, you will receive an email like so:

We confirm acceptance of your Foreign Maid Insurance
proposal.  You will receive your policy document by post
within 5 working days.

Policy Number - 0000000000

Period of Insurance - 01-09-2015 to 31-10-2016

Btw, it's not clear on NTUC's awfully designed Website & form but when you buy insurance you also effectively take out a security bond as well as her medical insurance.

Don't worry about the "policy document by post". What they don't tell you, is that NTUC has a system that automatically tells WPOL you have taken out insurance. You can check this yourself in WPOL's Enquire → Security Bond Status menu. Hopefully they will replace this byzantine menu with thoughtful & operator friendly URLs like

3rd step: Apply for work permit

Two important things you remember is the effective date of your application and the work permit number which starts with a ZERO SPACE. This needs to be correct else you will get a mysterious error message like:

OLISM001:       Invalid combination. Please enter a valid combination of search parameters.

I signed the APPLICATION FOR A WORK PERMIT FOR A DOMESTIC WORKER PDF with CudaSign on my Iphone and then you need to email current employer of your FDW to sign. The FDW also needs to sign a couple of sections including one to prevent her from gambling. For me, they signed the printed documents and then photographed each page and emailed me back 6 JPEGs. I then joined then with:

for i in *.jpeg; do convert $i $i.pdf; done
pdfunite *.pdf /tmp/filled-in-wp-application.pdf

Either fill in the Application For Inter-Bank GIRO (Foreign Worker Levy Payment) and post it. Or you can do this ONLINE with OCBC (only). The Bill reference no. is your FIN number.

Remember you cannot Issue Work Permit on WPOL until the Period of Insurance date is effective (01-09-2015 in my case). Else you will be greeted by an error message like:

OLIS2A014D:	eIssuance not allowed as the Insurance / Banker's Guarantee for the Security Bond is not effective yet. If you require clarification, please print this screen and write your name, contact number and fax number on it. You can fax this screen to the Work Pass Division (WPD) at Fax No. 65320795. WPD will contact you shortly.

Typically on the first day of your insurance period you will progress in the Issue Work Permit form with:

  1. where you will need a witness to sign it (Tip: Printing the form from WPOL, will have the initial parts already filled in )
  2. APPLICATION FOR A WORK PERMIT FOR A DOMESTIC WORKER PDF signed by yourself the new employer, the old employer and your new helper
    • Make sure you have / have not Part 1(A) point C and Part II(A) point F is striked out correctly!
  3. Details of your helper's current passport

After some torturous forms, you will be asked to pay 30SGD. Once that's done, the process sort of ends. If you click continue you will be making payment again and you will get a later error warning your about duplicate payments. Anti-climax.

After waiting nervously for 3 days I received an email with the subject "Card delivery details" which basically means the Work Permit has been issued!

Final notes

The Employment contract between you (the employer) and your FDW isn't actually a requirement. Sadly, there is no template provided by MOM, though the contract provided by the Philippine embassy seems fine (Backup copy).

This process, although online... will take you more than one day and lots of strong coffee and patience.

SingPass loves to log you out and for some reason my browser refuses to remember the login and password details.

If you get stuck call MOM. They are actually quite good on the phone! 6438 5122's telephone menu is a nightmare, though I found *# to get to the menu and 1, 1 and then 0 to get an operator the most efficient way. Email exchanges with MOM sadly were terrible. They take at least 3 days to respond and for me, both occassions didn't seem to understand what I was asking for.


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