From Singaporean to Australian: A brief guide on renouncing Singapore citizenship

Just thought it’d be handy to document it all.

Caveats apply, no comments here on:

  • Why you should keep your Australian PR and remain a Singaporean
  • Why you shouldn’t juggle both Australian and Singaporean passports
  • Why Singapore is better than Australia and vice versa
  • Handling Singapore property
  • Applying citizenship for dependents

Timelines provided are from my experience, YMMV.

1. Qualify for Australian citizenship

Requirements change, so always check the official source.

Be Australian

Take the Australian citizenship interview and test.

Attend the ceremony, take the oath.

Tip: Google for citizenship test quizzes, practice. You’ll be fine – chao mugger Sinkies are good at this.

Timeline: eight months, from application to ceremony invitation.

Apply for an Australian passport

This is relatively easy – refer to official source.

2. Renounce Singapore citizenship

Fill the form up – refer to official source, ICA in this case.

When in doubt, contact the Canberra Singapore embassy at CitizenService_CBR@mfa.sg

Head down to ICA in Singapore, or to the Singapore embassy in Canberra. Drop forms and documents off.

Tips:

  • It’ll be the last time you see your NRIC and passport. Take a photo for remembrance!
  • You’ll need to get your Australian citizenship certificate and passport notarised.
  • The ICA department handling renunciation is not accessible via escalator, only by lift.

Timeline: three months from application to receipt of letter in the post.

3. Apply for CPF withdrawal

Fill the form up – refer to official source, CPF in this case.

Mail the form in, or do it in person at a CPF branch in Singapore.

Tips:

  • Do not update your Singapore bank accounts details post-citizenship change, until funds hit the account. Do not over-complicate matters!
  • Yes, you get everything back – OA, SA, MA.
  • Yes, you can also have it transferred to an Australian bank account. Refer to link above.
  • Download and save all statements from CPF website before application.
  • Again, YMMV. The amount of work done at the counter, at the CPF branch convinced me I would’ve fucked this up massively, had I done it myself and mailed it in.

Timeline: two months, from application to receipt of letter in the post. Funds hit bank account around same time.

4. Handling CPF tax

Talk to a qualified tax accountant.

For a very rough idea of how it should be handled (disclaimer: this should not be treated as official tax advice):

Q: When doing Australian tax assessments, how is CPF handled?

Interest earned on CPF is taxable.

Q: How do I calculate amount to be declared on the tax return? Is the entire $X liable for tax? Or is it only the amount that enters Australia? Or Is it taxed based off interest earnings on the CPF account only?

The only taxable amounts are interest income and 50% of capital gains.

Here’s a reference to the official source, ATO in this case.

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