Unavoidable Admin in Singapore

By Harry Forster, National University of Singapore

In this article, I’m going to let you in on my ‘top tips’ for speeding up the unavoidable Singaporean student admin

1. Sorting Out Your Student Pass

All exchange students require a ‘student pass’ visa that grants them their stay in Singapore – even though it’s not a permanent visa, that notion doesn’t make it any easier to apply for one…

Completing this is probably the MOST important thing you’ll do in your time in Singapore! It’s required for almost everything from purchasing a sim contract to authorising your studies in NUS…

First things first, you have a lot of things to sort out before your ICA appointment such as an array of documents including: physical copies of online payment receipts to passport-size photos.

  • Also make sure you hold on tight to your landing documentation as you’ll need this for your visa!

** note that if you’re a student who’s staying for a year you’ll also need a medical examination which involves a blood test and a chest x-ray. (All of this can be done at the University Health Centre which is only one bus stop away from Utown).

During my medical, I experienced my first instance of the infamous Singaporean brutal honesty– after repeating my blood pressure for the third time (as all the previous readings had indicated that my blood pressure was too high) rather than the doctor saying ‘I’m sure it’ll be fine’, the Singaporean doctor said “ I hope nothing bad happens to you whilst you’re in Singapore!”… then we parted ways. Not quite the reassuring words you want to hear from your doctor!

2. Singaporean Sim

When you first land, I’d advise getting a Starhub sim card (as a temporary pre-sim card). I recommend the Starhub sim because pretty much every exchanger I’ve met has had issues with the Singtel pre-paid sim…

  •  For example, there has been multiple instances where I’ve topped up my sim card with over £10 in credit and it’s been eaten up within 30mins for no legitimate reason!!

Once you’ve got your student pass, then I’d suggest getting a rolling contract with Circles – this was the best offer available that has 20GB, 100mins of calls plus 25 texts per month all for S$18 ≈£10.50 

  • Also, I added unlimited incoming calls for an extra S$2 per month so you can have those long phone calls with your mum at the cost of next to nothing (except they’ll probably have to foot the international fee)!

3. Banking With FRANK

The most hassle free way of getting a Singaporean bank account (and access to a tax haven) is by opening a FRANK bank account with OCBC – opening a local bank is useful if you want to use local services such as Singtel Dash or NETS; these payment services as require a local bank account!

  • The closest OCBC office is located across from the uni accommodation and still resides within the Utown campus (so it’s only a 2 minute walk). 
  • All you have to take is your student pass, your passport and your proof of address (which can be obtained at the Utown management office).  

Talk to FRANK and they’ll sort you out within the hour – no delivery or pick up required!

**Bring your headphones or a friend to help pass the time and you’ll be set up with a local bank account and debit card all within the same hour!

4. Post (Purchase Problems)

When ordering your procrastination purchases online, just note that you need to be at your accommodation to collect ALL your post because (for some bizarre reason) the management office rejects ALL parcels…

**Top tip: state on your order that you need to be contacted for collection, in order to save yourself the stress and hassle of paying the postage fee more times than you need to!

Till next time…

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