How to bring your own domestic help in Singapore without going through an employment agency Part 1

Unlike in western countries where only well-to-do families can afford domestic help, in the Philippines, it’s pretty common for households to have domestic helpers or maids.  They are the ones who help out with household chores and taking care of children.  Some of whom have been with the families they serve for ages that they are already considered part of the family.

Before going on to detailing the steps on getting a maid, I’d like to emphasize that domestic help or maids are human beings.  I used maid, domestic help, and helper interchangeably as I believe that neither of those words should have a derogatory connotation.   They are not slaves and they should be treated with respect as any other person doing decent work.

First you need to be aware of implications of having a maid in Singapore.  The most important thing to note is that they are much more expensive to maintain compared to having them in the Philippines.  On top of their salary, which is twice to 3 times, even 4 times more than the average salary in the Philippines, you need to take out an insurance for them, place a security bond with the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) and pay a monthly levy of S$265 to the Singapore government.  I’d put the additional cost of a maid to about S$700/month with her salary and the levy, not including the increase in utility bills and food consumption for having another person living with you.  The employer’s guidelines from the MoM website is very informative for first time employers.

Then make sure the person you’re bringing in complies with all the requirements:

  • Employers cannot apply for a Work Permit (WP) for a foreigner who is on a social visit such as on holiday or short term visit to Singapore. In other words she must not be in Singapore while her permit is being processed.
  • If you are applying for a WP for a FDW who has never worked in Singapore before, she must be 23 years of age or above and below 50 years old at the time of the WP application.
  • If the FDW has previously worked in Singapore, she must be aged 18 or above, and below 50 years at the time of the WP application.
  • If you are applying for a WP for a FDW who has never worked in Singapore before she must have a minimum of 8 years of formal education and possess the necessary educational certificates as documentary proof of her education.

The easy way to bring your own maid is to hire an agency to do it for you.  It will cost you around S$700 exclusive of airfare.  But if you like to save a couple hundred bucks, then you can bring her in on your own like what I did.

  • First, register for a Singpass.  The Singpass is very useful as it allows you to transact with different government agencies online.  Your password will be sent via postal mail so this takes about 2 days.
  • Take the Employer’s Orientation Programme for first time employers.  There’s the classroom type which costs S$20.   But since both venues are very far away from my place, I chose to take the online EOP for S$30.  You get the result immediately after completion. (Note:  The first time I applied for our FDW, my application was rejected.  The reasons were not stated but I figured it was probably because I didn’t take the EOP before applying.  That’s S$10 bucks down the drain.)
  • Now with your Singpass, you’ll be able to apply for the work permit online.   You will be notified of the result of your application the next day. (Cost: S$10)
  • When your application is approved, you need to retrieve the In Principle Approval Letter from work permit online to get your FDW’s work permit number and SB Transmission No.
  • You may now contact an insurance provider to take out the required Medical insurance of at least S$15000 coverage and Personal Accident insurance with a coverage of at least S$40000.  For this part, I availed the MI3E insurace from NTUC Income for a premium of S$240+ GST for 26 months.  The insurer will then transmit the details of the policy to MoM.  MoM will then send to you the green acknowledgement letter by post.  You can also check wponline if
  • Once you receive the green acknowledgement letter, you may now bring your FDW over to Singapore.  Make sure she has a copy of the In Principle Approval Letter with her which she will present to the Singapore Immigration for clearance.  (To be on the safe side, make sure too that Immigration officials in the Philippines don’t see this letter otherwise she may not be allowed to exit the Philippines especially if she hasn’t gone thru POEA and OWWA which you can do later.)
  • You may now also schedule your FDW to take the Entry Test (S$5) which she needs to pass.   She also needs to attend a Safety Awareness Course (S$20).   She needs to take both of these within 3 days after her arrival.  It’s best to book her schedule with National Safety Council of Singapore prior to her arrival.

Up to this point, I was able to do everything from the comfort of my own home.  All I needed was a computer, internet connection, and a phone.

The next steps will be continued in Part 2 of this entry.

109 thoughts on “How to bring your own domestic help in Singapore without going through an employment agency Part 1”

  1. I want to get a maid from India.
    She is 53 yrs.
    She has worked in Singapore and Hong Kong before.
    She worked in Singapore from 2002-2004.
    Then she worked with my parents for 10 years in India.
    Recently she worked for one year in Dubai till September 2015.
    How can I appeal to Mom because of her age being more than 50.

  2. @Ms. Tsiken

    Hi, may i know which airline did you purchase for your maid in 2015? is return ticket really a MUST?

    I am done with my WP. What is the next steps?

    Awaiting for your soonest reply.

  3. Hello there, is it true that you’re only allowed to bring in FDW from select countries? If so is there any way around that or is it set in stone? Also, is an au pair also considered a FDW and will need the same workers permit? If not does anybody have any info in this regard?

  4. Can i hire my sister as my helper.? I’ve been having probs with my previous maids and the only helper can really take care of my family is my sister .

  5. Hello Ms.Tsiken,

    Although this is a old post. Do these steps yet apply? The maid I want to get has worked in Singapore for 4 years though not at a stretch. Singapore side of things seem to be easy, but how to go ahead with the philippines side. I believe the rules are really strict now. Would appreciate any help.

  6. You can hire maids in a website called: this could save you some trouble worrying and spending so much time in searching.

  7. Hi Deepali,
    To make it easier, you can go through an agent in Singapore to do apply the maid that you have in mind for you. The agent cost is about $1600 and maid’s pay deduction of a few months. But you can also go to an agent to do “direct hire” – the cost is about $2500, no maid’s pay deduction. With “direct hire”, you can choose to spilt the cost with the maid or bear the full cost on your own.

    If you do not want to go through an agent (which means no proper paperwork process in Philippines), you can take the risk of bringing the maid out of Philippines with you but there is a high chance that she may not be able to leave as the immigration regulations in Philippines is very strict for them to leave the country without a valid reason.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  8. Hi Ms Tsiken,
    If I am transfering my maid from Hong Kong to Singapore to take care of my mum. Currently I have employed her in Hong Kong using my name.If I am transfering her to Singapore,my helper would have to be employed by my mum instead of me. The reason is due to I seldom stay in Singapore. Do u have any idea if my maid have to apply new OEC from Philippines. Do I need to send her back to Philippines to apply OEC? I have applied work permit from MOM and is approved. But still not sure if she can come to Singapore directly from Hong Kong or needs to send her back to Philippines to apply for OEC? Hope u can answer to my problem before I proceed to buy insurance for her in Singapore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge