My husband and I were quite lost when we began this process. Birth registration was simple, but obtaining our twins’ US passports and Singapore visit passes was rather tedious. This post will outline each step in detail.
1. Register for birth certificates (same day collection)
2. Take your child’s passport photos (different dimensions for US and SG photos)
3. Apply for passport at local embassy (for US citizens, you will apply for passports and social security cards together)*
4. Collect passport
5. Actualise your child’s “stay” at ICA (stamp passport) and apply for visit pass*
6. Collect visit pass*
* Must bring child for these visits
Birth certificates are available at the major hospitals in Singapore. Interestingly, they aren’t issued automatically at birth. You or your partner will have to register for a birth certificate and provide some documentation in order to do so.
My husband received our twins’ birth certificates during my stay at Gleneagles Hospital in less than an hour. Remember to pack your original identity cards (if you are a foreigner, bring your passport) and original marriage certificate.
Births must be registered within 14 days from the actual date of birth. If, for some reason, you are unable to register at a hospital, you may do so at the ICA.
The Singapore US embassy page is comprehensive and will guide you through the steps to obtaining your children’s passports and social security cards. First, you will have to book an appointment online. For births abroad, appointments don’t fill up too quickly. But if you have twins, you need to book an appointment for each child. Consecutive appointments will be harder to find, so book your appointment in advance. Our appointment was two weeks after our twins’ birth.
One week before your appointment, read this comprehensive checklist 2-3 times and prepare the necessary documents. We took our twins’ passport photos with an iPhone while they were laying down on white sheets. Don’t worry about imperfect photos or wrinkled sheets. We took the digital files to the nearest photo store and had them adjusted according to US guidelines (2″ by 2″ on a white background with eyes opened) and SG guidelines (35mm by 45mm). In addition to applying for passports and social security cards, you will have to submit a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, which is proof of US citizenship.
You will have to take a taxi or public transport to the US embassy. We brought our twins in their infant car seats on a taxi. We were in and out within an hour, and the visit was quite painless. Our twins’ passports were ready 2-3 weeks later, and we didn’t have to bring them to the embassy for collection.
Note: If your twins were conceived by assisted reproductive technology (e.g., IVF), please take note of this section of the US Department of State website. Since our twins were conceived via IVF in Singapore, I emailed the embassy about the required documentation before our visit. I was told to bring laboratory records of the procedure. I showed the embassy officer our records of the embryo transfer and lab test results, and these were sufficient for our application.
US social security cards
With all the madness of having twins the first year, I only realized a year later that we had never received our children’s social security cards!
The social security cards should have been mailed from the US embassy in Manila. I emailed the Manila Social Security Administration with my twins’ particulars, but due to confidentiality, they were unable to provide their social security numbers over email. They faxed them to the US embassy in Singapore, so I had to book an appointment online, and submit a request for replacement social security cards. Luckily, we received the cards one month later.
Moral of the story: Expect your children’s social security cards to arrive in the mail 1-2 months after they receive their passports. If you don’t get them, contact the US embassy in Manila as soon as possible.
Singapore visit passes
My husband and I decided to apply for one year visit passes for our twins. We tried to book an appointment a month before my expected due date, but the first available appointment was only available in 2-3 months. After our twins received their US passports, we went to the ICA without an appointment before opening hours. Before your visit, review this page, which details the documents you will need to bring.
Luckily we received much sympathy and attention from the ICA staff, so our twins’ applications were processed that day, despite initial claims that no appointments were available. We submitted their visit pass applications and had their “visits” actualised. (Yes, they technically don’t exist in Singapore until the ICA stamps their passports!) We then returned to the ICA to pick up the visit passes.
Visit passes expire annually, so book your renewal appointment 1-2 months before the expiry date.
By the time your twins are 6-8 weeks old, you should have your children’s birth certificates, passports, and visit passes (for foreigners). Keep several copies of these documents around the house, as you will need them for infant care registration, medical appointments, health insurance, etc.