Immigration and Checkpoints Authority

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority
Penguasa Imigresen & Pusat Pemeriksaan
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed 2003
Preceding agencies
  • Singapore Immigration and Registration
  • Customs and Excise Department
Headquarters 10 Kallang Road, Singapore 208718


The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (Abbreviation: ICA) is the border control agency of the Singapore Government.[2] It is a department in the Ministry of Home Affairs.[3] ICA's primary mission is to ensure that the movement of people, goods and conveyances through Singapore is legitimate and lawful.


The ICA Building at Kallang Road which was opened in the 1990s.

ICA oversees most immigration and registration matters in Singapore. ICA is responsible for securing Singapore's checkpoints against the entry of undesirable goods and people.[4] At its Kallang Road headquarters, ICA oversees national registration from "cradle to grave", starting from birth registration to the issuance of the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) and finally to the registering of deaths. Lastly, ICA carries out inland enforcement of immigration laws.


ICA checkpoints are split into three domains: Land, Sea and Air. Each domain is headed by a Domain Commander who reports directly to the Commissioner.[5] Home Team agencies such as the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) at each checkpoint are also under the Domain Commanders.

Legal Powers

ICA officers primarily enforce the Immigration Act (Cap 133) and the Passports Act (Cap 220). Immigration officers are authorised to act on behalf of the Controller of Immigration (who is de facto the Commisioner of ICA). Immigration officers can also prohibit entry to any one person or class of persons for any reason related to the conditions of Singapore.[6]

ICA officers deployed as cargo and baggage examination officers are empowered under the Customs Act (Cap 70). This allows them to search people and conveyances. They can then seize controlled items and contraband before referring them to the appropriate Controlling Agency.[7] Officers may also act as registration officers under the National Registration Act (Cap 201).

Immigration officers have limited policing powers within the checkpoints and in their immediate vicinity.[8]

ICA's Enforcement Division (ED) oversees the investigation, prosecution and subsequent repatriation of immigration offenders. Prosecution officers work together with public prosecutors at the Attorney-General's Chambers to ensure that offenders are lawfully detained and given trial. ED also prosecutes citizens and residents who harbour immigration offenders, employ immigrants illegally or who enter marriages of convenience.[9]

Inter-agency and counter-terrorism efforts

ICA is part of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group within the Republic of Singapore Navy's Maritime Security Task Force. ICA participated in the 2011 Exercise Northstar, boarding ships to search for firearms and explosives.[10] Through such co-operation with other agencies and ministries, ICA is responsible for counter-terrorist efforts at Singapore's borders.


Colonial Era

Immigration Department and National Registration Office

Immigration control began when the colonial government enacted the Quarantine Ordinance in 1915.[11] The Immigration Restriction Ordinance, which was implemented in 1930 effectively ended the era of free immigration.[11] However, it was only in 1933 when the Immigration Department was established. Birth registration started in 1872 which was then used for health and statistical purposes. However, in 1938, registration of births became compulsory by law. The colonial government began issuing paper identity cards in 1948. The purpose of those cards was to identify those born in the colony.

The Immigration Ordinance was introduced in 1959 after Singapore was granted full internal self-government. The act granted Singaporeans the right of abode and, thus, the right to enter the colony. A new Immigration Depot was built at Telok Ayer Basin (East Wharf) while the head office was moved to Empress Place Building. Round-the-clock immigration clearance for vessels was started 1 June 1961. When Singapore merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, immigration came under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the Immigration Department became a federal agency in Kuala Lumpur.

Customs and Excise Department

The Customs and Excise Department (CED) was founded in 1910 where it collected taxes and excise duties from travellers who brought in restricted goods such as hard liquors and opium. After Singapore was granted independence as a sovereign nation, tobacco, liquor, motor vehicles and petroleum became restricted goods as well.


Immigration Control

After Singapore separated from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, freedom of movement continued to exist between the two sovereign countries for a short period of time. Two border checkpoints were gazetted for travel between the two countries. They were the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the Woodlands Checkpoint. Malaysians had to produce identity cards to be able to enter Singapore, until passports were required on both sides in July 1967. To travel to Peninsular Malaysia, the Singapore restricted passport and the Singapore Certificate of Identity was required. The Restricted passport Centre was at South Quay and was moved to Outram Road in 1976, but closed on 31 December 1994.

Immigration control became stricter in the 1970s, with exit control implemented from 1978. Data on foreigners' movements within Singapore were processed by the Immigration Data Processing Centre with a task force set up in 1974 to deal with overstayers and illegal immigrants. The Last Port Clearance was introduced in 1980 to attract more passenger liners to Singapore. Computers to screen travellers were first used at immigration checkpoints in 1981. A passport office was opened at Joo Chiat Complex in 1984. This office issued both international and restricted passports and was closed in 1999.

The Immigration Department moved its head office to the Pidemco Centre in June 1986. Immigration officers were deployed to places such as India and Hong Kong to open consulates and high commissions. All passports issued by Singapore immigration after 1990 were computerised and machine-readable. The Entry and Exit Control Integrated System implemented in the early 1990s was a computerized immigration system that was used at checkpoints to speed up the processing of travelers. A hotline for information was set up in 1992, with restricted access to countries lifted. The access card system was introduced on 15 December 1996, which used smart card technology and fingerprint data.

National Registration Department

The independence of Singapore in 1965 brought with it the National Registration Act. The NRO and the Registry of Births and Deaths (RBD) came under the former Ministry of Labour. The Registry of Societies, Martial Arts Control Unit came under the Ministry of Home Affairs. On 16 October 1981, the NRO, RBD, ROC, MACU and ROS merged to form the National Registration Department. The Martial Arts Control Unit was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department in April 1992. The National Registration Department was located at the Empress Place Building until 1986 when the building was transformed into the now defunct Empress Place Museum.


The CED has cooperated closely with other government agencies such as the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and the Central Narcotics Bureau since Singapore's independence. When the GST was introduced in 1994, the work scope of the CED was expanded. The red and green channel customs system was implemented in 1991 at Singapore Changi Airport and at sea checkpoints. The CED was located first at Cecil Street from 1910 till 1932 and later the White House at Maxwell Road from 1932 until 1989 when it moved to World Trade Centre (now HarbourFront Centre). It moved again in 1996 to its current headquarters at Revenue House and was subsequently renamed to Singapore Customs after the restructuring of the CED and SIR.

Singapore Immigration and Registration

The groundbreaking ceremony of the then-SI building at Kallang Road took place in February 1993. An immigration checkpoint was established at the Changi Ferry Terminal in May that year. There was a change in the passport application and collection in the 1990s, reducing the need for applicants to appear at the office in person. Several processes were introduced, including sending applications by mail or through the internet. Rebates were given if one applied for their passport through this method.

A new logo was launched by Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng at the foundation stone ceremony at the SI Building in 1995. The West Coast Barter Trade Centre closed in June 1995. Singaporeans were sent renewal forms for passports nine months before their passports expired.

SI became an autonomous agency in 1996 as well as launching its first website. All immigration offices moved from the Pidemco Centre to the new building at Kallang Road in 1997. The Singapore Immigration and the National Registration Department merged to form Singapore Immigration & Registration in 1998. A new land checkpoint at Tuas was opened on 2 January.

21st century onwards

On April 2003, SIR and the border control functions of CED were merged to form ICA. The remaining functions of the CED was reorganised and renamed into Singapore Customs.

In October 2006, ICA began issuing biometric passports to Singapore citizens.

On 2 January 2015, the Integrated Checkpoints Command concept was introduced.

In October 2017, ICA started issuance of new biometric passports that comes with additional security features. This marked the second series of biometrics passports issued by Singapore.

On 1 April 2018 the amended Immigration Act was introduced. ICA officers would now perform roles as first responders. The amendment gave immigration officers the legal powers of police officers in relation to offences committed in the vicinity of checkpoints.[8]

Organization Structure

ICA is divided into staff and line units. Staff units are involved in manpower, training and corporate services. Line units deal with the day-to-day operations of ICA. The senior executive management is called the Leadership Group (LG).[12][13]

ICA organization chart. Orange = line units. Green = staff units
Leadership Group [12]
Appointment Rank Name Notes
Commissioner (ICA) Commissioner Clarence Yeo
Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Deputy Commissioner Tang Siew Taeng Denis Previously from SPF
Deputy Commissioner (Policy & Transformation) Deputy Commissioner Tan Hung Hooi Previously from SPF
Deputy Commissioner (Corporate Development & Administration) Deputy Commissioner Vijakumar Sethuraj Previously from CNB
Director Manpower - Pravina Jit
Director Operations Senior Assistant Commissioner Bophinder Singh
Director Intelligence Senior Assistant Commissioner Jaswant Singh
Domain Commander Sea Senior Assistant Commissioner Nam Liang Chia
Domain Commander Land Assistant Commissioner Ong Choon Beng
Domain Commander Air Senior Assistant Commissioner Zuraidah Abdullah Previously from SPF
Director Enforcement Assistant Commissioner Wong Hong Meng
Director (Policy, International Relations & Legislation) Assistant Commissioner Dominic Chua
Director (Planning & Review) Assistant Commissioner Kelly Lim
Commander Airport Senior Assistant Commissioner Sng Gek Lian Julia
Commander Woodlands Assistant Commissioner Chua Sze How
Commander Tuas Assistant Commissioner Tan Ngak Leng Colin
Commander Coastal Assistant Commissioner Chia Hoi Mun
Commander Ports Assistant Commissioner Ng Chin Kok Danny
Commander Air Cargo Assistant Commissioner Koo Weng Yew Alan
Commander Training Assistant Commissioner Ernest Soo
Director Citizenship Services Center Senior Assistant Commissioner David Tan
Director Visitor Services Center Assistant Commissioner Chew Sui Lin
Director Permanent Resident Services Center - Tan Kok Guan
Director Corporate Communications Assistant Commissioner Chia Hui Keng
Director Information Management and Chief Data Officer Assistant Commissioner Chua Yeng Eng
Director Technology and Chief Information Officer - Tan Sor Hoon
Director Corporate Services Assistant Commissioner Wong Kum Peck @ Angie Wong
Director Policy, International Relations & Legislation Assistant Commissioner Chua Tian Lye Dominic


Land Domain

Air Domain

Sea Domain



Immigration officers are considered public servants by law and are part of the Singapore Civil Service.

ICA officers are divided generally into junior officers and senior officers. Under the current Home Affairs Services (HAS) (ICA) Unified scheme, new junior officers and senior officers are called Direct-Entry Sergeants and Direct-Entry Inspectors respectively. Direct-Entry Sergeants range from ITE to private university graduates. Direct-Entry Inspectors are graduates from a university accredited by its home country. Sergeants will become Primary Screening Officers, while Inspectors will become Team Leaders in their foundation posting. Regardless, all new officers will be posted to Tuas, Woodlands or Coastal Command for their first posting. [15] There is also a separate scheme for Management Executives who are deployed to the Services Centres.

All new ICA direct-entry Sergeants and Inspectors must pass the ICA Basic Course which is held regularly at the Home Team Academy. The Basic Course includes lessons on document examination, basic unarmed combat and basic firearms training. The Basic Course lasts twenty weeks for Direct-Entry Inspectors [15] and sixteen weeks for Direct-Entry Sergeants [15]. Both courses are non-residential, are fully paid-for and officer trainees receive their substantive rank pay. In return, officers have to serve bonds of one to two years after graduation. Direct-Entry Sergeants also receive sign-on bonuses and retention pay-outs. To remain in service, officers will have to pass law examinations and a firearms test.

Advanced courses are also conducted by ICA's Training Command. Junior officers are typically trained into specialists in different fields such as profiling, cargo examination and firearms shooting. Senior officers will first be exposed to ICA's ground operations. Suitable Senior officers are subsequently posted to enforcement, service or staff units. Overseas postings at Singapore's consulates are also available.


ICA ranks follow those in the Singapore Police Force with some exceptions in insignia and ranks (see table below).[16]

Since 2017, ICA officer ranks have fallen under the HAS (ICA) Unified scheme. All ICA officers are placed under this scheme regardless of education level unlike previous schemes. The Staff Sergeant rank was collapsed into a single Sergeant rank with numerical increments. The rank of Corporal was removed. The ranks of Senior Checkpoint Inspector were also removed and suitable Checkpoint Inspectors would be promoted to Inspectors. A new rank, Deputy Assistant Commissioner was added to provide more opportunities for outstanding officers at the middle management level.

Rank Abbreviation Insignia
Corporal (obsolete; replaced by SGT1) CPL Two chevrons, inverted
Sergeant SGT1 Three chevrons, inverted
Sergeant SGT2 Ditto
Sergeant SGT3 Ditto
Staff Sergeant (obsolete; replaced by SGT3) SSGT Three chevrons, inverted below coat of arms
Checkpoint Inspector (1) CI (1) Coat of arms with wreath below chevron
Checkpoint Inspector (2) CI (2) Coat of arms with wreath below two chevrons
Senior Checkpoint Inspector (1) (obsolete) SCI (1) Coat of arms with wreath below three chevrons
Senior Checkpoint Inspector (2) (obsolete) SCI (2) Coat of arms with wreath below four chevrons
Inspector INSP Two stars
Assistant Superintendent ASP Coat of arms
Deputy Superintendent DSP Coat of arms above one star
Superintendent SUPT Coat of arms above two stars
Deputy Assistant Commissioner DAC ICA logo (portcullis with state crest and wreath)
Assistant Commissioner AC Star above ICA logo
Senior Assistant Commissioner SAC Two stars above ICA logo
Deputy Commissioner of ICA - Coat of arms above ICA logo
Commissioner of ICA - Coat of arms and star above ICA logo



Under Section 38A of the Immigration Act, all immigration officers shall be issued arms and ammunition as necessary. In practice, only qualified officers serving in security related roles are issued firearms.

The service firearm is the 5-shot Taurus Model 85 revolver. Other equipment include handcuffs, flexicuffs and expandable batons.


In the early 1970s, Singapore Immigration had a brown and cream uniform. The colour of the uniforms did not vary for more than 20 years, with only modifications in style.[17] In 1997, uniforms in green and white were introduced.

In 1996, the Customs uniforms and accessories were changed to a shade of blue reminiscent of the current design.

In 2003, the uniform was updated to its current design. ICA has all its uniforms in Navy blue, which was chosen to establish ICA as a member of the Home Team. The uniform comes in different designs to suit the varied operating environments of ICA. The basic uniform consists of a short-sleeved dress shirt and pants with a dress or duty belt as appropriate. This uniform can be most often seen in the Land and Sea Domain. Senior officers typically wear a bush jacket (for men) or a tunic (for women). A dress skirt is available for staff officers as well. Air Domain officers wear two-piece suits with ties, while sea-going clearance officers wear long-sleeve coastal uniforms that resemble the SAF's Number 4 uniform. Cargo examination officers are issued cargo uniforms, which are polo shirts bearing the ICA logo.


ICA integrates information technology to streamline the entry and exit procedure at checkpoints. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and other registered travelers can use automated lanes called enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS). The Biometric Identification of Motorbikers (BIKES) System at ICA's land checkpoints can be used by residents and work pass holders entering and leaving Singapore by motorcycles. In 2016, ICA began the biometric registering and verification of travelers using the Bioscreen system.[18] Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents have their iris bio-data registered as well. [19]

In 2018, the ICA started open trials of the MyICA app which allowed citizens to process multiple transactions in a single payment.

Popular culture

ICA was featured in the MediaCorp Channel 5 action drama series Point of Entry.


  1. ^ "CPIB and ICA to get new leaders". 30 Aug 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  3. ^ "How MHA Works - Ministry of Home Affairs". Retrieved 2017-11-11. 
  4. ^ "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  5. ^ "ICA Annual 2015" (PDF). ICA website. 
  6. ^ "Singapore explains why many Vietnamese women have been denied entry". Thanh Nien Daily. 2015-07-26. Retrieved 2018-05-06. 
  7. ^ hermesauto (2017-06-05). "9,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes, declared as 'assorted bread', found in Malaysian truck". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-04-04. 
  8. ^ a b hermesauto (2018-01-08). "Parliament: ICA officers get enhanced powers to conduct searches, arrest people at checkpoints". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  9. ^ "Till prison do us part: ICA officers crack one of the largest sham marriage cases". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2018-05-04. 
  10. ^ "New maritime security system debuts at Exercise Northstar". Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  11. ^ a b "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  12. ^ a b "ICA Annual 2017" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "ICA Annual 2004" (PDF). 
  14. ^ "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2017-11-11. 
  15. ^ a b c "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2018-03-31. 
  16. ^ "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2017-11-11. 
  17. ^ "ICA - Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore". Retrieved 2018-05-06. 
  18. ^ "Why are we introducing fingerprint checks at our land checkpoints?". Retrieved 2018-03-31. 
  19. ^ "Authorities to collect iris scans from Singaporeans, PRs starting Jan 1". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2018-03-31. 

External links

  • Official website
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Immigration and Checkpoints Authority"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA