Tips & Tricks: Expat Tips
Expat Tips on maids

Query: I'm hiring a new maid and would like to do the transfer papers myself. I have been told you can do them via the internet.

Tip #1: My husband's colleague brought their Filipino maid into Singapore as she worked for them in Manila and Bombay. However, he was unable to apply for her work permit on-line as he had not yet paid any Income Tax to the Singapore govt. and had to apply on the official paper application forms. To get the maid's public liability and health insurance there is an agency in the Apollo Centre - can't remember the name of it but go through the main entrance and it is next door to a travel agency. They did not ask me for local sponsors, I just showed them a letter from my husband's employers to confirm that he worked for them.

Tip #2: I managed this process in September but like the other respondent it wasn't as easy as I first thought and we too were rejected as we weren't sure how to declare our Singapore taxable income since we had just arrived. We then went through the appeals process which was slow. I would probably suggest going in as at least you will be told immediately if any paperwork is missing and you can quickly return with it. Take a book when you go to MOM. The waits can be very long. I went to NTUC for the insurance but had a problem as we needed Singaporean residents to vouch for us and we didn't know any so don't go there. Still much better than using an agent as long as you're sure of the maid as you don't have the luxury of changing your mind after a trial period which you do with an agency. The website address is

    I also suggest you obtain the "Information kit for employers of foreign domestic workers" which they send out to you after you have been through all the paperwork but you actually need it beforehand and you can collect it at MOM in Havelock Road (they wouldn't send me one). I'm very glad I did it all myself not only because I saved money but also because I came to understand a lot about the process and made my own choices regarding health insurance etc. which I may not have had with some of the agencies I spoke to but agencies are definitely quicker!
- submitted by Lisa

Tip #3: I did this last July... my maid's previous employer failed to submit a health certificate which was due around the time we were arranging the transfer. Well after submitting several applications for a work visa over the internet (there were a few attempts because of incomplete info) our application was REJECTED ! (What was wrong with us?). When I phoned to enquire what the problem was I was told about the missing health check report. I was also told that the internet application wasn't really meant to transfer maids!!! It does not say this anywhere on the site! (It is the Ministry of Manpower by the way).
   The MOM has a telephone information system. It is OK as a start point but allow 20 minutes to go through the routine and take notes. Going to the MOM itself (queue and then get a number) is fine but allow time and take a book. Be sure to have all the paperwork you need. The staff there were very very pregnant state perhaps got some sympathy. The insurance/bond can be arranged by a company in the Apollo Centre next door...again quick and efficient. It was still relatively easy and I don't think it is worth paying an agent any more than $100 to take care of.Good Luck!
- submitted by Buffy

Query: Are there any ways of getting around the rather high fees charged by most maid agencies? What should I look out for when hiring a maid?

Tip: I strongly suggest that you interview quite a few maids and not take the very first person you see...a good place to look is the noticeboards at Cold Storage Jelita on Holland Rd, Cold Storage Holland Village, or Tanglin Marketplace in the basement of Tanglin Mall. Many expats are now leaving Singapore so they need to find jobs for their maids. You can check their references and find out direct from the current employer the maids' strengths and weaknesses. I assume you are a Westerner, so you can find what recipes the maid has learned to cook, how she interacts with babies and small children etc. (It is common for maids who come direct from local families to do the washing up with cold water!) You can also check with the current employer about the salary paid, as opposed to what the maid is hoping to be paid - amazingly some of the girls/women who are interviewed do not expect that a prospective new employer will check with the current employer! I think this is because they are used to agencies doing checks instead).

It is easy to do the paperwork yourself - especially if you employ a 'transfer' maid who is already in Singapore. All you need to do is get the pink "transfer of a maid to a new employer" form from the Ministry of Labour in Havelock Road (they posted one to me), and get the current employer to sign the part where they agree to release the maid from their employ, and why. You need two photos of the maid (from a photo booth), and her passport/work permit nos. need to be copied down on the form. You should include a letter from your husband's employer to confirm he is employed by them, and if he has not yet been assessed for Income Tax, confirmation from his employer of his salary (payslips help!). They need to know that you have enough income to pay the maids wages. You mail or take it to the MoL, and hopefully if they have approved the transfer, you will be notified by post of the day the transfer will take place.

At this point, you need to arrange insurance in case she has an accident at work, and at the same time you can arrange the government security bond. You can just go to one of the insurance agencies across the street to the MoL, they will usually sell the $10 stamp duty stamps at the same time. (I paid about $90 including the bond). You then submit these papers to the MoL. It is very quickly processed - before you know it the new work permit is issued and the maid can move in (on the date given by the MoL). You (or a friend/spouse if you give written permission for them to act as your agent)then returns a couple of days or so later to collect the maids passport/work permit - I forget which - from the MoL. It normally only takes 10 days from the day you submit the original transfer form. There is no problem for you to be the employer rather than your spouse (I think it is easier too). If you are capable of filling in a form and making a couple of trips at most to the MoL and adjacent insurance agency, you can save yourself about S$1000 in maid agency fees! (If you can't find a maid through a supermarket noticeboard, then post one up yourself! They all love to work for expats so they get every Sunday off! (It also means that Sunday is the favoured day to come for a job interview).
- submitted by an expat who got wise to high maid agency fees

You can find out more about employing domestic help on our website.

Query: I have just started a maid - she is the first that I have ever had and I'm not too sure of the tasks that I should or should not expect her to complete. I would appreciate some guidelines as to what I should expect from her and what I should not. What about day to day expenses, should I just have a general float of money that she uses?

Tip: I find the best way is to have a clear agreement on what you expect her to do. Write down the things you would want her to do:

  • ensure you correct her if she is not doing things the way you want it done. I generally ask mine to take care of the house on a day to day basis, ie. all cleaning, including washing/ironing
  • do ensure she knows how to operate your washing machine, and do explain about special washing, maybe keep those clothes separately until you feel confident she knows how.
  • She takes care of all practical duties re the chilren - such as lunch packs for school, gym kit ready etc.
  • She baby sits whenever needed.
  • She cooks our daily meal, mine is now responsible for the shopping, this is an individual choice, make sure she hands in receipts and keep a special purse/box for the kitty.
  • Have a strong rule re guests/day off/curfew etc.
  • Arrange for meal-allowance
    - contributed by Hel

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