When NS duty calls: What does the law say?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

A 19-year-old who was born in Singapore but moved to New Zealand when he was eight is in the news because his dad cannot get him an exemption from national service. What does the law say in situations like this?


You are registered as a Singapore citizen if you are born here with at least one Singaporean parent who is lawfully married.

Non-Singaporean parents, including permanent residents (PRs), who conceived here and wish to apply for citizenship for their children may do so with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

This is likewise for children who were born overseas and to at least one Singaporean parent.


Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singaporeans and PRs who are liable are enlisted at the earliest opportunity when they reach 18 years old.

But first-generation PRs who are able to contribute to Singapore economically immediately upon the grant of PR status are administratively exempted from national service, according to the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

Second-generation PRs, who are sponsored by their parents for PR status and those granted PR status at a young age based on their potential to contribute to Singapore in the future, are required to serve national service and will be enlisted after age 18.


According to Mindef website iPrepNS, you will need to apply for an exit permit if you are travelling or remaining outside Singapore for three months or longer.

Should you be travelling or remaining outside Singapore for more than two years, your parents or guardians will be bonded at $75,000 or half of their combined annual income, whichever is higher.

You can apply for an exit permit at the NS portal (www.ns.sg).

AT AGE 17:

You will be asked to register for NS through the NS portal (www.ns.sg).

Complete your pre-enlistment documentation and book a date for your medical screening.

You are also advised to prepare for and take the three-station Individual Physical Proficiency Test before enlistment. You can apply for deferment if you are pursuing a full-time Diploma or taking your GCE A-level examination.

Generally, you can be granted deferment and an exit permit to pursue an overseas course if the bond is furnished and the course starts before you are 19.


Two months before your scheduled enlistment date, you will receive an Enlistment Notice, which will contain details of your enlistment date, reporting time and venue.

You are then required to report to the stated camp on your enlistment date.

AT AGE 21:

Singaporeans are only allowed to renounce their citizenship at 21 and if you have acquired citizenship of another country, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

PRs who renounce their PR status without serving national service will also face adverse consequences, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in 2014.

Failure to serve national service will be taken into account when they subsequently apply to study or work in Singapore, or when they try to have their PR status reinstated, Dr Ng said.


This article was first published on Jan 28, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.