About ICA

History of Travel Documents & Passes

» Our Travel History
» Colonial Travel Documents
» Federation Days
» Passports Truly Singapore
» Security Innovations
» Identity Cards
» Birth Certificate

Our Travel History


Singapore travel documents

Discover the changes immigration and registration documents have gone through.

Colonial Travel Documents

Pre-independence Papers


Singapore travel documents history1

 British Subject, Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies

Singapore travel documents history2

British Subject, Citizen of the State of Singapore

When Singapore gained internal self-government on 3 June 1959, our passports were modified to reflect this important milestone. The passports had a 10-year maximum validity.

Federation Days
Singapore passports through the years - 

Singapore travel documents history3

 Malaysia Passport
In 1963, the creation of the Federation of Malaysia ended British citizenship for those born in Singapore and Malaya.

Singapore citizens were issued Malaysian passports with the prefix "E" the following year.

Passports Truly Singapore


Singapore travel documents history4

 Singaporean Provisional Passports, 1965

When Singapore gained independence on 9 August 1965, the Immigration Department ceased to issue passports until 17 August 1965 when a new Singapore Provisional Passport in book form was introduced.

In 1966, a new permanent passport was introduced. Hard cover passports, similar in form and design to the British one, were issued on 20 June 1966.

Singapore travel documents history5 Singapore Restricted Passports, 1967

64-page Singapore Restricted Passports (SRPs) were issued a year later to coincide with the launch of immigration control at the causeway only for travel to West Malaysia.

Due to falling demand and the introduction of the new passport system, the Government decided to abolish the SRPs. SRPs were no longer issued from 1 Jan 1999 and were valid for travel until 31 Dec 1999. A rebate was given for SRPs which were valid beyond 31 Dec 1999.

Security Innovations

Going the Way of Innovation

Soft Cover Passports
Soft cover international passports were introduced on 14 June 1971 for easier handling. They came with perforated control numbers on the covers. Restricted passports followed a similar route almost simultaneously.

Passport Re-Design, 1986

New Security Features
Both the international and restricted passports were redesigned along International Civil Aviation Organisation guidelines. The new passports are in 64 or 96-page formats. The following security features were found in the passports:

  • watermarked paper
  • security laminate with state crest
  • fugitive ink
  • scrambled indicia
New Watermarks, 1992
By 1992, an improved watermark with a new design that was sharper and more defined, was introduced for our 64-page international passports.

Security Laminate an Additional Feature
Extended to 96-page international passports a year later, more security features such as the following were also added:

  • state crest in optical variable device
  • guilloche pattern which fluoresces under ultraviolet light
96-page restricted passports also adopted the mould-made watermarked paper on 6 September 1993, followed by 64-page ones. However, we ceased issuing the 64-page restricted passports on 12 January 1996.

New Passport System
On 14 October 1999, SIR introduced the New Passport System. A new international passport with better designs and security features was introduced with this system.

Think Security, Act Service
As technology continues to improve, so will our passports. You will not only benefit from better and faster processing but also the high-tech security features imbedded in the passports.

Identity Cards

A Sense of Belonging

1948 National Registration Ordinance

Singapore travel documents history6 

Singapore paper ICs were introduced in 1948 by the colonial government to identify those born in the State of Singapore and weed out illegal immigrants and other undesirables.

The First Re-Registration
Singapore's independence brought on the 1966 National Registration Act. All citizens and permanent residents were required to register or re-register for their ICs. A new identity card was thus introduced in 6 May 1966 and the re-registration exercise was rolled out in two phases. A total of 1, 233, 705 cards were issued.

New Identity Cards

Singapore travel documents history7

Pink Identity Cards for Singapore Citizens
Blue identity Cards for Permanent Residents

It replaced the old ones which proved to have some security weaknesses. Among the weaknesses, easily substituted photographs and an alphanumeric identification that changed each time an individual had to replace his or her IC.

The ICs came laminated and printed with newly-issued identification numbers. Numbers unique to the individual, numbers that would be retained for subsequent IC replacements.

Into the Future
In 1986, the National Registration Office introduced on-line printing of particulars on ICs. But the IC's outdated size was inconvenient as it could not fit into wallets.

Credit Card-sized Identity Cards
In 1991, new credit card-sized ICs were introduced. The size and new material used made them more convenient and durable. And their state-of-the-art security features help guard against abuse. The nation underwent an IC conversion exercise from 3 June 1991-22 October 1997.

A More Sophisticated Identity Card
This revision makes it more convenient for the public since ICs now need to be renewed only once.

Singapore travel documents history8

The credit-card sized ICs have the following security features:

  • bar-coded IC number
  • Electronically-captured thumbprint and photo
  • Changeable laser image of Singapore's lion head logo and holder's IC number
Birth Certificate

Watching the Population
A form of identification since 1872, birth registrations were also used as a health and statistical measure. But records were hardly accurate as registration was voluntary.

1938 Registration of Births and Deaths Ordinance
Even during the Japanese Occupation, registration methods remained unchanged until 1967. During the period, the only difference was that time was recorded according to the Japanese clock.

A New Look

The New Format
To coincide with the 1967 IC re-registration exercise, the BC format was changed to the following:

  • BC numbers changed to year series format: the first two digits represent the birth year
  • BCs were plastic-laminated
  • Included parents' IC numbers
Singapore travel documents history9

Birth Certificates have not changed much since then. But it is still an important document, especially before a Singapore Citizen turns 15 and registers for an IC.

Your IC number is the same as your BC's. This systematic transfer removes confusion and ensures that the number is yours and yours alone.

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Last updated on 09 Feb 2015