National Service Liability in Singapore

If you do not yet know, Singapore is one of the few countries in the world with compulsory military service. Alongside it are:

Armenia, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Columbia, Chad, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Estonia, El Salvador, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Niger, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Lithuania, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Norway, Paraguay, Qatar, Russia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, South Korea, Somalia, Switzerland, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, unless exempted* are required to serve National Service (NS). An individual who has received PR status as a foreign student or under their parents’ sponsorship are obligated for service. Following the completion of full-time NS, they will be required to serve up to 40 days of Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) per year for the duration of their ORNS training cycle till the age of 50 years (for officers) or 40 years (for other ranks). National Service may be fulfilled via a draft into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) or Singapore Police Force (SPF). Individuals drafted into the Army will have to undergo the Basic Military Training (BMT), those selected for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will have to undergo the Basic Rescue Training (BRT) and those for the Singapore Police Force (SPF) will undergo the rite of passage via the Police Officers Basic Course (POBC).

*Male applicants who are granted PR status under the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme or the Investor Scheme are exempted from NS.

Common Questions

When will my child or children be called up for National Service?
Upon the age of 16-and-a-half, those required to serve NS must register for NS upon receipt of a notice from the Armed Forces Council (AFC).

Is there really a bond involved?
Yes. All male Permanent Residents or Citizens will receive a letter from Central Manpower Base (CMPB) upon reaching the age of 13 and are required to comply with the Exit Permit requirements.


I am not in Singapore most of my time, I am definitely not obligated right?
Wrong. There was a case where an individual was sent letters/notices to his foreign residential address to register for NS but did not respond and also did not possess a valid exit permit. He subsequently tried to renounce his Singapore Citizenship but was rejected as he had yet to fulfil his NS responsibilities.
The extent to the liability for NS is so great that even if the individual is no longer a Singapore Citizen but has, in one way or another, benefited from it (using it for travel for example) will also be deemed to have defaulted* if the responsibility is not fulfilled.

*A default of NS is triggered via:
– Failure to comply with any order or notice issued under the Enlistment Act (e.g. fails to register for NS);
– Failure to fulfil any liability imposed (e.g. completing full-time NS);
– Dishonestly obtaining or attempting to obtain postponement, release, discharge or exemption from duty;
– Doing any act with the intention of illegally evading service; or
– Giving the AFC or any person acting on their behalf false or misleading information.

What is the punishment for defaulting?
NS defaulters are punishable with a fine of up to $10, 000 and/or a term of imprisonment up to 3 years.

What are the options to not fulfil this liability for the short term?
Besides being medically exempted, the other option shall be via a deferment which is neither an easy or straightforward feat.
To be deferred, one has to seek postponement in favour of other pursuits such as:

Academics – with purpose to pursue an ‘A’Level Certificate/ Polytechnic Diploma/ their equivalent, and must meet the cut-off age requirements
Arts – deferment is necessary to practise full-time and the individual has potential to achieve outstanding results in competitions
Sports – has to be able to represent Singapore in top-tier international competitions and display potential to win

So I’ve commenced NS but I need to further my studies. What can I do?
This is called a disruption and it may be possible if you:
– Enlist in a later intake as compared to your school cohort
– qualify under the Local Medical Disruption Scheme (LMDS)*
– are a recipient of a Public Service Commission Scholarship. (Overseas Merit Scholarship included)

*NSFs who have successfully gained admission into the NUS/NTU Medical Schools can be considered for early disruption from full-time NS under the LMDS, as MINDEF/SAF has an organisational requirement for these servicemen to return to complete their full-time NS as medical officers. NSFs do not need to apply for LMDS, as shortlisted servicemen will be informed by MINDEF/SAF Human Resource Shared Services Centre (HRSSC) through their unit S1/AO/Manpower Branch.

If there is a need to check further, enquiries may be directed to:
Central Manpower Base
Contact no: 1800-3676767 (local) or +65 6567 6767 (overseas)

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