Foreign domestic helpers: How to hire

Updated: 10 Apr 2014
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To hire a foreign domestic worker (FDW) or a confinement nanny in Singapore, you must ensure she holds a valid work permit. You can apply for her work permit personally, or through an employment agency.

Who can hire foreign domestic helpers?

You can hire a foreign domestic helper if you are one of the following:

  • A Singapore citizen
  • A Singapore permanent resident
  • An employment pass holder
  • A dependent pass holder

How long does it take to hire?

Type of domestic helper Average time required
First-time FDWs
(i.e. never worked in Singapore)
4 to 6 weeks from date of approval
Transfer FDWs
(already in Singapore,
seeking a new employer)
1 week from date of approval
Confinement nanny Book your confinement nannies as early as 6 months before delivery (due to high demand)

FDWs: How to hire

Hire through an employment agency

You can engage an employment agency for a fee to help you hire an FDW. Engaging an agency is convenient if you are a new employer or you are hiring a first-time FDW.

Apart from handling all paperwork and formalities, most agencies also provide value-added services such as replacing the worker should you find her prove unsuitable.

Hire directly

If you prefer to hire a FDW on your own, you have to go through the following steps:

Stage 1: Getting ready & selection

  1. Attend the employer’s orientation programme (if you are hiring an FDW for the 1st time).
  2. Look for a candidate. You should come to an agreement with her on the employment terms (e.g. salary, rest days). Check the MOM website for requirements.  

Stage 2: Before FDW's arrival in Singapore

  1. Apply for a work permit from MOM. If your application is approved, MOM will send you an in-principle approval letter (or a letter of notification if the FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time.)
  2. Place a security bond with MOM.
  3. Buy personal accident and medical insurance.
  4. Mail the in-principle approval letter (or notification letter) and an air ticket note to your FDW.
  5. If your FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time, book online for settling-in programme (SIP) training course. You will need copies of her passport and education certificate. 

Stage 3: Upon FDW's arrival in Singapore

  1. Within 3 days of your FDW's arrival, send her for the 1-day SIP course (if she is working in Singapore for the 1st time).
  2. Within 14 days of your FDW's arrival, send her for a medical examination. Bring the blank medical form.
  3. Request online for MOM to issue the work permit. MOM will inform you of when to collect the work permit.
  4. Within 1 month of your FDW's arrival in Singapore, make your 1st monthly levy payment.

You can find detailed instructions on the MOM website.

Hiring more than one FDW

Households with children and elderly can hire more than 1 FDW, subject to MOM’s approval.

Confinement nannies: How to hire

Hire through an employment agency

You can engage an employment agency for a fee to help you hire a confinement nanny. Some agencies also provide other services, such as replacing the nanny if you find her unsuitable.

On the other hand, many agencies do not allow you to select your nanny.

Hire directly

If you prefer to hire a confinement nanny on your own, you can follow these steps.

  1. Find a suitable nanny. Please see the MOM website for detailed requirements.
  2. Come to an agreement with her on her employment terms.
  3. Apply for a work permit. If successful, you will receive an in-principle approval letter within a month.
  4. Collect the work permit by following the instructions in your in-principle approval letter.

You can find detailed instructions on the MOM website.

Your expenses at a glance

On top of monthly wages and agency fees, employers are required to pay the following:

  Foreign domestic worker Confinement nanny
Administrative fee $20 $20
Security bond $5,000 Not required
Medical insurance ($15,000 coverage) Ask maid agency or insurer Not required
Personal accident insurance ($40,000 coverage) Ask maid agency or insurer Not required
Medical examination Ask clinic  Not required
Monthly levy
Additional performance bond (Filipino domestic workers only)
  • $7,000 for newly-deployed workers
  • $2,000 for transfers & renewals
Not required
Settling-in programme - if your FDW is working in Singapore for the 1st time $75 Not required
Employers’ orientation programme (EOP) - if you are hiring an FDW for the 1st time Classroom EOP
  • $30 (Singapore Polytechnic)
  • $28 (Nation Employment Pte Ltd)
Online EOP
  • $40
For more information, please visit MOM website
Not required
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