Your Australian passport can access fast-track Singapore immigration

Your Australian passport can access fast-track Singapore immigration

At the best of times, arriving into Singapore’s Changi Airport is fairly efficient with no more than 5-10 minutes waiting in line at immigration.

But the queues and waiting times can sometimes stretch out to double that time, or more.

So here’s a time-saving tip which can see you in a taxi and on the way to your hotel while other passengers on the same flight are still standing in line.

It’s a mouthful know as eIACS, or ‘enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System’. This is Singaporean equivalent of Australia’s automated Smartgate passport system, and it’s open not only to residents of the Red Dot but is also free to Australians who regularly visit Singapore.

The criteria are very modest: you need to have entered and exited Singapore (not simply made an in-transit stop at the airport) at least twice in the previous 24 months, using the same passport, which means that even a once-a-year visitor is elibigle.

There’s an eIACS Enrolment Centre in Changi’s Terminal 3 – it’s just off to your right, immediately after clearing outbound passport control – but this isn’t convenient for everyone.

For starters, the weekday opening hours of 8am to 5pm don’t always suit the arrival time of flights from Australia – nor does its location at T3, if you’ve arrived on a Qantas or British Airways flight at T1.

And let’s face it, sometimes you just want to get out of the airport and check into your hotel.

That’s where you might find it more convenient to register for eIACS at the head office of the country’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority in downtown Singapore.

It can be much easier to fit a visit to the ICA office into your schedule, and in my experience the process of enrolling took less than 10 minutes.

The ICA building is handily located next to Lavender MRT station, which is on the green East-West line (station EW11), at 10 Kallang Road.

Visit the eIACS website to make an ‘e-Appointment’ – slots are 1 minutes apart between 8am and 5pm weekdays, and 8am to 1pm Saturdays.

Print out your appointment confirmation, along with the two-page eIACS application form – you’ll want to complete this in advance.

(If you’re uncomfortable answering the questions regarding your race and religion, leave them blank and ask the ICA officer during your appointment.)

There’s no need to bring a passport-style photo, as the photo is now taken during your eIACS appointment.

Arrive at the ICA building about 10 minutes ahead of your appointment, bringing with you eIACS application form, passport and the appointment confirmation printout.

Hop a lift to the fourth floor and turn left towards the eIACS enrolment centre.

Scan the barcode on your appointment confirmation page at one of the self-service ticketing kiosks to receive a ticket for the application queue, but don’t worry if the ticket numbers displayed on the large screens are running out of order – there is a system to this (we’re talking about the famously efficient Singapore, after all).

My own experience when visiting the ICA building to receive eIACS approval was that my number was called five minutes prior to my appointment, and the whole process took under five minutes.

The ICA offer will snap your photo with a small camera – don’t worry if you’re having a bad hair day as this picture doesn’t appear in your passport, it’s just for internal records – and also take digital thumb prints.

They’ll then plonk a full-page stamp onto the last blank page of your passport, which is your official IACS authorisation and is valid through to six months before the expiry of your passport, to a maximum of five years.

The next time you visit Singapore you won’t even need to complete an arrival card: just make a beeline for the automated lanes, often signposted as ‘eIACS’ or ‘Singapore residents’ and to the left of the staffed immigration lines. eIACS lanes are also available for travellers departing Changi.

Slide your passport photo page into the eIACS reader and follow the prompts to provide a thumb print – and when the gates open, you’re on your way.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

16 comments

  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    22 Dec, 2017 10:34 am

    Excellent, thanks for the tip
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  • asw

    asw

    22 Dec, 2017 10:37 am

    Ditto.. Excellent.
    No member give thanks

  • Richard Wilson

    Richard W

    22 Dec, 2017 10:46 am

    I started to use eIACS when it was brought in 2 years ago. When I travel light, I can go from my aircraft seat to travelling in a taxi in well under 10 minutes (especially if I the plane is not sent to the far end of the stand!)
    I have just renewed and got a 4 year visa now.

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  • Lenny Cheng

    Lenny Cheng

    22 Dec, 2017 02:07 pm

    From the stamp we got upon successful enrollment there appears to be an expiry date for eIACS. What's the criteria for renewal? Another 3 visits within 12 months of the renewal application? And procedure wise do we have to redo everything again? There is not much info on renewal on their website...
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  • David Flynn

    David

    22 Dec, 2017 02:09 pm

    We don't have any information on the renewal process beyond the eIACS website but one would expect the same rules would apply (three visits in the last 12 months) and a new application would be required, neither of which is a biggie.
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  • backload

    backload

    22 Dec, 2017 12:59 pm

    If flying out of Terminal 1 during office hours it is quite easy to walk or sky train to Terminal 3 while waiting for your flight to get the eIACS. This will take up a full page of your p/p. If you renew your p/p, take your old one when renewing eIACS, helped expedite process. Hong Kong has a similar scheme which David has flagged in the past. This can really save some time
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    22 Dec, 2017 03:32 pm

    I can't get this as I don't enter Singapore enough. (Even though I generally transit through SIN twice a year, I've only entered Singapore twice since 2013)
    Though they have been directing everyone towards the departure automated gates - which is somewhat confusing with the departure card. The card says you need to hand it in when you exit, but if you use the automated gates, there is no where to drop the cards, nor anyone who will take them.
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  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    22 Dec, 2017 04:36 pm

    Himeno, if you don't enter Singapore enough to get eIACS approval then you probably don't need eIACS approval. But if you have enough time during your transit you could walk out and walk straight back in again, that will count as one visit. I did this last year because I knew I'd be one 'visit' short. Left my carry-in luggage at the lounge and just took my passport and onwards boarding pass with me, went through immigration and then went straight back in again. Very fast and effective in getting one extra 'visit' under your belt.
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    22 Dec, 2017 06:35 pm

    I enter Japan more, so would find the Japanese version of this much more useful. But the process to get that, unless you have US global entry, is complex and somewhat confusing. :/
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  • Michael63

    Metoo

    22 Dec, 2017 04:08 pm

    I just used the automated clearance system for the first time and worked easily. There were still airport personnel at the exit to check the boarding pass. Getting the eIACS stamp was easy at Terminal 3. Yes if you are at Terminal 1 after passing through Immigration take the Skytrain to T3. Its a small office and you may go to the computer room next door by mistake. The process is simple (10 mins), staff friendly. The pass lasts until 6 months prior to the expiry of your passport then you have to apply for another with your new passport. I visit SNG 6 times a year, landing at various times, this pass is great for me. Thnx again to ABT for bringing this to our attention.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    22 Dec, 2017 08:21 pm

    For those who may only transit through Singapore a couple of times a year, I too was often transiting through Singapore without exiting the airport. However on one quick transit, I simply exited Terminal 2 to re-enter by Terminal 3 by the landside shuttle, then on my return to Australia, I entered Singapore, I had a long all day transfer, so I went to Johor Bahru in Malaysia for lunch and then returned to Changi airport and got my eIACS clearance before the 5pm closure. So I had the 3 entries into Singapore on a single return trip and it has been great for trips into Singapore since. Some friends on holiday only to Singapore, did a day trip to Malaysia (for LEGOLAND) and then boat ferry to Indonesia for their 3 entries in a single week in Singapore.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Andrew

    andyf

    23 Dec, 2017 10:05 am

    Why is it that SmartGate is able to be used by such a wide range of passports and without silly criteria (like must enter 3 times in previous 12 months) but most other countries are so pedantic about who can use the equivalent?
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  • TheFreqFlyer

    TheFreqFlyer

    29 Apr, 2018 09:40 pm

    Although I don't travel to Singapore very often, I have been to Singapore well over a dozen times over the years and there has never ever been a queue at immigration either in-bound or outbound. Singapore is mainly a transit destination with relatively few travellers entering the country proper, so this fast-track service really isn't going to be of much use to most people. Unless waiting for a whole 3 minutes in one of the very short lines is too long for you. Try spending 45 mins going through immigration at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport or up to 3 hours for the same through Don Muang. Suvarnabhumi allows only Thai citizens and registered permanent residents access through their e-gates. All other travellers have to queue up. Having to register at an office in town is also a nuisance.

    Either Singapore should allow the same privileges that Australia allows for Singaporeans passing through Australian airports meaning all Australians should be eligible or Australia shouldn't be so kind and revoke the rights of foreigners (except New Zealanders) to use our e-gates. The current system is very unfair.
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  • James Mckay

    Jamcs

    15 May, 2018 11:27 am

    Is 12 months from within January to December, that you have to enter Singapore three times? I've entered Singapore in October 2017 & May 2018; If I enter the country again before October 2018, does that count as entering three times in 12 months?
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    15 May, 2018 11:38 am

    It's the 12 months immediately prior to your application for the eIACS program.
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  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    2 Jan, 2019 12:21 pm

    Brilliant, thanks.
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23 Jan, 2019 07:01 pm

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