From 2020, all passport and NRIC applications will have to be done online, as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will progressively stop using paper forms for 15 services.
These services, which include requests for birth/death extracts and applications for change of address, will be migrated online to support Singapore's Smart Nation goals.
The ICA said these 15 services constitute 99 per cent of its public transactions. The remaining 1 per cent are rarely used services that apply to a "very small number of people" or those that require a physical interview, like the renunciation of Singapore citizenship.
In a statement yesterday, the ICA said all 15 services are now on its MyICA portal, which was created by the authority. Members of the public can access it using SingPass.
The portal was launched in June, and started out with eight services. MyICA also allows users to make one consolidated payment for multiple transactions.
The portal is currently supported across different Web browsers and mobile devices. Since the portal was launched, the ICA said, it has been gathering feedback and fine-tuning it. For instance, the portal now makes clearer the instructions and specifications for the uploading of photos in its applications.
• Apply for passport
• Replace/reregister for NRIC
• Request letter for change of address
• Apply for Student's Pass
• Apply for Certificate of Extract of, or search for Record of, Birth/Death
• Apply for visa for entry into Singapore
• Apply for Apec Business Travel Card
• Apply for extension of stay in Singapore (Visit Pass)
• Apply for Long-Term Visit Pass
• Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass assessment
• Apply for Re-Entry Permit
• Apply for permanent residence
• Apply for Singapore citizenship
• Check validity of immigration passes and NRIC
• Book appointment with ICA
Responding to user feedback about the speed of the portal, ICA has also made it load faster.
The ICA said that last year, 88 per cent of the more than 5.5 million applications it received were made online. The remaining hard-copy applications were mostly for passports and NRICs, and were submitted at the ICA Building in person or mailed to the authority.
To help ensure no one gets left behind in its digital migration, the ICA will be putting in place various measures to help those who might be unfamiliar with online transactions.
For instance, first-time users of MyICA can learn about its features through an online tutorial.
The authority also plans to introduce a multi-language step-by-step video guide on applying for passports and NRICs on its website and Facebook page.
Those who have trouble accessing the Internet or who need help to make their applications can use the self-service kiosks at the lobby of the ICA Building, where staff will be able to assist them, the ICA said.
It added that it can also make special arrangements to help those who are unable to make the trip due to medical reasons, for example, if they are bedridden and need to re-register their NRIC. MyICA also allows customers to make applications on behalf of others, which the authority said could be helpful to the elderly or those who may be less familiar with using the Internet.
Speaking to reporters at a press briefing yesterday, the deputy director at ICA's Citizen Services Centre, Assistant Commissioner Chui Wai Cheng, said the move away from physical forms will allow officers to do more meaningful tasks.
She said: "Online applications will free up our resources for data entry - that means officers can be deployed to more higher-value work. They can also... process these applications faster."
Housewife Hamidah Abdul Hamid, 61, used the MyICA portal to renew her passport, and said it was quick and hassle-free.
"Doing it online is faster and easy - I did not have any trouble applying for my passport or uploading my photo to the portal because it was quite clear what I had to do," she said.
But another housewife did not have such an easy time. Madam Annie Tan, 63, said applying for documents on the Internet was more convenient than using physical forms, but she had trouble navigating the portal and had to ask for help.
"My daughter had applied for it online before, so I just asked her to do it for me because I don't quite know how to do it on my own," she said.