History of Our Uniforms

Just as our buildings, travel documents and passes have changed over time, we have changed and updated our Customs and Immigration uniforms over the years as we merged three separate entities – Singapore Immigration, National Registration Department and Customs & Excise Department – to become the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority today.

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Before independence in 1965, our Immigration uniforms were sombre and projected a stern image. In the early 1970s, we adopted a more casual look, using a brown and cream design that made our officers appear warm and approachable. This colour combination did not vary for more than 20 years, although we modified the style to keep up with changing trends.

In 1987, Customs senior officers were issued with uniforms that were consistent with those worn by junior officers, making the customs department a completely uniformed service. New uniforms were designed for all grades of officers.

In 1995, we introduced new Immigration uniforms in soothing shades of green. The outfits looked more professional while keeping with our warm and friendly image. There were two styles: a formal uniform worn by officers at airports and a less formal uniform worn by field officers and officers at land and sea checkpoints.

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In 1996, updates to the design of Customs uniforms and accessories saw female senior officers wear smart tunic-style tops and knee-length A-line skirts with an overlap slit at the back. Officers attached to the sea-going parties in Harbour Branch were provided with long-sleeved shirts for better protection during ship rummaging.

In 1998, we also modified the rank insignia for senior and junior immigration  officers.

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Insignia for senior officers.

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Insignia for junior officers.

In 2003, the formation of ICA saw another change in the design of the uniforms. Navy blue was chosen to establish ICA as a member of the Home Team. The uniform came in different designs to suit the varied operating environments in which officers work. Airport officers wear suits complete with jackets and ties, while sea-going officers wear long-sleeve coastal uniforms to protect them against the variable nature of weather. The overall result is a corporate image that is both professional and approachable.

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History of Our Checkpoints

Our checkpoints have evolved over the years, from simple control posts to the state-of-the-art facilities you see today. One of our first checkpoints was Seletar Airport, which was completed in 1929 and served as a major link to remote regional areas.

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In 1937, Kallang Airport was opened to cater to the rising number of air travellers. As the popularity of air travel increased, passenger arrivals soon outstripped its capacity and Paya Lebar Airport was opened in 1955 to cope with the demand.

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After independence, all persons entering Singapore by road or by rail were checked at the Woodlands Checkpoint and Keppel Road Railway Station.

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Expanding Our Sea  Bases

The location of our coastal checkpoint changed several times:

  • Pre-1961 –East Wharf of the Singapore Harbour Board
  • 1961 – South Quay at the end of Prince Edward Road
  • 1975 – Finger Pier Building at the end of Prince Edward Road
  • 1992 – World Trade Centre (now known as HarbourFront Centre) in HarbourFront

In 1967, the Changi Immigration Control post was set up to clear passengers travelling between Singapore and Pengerang in South Johor.

 

Immigration Checkpoint for Fishing Vessels

In 1969, the Fisheries Control Point was moved to its current site at Jurong Fishery Port.

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Travel Boom

Singapore witnessed a travel boom by the 1980s and additional checkpoints were progressively opened:

  • Changi Airport Terminal 1
  • Changi Airport Terminal 2
  • Singapore Cruise Centre
  • Changi Ferry Terminal
  • Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
  • Tuas Checkpoint
  • Woodlands Train Checkpoint
  • New Woodlands Checkpoint
  • Changi Airport Terminal 3
  • Marina Bay Cruise Centre

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History of Travel Documents, Identity Cards and Birth Certificates

Since the 19th century, the documents used for the registration and identification of Singapore citizens, including travel documents, have undergone many changes that reflect our history.



1872

Birth registration is used as a form of identification and also as a health and statistical measure. However, the records are less than accurate as registration is voluntary.




1938

The Registration of Births and Deaths Ordinance is introduced. It remains unchanged until 1967. Even during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, the only difference is that dates are recorded according to the Japanese calendar.




1948

The colonial government introduces Identity Cards for people born in Singapore, helping it to weed out illegal immigrants and other undesirable persons.




1959

Our passports are modified to reflect Singapore gaining internal self-government on 3 June 1959.




1964

A year after the creation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, ending British citizenship for those born in Singapore and Malaya, Singapore citizens are issued with Malaysian passports with the prefix “E”.




1965

Singapore gains independence on 9 August 1965, and a new Singapore provisional passport is introduced in the same month.




1966

A new permanent hardcover passport, similar in form and design to the British passport, is issued.




1966

The National Registration Act of 1965 came into effect on 5 May 1966. The National Registration Office began to issue new identity cards on 9 May 1966. A total of 1,070,159 new cards were issued to citizens between May and December 1966. The new cards remedy security weaknesses such as easily substituted photographs in the earlier ones.




1967

To coincide with the re-registration exercise for Identity Cards, Birth Certificates adopted a new format in which the first two digits represent the birth year. They are also laminated and include parents’ Identity Card numbers. Birth Certificates, which have not changed much since, are important documents, especially before Singapore citizens turn 15 and register for an Identity Card. Birth Certificates and Identity Cards both have the holder’s same unique number.




1967

A 64-page Singapore Restricted Passport is issued to coincide with the launch of immigration control at the Johor–Singapore Causeway. It can only be used for travel to West Malaysia.




1969

The National Registration (Amendment) Regulations 1969 came into operation on 28 March 1969. It legislated colour differentiation for identity cards held by citizens and non-citizens, stipulating that pink was for Singapore Citizens and blue for Permanent Residents.




1971

Softcover international and restricted passports, with perforated control numbers on the covers, are introduced for easier handling.




1986

International and restricted passports are redesigned in accordance to Internal Civil Aviation Organisation guidelines. They contain security features such as watermarked paper, security laminate with the state crest, fugitive ink and Scrambled Indicia.




1986

The National Registration Office introduces online printing of particulars on Identity Cards.




1991

A more durable credit card-sized Identity Card is introduced. Its state-of-the-art security features – including electronically captured thumbprint and photo, changeable laser image of Singapore’s lion head logo and a barcoded identification number – help guard against fraud.




1991-94

All Singapore citizens and permanent residents are issued with a new Identity Card during an Identity Card conversion exercise.




1992

An improved watermark with a more defined design is introduced for the 64-page international passport.




1993

The watermark is added to the 96-page international passport.




1993

Security laminate, the state crest in an optical variable device and a guilloche pattern that fluoresces under ultraviolet light are added to international passports.




1993

Mould-made watermarked paper is used on 64-page and 96-page restricted passports.




1996

Singapore stops issuing 64-page restricted passports.




1999

Singapore Immigration & Registration introduces a new passport system and a new international passport with a better design and security features. It abolishes the Singapore Restricted Passport.




2006

Singapore’s biometric passport is officially launched. The BioPass is a passport containing unique biometric identifiers such as fingerprint data, facial image and passport details on a contactless chip. With the personal particulars digitally stored in the chip embedded in a polycarbonate data-page, the BioPass complies with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.



Last Update: 16 Apr 2019