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History of National Registration Department

» Pre-independence
» Independence

Pre-independence Era

1938 Registration of Births and Death Ordinance
Since 1872, birth registration was used as a health and statistical measure. However, records were hardly accurate, as registration was voluntary. It was only in 1938 that births and death registration became compulsory.

ICA historical NRD image 1

1948 National Registration Ordinance
The National Registration Office (NRO) of the colonial government located at Empress Place (below) began issuing paper ICs in 1948. The purpose was to identify individuals born in the State of Singapore.

ICA historical NRD image 2

1958 State of Singapore Act
When Singapore gained internal self-government, a new Constitution of Singapore was introduced and Singapore Citizenship gained international status and significance.


1966 National Registration Act
Singapore's independence on 9 August 1965 gave birth to the National Registration Act.

The NRO and Registry of Births and Death (RBD) were part of Ministry of Labour while the Registry of Societies (ROS) and the Martial Arts Control Unit (MACU) was under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). With the reorganisation of MHA in July 1981, MACU and ROS were placed under the charge of the Registry of Citizens.

On 16 October 1981, the National Registration Department became part of MHA. The department comprised the NRO, RBD, ROC, MACU and ROS and dealt with the identification of individuals and groups in Singapore.

In April 1992, MACU was subsequently transferred to CID for better efficiency and control.

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Last updated on 18 Oct 2012