It is common to have a domestic helper in Singapore to care for children, clean the house and cook the meals.

The term Helper gets confused with other domestic workers, and recently our expert Relo Specialist, Holly outlined the differences and how Relo Network Asia can assist with the process.

Domestic helpers:

  • With a diminished number of helpers entering Singapore since the start of the pandemic, households requiring support in caregiving or domestic work have to turn increasingly towards employing “transfer” helpers who are already in Singapore.
  • Where entry permission is granted to helpers coming into Singapore from other countries, SHN rules and requirements apply as per all other entrants. The cost of SHN ($2000 + swab tests etc.) is payable by the helper or their employer. MOM has granted some entry to helpers during 2021, but this is lower compared to pre-pandemic times due to the SHN requirements and costs. In some cases SHN costs have been waived, but we are unable to guarantee this.
  • Due to the border restrictions currently in place, it is currently very difficult indeed to bring in helpers from other countries, it may be advisable to plan for the helper not being able to travel to Singapore.
  • We can connect the family to an agency to assist with immigration if the family would like to try this route, but this would incur separate fees. The agency would need to know information such as her nationality, passport details etc. to make some initial enquiries. The process is likely to incur fees of several hundred dollars and we are unable to guarantee a positive outcome.
  • There are plenty of agencies providing assistance to find a helper in Singapore. Agencies I have spoken to in the last month  all mentioned that they have a shortage of helpers due to border restrictions, SHN costs and fewer helpers available for transfer.
  • There are also fewer transfer helpers currently available as their employers are reluctant to release them.
  • We can assist them to find reputable helper agencies and advise on common practices, requirements, questions to ask at interviews, MOM processes and whether to use an agency or not etc.


Part-time helpers /Nannies:

  • Many expats use the term “Nanny” to refer to a babysitter or someone who lives-in and generally takes care of children after school and is mainly focused on childcare. In Singapore, most families have helpers, who in contrast have a much broader role. Many helpers look after children, go to the market /grocery shopping, clean the house, cook etc.
  • Generally speaking, actual qualified nannies are less common in Singapore and are more expensive, there are plenty of confinement nannies but fewer “expert” baby care /childcare professionals with the appropriate certifications. A good, experienced helper is often the best solution for most expat families.
  • If the family require a part-time helper or live-out nanny, we can introduce agencies which can provide the appropriate services, for example whilst they wait for their permanent helper to arrive.
  • Kindly note it is illegal in Singapore to have live-out foreign domestic helpers, unless they have the right to live and work in Singapore already (i.e. are locals).


  • There are a large number of preschools across Singapore to choose from, ranging from small, local preschools to international school-affiliated ones. We will explain the differences between schools, application process and source options for the family. We can also share the typical preschool schedules, curriculum, questions to ask and help arrange tours etc. Fees range from around $800-$3000 per month depending on the school, number of hours attended etc.
  • We recommend the family to select a preschool once they find a home in Singapore as there are so many options available. Whilst we are unable to guarantee a place at the first-choice school, there will be other options.
  • As it is not always possible to have a school bus for very young children and babies, hence being within walking distance to a school is paramount. It is advisable to select a preschool after choosing an apartment. Taking taxis, buses and the MRT with babies, toddlers, strollers etc. can be challenging.
  • Infant care is offered at far fewer preschools as a different operating license and additional staff are required. We can assist the family to source school options with both services available.
  • Although there are many preschools in Singapore, very popular ones have waitlists of a year or more based on our recent experience. Places only become available when children leave, and it is not possible to “queue-jump”.

The multiple options for child care and domestic support are plentiful in Singapore.  The employment rules for foreign domestic workers are quite strict in Singapore and it is important to follow all applicable laws.  Expert guidance is essential for those not familiar with the intricacies.

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