If the police have reasons to believe that you may be a suspect, or have been accused of committing a criminal offence, they may require you to surrender your passport. Are they allowed to do that? What happens after?
The answer to the first question is yes, but that is only provided the police officer is of the rank of sergeant or above and has the written consent of an officer above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, who has been authorised by the Commissioner of Police to give the consent.
This power is also applicable to other law enforcement agencies such as the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority and Singapore Customs, but also only with the written consent of the head of the agency.
Return of Travel Document
According to section 113 of the criminal procedure Court, a person who has surrendered his passport may apply to the authorised officer, or the head or an authorised director of the law enforcement agency or a person of a similar rank, for its return.
However, if the application has been refused, then the person may apply to a District Judge and state their reasons for the application.
The District Judge may either grant the application subject to conditions that may require further surrender and a provision of security for the applicant’s appearance at a specific time and place, or simply refuse the application.
If the applicant fails to comply with any of the stated conditions, then any security that was provided for the passport’s return may be forfeited by a Magistrate, and the applicant may even be arrested and dealt with the same way as someone who refuses to surrender their passport without any valid reason.
What Happens if You Refuse to Surrender Your Passport?
If you refuse a police officer’s request to surrender your passport, you may be arrested and brought before a Magistrate. If you are still unable to provide a good reason for not surrendering your passport, you may be sent to jail and remain there until you surrender your passport.
In the event that you have been charged with an offence and applying to be released on bail, the court or prosecuting agency may require your passport as a condition of your bail or you may not be released on bail.
How Long Can The Police Keep Your Passport For?
If the police believe you have committed an offence, your passport may be held until the end of police investigations. You may apply for a return if there is an urgent requirement to do so. If your passport is being held as a condition for your bail, you may only get it back after the case is concluded.
What if You Need to Leave Singapore?
If you need to leave Singapore while out on bail, you may apply to the court to have it returned to you if you have a valid reason. This could include a serious illness or emergency involving a family member overseas, or even a planned holiday. You will also need to ensure your bailor is present when you make your application to leave Singapore.
Do take note that the court may increase the bail amount if your application to leave Singapore while out on bail is approved.
What Other Ways Are There to Get Your Passport Back?
There is a system in place to ensure fairness throughout the different procedures. If the police have reasons to believe you have committed an offence and have taken your passport, you may apply to that police officer or the Commissioner of Police to explain your reasons why it should be returned to you.
If the police reject your application, you may apply to the District Court instead. However in the District Court, the return of your passport may be subjected to conditions it deems appropriate as well as a provision of security to make sure you attend court on a certain date.
If the court grants the return on the condition that you will have to re-surrender your passport at a later date and you refuse, you may be arrested and any security you had provided for the return of your passport will be forfeited.
Getting a Criminal Lawyer in Singapore
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.