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Can I Leave Singapore With Credit Card Debt and What If I Want To Return?


As mentioned in previous posts, one of the more frequent question we get asked is what happens to credit card debt when one leaves a country? Will they be able to return and get a job again. Most of these questions come from expats who work at very international cities. Today, we will try to address this issue with regards to Singapore.

For the last few years, the Singapore economy has been booming, fueled by increased immigration, low tax rates and a very economic friendly environment. It has also come with problems like housing inflation and more recently, expats who rack up credit card debt, get laid off and cannot pay it off. Unlike many other countries, Singapore has more stringent laws with regards to debt and bankruptcy which complicates matter for those looking leave the country with debt.

Scenario #1: You Leave Singapore Without Paying Your Debt and You Never Look Back

For expats of Singapore, it would seem unlikely to leave the country and never return again. But in the event you decide you’re going to leave your debt unpaid and never look back, you may find yourself in bankruptcy (in Singapore). Bankrupt in Singapore, is a bit different than bankrupt in the U.S. For instance, in Singapore, you can be “made” bankrupt by a creditor, while in the U.S., although it seems like you are being forced into bankruptcy, you still have to make the decision to file for bankruptcy.

If the amount owed to all of your creditors (including credit cards and car loans) is at least $10,000, you can be made bankrupt in Singapore. The problem however isn’t just being declared bankrupt. The Official Assignee then seizes your belongings which in Singapore can include, property, tools of your trade, property held in trust for someone else, and even clothing and furniture. In fact, the any property can basically be seized including future property that the bankrupt person may come into possession in the future. In fact, if you even try to take vacation, you will need the OA’s permission or you can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 2 years.

You may also lose your job and it will certainly make things difficult when trying to find a job. So, in this respect, if you leave Singapore without paying your debt and are declared bankrupt, plan on a rocky road if you ever try to live there again. It isn’t altogether clear what may actually happen to you upon entering and leaving the country if you have bad debt you have left behind either.

Maybe you aren’t planning on ever returning to Singapore and you don’t care about being declared bankrupt. If you have family there who co-signed or are guarantors, they may be held responsible for your debt. If you are ever offered a job, you won’t be able to take it. Consider whether it’s likely that you will never, for the rest of your life, be in Singapore again.

Scenario #2: You Leave Singapore and Take Your Debt With You

If you are moving from Singapore, it’s very likely that many of the debts you have are transferable. Most banks have relationships and branches in other countries and you will not only be allowed to transfer the debt, but also transfer your credit history. Of course, you still have the option to make payments on your debt after moving, even if the bank does not have a relationship with the country you are moving to.

Your credit score in Singapore is not transferrable. Many credit card issuers, such as American Express, will issue you a U.S. American Express. It is much easier to establish credit history in the U.S. if you are able to transfer accounts or and payment histories or easily begin establishing a credit history if you have a card when you get here.
However, whether you have a good or bad credit score in most countries, does not mean you will have the same good or bad credit score in the U.S. It is sometimes more difficult to obtain mortgages and other lines of credit if you do not have a credit score at all, and can be worse than having bad credit.

If you consider both scenarios, it appears as though the best decision would be to transfer the credit card accounts and make an effort to continue to pay on the debt. This way, you may be able to establish a credit history in the new country with an already established history as well as be able to return to the original country without worry of jail or being made bankrupt. In most situations, the amount owed on the debt will not be worth skipping out on, no matter how convenient it may seem.



AsiaOne Story

January 28, 2016 @ 7:29 am

If the person owned unpaid personal loan from Singapore local bank but he already go back his country and decided never going back to Singapore ! Singapore bank debt colleter still can follow to his country ? Is the person still possible to go visit other country like Bangkok ?
Is he can arrest in Bangkok immigration ? For his debt in Singapore ?

    Bob Rich
    June 15, 2016 @ 10:17 am

    NO. I went to bangkok last month and never had problems in Bangkok immigration check point.

August 30, 2016 @ 10:23 am

If a Singaporean left Singapore leaving $300k debt behind and never come back, what happens if the bank made her bankrupt later? Will OA charge her for fraud or leaving singapore without permission ? but she left before bankrupt.

    December 6, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

    Hi Sally

    Is there any update on the Singaporean? Did she receive any police warrants? Did her family members in SG been taken in to police station for questioning?

December 3, 2016 @ 4:04 pm

Hi ,

I have unpaid bank and lender loan at singapore. I was working under EP as foreigner. I played MBS casino and loose approx S$200,000/- which I have bank loan about S$130,000/- and I was unable to pay. I left singapore by Changi Airport immigration auto gate. I don’t have any plan in future to go back singapore.

So I want to know , what problems may be happen next ? Did they will come my country to find out me ? Other country entry / immigration they can make any problem ?

Anybody knows pls advise me. Mentally I am leading very stressful life as Long as I already came back my own country but therefore also I’m leading a stressful life due to unpay those loans at singapore. My life was smooth and nice but for casino I myself make my life hell.

Pls advise me.
Thanks in advance.

    July 14, 2017 @ 9:57 pm

    Me too same . MBS spoiled lot of foreigner’s life. Not sure what will happen but be happy face the consequences.

    December 6, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

    Hi Dev

    Did they find you in your home country so far?
    You shouldn’t have any problem traveling to other countries, but do avoid visiting SG even for transit flights as you may be arrested upon stepping foot in Changi airport.

      March 29, 2019 @ 1:09 am

      Hi how if I transit in Malaysia.. should it be a problem . I mean with the Malaysian immigration checkpoints? If I am a bankruptcy of Singapore. Thanks a lot.

December 1, 2017 @ 11:22 pm


I have the same case, my question is, what is my right, the debtor? I don’t plan to ran a way from the bank, its just that, I requested to restructure the payment based on my capacity to pay. I have talked to them but they want to let me. i.e to pay 200sgd/month since I am back to my home country and wages here are not that big. The intention is to pay not to ran away.

Hui Min
January 18, 2018 @ 3:52 am

Hi. I left singapore with debt & never paid, I don’t know if I’m already declared bankrupt (where to check?). I want to go back for a few days, will I be allowed to enter sg? Will I be allowed to leave again? Or will police arrest me?

    August 23, 2018 @ 9:46 am

    So what happen when you step foot again ?

Charith Kumara
June 18, 2018 @ 10:39 pm

Same 2 me i was working s pass singapore then i buy some goods from installment the few month i got lost my job then they send me meny emails to pay it iam now in sri lanka i cant pay that mach of bill will thay can come to my country and arest me

Levita Dela Cruz
December 5, 2018 @ 10:48 am

Singapore has no jurisdiction to your home country. Therefore no actions can be taken on you.

December 5, 2018 @ 8:06 pm

Hi. I left singapore with debt & never paid.(around $50,000, approximately$5000 from 10 bank credit cards) I want to go back for a few days, will I be allowed to enter sg? Will I be allowed to leave again? Or will police arrest me?

March 29, 2019 @ 12:32 am

Hi.. I left Singapore for good on 2013 with credit card debt about SGD 15,000. I dont have any plan yet to go back to Singapore..
I have no idea if I am a bankruptcy yet.. so far have no idea where to check it out.

Is it safe for me to travel to Malaysia ? Would I be stopped by Malaysian immigration and sent back to Singapore ? As for Bangkok.. I had travelled there with no issues at all at the immigration…

Someone please advice. Thanks a lot.

May 27, 2019 @ 8:24 pm

I have due about S$7,000 (Credit Card & Loan) and left Singapore. I planned to pay partialy. I’m over due more than 6 months. What kind of leagal issue will there for me? Can I talk to bank and pay monthly & clear?


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