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Legal Assistance


In the event that you decide to pursue a legal remedy, you should review the list of attorneys who have expressed an interest in representing Americans. We cannot, however, recommend an individual attorney nor can we provide legal advice.

April 4, 2021

Arrest of a U.S. Citizen in Singapore

While in Singapore, U.S. citizens are subject to its laws and regulations. Persons violating the law in Singapore, even unknowingly, may be fined, arrested, caned and/or deported. If detained, a U.S. citizen will have to go through the Singaporean legal process for being charged, prosecuted, and possibly convicted and sentenced. It is important to keep in mind that the legal process in Singapore can differ significantly from the one in the United States and may not provide the same protections available in the United States.

The U.S. Embassy will do all that it can to ensure that a U.S. citizen accused of a crime in Singapore is not discriminated against under local Singaporean law, but it will not be able to guarantee the same protections available under U.S. law.

U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families; however, they cannot interfere in the Singaporean judicial process.

If a U.S. citizen is arrested, ACS Consular Officials should be notified immediately. This may be done by the police at the time of arrest, or by a friend or relative of the detainee.

A consular officer may do the following:

  • Visit a U.S. citizen in jail after being notified of the arrest.
  • Regularly visit a U.S. citizen detained in Singapore. During theses visits the consular officer can check on the health and well being of the detainee, and the treatment provided by the Singaporean authorities.
  • Notify a family member or friend of the arrest and relay any requests the detainee may have.
  • Assist family and friends in the U.S. who wish to send money to the detainee.
  • Provide a list of local attorneys.
  • Facilitate communications with family, friends, and legal counsel (subject to local law and regulations).
  • Work to ensure that the detainee receives fair and humane treatment in accordance with Singapore law and international norms.
  • Follow the progress of the case in the judicial system.
  • Transfer money, food, clothing and other items such as reading materials to the prison authorities from family, friends and/or donated by the local community (subject to local laws and regulations).
  • Provide dietary supplements (vitamins/minerals), if necessary.
  • Provide information on U.S. government loans available to prisoners under the Emergency Medical/Dietary Assistance (EMDA) program for destitute Americans incarcerated abroad.
  • Arrange for medical and dental care, if not provided by prison authorities (to be paid for from detainee’s funds).
  • Protest any mistreatment by local officials while incarcerated.

 A Consular Officer cannot do the following:

  • Intervene in the Singaporean justice system.
  • Represent a U.S. citizen in legal proceedings or give legal advice.
  • Pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. Government funds.
  • Contract an attorney to represent a U.S. citizen in court.
  • Provide funds for bail.

Privacy Act

The provisions of the Privacy Act are designed to protect the privacy and rights of Americans, but occasionally they complicate our efforts to assist citizens abroad. As a rule, consular officers may not reveal information regarding an individual American’s location, welfare, intentions, or problems to anyone, including family members and Congressional representatives, without the expressed consent of that individual. Although sympathetic to the distress this can cause concerned families, consular officers must comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act.

Additional information can be found on the State Department’s website at Arrest or Detention of an American Citizen Abroad.

Information regarding criminal penalties in Singapore can be found at Singapore Country Specific Information.

Commercial Disputes

The U.S. Commercial Service of the Embassy has created the Trade Dispute Facilitation Service for its American clients. Through this customized program, they will contact any local party with whom a U.S. exporter has a trade-related problem, determining the facts of the case and asking that party to work toward an amicable solution. There is no charge for an initial consultation. Subsequent involvement by the Commercial Service may require referral to a local attorney, chamber or association, or intervention with an appropriate level of government. A charge paid by the American client to the Commercial Service may become necessary to provide sustained assistance and guidance on the case. The Economic/Political Section of the Embassy monitors trade, investment, and intellectual property disputes involving U.S. interests. Neither office, however, can act as an advocate in individual cases.

In the event that you decide to pursue a legal remedy, you should review the list of attorneys who have expressed an interest in representing Americans. We cannot, however, recommend an individual attorney nor can we provide legal advice.

Additional Resources

Contact us

27 Napier Road
Singapore 258508
Tel: (65) 6476-9100 (Same contact number for after-hours emergency)
Fax: (65) 6476-9232
Email: singaporeacs@state.gov