Singapore a very popular work destination for foreign talent, and considering that 38 per cent of the population in Singapore are foreigners, it is little wonder if some of them are searching for expat personal loans.
By: Hitesh Khan/
A relatively high standard of living coupled with a vibrant economy, provided by political stability and a favorable investment environment are all factors which have contributed to more expats arriving and settling in the country. Like Singapore residents, expats too experience financial constraints from time to time.
Most local banks in Singapore offer foreigners expat personal loans, but only after being with the same bank for several years and in good standing.
Even then, the banks may give you lesser than the advertised credit line of 4-times your monthly salary.
Most foreigners don’t leave Singapore after comparing the quality of life on the island with their home country. But what happens when you have to leave the country for one reason or another?
Can you leave Singapore without paying your expat personal loan and never set foot on the island again? If you do that, you face the prospect of being made a bankrupt in Singapore. Being made a bankrupt in Singapore, is different than being made a bankrupt in the U.S.
For example, 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.
And you can be made a bankrupt if you owe your lender just $10,000 in expat personal loans.
The problem however isn’t just being declared bankrupt. With bankruptcy, the Official Assignee (OA) has almost complete control over your life. The OA can seize your belongings which 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 be seized, including future property that the bankrupt person may come into possession in the future. You will need the OA’s permission even to go on a holiday, and if you don’t comply, you may be fined up to $10,000 and/or be jailed for up to 2 years. With bankruptcy, you also risk losing your job and it will certainly make things difficult if you are trying to find a job.
This means that if you leave Singapore without paying off your expat personal loans, the road will not be smooth sailing if you want to come back to live in the island again.
One foreigner explains her problem in an online expat forum:
“Have not been living or working in Singapore now over 5 years but held on to credit cards…total probably 30k. Now the banks decided since i no longer live or work in Singapore, they want full payment which I cannot do. They are threatening to take legal action, so far do not know if it has been done. So if they did a court case and I am not there to represent myself, they can win the case in my absence? My concern is I may have a job offer in Singapore and this will affect if I can get a work permit. Also if I managed to get a work permit, it looks like most of the salary will go into paying off the debts.”
Another forumer responding to the query said:
“That is quite a large amount of debt and that does not include interest accrue on top of the original debt. If the banks in Singapore has already located your overseas address, rest assured they will come after you by getting a court order at your resident country. Once the court accepts the claims of the lawyer representing Singapore Banks, you are done for. I have seen it happened time and time again.
“Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) only deals with the immigration part. Ministry of Manpower deals with the employment part but if a court judgement has been ruled against you, finding a job will be hard and you cannot get any credit card nor banks wanting to do anything with you. fF I am not wrong it will be sent to the police database too. To enter Singapore as a visitor personally I do not see an issue as you are a foreigner, not local nor Permanent Residents but I could be wrong here.”
It is not altogether clear what may actually happen to you upon entering and leaving the country if you have bad debt you have left behind. But even if you don’t care about being declared bankrupt and are not planning on ever returning to Singapore, you may have to consider your guarantors – especially if they are family or close friends who are still in Singapore as they will be held responsible for your debt.
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