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Guide To CPF: What New Permanent Residents In Singapore Need To Know

PRs need to start paying CPF on the date of their residency status acceptance (indicated on Form 5/5A).


Apart from appreciating Singapore’s hawker culture, mastering “Singlish”, and living in million dollar public housing HDB flats, new permanent residents (PRs) will also have to get used to contributing a significant part of their monthly salary to their CPF accounts.

CPF is Singapore’s mandatory social savings scheme – helping Singaporeans and PRs to secure their retirement adequacy and pay for important expenses such as their home, children’s education and medical expenses.

Currently, CPF members contribute a maximum of 37% of their salaries to their CPF accounts. Up to 20% from Employee CPF Contributions and up to 17% from Employer’s CPF Contributions. This amount is currently capped at a monthly salary of $6,800 and is deducted automatically from their salary. By 2026, the monthly salary cap will be raised to $8,000.

Read Also: Singaporean Permanent Residents’ Roadmap: Key Personal Financial Schemes And The Decisions You Have To Make

CPF Is Payable From The Date Of PR Status Approval

After the taxing process of applying for your PR status, the Form 5/5A will notify you of your successful application. The date on the form is the start date of your status as a PR in Singapore.

If you are currently employed, it also indicates when employers have to start making CPF contributions. As an employee, you would also start seeing a sizeable chunk taken off your salary – and channelled into your newly-opened CPF accounts.

Understandably, having to deduct up to 20% (employee’s contribution) immediately from your take-home pay may be difficult for many to adapt in such a short time frame. However, you also start receiving more in total salary once you factor in employer CPF contributions of up to 17% of your salary. For employers, however, they will incur up to 17% more cost for hiring the same employee.

Hence, there is a two-year acclimatisation period for both employees and employers. Their contribution rates will start at a lower level and gradually rise to the normal CPF contribution rates by the third year.

The first full year starts from the date of PR approval and ends on the last day of the PR approval anniversary month. The second and third years follow this start date – from the first day of PR approval anniversary month.

For example, if your PR status was approved on 14 January 2024, your first year of CPF contribution will start from that date, and end on 31 January 2025. Your second CPF contribution year will start on 1 February 2025 and end on 31 January 2026. Finally, normal CPF contributions – which start from the third year – will start from 1 February 2026.

Read Also: 15 Little-Known Things About CPF That Most Singaporeans Are Still Unaware About

First And Second Year Contribution Rates Vary Based On Three Different Combinations Of Employer-Employee Contributions

As mentioned above, the de facto CPF contributions for the first two years for both employees and employers are at a reduced rate. The reduced rate is termed as the graduated rate. Employers are required to contribute at the graduated rate unless you are working for a Ministry as a non-pensionable employee.

Both parties can jointly apply for higher rates if both employer and employee are willing to make full CPF contributions from the start. The higher contribution rate can also vary between full employer-graduated employee (Table #2) or full employer-full employee (Table #3), which is also the default rate after the third year.

For those who would wish to contribute a higher CPF rate independent of your employer’s contributions, you can top up your CPF through the Voluntary Contribution (VC) or Retirement Saving Topping Up Scheme (RSTU).

Your CPF contribution rates for the first two years of PR status can be calculated with the CPF Contribution Calculator. The breakdown of rates for new PR employees aged below 55 years old, drawing a salary of $750 and above, are as shown below:

Table #1 Graduated Employer & Graduated Employee CPF Contribution Rates

Graduated Employer & Graduated Employee (G/G) Contribution Rate Employee’s share of CPF contributions Employer’s share of CPF contributions Total CPF contributions (Employer’s & Employee’s share)
First Year 5% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $340) + 5% Additional Wage 4% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $272) + 4% Additional Wage 9% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $612) + 9% Additional Wage
Second Year 15% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,020) + 15% Additional Wage 9% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $612) + 9% Additional Wage 24% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,632) + 24% Additional Wage

Table #2 Full Employer – Graduate Employee CPF Contribution Rates (Need Joint Application)

Full Employer & Graduated Employee (F/G) Employee’s share of CPF contributions Employer’s share of CPF contributions Total CPF contributions (Employer’s & Employee’s share)
First Year 5% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $340) + 5% Additional Wage 17% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,156) + 17% Additional Wage 22% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,496) + 22% Additional Wage
Second Year 15% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,020) + 15% Additional Wage 17% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,156) + 17% Additional Wage 32% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $2,176) + 32% Additional Wage

Table #3 Full Employer – Full Employee CPF Contribution Rates (Need Joint Application)

Full Employer & Full Employee (F/F) Employee’s share of CPF contributions Employer’s share of CPF contributions Total CPF contributions (Employer’s & Employee’s share)
Year Of Application With Employer Or Third Year Onwards 20% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,360) + 20% Additional Wage 17% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $1,156) + 17% Additional Wage 37% of Ordinary Wage (Capped at $2,516) + 37% Additional Wage

Similar to Singapore Citizens and existing PRs who have been making CPF contributions for more than three years, the exact contribution rate into your various CPF accounts (i.e. Ordinary Account (OA), Special Account (SA) and Retirement Account (RA), and MediSave Account (MA)) will vary based on your age. Likewise, contribution rates will decrease from up to 37% (for those below 55) to 12.5% for those 70 and above.

Read Also: Complete Guide To Your CPF Contributions In Singapore: Salary Caps, Contribution Rates And Allocation Rates

In the event you have applied for a Full Employer – Full Employee CPF contribution rate with your previous employer but moved to another that does not provide it before the third year, your CPF contributions will revert to the graduated contribution rates. You would have to re-apply with your new employer for higher rates.

Read Also: 4 Useful CPF Calculators You Can Use To Better Understand Its Benefits (and Limitations)

If You Are Departing Singapore For Good, You Can Apply To CPF For Withdrawal

In the event you are not continuing your PR status in Singapore, and you plan to leave Singapore permanently, you can apply to withdraw your CPF monies.

In Singapore, if you have Singpass, you can submit your completed form and supporting documents via My Mailbox which will be the fastest mode of application. You can also make the application in-person at one of the CPF Service Centres, if you do not have Singpass.

If you are currently located overseas and do not have Singpass, you need to fill in a form under the witness of a Singapore Overseas Mission before sending the application by mail with official stamps.

Your CPF savings would be transferred to you via interbank Giro to a local Singapore bank or telegraphic transfer (TT) to your overseas bank account. Any existing tax liabilities would be deducted from your CPF savings. For those who have invested via the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS), Central Depository (Pte) Ltd (CDP) charges a fee of $10.70 for each transfer of share counter. You can either liquidate your positions or choose to transfer your investments to your brokerage account.

For those who are covered under CPF LIFE, you can choose to withdraw your unused premium or continue on the scheme. Continuing the scheme will allow you to receive monthly payouts (at the eligible age) through your Singapore bank account for the rest of your life. In other words, there is no change to the benefits you get on the CPF LIFE scheme whether you are a PR or choose to renounce it.

Do note that if you do return to re-obtain a PR or citizenship, you would have to make a full refund to CPF based on the amount withdrawn, including the accrued interest rates.

Read Also: Migrating Overseas? Here’s What Would Happen To Your CPF Monies

This article was first published on 30 June 2021 and was updated to include additional information.

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