The Most Common Types of Background Checks in Singapore

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Successful and safe recruitment is dependent on carrying out the right checks. This  not only protects company and customer interests, but also ensures compliance. Whether or not roles are permanent, remote, contract, part-time or full-time, staff have access to company property and data, as well as other co-workers or customers, which can put business security and wellbeing at risk. This is why background screening is so important, especially in Singapore where the job market is competitive and dynamic. 

The Importance of Background Checks in Singapore

There are many reasons why companies in Singapore need to conduct background checks on potential employees. One major reason is that they receive applicants with discrepancies between their work history, educational degrees, or other work related information. In fact, diploma fraud is a persistent problem in the country

This is why hiring people on their declared merits alone is an ineffective strategy because it leaves businesses vulnerable to hiring the wrong person, with inauthentic credentials, who may pose a threat to the organisation's reputation. This makes background checks a key part of any recruitment process. So, what are the most common types of background checks in Singapore? 

Comprehensive Types of Background Checks in Singapore

Below are the common types of pre-employment checks in Singapore:

Employment History Verification

First in the list of common types of background checks in Singapore is employment verification. This is a common practice in Singapore and it is usually done before making a final hiring decision.

They can do this by contacting the previous employer and checking details like: 

  • Roles held
  • Duration of employment
  • Awards and recognitions received
  • Reason for leaving

An important thing to note here is that the Ministry of Manpower has mandated that some foreign workers may need to submit employment verification proof to obtain a work pass (ie. employment pass, S pass). However, the government only accepts proof from an accredited background screening provider like Veremark. 

It is suggested not to contact previous employers more than once, unless there is an urgent need to do so as a show of respect. Hence, it's best to prepare everything you need to ask to not miss anything.

Reference Checks

Employers are also recommended to conduct reference checks as part of their Singapore background check. Getting in touch with a previous colleague or supervisor can further verify their employment history and reveal vital information, including:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Personality, characteristics, and attitude toward work
  • Professional development and key learning areas 
  • Contributions to the company 

Here’s a guide on How To Conduct Efficient Reference Checks (with a Free Template) and a list of Reference Check Questions for an informed hiring decision. 

Education Background Check for Foreign Workers in Singapore

Academic achievement verification is one of the most requested types of background checks in Singapore, particularly for foreign job seekers. Because foreign applicants come from various countries, academic qualifications might not meet international standards. Additionally, there may also be a risk of fraud (which is considered a gross misconduct) with applicants falsifying their educational history. 

It's the responsibility of Singapore employers to make sure that their candidates' educational qualifications are genuine and have been awarded by accredited institutions. On the work permit or work pass application, employers would need to submit a verification proof that can only be obtained from a third-party background check provider accredited by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), like Veremark. 

Learn more about Veremark’s Singapore MOM Education Check here.  

Criminal Background Checks

Pre-employment background checks in Singapore also commonly include criminal records checks. This is achieved through a Certificate of Clearance (COC) issued by the Singapore Police Force (SPF). The COC certifies that a candidate has no conviction within a stipulated period in Singapore. 

Singapore citizens can easily apply for this online. For foreign workers, employers are required to conduct criminal background checks in their origin country. However, running criminal background checks on foreign applicants can be challenging due to several barriers, including varying legal systems, language barriers, and the lack of access to comprehensive international databases

Partnering with a reliable background screening provider addresses these concerns.  They have expertise in global screening processes, access to international databases, and familiarity with legal requirements across different jurisdictions, ensuring thorough and accurate background checks for foreign applicants.

Type Notes for Employers Turnaround Time*
Criminal Record Local applicants can obtain Certificate of Clearance from Singapore Police Force. For foreign applicants, employers need to conduct a criminal background check in their origin country. 5 - 30 Days
Education Verification Diploma fraud is a persistent problem in Singapore. As such, the MOM requires education verification proof from some foreign applicants. Employers can only obtain this proof from accredited background screening platforms. 10 - 25 Days
Employment History The MOM also requires verification proof for past employment from some foreign applicants. Employers may only obtain this through accredited background check providers to ensure the authenticity of the credentials. 10 - 20 Days
*Turnaround time varies depending on several factors (access to online databases, how far back employers want to go, etc.)

Global Sanctions

On top of criminal background checks, Singaporean employers may also run Global Sanctions Check. It validates if your potential employees don't appear on any sanctions watchlists, this can make it easier for you to comply with regulations like the AML Act or the Patriot Act. 

Social Media Screening 

Checking an applicant's activities on social media can provide valuable insights into their character, professionalism, and potential red flags that may not be evident from their resume or interviews alone. As a result, employment background checks in Singapore now often include social media screening

This type of background check can reveal the candidate’s:

  • Communication style
  • Interactions with others
  • Concerning behaviours or attitudes

Adverse Financial History and Credit Checks 

Although not as common as the other checks mentioned above, some companies still run employment credit checks in Singapore. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Credit Bureau Singapore may provide credit reports to eligible companies to help them make informed hiring decisions. This is especially true for bank and financial organisations regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 
  • When required or helpful, Singaporean employers may not only conduct credit assessment as a pre employment requirement; they may also run it periodically. 
  • Likewise, credit and adverse financial checks are not only for high-ranking officials. Employees with certain responsibilities may also be subjected to this type of background check.  

Learn more about Veremark’s Adverse Financial History check here

Expatriate Background Checks

Background Check is sometimes required for employees who are about to be transferred from Singapore to another country as part of an overseas assignment. The most common reason for this requirement is that the company does not want to take the risk of sending an individual abroad and then finding out later on that they have a bad record or some other form of background issue.


Timeframe and Legal Considerations

How Long Does An Employee Background Check Take In Singapore?

A Singaporean company is usually required to conduct a background check on employees before hiring them or in the early stages of onboarding. This process can take up 1 day or a few weeks. The time taken for the background check may vary depending on the company's requirements, the type of background check, the information provided by the applicant, and the quality of the partner chosen to run the background checks. Learn more about How Long a Background Check Takes here.

What Are The Legal Frameworks Governing Employment Background Checks in Singapore?

Background checks are legal in Singapore, however, employers must follow the laws that govern them. The primary law to take note of is Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) which governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. 

Additionally, specific regulations may apply depending on the type of background check conducted, such as the Criminal Procedure Code for criminal record checks and the Employment Act for employment-related checks. Learn more about Singapore Employment Laws here

Is It Advisable To Partner With a Background Screening Platform? 

Background checks in Singapore can be done in various ways, including through databases, interviews, and questionnaires. However, it may be best to partner with a third party screening service if you: 

  • Need thorough and accurate screenings across multiple jurisdictions
  • Lack the expertise or resources to conduct comprehensive checks in-house
  • Need to ensure compliance with legal regulations regarding data protection and privacy. 

Also, for work pass applications, the Ministry of Manpower won’t accept verification proofs unless they come from accredited platforms

A good background check company will have a team of experts who are well-versed with all aspects of the process and will provide you with the information you need in order to make an informed decision about hiring someone.

Trust Veremark for Your Background Check Needs in Singapore 

Veremark is a leading provider of local and global background checks, offering 100% digital, 100% accurate checks for new and current staff members in all industries and sectors in Singapore. Furthermore, as a screening platform accredited by the Ministry of Manpower, you can rest easy that the verification proof we provide would streamline your foreign worker’s work pass applications. 

Talk to us today about the benefits of carrying out your vital pre-employment checks using Veremark’s innovative and straightforward platform. Whether you're hiring one candidate or many, ensure safe hiring with employment checks that are fast, accurate, secure, and scalable. Every time.

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Are background checks legal in Singapore?

Yes, background checks are legal in Singapore, but employers must comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and obtain consent from the applicant before conducting checks.

What laws should employers keep in mind regarding background checks in Singapore?

Employers should keep in mind the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and ensure they handle and protect applicant data responsibly during background checks in Singapore.

What are the most common types of background checks in Singapore?

The most common types of background checks in Singapore include criminal record checks, employment history verifications, and education qualifications verifications.

Should employers outsource their employment background check needs in SG?

Outsourcing employment background check needs in Singapore can be advisable to ensure thorough and compliant screenings, especially when dealing with complex international checks or lacking in-house expertise.


What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

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Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

MOM education verification: a guide for all employers

A guide for all employers in Singapore

Singapore’s booming economy entices thousands of overseas professionals to its shores every year. Its role as the financial hub in Asia, and its ability to weather the storms of the global financial crisis and the COVID pandemic has seen its popularity rise.

Regarded as a safe country, with a stable economy and no foreign debt - Singapore is prosperous, peaceful, and innovative. Widely regarded as an attractive place to work, almost half the population of the island are immigrants.

With this influx of talent, the country has had to make adjustments to the way it accepts new workers from abroad. In this guide we’ll explore the rise of Singapore as a desirable place to live and work, the problems it has faced with this rise in interest from international visitors, and new regulations that all employers in Singapore need to know about.

This guide explores:

- Singapore's foreign worker problem and the rise of diploma fraud

- The requirements needed to work in Singapore as a employee from overseas

- The new regulations introduced by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

- Third-party verification on education credentials

- New two-stage eligibility framework (Salary + COMPASS)

- MOM's collaboration with Veremark

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