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I'm an Indian citizen currently resident in the UK (working there), and will be going to Singapore on vacation soon. For my visa application, I submitted a hotel booking. However, it turns out that I will be able to stay with a friend in Singapore instead, and hence don't need the hotel booking any longer.

If I now cancel this hotel booking and stay with my friend instead, what should I say at Singapore immigration? I see the following possible options:

  1. Say it as it is: tell the immigration official that I initially planned to stay in a hotel but now that my friend's place is available, I'm staying with them instead. In case I do this though, will I need a completed Form V39A (Letter of Introduction for Visa Application) from my friend as I would have if this was the original accommodation plan in my visa application? Would doing this lead to any other problems/suspicions?
  2. Pretend I'm still using my original hotel booking: I still have a PDF of the booking confirmation, and I doubt that they're ever going to bother checking if I actually stayed at the hotel I mentioned. So I could just pretend that I'm following through with my original booking and say that plans changed extremely last minute in the unlikely case they actually do ask questions after I've cleared immigration?

What'd be the recommended approach in this situation? Would be grateful for any advice!

  • The default recommendation here is “tell the truth”. It’s not alway practical and sometimes leads to disaster however more often than not the truth works out. Use your judgment but remember immigration officers are trained interrogators. Don’t lie to them if you’re not adept at it. Personally in those situations I prepare two bookings, one for one day and the second for the rest of the duration (I am assuming these are cancellable up to 24 hrs before check in). Once I arrive and clear immigration, I cancel the second reservation (and the first if that is still within the free cancel period) – user 56513 Aug 13 '18 at 6:14
  • See the answer to a similar question here travel.stackexchange.com/questions/45179/…. Per Gayot Fow who was arguably the preeminent immigration expert here, “give them what they want”. I wholeheartedly endorse that position. – user 56513 Aug 13 '18 at 6:27
  • Is your friend either a Singapore citizen or permanent resident? If not, the Form V39A couldn't be used (was that the reason for the hotel reservation)? ICA officers in Singapore are strict, and astute: tell the truth. – Giorgio Aug 13 '18 at 15:36
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Personal experience here:

I was residing in Singapore on a work visa (E-Pass as they call it). And my friends were to visit me on a leisure trip. They initially booked an Airbnb to get a visa, and then realised they could stay with me. So they cancelled the airbnb and stayed at my place for about a week.

Singapore is very strict but friendly. They encourage tourism and will guide you. But when questioned by the ICA officers, be honest and do tell them how your plans changed.

My friends and I all hold Indian passports.

Make sure:

  1. Your friend is a legal resident of Singapore (citizen/PR/E Pass/S Pass holder)
  2. Assuming you got an e-visa, take a print of it (or two). The visa generally doesn't mention a place of stay.
  3. You fill the embarkation card correctly with your friend's address.

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This happened late last year. Nowadays, with Singapore pushing towards automation, one doesn't require the card at exit, but keep it safe with you all the times.

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