Hiring a Maid in Singapore without an Agency

Can you hire a maid without going through an agency?

The increasing number of dual-income families in Singapore has made it difficult for most households to balance family and work responsibilities. This issue has no longer made hiring a helper or maid a luxury but a necessity for every household. The advantages of hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW) or a transfer maid includes helping families to care for their younger or older family members. They are also responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their employers’ homes.

In this article, we will help you understand the importance of employing a domestic helper and how much you can benefit from it.

You will also learn how to hire a maid in Singapore without an agency and the costs involved when hiring directly or from an agent.

Can I hire a maid without agency?

Yes! It is possible to hire a maid or domestic worker directly or without using an agency. While hiring a helper directly is cheaper than from an agency, you will be responsible for completing all the needed requirements in the legal process. Another advantage of hiring maids directly is the chance for you to choose from a wide selection of potential candidates from forums and websites online such as:

  • HelperPlace
  • netmaid

As you will be conducting the interview,  do ensure that you ask them all the necessary questions to see if they are qualified for the job and if they are a right match for you and your family.

Benefits of hiring a maid directly

Maid cleaning window blinds

It is not an easy task to directly hire a foreign domestic helper in Singapore. However, there are definitely benefits from doing so. Here’s how:

  • You have more control in selecting a maid
  • Saves your time in training or teaching as the pool of FDWs are usually transfer maids who are very much experienced
  • Cheaper than using maid agencies by $500 to $2000
  • Direct-hired helpers do not require maid loans

How can I hire a maid without an agency?

Employing a domestic helper is a big decision to make as employers should be aware of the legal process before searching for one. 

Most families in Singapore are given two options to choose from when hiring a foreign domestic worker. They can either hire one from overseas or a transfer maid who is already in Singapore. Both options can be processed by a maid agency or directly hired. A maid employment agency can be costly if you are on a tight budget but they will take care of all the legal requirements needed especially from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). If you are looking for an inexpensive option to hire a helper, you might want to consider direct hiring. When you direct hire, you are required to process all the needed legal requirements for your foreign domestic worker to start working for you.

“How do I directly hire an FDW?” is one of the frequently asked questions. To answer this, you can hire a foreign domestic worker by complying with the following steps:

Step 1: As an employer, you will need to comply with the set of requirements set by MOM such as:

  • You need to fully understand the responsibilities of being an employer. If you are single, MOM will assess your eligibility to hire a domestic helper
  • You need to be 21 years old or above
  • You need to attend the EOP or Employers’ Orientation Programme
  • You need to be financially ready to hire and maintain your helper or domestic worker

Step 2: Once you have complied with all the requirements to hire a FDW, you can now start searching for potential applicants. Before you start accepting applicants, ask around from your relatives, colleagues or friends who have experiences with maids to know what you should look out for. This will save you from possible problems or issues with the helper later on.

Step 3: Make sure that your helper complies with the MOM’s legal requirements such as:

  • She is not related to the employer of your home address
  • Can only be a female
  •  She is 23 to 50 years of age during the time of application
  • If it is her first time applying as a domestic worker in Singapore, she needs to be certified with the Settling-In-Programme
  • She is from an approved source country such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Bangladesh, Macau, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia.

Step 4: Next step is to proceed with the application for the maid’s Work Permit in Singapore through the online website of MOM. Always check with your maid’s embassy in Singapore as there might be additional documents such as a VISA or overseas government letter required for her to leave her country.

Step 5: Once you have completed the issuance of her Work Permit, there is just one mandatory thing left before she can start working for you and that is to apply for maid insurance. This includes medical insurance with a coverage of at least $15,000 per year and personal accidental insurance with a guaranteed $60,000 payout per year. Before applying for maid insurance, you will need to get an In-Principle Approval (IPA) Letter.

How can I hire or transfer a maid from another employer?

If you are planning to hire a helper from another employer, you will need to follow a few steps. Keep in mind that step 1 and 2 should be completed a month (30 days) before the maid’s Work Permit expires.

  • Step 1: Meet up with the maid’s current employer to ensure if they have completed their 6-monthly medical examination.
  • Step 2: Ask the current employer to present you a written consent for the transfer of the maid. This will allow you to receive an outcome and IPA which will state the transfer date of the helper. It will also indicate the date you need to issue the new Work Permit (WP).
  • Step 3: Print a copy of the declaration form and sign it. The current employer and helper must sign the form as well.
  • Step 4: After submitting the declaration form to MOM, you will be given a Temporary Work Permit (TWP) for your new helper. This cancels the helper’s previous WP and will allow her to start working for you.

Just like employing a helper from another employer, you will need to follow some important steps when transferring a maid.

  • Step 1: Have your maid complete her 6-monthly medical examination.
  • Step 2: You will receive a declaration form together with the IPA letter given by the employment agency or the new employer. These forms will confirm that you are agreeing with the transfer.
  • Step 3: You will continuously pay for the levy until your maid is given a transfer date.
  • Step 4: The new employer will be processing the new Work Permit by now. Once done, the employment agency will automatically cancel your maid’s WP and stop the levy billing.
  • Step 5: You will need to return the maid’s Work Permit card within a week of the transfer.

How much does it cost to hire a maid in Singapore?

The cost of employing a foreign domestic worker (FDW) whether through a maid agency or directly hired in Singapore is constantly increasing. Currently, there are more than 250,000 maids or FDWs in Singapore or one out of five households employs maid services.

Not all agencies in Singapore charge the same rate. The fees highly depend on the maid’s nationality and experiences. For instance, maids from the Philippines need to meet more requirements than maids from India. The reason for this is that Filipino maids need to apply for an exit visa which may require additional expenses and extra efforts to obtain. Indian maids, on the other hand, only require a valid passport. They will also need to meet the minimum education criteria from the Ministry of Manpower. That is why most maid agencies charge differently when it comes to the maid’s nationality. As for the maid’s work experiences, the more skills they have, the higher their pay.

The table below provides a comparison of the needed expenses when employing a helper from an agency or directly in Singapore. Charges may differ with each case but these should provide some guidance. The costs listed below partly goes to the employer and helper involved, while some expenses are for the legal requirements. Normally, the legal maximum amount charged to a maid is 6 months of her salary which is typically advanced by her employer.

The cost of employing a maid through an agency and direct hiring in Singapore:

Type of fees

Maid Agency

Direct Hiring

Maid Agency Fees

Between $100 and $2,000





Settling in (for first-time helpers)



Work Permit Application



Work Permit Issuance



Monthly Maid Levy

$300 (1st FDW)

$450 (Subsequent FDWs)

$300 (1st FDW)

$450 (Subsequent FDWs)

Security Deposit



Maid Loan

$1,000 to $3,500


Maid Insurance 


$260 to $450


$7,383 and up

$1,230 and up


While the cost of using a maid agency is much higher, it will save you time and trouble from processing the paperwork. Also, an agency usually has a few candidates available for interview and selection. You will be given two chances to replace your helper within 6 months in case she performs poorly or is not the right fit for your family. However, there will be some additional charges for the newly selected helper.

Employing a helper is something one should think about carefully. If you are financially ready to seek help from maid agencies, then you should go for it. Otherwise, it is cheaper to direct hire a maid where you will have more control over employing the maid of your choice. However, you must be prepared to shoulder more responsibilities and handle any potential problems that might occur. The best advice when directly employing a helper is to take your time in interviewing or screening your potential helpers. Once you are fully decided on the helper of your choice, you should learn how to manage them.

A transfer maid can be very skilled as she has more experiences in maid services. If you plan to hire a maid in Singapore, ensure that you comply with the needed requirements from the Ministry of Manpower to acquire the work permit of your domestic worker.

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