Some passport holders may enter Brunei for a period of up to 90 days without a visa. This will depend on your nationality. For example, entry to and transit through Brunei is refused to Israeli citizens. If you intend to stay for longer than 90 days and/or are visiting for purposes other than tourism, you will need to obtain the necessary visa from your embassy, consular or diplomatic mission before you travel. Before exiting the airport, you must make sure that you have been given your entry stamp, as there are strict penalties for those who overstay their visas. Penalties include fines, imprisonment, and even whipping or caning.
Your passport should have a minimum validity of at least six months from the date you enter Brunei. Brunei does not recognise dual nationality, and you can even be arrested for attempting to enter the country while in possession of two passports of different nationalities. Many official government websites strongly advise those travelling to Brunei to familiarise themselves with local laws and customs. There may be serious penalties and/or severe punishments for doing something that might not be considered illegal in your home country.
Since 2014, Brunei has been implementing the introduction of a Sharia Penal Code, running in parallel with the Common Law, the final phase of which was introduced in April 2019. The majority of laws under Common Law and the Sharia Penal Code apply to all people in Brunei, regardless of nationality or religion. Adultery, or indeed close proximity between unmarried men and women, is illegal if one party is a Muslim. Homosexual activity is illegal. It is considered a great offence to openly criticise Islam or members of the Royal Family. Drug offences often carry the death penalty.
There are a few different types of visa available for those wishing to live and/or work in Brunei. They are as follows:
If you are transiting through Brunei International Airport, and will be there for less than 24hrs, then you do not require a visa. If you will be in transit for more than 24hrs, you can obtain a transit visa for up to 72hrs. Nationals of India, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will require a “sponsor”, such as an airline or a travel agent, in order to obtain a transit visa. The transit visa is not available to nationals of Cuba, Israel or North Korea.
Tourist and visitor visas
The Government of Brunei Darussalam allows citizens of specific countries and territories to travel to Brunei for tourism for a period of 14, 30 or 90 days (depending on nationality) without having to obtain a visa.
If you do not qualify for the visa exemption, you will need to secure a tourist or visitor visa from your local embassy or consulate.
You will also require supporting documents, such as:
• A valid passport with a minimum validity of at least six months upon entry and at least one blank visa page
• Proof of sufficient funds
• Proof of onward travel or return airline tickets
• Documents showing proof of purpose for your trip
• Any applicable documents required for your next destination
• Any applicable visa for your next destination
Work visa / employment pass
Foreign workers wishing to work in Brunei, and working professionals on long-term business contracts, will need to obtain a work visa (also referred to as an employment pass) that has been authorised by the Department of Immigration and National Registration. This can be obtained from your local embassy or consulate and is valid for a period of two years. This can then be renewed for another two years with no cap on renewal.
If you are going to be working in Brunei for a period of longer than three months, you will need to get registered on the national registration identity card system for a green identity card, also known as a ‘smart identity card’ or an “IC”. This is issued by the Immigration and National Registration Department, and will need to be renewed each time your work visa / employment pass is renewed. Nationals of Malaysia and Singapore are exempted.
The prerequisites and document requirements for the work visa / employment pass in Brunei Darussalam are as follows:
• Your employer must hold a quota license issued by the Labour Department
• You will need an approval letter from the Immigration and National registration Department
• You will need to hold a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of entry
• Payment of appropriate visa fee
A business visa is issued to professionals who have been invited to Brunei for business matters and is valid for a stay of up to 30 days. The type of documents that you will require for a business visa are as follows:
• Completed and signed visa application form.
• A recent (within the last six months) passport-sized photo of you
• Your original passport with a minimum of six months validity; it must also have at least two blank pages for your stamps and visa
• Photocopies of your passport
• Photocopies of your residence permit in the country you reside in (if applicable)
• Confirmed and paid flight itinerary
• A supporting letter from your employer; this should be on company letterhead paper, include your full name, specify the purpose of your journey, detail the name and address of the organisation that you will visit for business purposes and include the names of your business contacts. It must also include a section that admits financial liability, state your monthly salary, and be signed by your supervisor/manager or your company’s HR department.
• An approval letter from the Brunei Immigration Department. The inviting company will need to file an application for this prior to your arrival with the Immigration Headquarters in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Students will need an offer from a university prior to applying for a student visa in order to study in Brunei Darussalam, along with other supporting documents.
Prior to arrival, you will need the following:
• Completed and sign visa application forms
• Letter of acceptance from University
• Record of medical examination
• Documentation for any applicable security clearance
• Proof of sufficient finances
• Proof of insurance
When travelling to Brunei, ensure you have the following in your hand luggage, ready to present to immigration authorities:
• Valid passport with at least six months validity
• Your visa
• Your medical report
• Your insurance documents
Some international students may wish to bring their family (i.e. spouse and/or dependent children) to Brunei with them for the duration of their study. Your family will be legally required to apply for a dependant’s pass at the Immigrations Office. In order to obtain a dependant’s pass for your family, you should ensure, prior to making travel arrangements, that you either have a guarantor or a monthly income of $1500.00 (BND) or above. Some universities will have accommodation suitable for students with families on campus, but other universities may only have accommodation off campus, or require you to seek a private rental arrangement.
Also known as the dependant’s pass, this is for eligible candidates’ families, such as their spouses and/or any dependent children, and is renewable every three months. Depending on your work visa and eligibility, you may also require some supporting documents for your application, such as your valid visa and/or work permit, your marriage certificate, birth certificates of any dependant children, as well as their passports and copies of their passports, and a supporting letter from your employer or place of study. You will also require proof of sufficient income or a guarantor.
Dependent children are also allowed to attend either a private or public school, according to the guidelines stated by the Ministry of Education and Immigrations Office. In this case, you will additionally require a letter of admission for the school of your choice for your dependent children, and potentially a supporting letter from the Department of Schools.
As a foreign worker, you will need to secure a job prior to making travel arrangements to Brunei and applying for any work permits. Students wishing to study in Brunei will require a letter of acceptance from their chosen place of study before making their visa application.
In order for a foreign worker to receive a job offer from a Brunei employer, the employer must first register and advertise the job locally, after which they can receive clearance from JobCentre Brunei and endorsement from the Employees Trust Fund (Tabung Amanah Pekerja aka TAP) to apply for a work licence that they can offer a foreign employee. This work permit license is known as Lesen Pekeria Asing (also referred to as an LPA).
In order to be eligible for a work permit through the LPA license scheme, your potential employer will require the following documentation:
• Signed and completed Labour Form 500
• A visa application form
• Employment pass application form, signed and completed
• A copy of the application letter from your employer to the Director of Immigration and National Registration
• A copy of your employers labour license
• Two copies of your Foreign Worker application form
• A copy of your identity card
• A copy of your valid passport
• If applicable, approval letters from any relevant government agencies
• Copies of your education and qualification certificates
• Payment of any required fees
Long-term residential pass
Colour card system
Brunei has a colour card system for those residing in the country. If you are residing in Brunei for a specified period of time, such as on a three-year study course at the university, then you will be issued a green Brunei residency card.
If you apply to stay in Brunei as a permanent resident and your application is successful, you will be issued with a red Brunei residency pass.
Citizens of Brunei are issued with a yellow residency card.
Getting accepted as a permanent resident in Brunei is an extremely difficult and lengthy process. If you are married to a Brunei citizen, you must be married and reside in Brunei for a minimum period of 10 years before you become eligible to submit an application for permanent residency. If you were born in the country but your parents do not hold Brunei citizenship, you must also wait a minimum period of 10 years before you are eligible to apply for permanent residency.
If neither of these are applicable to you, you will need to have worked and resided in Brunei for a minimum period of 15 years before you become eligible to apply for permanent residence in the country.
Your chances may be improved if you are a highly skilled professional, such as a doctor or an engineer, or you have invested in (or run) a business in Brunei.