How To Move To Brunei
The complete guide!

Find A Job

Brunei is an appealing prospect for many expats: located in SE Asia, this small nation is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a high standard of living and some commensurately high salaries, too. You will find a range of jobs available, from education to banking, tourism and the oil and gas sector. Skilled professionals are in demand: finding casual work could be a problem although there are lower paid openings in the hospitality industry, but we will look at some of your best options below.

You will need an Employment Permit if you want to work in Brunei but it is possible to enter the country on another type of visa and then seek employment. Some countries – Australia, the UK and the USA among them – have reciprocal visa arrangements with Brunei, and you can enter the country without a visa for allocated periods of time (90 days in the case of the UK/USA).

Overseas employment is controlled via a quota system, based on skills shortages. Your employment permit will therefore be for a specific amount of time and must be renewed after this point (it is illegal to work without one). Any company which hires foreign nationals must pay a security deposit to the government.

You will also need to have a series of medical tests proving that you are fit to work (diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C will rule this out, for example, and so will pregnancy).

Expats in Brunei report that local bureaucracy can run slowly and it can take up to a year to obtain your employment permit. Some expat workers wait until the permit is sorted out before relocating to the country.

Note that you will also need an employment permit if you are self employed: in this case you will also need to submit your business plan. You are more likely to be successful in obtaining an employment permit for self employment if you are providing jobs for the local workforce as opposed, for example, to being a sole operator.

Brunei operates on a quota system designed to fill any skills gaps. Skilled professionals for upper management in the finance industry are in demand, along with qualified teachers for private schools, although some expats have noted that local employers tend to prefer to employ Bruneians.

The oil and gas sector, which consists of a number of international companies, hires the highest percentage of expat workers. Brunei Shell Petroleum, for instance, operates in conjunction with Royal Dutch Shell. The construction industry also takes on a large number of overseas personnel.

The national airline (Royal Brunei Airlines) and national telecom (Telekom Brunei) also offer jobs to overseas nationals. A number of pilots in the RBA are foreign nationals. There are a large number of workers in the hospitality industry, for instance in hotels and restaurants, but this sort of work tends to be lower paid and is usually not staffed by Westerners.

The official language of Brunei is Malay, but English is also commonplace; you will have an advantage as an English-language speaker.

Typical working hours run from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and then from 1 p.m – 5 p.m. Working hours may be shorter during Ramadan, but this may only apply to Islamic workers. You may find that your weekend runs from Thursday/Friday or from Friday/Saturday, as Friday is the traditional Islamic day for prayer, but you may also find that you are expected to work a 6 day week. Many employees clock up a 47 hour working week, one of the longest in the world.

Brunei does not have a minimum wage and you will need to negotiate your salary with your employer. The kind of salary that you can command will obviously depend on the sector and on your professional status, but on average an engineer or IT manager can earn around US$40K per annum, and a general manager around US$60K.

Work permits are not automatically issued to spouses and if your partner wants to work, then they must apply for a separate employment permit. Casual work is difficult to find.

 

Job Vacancies

You can make speculative applications, but note the criteria for obtaining a work permit above. If you are intending to seek work in the hospitality industry, you may find that this sort of work is mainly available to locals and you will not be granted an employment permit for it.

Brunei has regular job fairs within the country. There are also a number of online jobs boards which will cover vacancies in Brunei.

 

Applying For A Job

CVs are important in Brunei and it is recommended that you are as comprehensive as possible. Some job sites allow you to upload your CV and accompanying documents, such as your proof of qualifications.

Brunei is now under Sharia law and some forms of freedoms of the West – such as LGBT relationships – are illegal in the country. This can affect your chances of employment. Some companies will also state that they prefer male workers.

 

Qualifications And Training

As with most nations, the more highly qualified you are, the better your chances of obtaining employment. Brunei’s main industry is oil and gas, so if you have qualifications and experience in this sector, you may find suitable vacancies awaiting you.

If you are planning to teach English, note that TEFL jobs may be limited. The country already has a high standard of English and the educational system uses English as its primary language. If you are intending to seek work in the private educational system, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree as well as a TEFL certificate.

 

Apply For A Visa/Permit

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.

 

Visas

There are a few different types of visa available for those wishing to live and/or work in Brunei. They are as follows:

Transit visa

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

Business visa

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
• 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.

Student visa

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:

• Passport, valid for at least six months
• 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 pass at the Immigrations Office. In order to obtain a 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.

Marriage/family/dependants visa

This is for the families of eligible candidates, 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.

 

Work permits

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

 

Residency

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.

Permanent residence

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.

 

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

 

Renting Property

Finding a comfortable home to rent in Brunei will help you settle in more quickly. Some care and preparation will help you avoid legal and financial pitfalls.

Brunei Offers A Variety Of Accommodation

Brunei is a small country with a population of just over 400,000 people. A little more than half of the nation’s terrain is covered in forests and rainforest.

Around four in every 10 residents has moved to Brunei from other countries, attracted by the wealth and employment that vast petroleum and oil reserves generate. Until 2017, all migrants were forbidden from owning land or property in Brunei. This law has now changed, so property can be owned by an international citizen through a strata title, which lasts for a maximum of 99 years. However, many expats will continue to rent, either because of affordability issues or their plans to return home at some stage.

The government of Brunei provides subsidised housing, water, oil and electricity to its population. This helps to keep many living costs low despite the import costs of clothing and food, which can make those items expensive. Citizens enjoy the benefits of a free healthcare system, while their children receive free education right through to university level.

However, accommodation costs for the average expat are fairly high, especially in the desirable city areas. The good news, though, is that accommodation standards are generally high. You can find everything from a small apartment in a busy city street to a detached house out in the suburbs. Brunei is a safe country, although automatic gates and security fencing protect many properties.

Finding Accommodation

If you are moving to Brunei to take up a job offer with an employer who is used to international recruitment, you may be lucky enough to have your accommodation arranged or even provided for you.

If not, you are strongly advised to stay in short term accommodation while you locate a longer-term place to stay. Estate agencies generally have well designed sites with lots of photographs of the available properties, brief descriptions of the rooms in each home and maps showing their locations. However, in any country, property photographs will not capture the downsides of the location or condition of rooms. The potential for nearby sources of noise, damp ceilings or smelly drainage systems all need to checked before you hand over money and sign a contract.

Your new colleagues in Brunei may recommend estate agents or landlords to contact. If not, why not reach out to the ExpatFocus community for advice? Our Brunei Forum and private Facebook group for expats in Brunei are both free to join.

Furnished And Unfurnished Property

The majority of properties available for rent in Brunei will be furnished. You will pay a higher rent, but this saves you the time, hassle and expense of locating an entire household of new furniture and fittings. You can typically expect to find a working hob, fridge, sink and microwave in the kitchen, with a TV in the living room.

Do be clear about what is included before you agree to rent, in case something has been placed in the property just for show. The landlord will normally compile a contents list which you should ask to check before you sign the contract.

If you decide to find an unfurnished property, be realistic about the budget you will need to start from scratch. Brunei has to import a lot of goods, which raises the sale price, and people generally underestimate how many items and how much money it takes to turn a bare set of rooms into a home.

When you move in, carefully check that everything on the contents list is present and is not marked or damaged in any way. Take a lot of photographs, especially where something is not in perfect condition. You could even ask the landlord or estate agent to be present when this is done. You should then sign the contents list accordingly.

Repeat this exercise when you move out. If you have problems getting your security deposit back, these photos will help enormously.

Tenancy Agreements

Once you have found the property you want to rent, the estate agent or landlord must check your identification, your right to stay in Brunei, and your financial position. You must remember to present the original documents, including your passport, visa, employment contract and bank statements.

Make sure you sign a tenancy agreement for your rental property in Brunei. If you don’t, you leave yourself vulnerable to sudden price hikes or very little notice to vacate the premises. A tenancy agreement protects all parties as long as it clearly sets out the terms and conditions, including the length of time you are entitled to remain as tenants, the notice required by either party, and the intervals at which the rent can be increased.

Your tenancy agreement will typically be in English. If it isn’t and you don’t speak Malay, ask for a written translation to be provided. English is commonly spoken in Brunei, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

As already discussed, check that the tenancy agreement includes a contents list which matches what is present in the property. In addition, make sure you understand all costs you will be liable for beyond the rent. For example, an apartment block may have regular and mandatory cleaning or maintenance charges levied. Some properties could have some utility costs included in the rent (such as water), while other landlords will expect you to pay all your own bills.

The Up-Front Costs Of A Tenancy Agreement

A landlord will generally expect you to pay for the first month of rent in advance, along with an equal amount for the security deposit. If the contents of the property are valuable, the deposit may be higher.

You must pay these bills by bank transfer. Never pay in cash for the deposit or any of the rental payments, even if you are offered a discount to do so. This implies tax evasion by the other party, and increases the risk that your money won’t be returned at the end of the contract.

Ideally, the money would be transferred into a bank account in the joint names of you and the landlord, with a requirement that you would both be present when it is withdrawn. In reality, this is very rare and you will be expected to trust the landlord to return the deposit when you move out.

If you have a signed tenancy agreement showing the amount of deposit paid, have transferred all monies electronically so you have an independent record of the transactions and taken photos when you left showing all contents were present and in good condition, then you have strong evidence to present to a small claims court should the landlord attempt to keep your deposit.

Break Clauses

As an expat, it is always a good idea to ask for a break clause to be added to the tenancy agreement, stipulating that at any point you can give three months’ notice to terminate the property.

If you don’t do this and you lose your job – which means you also lose your right to continue living in Brunei – the landlord can legally ask you to keep paying the rent until the end of the agreed period. A sympathetic landlord may try to find new tenants as quickly as they can, but they are under no obligation to do so.

A break clause would limit the loss to three months’ rent, and you could even agree with the landlord that you pay two months if they keep the security deposit in lieu of the third month.

Bringing Workers Into Your Home

Before allowing domestic workers and gardeners into your home when you are not there, check their references and legal right to work in the country. You might even ask an estate agent or other agency to arrange this help on your behalf.

Rental Property Insurance

The landlord is normally responsible for insuring the building. They will probably also insure the furniture and items included in the contents list.

However, you are likely to have a number of possessions of your own. If the property catches fire or floods, the cost of replacing all your items will quickly add up. Insurance will help alleviate this situation, but this is for you to arrange as the landlord won’t insure your possessions.

 

Buying Property

In 2017, the government of Brunei allowed migrants to buy property through a strata title. We take a look at what this means for expats.

Announcement Of The New Property Law

Until 2017, migrants were banned from buying land or property in Brunei. They could apply to lease land, but approval was rarely given.

However, during the 14th Southeast Asia Survey Congress (SEASC) 2017, in a Gadong hotel ballroom, a representative from the Land Department of Brunei made a presentation called ‘Strata Title Management’. As mundane as this event sounds, it brought significant news to expats living in Brunei.

These people would now be allowed to purchase land and property in the nation, subject to approval, on condition that this land was held under a strata title for 99 years.

This move recognised the long-term residency of many of the travellers who came to live and work in Brunei. Some had spent decades renting accommodation, but now had a choice to invest in a long-term home.

As Brunei Darussalam attempts to diversify its economy and so reduce its reliance on the oil and gas markets, the property market is one sector which is ready to grow.

It is hoped that the changes will stimulate the nation’s property market and increase investment in domestic building construction projects. This should increase employment opportunities for a long chain of professions, including architects, developers, bricklayers, joiners, roofers, electricians, plumbers, kitchen and bathroom installers, tilers, interior designers and decorators. In addition, stores selling furniture, appliances and household accessories are likely to benefit from new owners turning their properties into long-term, comfortable homes.

The New Procedure For Buying Property

Firstly, you will have to make a formal application to the Land Department. They will reply in writing, setting out the terms and conditions for the strata titles on that plot.

Next, a licensed surveyor and a valuer should inspect the property. They will prepare reports, which will be forwarded to the Survey Department.

The Land Department will verify the strata plan and forward this to the Survey Department. The Survey Department now certifies the strata title diagram and finally, the Land Department registers the strata units.

Find A Reputable Lawyer

Rather than navigate your way round this system yourself, it should be handled by a lawyer. You should select a lawyer who has property expertise and is independent of your estate agent, property developer or bank. Even if you are offered an introduction to a lawyer by one of these parties for a discount or special price, ignore it. You need to be represented by someone who only works in your best interest and who you can trust to bring all relevant issues to your attention. Buying property is probably one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make, so you have to be sure that it is a rock-solid investment.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has compiled a PDF list of English-speaking lawyers based in Brunei.

Whilst this list explicitly states it does not recommend these lawyers on behalf of the FCO, it gives you a good place to start your search. Each firm’s address and phone number is included, along with information about their specialisms.

Colleagues and other expats are often a good source of recommendations. It is free to sign up to the ExpatFocus Brunei Forum and the ExpatFocus private Facebook group for expats in Brunei, so you can use these resources to ask for advice.

Estate Agents

There are many estate agencies operating in Brunei, concentrated in urban areas. Their websites list current properties for sale and can be searched by area, price, number of bedrooms and so on. Each property has at least one photograph and usually at least one picture of every room in the house.

New developments rely on the artistic impressions of what the property will look like when it is completed.

When you approach an estate agent, ask about their fees. If they intend to offer a tour of several houses and to negotiate on your behalf in exchange for a fee, you need to have this given to you in writing before you start.

Never buy a property without seeing it in person. You will be investing a lot of money, if not your life savings, in your new purchase. Every aspect of the property has to be examined and considered in the context of your employment and family requirements. Photographs can make rooms look bigger than they are, and you can only assess whether the location and layout work for you when you are physically present.

If you are buying a property off-plan, before the builder has completed the project, be even more careful. While additional legal costs are not helpful when you are already making a large purchase, asking your lawyer to do extra work to check out the project will protect your overall investment. If you later discover the property was sold several times, with each party paying an up-front deposit, or that the developer has gone bankrupt half way through the build, you will lose far more than the search fees of a good lawyer would have cost you.

Obtaining a Mortgage

In the Banking section of this country guide, we have listed the top banks of Brunei. Each of them offers mortgage and loan products.

However, mortgage loan values aren’t negligible, meaning that each bank makes an assessment of the risk that an applicant will default on their mortgage repayments. If you are new to Brunei, you are a higher risk because you may decide to return home and hand in the property keys without settling the debt. Therefore, the bank may apply a high interest rate or even reject your application.

Even if a bank makes a quick decision to lend to you, you will need to spend a few hours working out whether the repayments are affordable and if you could purchase your home by other means. For example, do you have a property in your home country which could be mortgaged more cheaply and so release the funds you need in Brunei?

Whenever you are reviewing your financial situation, work out what you would do if your finances change. Babies usually bring a combination of higher costs and lower household income. Sickness or redundancy means you lose both your income and your right to live in Brunei in one fell swoop. Do you have enough savings ringfenced to pay your bills, including the mortgage repayments, for long enough to allow your home to be sold and the funds handed over to you?

On the positive side, there are many up and coming areas of Brunei as the new property laws are implemented and new buyers arrive to the market. Commercial developments in particular can bring up nearby residential values as they are a magnet for new businesses, jobs and homes.

Connecting Utilities In Your New Home

Water and electricity supplies in Brunei are provided and sold through government owned providers; that is, the Department of Water Services and the Department of Electrical Services. Utility supplies are affordable and it is easy to arrange connection. On the downside, rural areas can suffer occasional electrical blackouts, although these are typically resolved quickly.

You are likely to be asked for evidence of your personal identity, and your right to stay in the country. A deposit might also be required prior to connection but this won’t be outrageous and will allow you to establish a credit history with the utility services.

The electricity system, which uses 220-240 volts, is accessed using a three-pin plug. Expats from the UK can therefore bring their electrical items from home. However, if you came from a country using a two-pin system, new items can be readily found at any shopping centre.

If you want to know more about the electricity, water and gas supplies, including how to pay your utility bills, head across to the Utilities section of this country guide.

 

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Brunei health insurance

Even if you enjoy perfect health, make sure you arrive in Brunei with good medical insurance cover.

Vaccinations Required For Brunei

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) gives clear information about the vaccinations you should receive before visiting Brunei.

Whilst a small number of people believe vaccinations are unhealthy or unnecessary, the diseases vaccinations protect against are unpleasant, can lead to lifelong disability and may even kill. You should have a discussion with your medical practitioner at least eight weeks before travel to Brunei to ensure you are fully protected, for the benefit of yourself and society.

Bringing Your Prescription Medicine To Brunei

Naive migrants can find themselves in prison cells around the world for inadvertently breaking drug trafficking laws. If you need to bring any medicine to Brunei, read this section carefully.

You are likely to be able to obtain your prescription medicine in Brunei, but it is worth checking this out before your arrival. Each country or region has its own drug laws, and a medication that is legal in one may be unlicensed in another. If necessary, contact the Brunei Consulate in your home country at least two weeks before you leave.

In addition, Royal Brunei Airlines may have their own rules. You should check their website and, if necessary, contact the airline for guidance.

If you bring medication into Brunei with you, make sure it is in your hand luggage and declared on entry. Bring along evidence of your prescription written in English, such as a letter from a family doctor or GP. This should set out what your condition is as well as the type and amount of medicine required. Most of the time your verbal explanation will be acceptable, but a letter will be sufficient evidence if a query or problem arises.

Should you need further assistance, call for help from the nearest Consul for the country which issued the passport you are using.

As we covered in the Visas section of this country guide Brunei does not recognise dual citizenship. You need to choose which passport to use before your ticket and visa are arranged, and to understand that this is the only citizenship you can claim once in Brunei.

Paying For Healthcare In Brunei

The public sector healthcare system in Brunei, run by the Ministry of Health, has a good reputation. However, if you are not a citizen or permanent resident (a status for which you will not be able to apply until you have lived legally in the country for 10 to 15 years), then you cannot access these services. You are entirely responsible for your medical treatment and healthcare costs, which will be accessed as a private patient.

European people who are used to free or subsidised healthcare could find the concept of fully private medical services daunting. The safest route is to obtain private health insurance which will pay the costs of treatment at a time you most need to protect your savings.

The cost of healthcare insurance must be one of the factors you include when considering whether to move to Brunei. For US expats, the costs of medical treatment in Brunei is likely to result in a reduction in the cost of your monthly insurance payments, but you should check this before heading out to your new home.

Buying A Healthcare Policy As An Expat

Obtain several quotes before you sign up for a healthcare insurance policy to ensure you get the best value for money. However, remember that the cost of a policy is not the only factor to be considered. All policies come with a detailed set of terms and conditions, some of which will contain important exclusions.

Always tell your insurer about pre-existing conditions. This might make a small difference to your monthly costs, but finding out that your insurance is invalid because you kept something secret will cost you dearly if the worst happens.

As unpalatable as this subject is, especially when you are fit and well and cannot conceive of a time your health fails you, the policy you take out must include:

● Both planned and emergency treatment

● Psychiatric care

● Air ambulance costs for treatment abroad or back home

● In the event of your death, flying you home for burial

When you apply for a visa to stay in Brunei, you are asked to deposit the cost of an airfare so you can return home if necessary. However, relocation incurs many more costs than just airfare. Consider how much you would need to return yourself, your possessions and your family home if you became ill or had a serious accident. Make sure you keep enough money set aside to cover these costs if needed.

Locating Good Medical Services In Brunei

It can be hard to make good decisions about choosing medical services, especially a family doctor, in a new country. The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office have published a list of local medical facilities and practitioners. Although this list doesn’t guarantee quality or reputation, it is a good place to start your search.

Other expats are usually happy to talk about their own experiences and recommend services. If you have yet to settle into an expat community in Brunei, why not reach out to some of the ExpatFocus readership for help? Both the ExpatFocus Brunei Forum and ExpatFocus Brunei Facebook Group are free to join, and could provide some of the answers you need.

What To Do In A Medical Emergency In Brunei

If you need an ambulance in Brunei, phone 991. Otherwise, attend a medical clinic or hospital emergency room via a taxi or a lift from a friend.

Contact your healthcare insurer at the first opportunity. If you keep your insurance details with you at all times, you will be able to give them to the reception desk on admission as well as contact the insurer quickly.

Other emergency phone numbers to keep handy are as follows.

● Royal Brunei Police Force: 993

● Fire service: 995

● Search and Rescue: 998

What To Do In Brunei Following A Road Traffic Accident

It is illegal to drive away from a road traffic accident in Brunei without first speaking to a police officer on the scene. Exchanging details with the other party is not enough.

You can contact the Royal Brunei Police Force on 993. If you or someone else is hurt, tell the operator immediately so they can send out an ambulance as well as the police response unit.

You may only use your UK or US driving license for the first three months in Brunei. After that, you must obtain a Brunei driving license. The police officer will ask to see it at the scene of the accident.

Alcohol is essentially illegal in Brunei with only one exception (that is, a private consumption import allowance for travellers), and it is culturally unacceptable. Illegal drug use is taken extremely seriously. If you drive after consuming alcohol or recreational drugs and have an accident, you can expect to find yourself in a prison cell within hours, closely followed by deportation.

Smoking In Brunei

The government of Brunei makes it difficult and expensive to get hold of cigarettes. There are no duty-free allowances of cigarette or tobacco products in the country, for example. In the global Tobacco Atlas comparison list, Brunei has the least number of smokers per head of population of any of the 182 countries analysed.

It is illegal to smoke in or near most public places. These include shopping areas, restaurants and cafes, bus stops, train stations, government buildings, hospitals and schools. Furthermore, no-one should be seen smoking in public during Ramadan fasting hours.

If you are caught smoking where it is prohibited, you will be given a fine. During Ramadan, you also run the risk of offending people as a result of your disrespect to the nation’s religious observance at this holy time of year.

Hire A Guide For Trekking In The Brunei Rainforest

Brunei is home to beautiful and varied rainforests, which are now central to the country’s ecological tourism market. Do not take a trek into the rainforest without a reputable guide, as it is a confusing place in which it is easy to get lost. Moreover, if you get bitten and fall ill, you need someone there to get help for you quickly.

The Poisonous Snakes Of Brunei

Brunei has 19 different types of venomous snake. They all inject poison through bites, but the Equatorial Spitting Cobra also spits poison into the face and eyes of their target. Each hospital has anti-venom stocks available. So in the event you are bitten by a snake (or if a limb swells up to suggest you have been bitten by a snake you didn’t even see), seek medical help immediately.

The venomous snakes you need to be aware of are:

● Banded Krait

● Red-Headed Krait

● Blue Coral Snake

● Malayan Striped Coral Snake

● Equatorial Spitting Cobra

● King Cobra

● Beaded Sea Snake

● Annulated Sea Snake

● Lesser Dusky Sea Snake

● Ornate Sea Snake

● Spiral Sea Snake

● Annandale’s Sea Snake

● Short Sea Snake

● Yellow Lipped Sea Krait

● Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

● Sumatran Pit Viper

● Sabah Green Pit Viper

● Bornean Pit Viper

● Bornean Keeled Green Pit Viper

Most of these snakes are rarely seen and stay in the rainforest, while others can be spotted in urban areas. A book called Venomous Snakes and Envenomation in Brunei by Indraneil Das and Joseph K. Charles gives information about each of these breeds. The book lists the places the snakes are most likely to be found, what time of day they are most active, and their particular habits.

Since snakes can effortlessly move through small spaces and up vertical objects, ensure you keep all windows well clear of flowers and trees. A video from Brunei released in 2017 shows an Equatorial Spitting Cobra attracted to a window because of the three kittens inside. It started spitting venom and striking forward against the glass in an attempt to bite the girl with the camera. Luckily the window was closed so no harm was done to any humans – or the kittens!

 

Open A Bank Account

Access to cash and banking facilities in Brunei is straightforward if you are living and working there legally.

Currency

The official currency of Brunei Darussalam is the Brunei Dollar (B$). One hundred sen make one dollar.

The website for the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) shows a gallery of the banknotes they issue.

However, the Brunei dollar is pegged against the Singaporean dollar. This has been in effect since the currency interchangeability agreement was ratified on June 12th, 1967. Consequently, the majority of retailers, taxi drivers and cafes will accept either the Brunei dollar or the Singaporean dollar without a problem.

ATM Availability

Brunei is a modern, developed, wealthy country. Therefore, 24-hour ATMs are easily found in all urban centres. Most bank websites show maps of their ATM and branch locations.

Debit And Credit Cards

You can use your debit and credit cards widely in Brunei. It’s best to carry cash in case you are paying a small business which doesn’t accept them, but that is increasingly the exception rather than the norm.

A US card may be refused if the four-digit PIN system is not in place. However, signature authorisations may be accepted depending on who you speak to and where you are.

If you use a debit or credit card which was issued in your home country, you will be charged a foreign transaction fee for every purchase in Brunei. In addition, the currency conversion used will change daily and may not be the best rate you can achieve.

This may be fine for tourists who are just staying for a week or two, but if you are living in Brunei for any length of time, these costs will quickly build up. The more you pay, the less you will have to spend or keep reserved for emergencies. Moreover, if your income is in Brunei dollars and your spend is in US dollars or British pounds, your purchasing power will change on a daily basis with every currency conversion.

If you can provide evidence of your identification, rental agreement and right to live in Brunei, you should be able to obtain a debit or credit card from any of the financial institutions located there. Then you can be sure from the start what your monthly budget is and what each card transaction will actually cost you.

The Banking Sector Of Brunei

There are seven banks licenced to operate in Brunei. Most of these are Islamic, but conventional banks do also have a presence.

Brunei’s central banking roles are performed by the AMBD. These include managing the nation’s currency, implementing monetary policies and supervising financial institutions. The Ministry of Finance regulates and monitors the nation’s banking sector through the Department of Financial Services and the Brunei Investment Agency.

If you are thinking of moving to Brunei to find employment in the banking sector, read the Visa and the Finding Employment sections of this country guide.

The Top Banks Of Brunei

Brunei has three major domestic banks.

● Perbadanan Tabung Amanah Islam Brunei (established 1991)

● Baiduri Bank (established 1994)

● Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (established 2005)

There are also several reputable banks operating in the country which have international group ownership.

● RHB Bank, Malaysia (founded 1965, renamed 1997)

● Maybank, Malaysia (established 1960)

● Standard Chartered Bank Brunei, British group (established 1958)

● CIMB Brunei, Thailand (opened 2005)

HSBC sold all its banking operations in Brunei to Baiduri Bank in 2017. As a result, HSBC no longer has a presence in Brunei.

As the government attempts to diversify the nation’s economy to reduce reliance on the petroleum and gas industry, one of the industries it would like to see expand is banking. Retail banking – the area that most households use – is not a particularly profitable part of the banking sector. Therefore, while there may be changes to the number and presence of bank branches in Brunei, these are unlikely to be significant, unless online banking is used to replace some of the less profitable branches.

Choosing A Bank Account

Banks in Brunei offer a range of current and savings accounts, along with ATM services and supporting products such as insurance. Mobile apps and electronic banking come as standard. Banking websites are modern and easily accessible in English.

Before opening a bank account in Brunei, it’s a good idea to look at your options. Do you know where the nearest branches are to your workplace or home? How many ATMs are in the area?

Just as importantly, read the terms and conditions of any bank account you are thinking about opening. Some will charge a monthly fee, but then pay interest on credit balances and don’t charge for transactions. Others have a number of transaction charges, meaning that sending money between countries can be particularly expensive. How you use your account will determine which is the best solution for your personal needs.

Opening A Bank Account

It will be easy to locate English-speaking staff in any bank branch in Brunei. However, due to the time required to open an account, you are advised to make an appointment first. This also allows you time to gather all the necessary documentation.

Alternately, you can usually open an account online and then come into a bank branch to present your supporting documentary evidence.

Banks are legally obliged to check the identity of anyone opening an account. That includes their residency status and current address. This means that the documents you will be asked for will include your passport, visa and rental agreement.

Furthermore, banks can be prosecuted and fined if their accounts are used for money laundering. As a result, you will probably be asked for evidence of your financial history and employment. Typically, the past three months of bank account statements and your employment contract will be sufficient.

Bank Branch Opening Hours

Each branch will have its own opening hours, and these are clearly displayed on most banking websites. Typical bank branch opening hours are:

Monday to Thursday: 9am to 4pm

Friday: 9am to 12noon and 2pm to 4pm

Saturday: 9am to 11:30 am

Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed

Between 12noon and 2pm every Friday, all businesses shut for prayers. This includes offices, shops, restaurants and banks.

 

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

Save On Money Transfers

Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers

Learn The Language

Situated on the north shore of the Island of Borneo in the South China sea, the former British colony of Brunei is now an independent sovereign Islamic state, surrounded (and divided into two regions), by the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Brunei’s population is approaching 440,000, two thirds of whom are Malay. Only about 10,000 people inhabit the tiny mountainous eastern region. There is a sizeable expat community from Australia, the United Kingdom, and many Asian countries.

Two thirds of the population identify as Muslim, and Brunei recently imposed Sharia law on its Muslim population. It is seen as a strict and conservative nation – the public sale of alcohol is banned, for example. Buddhism and Christianity are officially tolerated.

Brunei is classified as a developed nation, and by many metrics is the fifth richest in the world. It is one of only two countries in the world with 0% debt against GDP, 90% of which is generated from their significant oil and gas reserves. It has instigated a wide ranging programme to diversify the economy. Brunei has a good reputation for conservation, and still has large tracts of protected rain forest.

The official language in Brunei is Standard Malay, with English being the principle language used in business, and spoken by most of the population. Both languages are taught in schools to a very high standard, and the government officially supports and promotes the increased use of Standard Malay.

However, the principle spoken language in Brunei, and many of the surrounding coastal districts of Malaysia, is Bahasa Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay). To some Brunei Malay is a creole-like language, which can be mutually unintelligible to most Standard Malay speakers.

Additionally, there are several indigenous minority languages, and also several dialects of Chinese spoken in Brunei. Arabic is also widely taught, particularly in religious schools.

Although it is perfectly possible to function in the work environment using just English, learning or improving your Malay will naturally help you to communicate and settle better. We will explore both languages below.

If English is not your first language, you may wish to consider an online English course, or attending an international school. This is especially important if you need occupation-specific proficiency, for example in banking, finance, or medical English.

There are many courses in English available on the internet catering for all levels. Some will be free to a certain level. There are also several international language schools in Brunei with a wide variety of courses in English to help you when you arrive.

Daily commerce in Brunei will be in English, but these interactions will improve your level of proficiency fairly quickly, as you will essentially be immersed in the language and culture. You should also be able to find locals willing to coach you or perhaps encourage you by engaging in conversation over a coffee.

You may also wish to explore the idea of learning Malay, to be able to communicate better on the street, and especially if you wish to travel throughout Malaysia.

There are many excellent Malay language courses available on the internet, some free (if you don’t mind the advertising). There are also a number of Malay learning opportunities in Brunei.

Linguistic experts recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest and most reliable method to acquire or consolidate a new language. If you need to improve your English, this should be a matter of going about and engaging with the local population, reading English books or newspapers, and watching English-language TV or films without subtitles.

Similarly for learning or improving your Malay, immersing yourself in Malay language television and newspapers is a good plan.

Expat learners report that teaching standards are generally very good. There are also a few locals who offer private coaching, but out and about you may find it hard to practise, since the use of English is so widespread.

For conversation or practice, rely on your own knowledge and a good phrasebook rather than digital translation: although the main cities of Brunei have excellent internet connection, the wifi is sometimes slow and you may not be able to access your phone in all areas.

Brunei actively encourages expat employment, with a wide variety of skill sets in demand in oil, commerce, construction and engineering, to name but a few. A high standard of English will be expected.

Teaching English in Brunei is another possibility. There are several international schools, and contracts can be anything from six months upwards. These teaching jobs are available to anyone with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. Please note that it is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Rates of pay vary considerably, and if you are intending to stay long-term you need to factor in the cost of living, and your own desired lifestyle.

If you intend to teach English in Brunei, it is preferable to have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.

You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality or medical English.

 

Choose A School

Around 80% of the population of Brunei live in urban areas. The small size of the cities dictates the range and quality of education facilities provided, and with the additional factor that Brunei is a conservative Islamic country run under Sharia law for the Muslim population, there are huge difference between public and private education provisions.

Brunei spends around 4.5% of GDP on education, and its literacy rates are amongst the highest in the world, at around 97%.

State education in Brunei is well funded, and tuition for nationals is provided free of charge up to undergraduate level. Textbooks, food and travel are also provided. The Ministry of Education oversees general education in public and private schools, but the Ministry of Religious Affairs regulates the ugama – Islamic schools.

Bilingual study – Malay/English – is the norm in Brunei state schools, and general education in Brunei is compulsory from age 6 to 17. Religious schools operate under different rules.

However, the most important issue expats face when coming to Brunei, is that the public education system is not really geared up for them at all, so looking closely at the private/international sector is your only realistic option for the education of your children, unless your spouse is native and your children are fluent in Malay. Even then it is not easy to penetrate the state system as an expat. Furthermore, due to the relatively small size of the expat community, opportunities are limited.

Private (fee-paying) schools must still adhere to Ministry of Education regulations, and are closely scrutinized. They are of a good standard. You are always advised with private and international schools to read the small print as some may have ‘capital investment’ fees for maintenance/enhancement, and other charges.

Should you require it, day care for infants and pre-school kindergarten (ages 3 – 6) can be arranged locally. There are a small number of facilities in the capital and some in other locations, but the international schools both have nursery facilities.

International school terms run on the British timetable, from late August through to exams in June. School hours are generally 08:30 – 12:00, and up to 15:00 or later for older children, especially for extra-curricular activities and extra lessons if needed.

There are two international schools in Brunei, both CIS approved. The International School of Brunei – (1,100 pupils) is a private non-profit school which follows the National Curriculum of England, additionally offering both International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE) tuition and the full International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). Jerudong International School (1,600 pupils) operates the English National curriculum, offering GCSEs, A Levels, IGCSEs, and the full IBDP program.

Enrolment at either school can begin at nursery from age two, and tuition continues through to age 18. You will find that approximately half the students registered at either school are native Bruneian, with the remainder from over 40 other nations. However, the teaching language at both is English.

Fees need to be established with the individual school, but the IBDP may be additional, and textbooks and uniform and school trips are also at your additional expense.

Extracurricular activities vary, but inter-school sports opportunities are limited. Many expats enrol sporty children in local sports clubs.

Bruneians love their cars, and fuel is famously cheap here, which tends to mean that bus services are sporadic at best. Therefore both local and expat parents prefer to take their children to school themselves. Traffic around the schools is thus notoriously bad, and needs to be factored into your day!

Homeschooling is a legal option in Brunei, and there are organisations set up to assist those who may wish to take this route. You are advised to research it thoroughly, and make your intentions known to the Ministry as soon as possible. Extra-curricular activities such as sports will also be your responsibility.