Why does the Ethnicity Eligibility Criteria exist?

When buying or selling HDB, you may have encountered restrictions by the Ethnicity Eligibility Criteria. What is it, and how do you find out whether you qualify for a HDB unit under these restrictions?

A Brief History

One crucial part of Singapore’s unique identity is definitely its multi-racialism and culturalism, or ‘rojak-ness’, to put it in simpler and more familiar terms. This is one of the nation’s many strengths as it prides itself in being a diverse yet peaceful and harmonious nation. Hence, the appearance of ethnic enclaves in Housing Development Board (HDB) estates in the 1980s was a growing cause for concern. At that time, for example, approximately 15% of the population was Malay, but Malay households made up around 30% of housing estates like Tampines and Bedok. Likewise, in Hougang, around 90% of the households were Chinese, though only around 75% of the population was Chinese.


To address this issue and promote racial harmony and integration in HDB estates, the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) was introduced in 1989. The policy aims to ensure that there is a diverse mix of different races in the HDB estates. . Every block and neighbourhood has a certain ethnic quota set by the government, based on each race’s respective proportion of the population. The percentage of Malays permitted was 22% and 25% in each neighbourhood and block respectively. As for Chinese, the percentage permitted was 84% and 87% respectively while other minorities like Indians, percentages were reduced to 10% and 13% respectively.

This policy only applies to the sale of new and resale flats from 1 March 1989 onwards. When selling their flats, owners had to make sure that the buyer would not affect the racial balance of that block and neighbourhood. Households consisting of members of different ethnic groups can choose to classify under the race of any of the owners/spouses when purchasing a flat, based on the race shown in their NRIC.

SPR Quota

HDB also introduced the SPR quota for each block and neighbourhood, restricting the number of non-Malaysian SPR households. This quota serves to ensure that Singapore permanent residents will be able to integrate into the local community more easily. Malaysian households are excluded as they have similar historical and cultural experiences. Thus, non-Malaysian SPR households would have to make sure that they fall under the specified limits set as well. The SPR quota set for each neighbourhood and block is 5% and 8% respectively.

Now that you know more about the EIP and SPR, to find out whether you are eligible to buy a HDB resale flat under the quotas, click here to find out more with this HDB e-service.


Ethnic Integration Policy Is Implemented – Singapore History, http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/history/events/d8fea656-d86e-4658-9509-974225951607#1.

 “Ethnic Integration Policy and SPR Quota.” Ethnic Integration Policy and SPR Quota – Housing & Development Board (HDB), https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-a-flat/resale/ethnic-integration-policy-and-spr-quota.

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