Driving in Singapore

How to drive in Singapore
Updated 2022-06-01 14:12

Singapore has an efficient public transportation system coupled with excellent taxi services, with phone apps providing very affordable car rides. For those who would still like to drive, it might be necessary to apply for a license, depending on your residency status.

Driving in Singapore for temporary visitors

Tourists or temporary visitors to Singapore can drive using a valid foreign license (so long as you're over 18 years of age and have a valid work or student pass) and an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by the authorities in your home country. In general, international permits are issued by the authorities issuing driving permits, although other bodies, such as the Automobile Association (AA), might also be able to deliver international licenses. Official English translations are required in the absence of international licenses.

If you come from one of the ASEAN states (Association of South-East Asian Nations), you can drive in Singapore without an international permit. For further details on how to obtain translations or international licenses, you need to contact the authorities that have issued your current license, as these tend to vary and change over time.

Driving in Singapore for long-term residents

After 12 months in Singapore, it's compulsory to obtain a local license. Permanent residents, students, and long-term residents need to apply for a local driving license. When applying, you'll be required to prove the legitimacy of your stay; this can be done by providing details of an employment contract or details of your course of study. New citizens and permanent residency holders need to convert their foreign licenses within three months of obtaining their new status.

To apply for a local license, you'll need to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT) in one of the three approved schools in Singapore. If you don't already have a license, then you'll need to pass the BTT, as well as the Advanced Theory Test and Practical Driving Test. If successful, the next step is to exchange your national driving license for a local license at a Traffic Police Driving Test Centre.

Documents required include:

  • Original and photocopy of your passport and residency documentation
  • Original and photocopy of your valid foreign driving license
  • A recent passport-sized matte, color photograph of yourself with a white background (further details are available online)
  • A processing fee of S$50 (payment is only possible through a cash card or NETS card)
  • A translation of your driving license (if not in English)
  • Details of the first date of issue of your license

Note that there are further documentation requirements for Singapore citizens and permanent residents. This includes documentation that you've worked or studied in a foreign country for a year or more. If your driving permit has expired, you need to seek documentation showing details of when you passed your test, the date of issue of your license, as well as your driving record details.

Driving licenses issued to foreigners will be valid for a period of five years from the date on which the license is issued. Renewals should then be carried out within a month of the date of expiry of the license. Licenses issued to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents have unlimited validity and don't need to be renewed.

Special cases

Licenses for heavy vehicles can't be converted, and applicants will be required to enroll in a driving school and pass relevant driving tests before being allowed to drive in Singapore. The same applies to motorcycle licenses, which are granted automatically with motorcar licenses in some countries. If you wish to ride a motorcycle, you need to pass relevant tests and can't automatically convert your license.

Good to know:

Singaporeans drive on the left!

Useful links:

Singapore Traffic Police

The International Driving License Service

Singapore Police Force

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