Car prices in Singapore are steep. Very steep. Fortunately the city state has an amazing public transport system that is lauded by just about every foreigner, tourist, expat, you name it, that has visited or lived on the island. So chances are you probably wont be needing to drive in Singapore.
However, just on the off-chance that you do need to drive during your time in Singapore, the country does have a welcoming policy towards drivers with an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP can be purchased for about US$15 in the USA and must be applied for at least six months before the date in which you plan to use it.
Foreign drivers in Singapore may use their foreign license for the first twelve months of residence in the country. After that, they must obtain a Singapore license by taking a theory test. Foreigners will typically be issued with a time-limited license which, typically, must be renewed every five years. If the license has expired for more than three years, a new license must be obtained by re-taking the theory test.
Once converted, you’re likely to receive a class 3 license that covers the following:
Class 3 – Manual Transmission Vehicle: Motor cars less than 3000kg in weight (about 6600lbs) with less than seven passengers, exclusive of the driver.
If your driving license covers automatic vehicles only, you’ll likely receive a class 3A license which is exactly the same as the Class 3 license with the exception that you won’t be allowed to drive a manual.
The driving side in Singapore is on the left (the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the vehicle). Which is the same side as The United Kingdom, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, Ireland, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Australia, most of the Caribbean and some African countries. If you’re unsure about driving on a different side of the road to your home country, you can search online for “driver refresher courses in Singapore” to find yourself a suitable course that will get you accustomed to the roads.
Don’t forget the rules
Like almost everything in Singapore, there are strict rules and stricter penalties for disobeying them. If you’re a law abiding driver you have nothing to fear and you can just continue as usual. It’s not uncommon however to face a SGD$3000 fine for speeding through red lights just as they’ve changed (which I’ve heard that you can get away with this in some places). At the end of the day, Singapore is a very busy city and accidents on the road caused by dangerous driving can result in massive tailbacks; so no wonder that penalties are strict for reckless driving. For more information about the rules and regulations on the road in Singapore, visit this website: http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/road-safety-and-regulations/road-regulations.html.
If you’ve not yet reached Singapore and are thinking of relocating there. Think again about using a car in Singapore as they are a needless expense. Public transport is extremely efficient and taxis are easily available and cheap.
Happy (expensive) driving!
For more information about driving in Singapore, you can do so via the following channels:
1. Call the Traffic Police Information Centre at +65 6547 0000.
2. Visit the Singapore Police Force’s driving website at: http://driving-in-singapore.spf.gov.sg/
3. Visit the website of the Singapore Land Transport Authority: http://www.lta.gov.sg