Driving tips for expats in Singapore

02nd May 2018
Driving tips for expats in Singapore

For expatriates moving to Singapore from the UK, it’s important to be aware of differences when it comes to driving. There are some rules and regulations in Singapore that may be unfamiliar at first. Expatriates should also be aware of whether their British driving licence is valid and for how long, so they can legally drive after relocation. In this expat’s guide, we explore driving in Singapore and share some top tips for making a seamless transition.

Rules of the road

You may have decades of driving experience and have driven in many countries, but it’s always worth studying the rules and regulations of any new county you visit. In Singapore, you drive on the left, which is one less change to adapt to. Just as in the UK, the right-hand lane is for overtaking and should only be used for overtaking. There are penalties – usually a fine and points on your licence – for using the outside lane when not overtaking. You must also comply with all regulatory signs, which are in red or blue circles. These are mandatory, and non-compliance can again result in penalties. You can see all the mandatory signs and other road signs in Singapore on the One Motoring website. You must use your headlights between 7pm and 7am. If your car has automatic lights that respond to low light, be sure to check they come on at the right time and trigger manually if necessary. If you are moving to Singapore with children, they will need appropriate car seats. Children under 1.35m will need the correct seat for their height and weight. Standard speed limits are 50km/hour (31 miles/hour) on normal roads and 70-90km/hour (43-56 miles/hour). You should reduce your speed for tunnels. The blood alcohol limit in Singapore is the same as it is in the UK, which is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. You should also be aware of strict parking restrictions.

Driving licences

Expats can use their British driving licence for up to 12 months, but then it must be converted to a Singapore driving licence of the same class. Don’t leave it to close to the end of the year, however, as you will need to go through the correct procedure to obtain a new licence. If you miss the year cut-off, you would need to take the full Singapore driving test, with both theoretical and practical elements. As well as your driving licence, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP). Apply for this through the Post Office before you move. You are required to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT), which can only be taken at one of the three authorised driving test centres in Singapore. You can book an appointment online or in person. This test covers the highway code and regulations in Singapore. Once you have passed the BTT, you can then go to the Traffic Police Department and apply for your new licence. This must be done in person. You will need to take with you an original and photocopy of your passport, your entry permit, an original and photocopy of your current driving licence, a passport-sized photograph and the processing fee. Find out more about moving to Singapore and how Cadogan Tate can help you with your move, on our dedicated page.

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