Do you remember back in the day, when you first acquired your driver’s license? Palms sweating, heart pumping, you climbed into the car with a stern instructor. He watched you unsmilingly as you drove jerkily down the street, marking down arcane things on his clipboard.
Now, you will get to relive the same happy memories when you arrive in Singapore!
No, I’m just kidding – you can skip the whole pantomime and convert your foreign license to a Singaporean license with one easy test.
For those youngsters who have not gotten their licenses yet, you’re in luck. Driving instructors in Singapore are quite strict, and it is not uncommon to fail your driving test on the first try.
Now, let us get started on the hectic business of paperwork wrangling!
1. Getting Your Driver’s License
It is possible to drive in Singapore with your foreign driver’s license! You must hold a valid Student Pass or Work Pass, and have to be above 18 years of age.
You can drive in Singapore with a valid class 2B, 3, or 3A foreign license for a maximum period of 12 months. After that time period, you will need to acquire a valid Singapore driver’s license.
If you already hold a driver’s license, you can convert your foreign license to a Singaporean license. However, you must do so within one year or you will have to take a driving test.
You will also have to take a Basic Theory Test, which will familiarise you with Singapore’s highway codes and regulations. These are the driving schools where you can take the test:
You will have to book a time slot for the test before turning up!
The following documents are required to convert a foreign driver’s license to Singapore driver’s license.
- Certificate for the Singapore Basic Driving Theory Test
- Passport photograph
- Foreign driver’s license
- A certificate from the licensing authority of test date
- If your foreign license is not in English, an official translation will be required
- Entry permit
- Processing fee, payable through NETS or cash card
If you do not hold a driver’s license, you can still apply for one in Singapore. These are some requirements which must be fulfilled in order to get a driver’s license in Singapore:
- You must be aged 18 or above
- You must pass two theory tests (Basic Theory and Advanced Theory), as well as one practical test
2. Choosing a Driver’s License
There are different categories of driver’s license in Singapore based on the type of vehicle that you wish to drive.
- Class 1 — This class is specifically for invalid carriages.
- Class 2 — This class is for motorcycles with an engine capacity exceeding 400cc.
- Class 2A — This class is for motorcycles with an engine capacity between 201cc – 400cc.
- Class 2B — This class is for motorcycles with an engine capacity not exceeding 200cc.
- Class 3 — This class is for manual transmission vehicles.
- It includes motor tractors and other motor vehicles of unladen weight not exceeding 2,500kg.
- It also includes motor cars of unladen weight not exceeding 3,000kg. It can only carry a maximum of 7 passengers, not including the driver.
- Class 3A — This class is for automatic transmission vehicles.
- It includes motor tractors and other motor vehicles without clutch pedals of unladen weight not exceeding 2,500kg.
- It also includes motor cars without clutch pedals of unladen weight not exceeding 3,000kg. It can only carry a maximum of 7 passengers, not including the driver.
3. Passing Your Driving Tests
In Singapore, you must complete three compulsory tests in order to acquire a driver’s license:
- Basis Theory Test (BTT) — This test will test your knowledge of the rules and regulations of traffic signs, signals, and road law.
- Final Theory Test (FTT) — This test will test your knowledge of the proper techniques of driving, as well as safety aspects. You must pass this test in order to qualify for the practical driving test.
- Remember, you have to pass the practical driving test within two years of the date of passing your Final Theory Test! Otherwise, you will have to retake the Final Theory Test.
- Practical Driving Test (PDT) — This test is conducted by driving instructors appointed by Singapore’s traffic police department. The vehicle used in this test must be in good condition and properly insured.
- This driving test is a two-parter: first, you will crawl around a track in an initial assessment of your driving skills.
- Next, you will take to the public roads, where you will display your ability to interact safely with other road users. Your tester will be wielding the dreaded clipboard, marking down their assessment of your driving performance.
- Points will be deducted based on driving errors.
4. Hanging On to Your License!
In Singapore, there is a Driver Improvement Points System (DIPS). According to this system, the demerit points are added to the driver’s record. The purpose of this system is to restrict drivers from breaking the traffic rules.
If they do not follow the rules, their license is suspended for a period of time. Don’t get suspended – you will have to pass the driving test again from the beginning!
It is an unrewarding task trying to get your hands on a driver’s license, but it is worth the trouble. Singapore’s roads are among the safest in the world – traffic congestion is rare, and road users are generally well-mannered and safety-conscious.
There is nothing better than enjoying a cruise around the island while avoiding the blazing sun in the air-conditioned interior of your ride. Inch along whimsical streets in Bugis, or brave the teeming crowds of shoppers swarming Orchard Road.
Now, let’s burn some rubber and explore Singapore!