International Driving Permit Singapore
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Singapore?
If you have a foreign driver’s license in English, you are not required to have an international driver’s permit in Singapore. If your license is in any other language, you must have an IDP. You may only drive in Singapore with a temporary stay visa. The maximum period you can use an IDP and your foreign license are 12 months. You may also use an IDP as an official identification document in the country.
How do you apply for an IDP in Singapore?
You can apply for your IDP on our website.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
You can have an official printed IDP delivered to your address within 2 to 30 working days. The lead time for delivery depends on what delivery method you have chosen and your preferred address. A digital version of the IDP will be sent to your email box within 2 hours if you choose the standard processing method. If you go for the Express Order option on our website, you can receive it in as little as 20 minutes.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations has had three international motor traffic conventions standardizing traffic codes. During each convention, many countries were contracted to honor international driving permits as legal documents. Countries contracted to the Paris (1926) and Geneva (1949) conventions recognize 1-year IDPs. Countries contracted to the Vienna (1968) convention recognize 3-year IDPs (with some exceptions).
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Singapore
Functionality as an ID
Most travelers are wary of carrying their passports and other essential documents everywhere on their trip. An international driver’s permit is legally recognized as an identification document and can be carried around instead. You can also use an IDP as a translation that has all your details. It can be helpful when your national ID or other identity papers are not in an internationally recognized language. Photo identification available in the IDP is helpful in place of identification papers that don’t have images.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Some countries allow you to use your foreign driver’s license to drive on their roads. However, you may still face trouble when stopped by their traffic police due to the language barrier. An international driver’s permit will allow the authorities to quickly note down your particulars and send you on your way. It is a great way to save precious vacation time on your trip.
Car rental companies
As with the traffic police, many car rental companies will be hesitant to rent you a car without an international driver’s permit. As an IDP is a document that the UN recognizes, car rental companies will accept it as an identification document. Carrying an IDP when renting a vehicle may make you eligible for discounts and lower required deposits.
Laws requiring an IDP
Singapore is contracted to the International Motor Traffic Convention held in Geneva (1949). This means that 1-year international driver’s permits are honored. You must carry your valid, unexpired foreign license in addition to your IDP when driving. You do not require an IDP in Singapore if you have a driving license that is in English. You must convert your driving license to a Singaporean one within six months of becoming a resident.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Singapore
Short-term visitors vs. residents
Short-term and social visit pass holders are considered short-term visitors and allowed stays are below 12 months. Student Pass (STP), Employment Pass (EP), and Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) are considered long-term visitors. Work Permit (WP) and S-Pass holders are considered permanent residents.
How long can I drive with a foreign driving license?
If you are a short-term visitor, you can use your valid driver’s license and an international driver’s permit for a year. If you are a longer-term visitor, you can use a driver’s license and an IDP for a year before converting your driver’s license to a Singaporean one. If you are a permanent resident, you can only use your driver’s license and an IDP for six months before converting your license to a Singaporean one.
When should I get a Singaporean Driver’s License?
If you are visiting Singapore as a short-term or long-term visitor, you should probably keep your foreign driver’s license without converting it to a Singaporean one. If you plan on doing a lot of business in Singapore or using it as a second home, you may want to convert your driving license. Singapore is highly systematized, and you will find the traffic police and administrators professional and helpful. As long as you have your IDP, having a foreign license will not cause processing delays. You should convert your foreign license to a Singaporean one within the given period if you become a resident. Singaporean laws are strict, and you will face multiple problems if you disregard them.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Singapore
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP on our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
You may need to renew your license when you are on your trip to Singapore. You will need to do so with the same institution in the country that issued your original driving license. Most countries have online portals to help expatriates with this process. If the country that issued your license requires a medical or vision certificate, you may have to return to the country of origin. Ensure you leave enough time to complete the procedure as Singaporean laws are strict.
Car Rental in Singapore
Requirements for car rental
For cost-effective car rentals, you should have a Class 3 or 3A license. You should see if there is an equivalent driver’s license category in the country that issued yours. Most car rental agencies will only rent to drivers between 23 and 70, and the companies renting to drivers outside this age range will have a surcharge. The minimum age for renting a car is 18. You should have a valid, unexpired driving license. You should have an international driver’s permit if your license is not in English.
Deposit and costs for car rental
Singaporean road taxes and eligibility criteria are stringent regarding car ownership. Similarly, car rental costs are pretty high. A light vehicle (car) daily rental will be from $50 to $150. If you rent a four-door sedan for a week, you can expect to pay $250, though the daily rental charge can be as much as $70. Luxury car daily rentals can easily exceed $300 per day. The rental deposit is comparatively low as it can range from just $250. Expect to pay $2,000 as a deposit for more luxurious vehicles.
All motorists should have 3rd party insurance that covers bodily injury to others in case of an accident. However, as the litigation, collision damage, and other charges can be exorbitantly high in Singapore, we recommend that you get Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) coverage. As most road-goers are disciplined, there will be scant reason to get Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW). There is little reason to get theft coverage in Singapore, as this kind of crime is almost non-existent.
Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, you can benefit from getting travel insurance. Please go through the following points before purchasing a travel insurance package to ensure a headache-free vacation:
- The insurance package should cover hospital stays.
- The insurance coverage should include cancellation and lost deposits.
- The coverage should include lost and damaged baggage.
- The coverage should cover excess charges not covered by your rental car insurance.
- The insurance cover should include emergency dental work/surgery.
- If you are risk averse, it’s good to have the travel insurance cover funeral costs in the event of sudden death in the travel group. The hospital, transportation, and administrative expenses in such an event can be exorbitant.
Driving and Safety in Singapore
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You can download an official copy of the Singaporean highway code directly from its police department website at https://www.police.gov.sg. It has a direct download link that enables you to peruse the rules and regulations while offline. You can also get an updated copy in any of Singapore’s bookstores. You will also be given one if you register for a course at any of the three driving schools there. The handbook is in English and is easy to understand even for beginners.
Overtaking on Singaporean roads
As Singapore is a former British colony, people drive on the left side of the road, which means you can only overtake other vehicles from the right side. You must check all your mirrors and judge whether there is enough space in front of the car you are overtaking before doing so. You should avoid overtaking vehicles during nighttime and in times of poor visibility unless you adhere to all Singaporean road rules.
Turning and right of way on Singaporean roads
When driving on a major road, you prioritize incoming traffic from more minor roads. On intersections of similarly large roads, motorists going forward and turning left have priority, and motorists turning right to have to wait for an opening in the oncoming traffic.
You are expected to slow down enough to stop in an emergency on minor roads that don’t have stop signs at intersections. On roundabouts, you should merge right, prioritizing the traffic already on the roundabouts. You are expected to meet the speed of the traffic on the roundabout you are entering.
Speed limits on Singaporean roads
If there are no speed limit signs, the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph). School and Silver zones have a speed limit of 40 km/h (25 mph). Silver zones are zones that require extra vigilance from motorists. Most expressways have speed limits of either 80 km/h (50 mph) or 90 km/h (56 mph). If caught speeding on Singaporean roads, you will be fined and given demerit points on your license. There is some leniency on breaking the speed limit if you are below 10% over the speed limit.
Tips for driving in Singapore
- People drive on the left side of the road in Singapore.
- You should be 18 to drive on Singaporean roads.
- Road hogging is an offense. If you drive in the right lane below the required speed limit, you can be fined or get your license demerited.
- The drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts.
- Children below 135cm are required to have a booster seat or a child seat belt that’s appropriate for the child’s height and weight.
- Your headlights should be turned on from 7 pm to 7 am.
- Traffic signs in red or blue require mandatory compliance.
- There are two types of bus lanes. It’s illegal to drive on the bus lane during bus operating hours.
Drinking and driving
You can only have 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. You can be arrested without a warrant if you refuse to comply with a breath test. If you are a first-time offender, you can be charged $2,000 to $10,000 and jailed for up to 1 year if convicted. If you are a repeat offender, you can be fined $5,000 to $20,000 and jailed for up to 2 years. First-time offenders will have their licenses suspended for two years and repeat offenders for up to five years. It is highly recommended that you don’t drink and drive in Singapore as the penalties are harsh.
Top 3 Things To Do in Singapore
Discovery of 3 Ethnic Neighbourhoods and UNESCO Street Food Tour
Singapore has an extensive range of hawker food centers. These colorful eateries make some of Singapore’s most iconic and inexpensive meals. The hawkers make Chinese, Malay, and Indian food on the go and piping hot right by the roadside. Booking a guide will help you sample some of the more famous shops while sampling a wide variety of cuisine. Getting this tour will also help you get familiarized with Singapore’s day-to-day life and get a feel for the country’s heartbeat.
Nighttime Sightseeing with River Cruise
Singapore is a diverse blend of skyscrapers and traditional shophouses. You will be able to see Singapore come into its own at night with a private guided tour. You will be able to soak in the sights and sounds of Little India and enjoy the spectacular sound and light show in Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. You will also enjoy the 360-degree views at Marina Bay Sands and get a fully paid cruise on the Singapore River. You can enjoy a plethora of multicultural shops at each of the stops. The romantic getaway cruise is ideal for both families and couples.
Lion City Bike Tour of Singapore
Singapore is named after the lion (‘Sinha’). The Lion City’s charming back-streets and historical landmarks are best explored with a guided bike tour. These tours usually allow you to take a quarter-hour break to enjoy the sights and sounds of the country with the highest GDP per capita in Asia. While not extensively a food tour, you will still be presented with various eateries. You will learn how Singapore is one of the most harmonious countries in the world while having a diverse, multicultural ethnic makeup.
Am I required to have an IDP in Singapore?
While some countries will accept a foreign license for a while, many will require you to have an IDP.
Can I drive a vehicle with a foreign license in Singapore?
You can drive in Singapore for 12 months with a foreign driver’s license as long as you possess an IDP if it’s not in English.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in Singapore?
Yes, you may use your EU license in Singapore for 12 months if it is issued in English. Otherwise, you need an IDP.
How long will my IDP be valid in Singapore?
Singapore was contracted to the Geneva Motor Traffic Convention in 1949, so you may use your IDP for one year.
How long will transferring my license to a Singaporean one take?
You can exchange your license for a Singaporean one within two weeks.
On which side do you drive in Singapore?
In Singapore, vehicles drive on the left side of the road.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in Singapore?
You must have an International Driving Permit if your license is not issued in English.