A detailed guide to converting foreign driving license in Singapore

If you are a tourist in Singapore or an expat or a permanent resident who already possesses a driving license from your home country; say Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, India etc., then you may wonder if you can drive in Singapore with your existing foreign driving license.

Do you need to convert your foreign driving license in Singapore and if so how do you go about it ? Here is our detailed guide to convert your foreign driving license that would help you save money and time.

To begin with it, there are different conditions if you are a resident or a non resident in Singapore. As a general rule, one must posses a valid driving license and it should not have been suspended at the time of driving in Singapore.

All driving licenses issued by the respective authorities must match the class of vehicle one intends to drive in Singapore. For more about classes of driving licenses in Singapore click here.

Now if you can use your existing driving license and/or with an International driving permit or you need to get local Singaporean driving license depends on various conditions.

Driving License requirements for Visiting Foreigners, Social Visitor Pass holder / Tourist visa holders and Short term Pass holders

If you are a tourist or visiting to Singapore for a short term, you are allowed to drive in Singapore with a valid foreign driving license.

Possessing an International Driving Permit issued by your own country or the country you hold driving license from would be recommended as well if the original driving license is not in English or does not have an issue date or the Class of the vehicle licensed to drive mentioned on it.

Driving license requirements for Long term pass holders like Student / Employment or Dependant Pass.

If you hold a Student Pass, Employment Pass or Dependant Pass then you are allowed to drive in Singapore with valid driving license for a period of 12 months.

The start date of this 12 months is the date you entered Singapore for this pass. For e.g., this date would not necessarily be the date your pass or visa was issued. It could be the date you entered Singapore before that.

After 12 months of this data, holders of the above mentioned passes are expected to get a local Singapore driving license.

Driving license requirements for Work Permit and S-Pass holders

From the date the pass was issued, Work Permit and S-Pass holders are allowed to drive in Singapore for a period of 6-months provided they have a their country issued valid driving license. After 6 months, the driving license needs to be converted.

Driving license requirements for Singapore Permanent Residents or newly acquired Singapore citizens

New Singapore permanent residents or Singapore citizens are mandated to apply for conversion of foreign driving license within 3 months of acquiring permanent residency or citizenship.

Singapore PRs or new citizens are not allowed to drive in Singapore with their foreign issued driving licenses.

What are the basic requirements to convert a foreign driving license in Singapore.

A foreign driving license cannot be converted to Singapore driving license if the foreigner is not a resident in Singapore or does not fit into the requirements to get a local singaporean driving license. In other words, not all foreigners who has not much business in Singapore are allowed to convert their foreign driving license here.

Now that is clear, let’s have a look at what are the other basic requirements to convert a driving license.

  • If only a month’s time is left on the expiry of your pass, a foreigner cannot convert his driving license.
  • One needs to clear the Basic Theory Test or popularly known as BTT, in order to convert the driving license. BTT tests the drivers of basic driving laws in Singapore.
  • The current driving license must not expired or lapsed. A few extra documentation may be required in that case.
  • A missing issue date on the driving license will not get you a singaporean driving license. A issue date is necessary to determine the time you acquired the license to check with beginning of your stay in Singapore. Extra documentation in order to prove the issue date may be considered.
  • The driving license issued by your license should be issued before the issuance of your local resident pass. I.e., Once you have acquired the pass to stay in Singapore, you cannot then get a foreign driving license and convert it to Singapore. Only foreign driving licenses that were issued before you began your stay in Singapore are valid for conversion. In other cases, you might need to go through the usual process of acquiring a driving license in Singapore than converting a foreign one.
  • The foreign driving license must be written in English or accompanied with officially translated valid International Driving Permit or official translation from your embassy.

How to convert a driving license in Singapore

Once you meet the basic requirements, you’ll have to make sure you clear your Basic Theory Test or BTT.

BTT is usually taken at one of the three training schools in Singapore. It is an online test and you need to clear it before conversion of your foreign driving license.

The three schools are:

One can prepare for BTT by referring to the official handbook from Singapore’s Traffic Police.

Once you clear the BTT, you can then apply for conversion at one of Traffic Police Test Kiosk at any of the above mentioned driving schools.

Classes of driving licenses in Singapore

The common classes of driving licenses in Singapore are as below:

  • Class 2B: For Motorcycle not exceeding 200cc
  • Class 2A: For Motorcycle between 201 cc and 400 cc
  • Class 2: For Motorcycles exceeding 400cc
  • Class 3: For motor car or motor tractors, which unladen weight does not exceed 2500 kg and, the motor car constructed to carry not more than 7 passengers (excluding the driver) and does not exceed 3000kgs
  • Class 3A: Motor vehicles that are driven without a clutch pedal. In other words: automatic cars or those without a stick.
  • Class 3C: Motor cars constructed solely and adapted to carry not more than 7 passengers (excluding the driver) and the weight of which unladen does not exceed 3000 kgs. This is issued only to work permit and S-Pass holders
  • Class 3CA: Motor vehicles which consist of any Class 3C vehicle which can be driven without the use of a clutch pedal. This is issued only to work permit and S-Pass holders
  • Class 4A: Omnibus
  • Class 4: Heavy motor car and motor tractor the weight of which unladen exceeds 2500 kgs
  • Class 5: Motor vehicle which is not constructed to carry any load and the weight of which unladen exceeds 7250 kg (includes light and heavy locomotives)

How long are Singapore driving license valid

The driving licenses that are issued to Singapore permanent residents or Singapore citizens have life long validity with a clause of medical checkups after the age of 65 years.

On the other hand, driving licenses issued to foreigners who are residents in Singapore is valid for 5 years.

How to get a new driving license in Singapore

If one cannot convert his or her foreign driving license in Singapore, one may opt to go through the entire process of getting a driving license in Singapore. This is the process followed by local citizens as well.

As mentioned earlier, this is available only to local residents and not all foreigners like for e.g., those on tourist or social visit passes cannot get a Singapore DL.

As a foreigner who is a resident and has valid NRIC/FIN, you must proceed to take the BTT or Basic Theory test at any one of the schools.

After clearing the Basic theory test, one can get a Provisional Driving license or PDL, using which one can drive in Singapore with a Learner’s plate displayed and a driver mentor with valid Singaporean permanent driving license besides you.

After going through the classes, you need to take a Final theory test before booking the Practical Driving test. You can proceed to book the actual driving test with the traffic police after clearing the Final Theory test.

If all goes well, and you clear the traffic police practical test, you must have your driving license issued to you 🙂

A proper insurance policy before driving in Singapore in mandatory. Do check out our detailed guide on ways to save on insurance cost in Singapore.

For more detailed updated information on Traffic police and driving license you can check the traffic matters link. Hope this article explains all the aspects of driving license in Singapore.