Driving in Singapore: getting your licence
You’re allowed to drive on Singapore roads using the driving licence of your home country for up to 12 months (this was due to be reduced to six months in 2015 but doesn't yet seem to have been implemented). You’ll then be required to convert your foreign licence by taking the Basic Theory Test.
Here’s our step by step guide to driving in Singapore:
You would think that there would be one simple process to follow. After all, Singapore is a bureaucrat's dream. However, there are several ways to enroll and you can choose from one of three driving test centres (Bukit Batok, Woodlands or Kampong Ubi). They each have a different process, so don’t get caught out enrolling with one and doing the test with another, as you’ll have to enroll again. Ring the test centre beforehand to check what you need for registration. All the details can be found here.
It's a bit of a process, which could be standardised and streamlined. It's also annoying that it doesn't seem to improve the driving here. Two buses tried to wipe me off my bike only this morning. It is however a necessary step if you want to buy or lease a car, so you just have to smile and suck it up.
We tried out the process at Bukit Batok and here's what happened:
Phase 1: Enrollment
When we arrived at the Driving Centre we followed signs for Foreign Conversion, which directed us to an upstairs landing, where we were invited to take a number and wait our turn. Don't do this. You will have joined the wrong queue. Instead, start at the Information Desk in the entrance foyer. Here are the steps you need to take:
Phase 2: The Basic Theory Test
Last night was the big night – theory test night - a big, black ball of tension permanently on my horizon, blocking my view, however many times I tried to sidestep it.
We arrived at the Bukit Batok driving test centre in plenty of time: plenty of time for last minute nervous cramming. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I knew the answers. The problem is that this is the fourth time I’ve been through this process – in four difference countries – and I was beginning to get a bit confused. Add to that, the ambiguous answers in the multi-guess format, designed to trip you up.
I need not have worried – I pass with 100%.
This is visit number two to the driving centre. You will have previous been here to register and book your test slot. Here’s the process this time:
Most pointless test question award goes to:
"At what age can you apply to do the test? a) 18, b) 17, c) 16?"
How about: d) who cares, I'm nearly 40, or e) if I wasn't over the legal age I would be reading this question in the first place?
Phase 3: The Conversion
This is a quick update as I can not bear to spend any more time on this tedious process. I’m all for rules and regulations, but I hate inefficiency.
So the glee of passing my Basic Theory Test (BTT) with 100% has driven off into the sunset, and now I join another traffic jam in the journey to get my licence. After you pass the BTT you have up to 12 months to apply for your licence. To do this you need to go back to the driving centre armed with:
Then you need to follow these steps:
You’re done. Your photo licence should arrive in the post in about a month’s time.
The process took us three and a half hours. To be precise, the process actually only takes about half an hour, but there are only one or two members of staff dealing with conversion requests. So take a book. A big one.
Need more help? There is a Basic Theory Test app.
Singapore driving test centres:
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