Imagine the dazzling skyline of Singapore – a city that effortlessly marries tradition and modernity. Now, if you are itching to uncover the secrets of this urban oasis at your own pace, why not spice things up a bit and go for a rental car? It is the perfect ticket to explore, especially for expat families navigating the garden city.
As you embark on your car rental journey, here is an insightful guide to what you must know before or when driving in Singapore, including common things that expats may not be aware of, gleaned from Prime & Section Car Rental’s extensive experience in making your ride memorable and smooth as silk.
“Can I drive with my overseas driving licence?”
If you are an expat with a Work Pass/Dependent Pass/Student Pass in Singapore, you can hit the road with your valid (Class 3, 3A, or 2B) foreign licence for up to 12 months. After that, it is a must to convert your licence to a Singapore driving licence by passing a Basic Theory Test. Pro tip from Prime: don’t wait till the last minute to book your Basic Theory Test; during peak seasons, the earliest test date you can book might be as far as a month away!
And hey, if your licence is in a foreign language that lacks English subheadings, do take note that an official translation is required. But fret not, this can be done easily through any professional translating organization approved by the Singapore embassy.
“What are parking and road tolls like in Singapore?”
Stick to designated parking spots, or risk a fine or wheel clamp surprise. Most sheltered parking spaces use the same nifty Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system that automatically deducts fees via your in-vehicle unit (IU) machine. The IU machine is provided for every rental vehicle. All you need to do is purchase a preloaded cash card from any 7-Eleven or petrol station to be inserted into the machine, and you are good to go!
(Image credit: Wikipedia)
For street parking, snag a ‘coupon’ through the Parking.SG app and for road tolls, Prime recommends keeping your cash card loaded with at least S$50 to breeze through for the week.
Speed Limits and Traffic Offences
Express ways have a 90km/h limit, tunnels hover around 70-80km/h, and residential zones stick to a cool 50km/h. Strictly, no mobile phones are allowed, so you have to go hands-free or wait until you have parked. And remember, drinking and driving is a no-no. The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood, so keep it classy, not glassy!
Do also note: bus lanes are for buses, folks. Be cautious of bus lanes and avoid driving into them during operational hours, as they are reserved for buses.
“What about insurance?”
Make sure that you are covered for all those unexpected twists and turns on the road! While many employment packages include medical insurance, for expats who are freelancers or self-employed, consider getting you and your family a personal accident plan which would be beneficial in providing some fundamental coverage while driving in Singapore – it is like having a safety net while cruising in the Lion City!
Driving to Malaysia
If you are planning a road trip to Malaysia, prep is key. Get in touch with your car rental provider in advance to confirm that your vehicle is insured for driving in Malaysia. Before your travel date, request for your vehicle to be registered online with Malaysian customs, have the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) Confirmation Slip handy (get it printed and stashed in your car glove compartment), and get yourself a valid Touch ’n Go card*.
Take note that under the Customs Act 1960, Singapore-registered cars need to have at least 3/4 tank of fuel when crossing the border. Prime’s advice? Double-check with your car rental team on updated information and precautions. It might also be good to arrange a quick service for your car so that you are road trip ready!
*Touch ‘n Go cards can be purchased in Malaysia at any Touch ‘n Go Hubs, personal care stores, and at Touch ‘n Go sales counters located on highways. In Singapore, you may purchase from any participating 7-Eleven or Cheers outlets in-person, or through ordering online via EZ-Link’s Shopee store or Lazada page.
Embarking on the Singapore roads as an expat family is not just a drive, but a journey! With the award-winning Prime & Section Car Rental as your expat partner-in-crime, it is guaranteed to be an epic one. Why settle for anything less? Choose Prime – you’re always in good hands.