Getting a Driving License in Singapore
In Singapore, one must possess a valid driving license before they are permitted to drive a vehicle of any description on any road in the country. This is to ensure safety on the roads and to enforce all traffic rules present in Singapore. To acquire a driving license, one must be at least 18 years old.
Before we delve into all the details concerning getting a driving license in the Island nation, it is important to know the types of licenses available in the first place.
Types of Driving License in Singapore
Provisional Driving License (PDL)
This type is possessed by people who are learning and enrolled in driving schools. One can apply for a Provisional Driving License only after passing the Basic Theory Test (BTT), which has to be written at any of Singapore’s established driving schools. Learners can also apply for this license on the Police@SG website. Without the PDL, one cannot begin practicing to drive on any of the country’s public roads or operate a motorcar. There are several restrictions that come with possessing this type of license. Below are some of the restrictions
– There must be a certified Driving Instructor present always to guide the learner.
– Learners are not permitted to use the expressway as well as certain busy roads such as those found in Orchard Road and Chinatown.
– An ‘L’ plate must always be placed at both the front and rear of the vehicle.
– The PDL is valid for a period of two years from the date of issue.
– Individuals above age 65 are required to pass a medical exam before they apply or attempt to renew their PDLs.
It is only after passing the Final Theory Test (FTT) that a learner driver can proceed to go through the Practical Driving Test.
Qualified Driving License (QDL)
This is what is described as the full license in Singapore. It is issued after one has passed the Practical Driving Test. The holder of this license undergoes a one-year probation period within which they are required to display the probationary license plate at the top right segment of the front and rear windscreen of their vehicle. Within the period of probation, if the license holder gains more than 12 demerit points, their license will be revoked. If the license holder fails to display their probationary license, they will be made to pay a fine on the first occasion; on the second occasion however, their license will be immediately revoked.
Vocational Driving License (VDL)
This is a special type of driving license for commercial vehicle drivers of buses and taxis. The Vocational Driving License is further divided into three types namely the Bus Driver Vocational License, the Taxi Driver Vocational License and the Private Hire Vocational License. In order to gain the bus driving license, one must possess a Class 3 driving license, with a clean record and at least a year of driving experience. For the taxi driver license, one must be a Singaporean citizen not less than age 30, possess a Class 3 driving license, a clean driving record and at least a year of driving experience. In applying for the private hire vocational license however, applicants must hold a Class 3 driving license, with no bad records and not less than 2 years of driving experience.
Getting a Driver’s License (For Foreigners)
Even as a foreigner you can drive in Singapore if you have your foreign driver’s license with you. You must however be of the eligible age, i.e. above age 18 and possess a valid Work Pass or Student Pass.
If you have a valid class 2B, 3 or 3A foreign driver license, you are allowed to use it while driving on the roads for a maximum of 12 months, after which you will be required to obtain a valid Singaporean license. Within that period, it is prudent to convert your foreign license to a Singaporean one, otherwise you would have to take a driving test after those 12 months expire.
Foreigners have to go through a Basic Theory Test which will help them get familiar with Singapore’s highway regulations and codes. The test must be taken at the following driving schools and a time slot should be booked prior.
-ComfortDelGro Driving Centre
-Singapore Safety Driving Centre
-Bukit Batok Driving Centre
To convert your foreign license, you will need to present the following documents
– Singapore Basic Driving Theory Test Certificate
– Passport Photograph
– Foreign Driver’s license
– Certificate from licensing authority of test date
– An official translation if your foreign driver’s license is not in English
– Entry Permit
– Processing fee
Foreigners who do not yet have a driver’s license can still apply for a Singaporean license so long as they are above age 18. They would also have to pass two theory tests namely the Basic Theory and Advanced Theory tests and a Practical Test to get one.
How much does it Cost?
In order to receive a driving permit in Singapore one needs to pay a significant amount of money. To get a license however, you need to enroll and take certain tests which requires that you attend either of the three main driving schools in Singapore or hire a private instructor. The schools are Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC) located at Woodlands, ComfortDelgro Driving Centre (CDC) at Ubi and the Bukit Batok Driving Centre (BBDC) located in Bukit Batok. The enrolment fees for all three schools which covers both theory and practical lessons is approximately S$166.
In case a student does not pass their driving test within the year of enrolment however, they will have to pay extension fees of about S$42.80 for 6 months at SSDC, S$53.80 for 6 months at CDC and about S$ 8.03 per month at BBDC.
The fee for 4 lessons costs S$69.55 at both SSDC and CDC, and S$ 68.68 at BBDC. Basic Theory Test and Final Theory Test fees cost S$ 6.50 each at all three driving schools. Practical Lessons at SSDCL ranges from S$77.04 to S$85.60 for a 120-minute class, and S$68.48 to S$68.48 for a 100-minute class at both CDC and BBDC.
Costs for the Practical Test is S$149.8 plus a warm up fee of S$29.66 at SSDCL; at CDC, a practical test during the weekday costs S$205.44 while one taking during the weekends costs S$ 209.72; At BBDC however, the fee is S$171.2 plus a warm up fee of S$38.52 for a practical test.
The standard cost for getting a Provisional Driving License (valid for 6 months) is S$25, and the cost for a Driving License application is S$50.
The table below breaks down the costs of getting a driving license from either a driving school or private instructor
Item Driving School (S$) Private Instructor (S$)
Enrolment fees 96.30 60
Theory driving lessons 69.55 No theory
Basic Theory test 6.5 6.5
Final theory test 6.5 6.5
Practical driving lessons 1400 to 1900 for 20 to 25 classes 1000 to 1400 for about 40 hours
Practical driving test 33 33
Car rental for practical test 195- 231 195-231
Driving license fee 50 50
Total Between 1860 and 2400 Between 1340 and 1790
Considering all these costs, it is clear now that one needs to prepare a good amount of money to get a driving license. Setting aside at least S$2000 for this purpose should be enough.
How long does it take to get a driving license in Singapore?
Generally, the whole process of getting a driving license in Singapore could take anywhere between three and six months. Most of the time will most likely be spent waiting to take the Basic Theory Test (BTT), the Final Theory Test (FTT) as well as the Traffic Police (TP) Test.
Driving schools mostly offer not less than 25 practical lessons which is equivalent to a period within 3 and 6 months depending on your booked schedule. Aside these there are inductions and theory classes. Since it all depends on one’s schedule, you will find that students who are able to pack their lessons into shorter periods will most likely receive their license quicker than the average students. Considering all the lessons involved in learning how to drive and waiting to receive the license, it can take up to a one-year period in total.
The Basic Theory Test and the Final Theory Test are noted for having the longest waiting times, thus the best way to shorten the length of waiting is to apply to take them as soon as you are able to do so.
List of Top Driving Schools in Singapore
Driving schools offer training for individuals through the implementation of professional programs to equip them to become certified drivers. Singapore is known for having some of the most professional yet strictest driving school lessons. Unlike several other countries where taking driving lessons involves a simpler process and takes only a few months, people often wait longer in Singapore before they can complete all their driving lessons and take their tests.
Singapore has three major driving schools which offer professional training for the different ranges of driving licenses. These include the Class 3 and 3A licenses which are for manual and automatic cars, and those for motorcycles, lorries, buses and other heavy vehicles.
Top Driving Schools in Singapore
Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC)
Established in July 1983, this private organization has built its reputation as a pioneer driving school in Singapore. They began offering training for motorcycle riders in 1985, and started training motorcar drivers in 1985.
SSDC has a mission of promoting road safety while equipping riders and drivers with the needed knowledge, excellent skills and roadworthy manners which will ensure safe riding and driving on the country’s roads. This driving school is located in Woodlands near Johor Bahru and is commended for their efficient online booking system.
ComfortDelGro Driving Centre
ComfortDelGro Driving Centre began operating in April 1996 with only 6 cars but has grown over the years to become one of the most renowned fully equipped driving centers with at least 250 cars and bikes. They are noted for offering a range of driving courses which suit the varying needs of their clients.
CDC is bent on nurturing skilled and socially responsible riders and drivers to ply on safer roads. This driving center is unique among the rest for its induction program as well as the internal evaluations they conduct to ensure that their students are ready for the driving test. Located at Ubi, which is a more central location, they tend to attract more students.
Bukit Batok Driving Centre
This is one of the leading driving centers in Singapore due to the fact that they offer a range of systematic riding and driving courses for individuals as well as qualified drivers. They are also known for offering driving and riding programs for local groups and overseas courses in countries such as Vietnam, China, Philippines, Malaysia and Hungary.
Bukit Batok also provides road safety demonstrations and talks to pupils in kindergartens, schools and some communities. The center was established in 1990 and has retained its name for providing safe driving lessons through efficient technology used in their training programs. They are located in the western area of Singapore and have attracted a number of students because of their reasonably priced lessons and friendly instructors.
Private Driving Instructor Singapore
This organization works with a host of qualified private driving instructors who possess at least 30 years of experience. Most of the private instructors found here are dedicated and patient as they are all carefully chosen based on their level of experience and customer relations. They also ensure that you can get access to the best and most professional instructors that suit your personal needs within the shortest time.
Soon Tien Driving School
With over 40 years of industry experience, this driving school has professional instructors who can aid individual students learn driving and acquire their licenses with less hassle. They are keen on providing good customer service and professional training that fits the student’s needs.
Cathay Driving Centre
Located at the HDB Bedok town Centre, this driving school was founded in December 1976. They offer effective and professional driving lessons for students who want to acquire a license. They operate throughout the weekdays from 9am to 7pm but on Weekends, they are only available on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
Charles Safety Driving Lessons
This driving center focuses on providing Class 3A lessons to its students. Their main goal is to offer a comprehensive course that helps students achieve the ultimate goal of acquiring their license.
Forex Driving School
Forex Driving School can be found on Tras Street in Singapore. They are renowned for providing professional training sessions which help their students get their licenses faster. They are usually open on weekdays from 11:30 am to 11 pm and on weekends from 10am to 8pm.
Ocean Driving Centre
Ocean Driving Centre possesses a team of qualified staff and instructors whose main aim is to ensure that students are served with the best in driving education. Their style of teaching and their environment makes it a suitable learning place for both beginners and advanced drivers.
This driving school offers basic driving training for Singaporean students.
Liberty Auto Driving School
Liberty Auto Driving School has been in existence for at least 45 years, serving Singaporeans with professional driving lessons. They are an ACRA-registered institution located on the New Upper Changi Road.
Pan Country Driving Centre
Also located in Woodlands, Pan Country Driving Centre happens to be among the first driving schools to be established in Singapore, dating back to the 1980s. They boast of well trained and experienced instructors, and operate on weekdays from 8:30am to 8 pm and on weekends from 8:30 am to 2pm.
Youth Driving School
With more than 43 years of experience, this driving school operates with a team of highly skilled instructors who provide both practical and theoretical knowledge to each of their students.
Jurong Driving Centre
Jurong Driving Centre stands out among the driving schools in Boon Lay as one of the best with their 50-point inspection. Students who choose to learn driving with them are often satisfied with their remarkable program and excellent customer relations.
Driving School vs Private Instructor
Below is a table comparing the prices and fees for either enrolling at one of Singapore’s three driving schools or choosing a private instructor.
|Enrolment Fees||S$165.85 (For both Theory and Practical)||S$96.30 for theory lessons S$50-S$60 for practical lessons|
|Extension Fees (If student does not pass driving test within a year of enrolment)||S$42.80 / 6 months||S$53.80 / 6 months||S$8.03 / 1 month||Depends on instructor|
|Basic Theory Test (BTT) and Final Theory Test (FTT)||S$69.55 for 4 lessons BTT fee: S$6.50 FTT fee: S$6.50||S$69.55 for 4 lessons BTT fee: S$6.50 FTT fee: S$6.50||S$68.48 for 4 lessons BTT fee: S$6.50 FTT fee: S$6.5||Only at driving schools|
As seen in the table above, the prices for enrolling in a driving school or for taking private lessons can vary significantly. For instance, let’s assume that one student (A) enrolls at CDC while another student (B) gets a private instructor, the total cost of getting lessons and taking tests differs significantly with almost a thousand-dollar difference. This could happen even if both students decide to only take all their lessons during non-peak hours and take their driving tests on weekdays. The table below illustrates these calculations clearly.
|Enrolment Fees||S$165.85||S$96.30 + S$50|
|BTT & FTT||S$13||N/A|
|Practical Lessons||34 x S$68.48||25 x S$50 + 2 x S$58|
|Note:||(3/3A syllabus: 31 sections and 12 test routes)||(2-hour sessions of S$25/hour and 2 circuit sessions; Private lessons require fewer sessions)|
|Driving License Application||S$50||S$50|
|Total Estimated Cost||S$2,787.61||S$1,792.74|
The advantage for students who enroll in driving schools is that most of them are likely to pass on their first try due to the fact that they have a more systematic syllabus, while students also have the freedom to test driving circuits giving them more room for practice. Private lessons however do not give students the opportunity to practice at test circuits while most of their students do not pass at their first attempt. Of course, looking at the prices listed above however even if the second student fails on their first attempt and retakes their driving test, they will still spend less than what the first Student is spending initially.
Clearly, the fees for enrolling at SSDCL and CDC are more expensive. Yet they are chosen by a good number of students because of how convenient their respective locations are. People who live at the heart of Singapore or in the eastern parts for instance would prefer to take lessons at Ubi instead of traveling to Bukit Batok or Woodlands. In the same vein, those staying in the western side wouldn’t want to commute all the way to Ubi. In choosing a school therefore, one needs to consider the convenience of its location.
Another factor to note is that all three driving schools have a curriculum that is better structured and easier to understand and follow. Thus, individuals who enjoy learning in an organized manner and environment can do better because of the clarity their lessons provide. The only drawback for this is that people need to attend more lessons when they decide to enroll in driving schools.
If you are the kind of person who prefers flexibility over a structured environment however, it will be a better idea for you to enroll with a private instructor. In this arrangement, you can ask the instructor to pick you up at the start of lessons and drop you at your location when the lesson is over. You get to save cost, traveling time and the risk of getting to a lesson late. Another major advantage of choosing a private instructor is that you pay significantly lesser fees, and attend fewer lessons before you get to the point where you can take your driving test.
Choosing to enroll in a driving school means that you would have to book for your lessons in advance. With the influx of students, they usually have, there may be a waiting period before you can finally book an available slot. This is because their timings are based on a fixed schedule. Private instructors on the other hand are more flexible in that they will arrange classes based on the times that are most convenient for you.
One more thing to note is that driving schools usually rotate instructors which means that students may have to learn from different instructors through the span of their course. However, if you’re the kind of person who prefers to stick with a particular instructor, you would have to pay a fee for the fixed instructor scheme. Private Instructors on the other hand give you the luxury of having a fixed instructor throughout your lessons. It is important therefore to research on the kind of instructor who will fit your individual learning pace. Learning with the right instructor will surely set you on the path of passing all your tests and obtaining your driver’s license faster.