Conversion of a Foreign Driving License

A driving license is a very important tool in the world today. The ability to drive is important because it grants the driver additional mobility as well as access to areas which cannot be reached via public transport. Every country’s authorities which oversee the issuance of a driving license have the authority to distribute such licenses. However, these licenses generally pertain to that country alone and no others. Therefore, if a person has a driving license from a country which is not the country in which the person currently lives, the person would find it very difficult to drive in the country to which the person moved. Despite this fact, there is a way in which this problem might be solved. People who have a foreign driving license can have it converted to one of the country in which they currently live. This is possible in Singapore as well. Holders of foreign driving licenses, be they foreigners, permanent residents of Singapore, or citizens of Singapore, are allowed to have their foreign driving licenses converted to a Singaporean one.

Singapore Driving Licenses

In Singapore, there are 11 classes of driving license which may be obtained. These classes are 1, 2B, 2A, 2, 3, 3A, 3C, 3CA, 4A, 4, and 5. Class 1 licenses are for invalid carriages and can only be obtained by those who have physical disabilities. Class 2, 2B, and 2A licenses are for motorcycles, while licenses under classes 3, 3A, 3CA, and 3C are for cars. Class 4A licenses allow one to drive a bus, while class 4 and 5 licenses give their owners the right to drive heavy motor vehicles such as trucks or large vans.

There are also three separate types of driving license which are categorized based on the driver’s level of driving experience and purpose behind obtaining a license. One of these is the Provisional Driving License. This license is received by those who are learning to drive in a driving school. Those who are to receive it only do so after they pass the Basic Theory Test. It is required by anyone who plans to learn to drive on any of Singapore’s public roads. After a driver passes the Practical Driving Test, the driver will receive the Qualified Driving License. A new owner of a Qualified Driving License will be placed under probation for one year, during which a Probationary Plate will be placed on the exterior of the driver’s vehicle. During this period, the driver must not accumulate an excessive amount of demerit points, which can be collected for committing driving offenses. Singapore is one of 22 countries in the world which imposes a system of demerit points upon its drivers. A third type of driving license in Singapore is the Vocational Driving License. This license is meant for commercial private hire car, taxi, and bus drivers. The Vocational Driving License is divided into three sub-categories: the Bus Driver Vocational License, the Private Hire Vocational License, and the Taxi Driver Vocational License. Each license corresponds to the driving of the vehicle specified in its name.

Learning to Drive in Singapore

A person can learn to drive in Singapore through one of two methods: by attending a driving school or by being taught by a private instructor. Those who choose to attend a driving school may select any of Singapore’s three driving schools which are authorized to provide driving lessons. Any class of license may be obtained through lessons at a Singapore driving school. Those who prefer to be taught by a private instructor must ensure that the instructor is a person who is either registered as a self-employed instructor or has been registered under a company which is a private driving institution. These instructors usually use private or company cars for their lessons. Private instructors may only supply lessons for Class 3 or 3A licenses.

Foreign Driving License Laws in Singapore

A foreigner who owns a foreign driving license is allowed to drive in Singapore as long as certain criteria are fulfilled. If the foreigner is 18 years old or older, holds a Dependant’s Pass, Student Pass, or Work Pass, and the foreign license which is owned is in one of the classes 3A, 3, or 2B, the foreigner may drive in Singapore, but only for a one-year period. At the end of this one-year period, the foreigner is required to obtain a Singapore driving license.

A citizen or permanent resident of Singapore who owns a foreign driving license is barred from driving in Singapore. Only citizens and permanent residents with Singapore driving licenses may drive. Thus, in order to continue driving, they are to convert their foreign driving license to a Singaporean one.

Those who have just become citizens or permanent residents of Singapore are to have their foreign driving licenses, should they own one, converted into their Singapore equivalents within three months of becoming a permanent resident or citizen.

Want to Start business in Singapore
Want to Start business in Singapore

How to Convert a Foreign Driving License to a Singapore Driving License

The first step required to convert a foreign driving license to a Singapore one is that of passing the Basic Theory Test. Passing this test allows one’s application for conversion to be taken into consideration. Passing this test is required because the authorities in Singapore do not accept theory test results from abroad. Before one is allowed to take the Basic Theory Test, the test-taker is to create an account at an approved driving center, then book a spot to take the Basic Theory Test. This booking can either be made in person or via the Internet.

Once the test has been passed, the prospective driver is to apply for conversion at a Traffic Police Test Centre counter. These counters are located in the same approved driving centers. The application must be made in person. When applying, the applicant must bring the following items:

– The original version and a photocopy of the applicant’s NRIC, entry permit, Employment Pass, Dependent’s Pass, social visit pass, or work permit
– The original version and a photocopy of the applicant’s foreign driving license
– A passport-sized color photograph of the applicant; the background must be white, the applicant must be looking straight, the applicant cannot be wearing tinted glasses or non-religious headgear, and the applicant’s ears and eyebrows must be visible.
– S$50 to pay for processing fees

Those who have their foreign driving license in a language other than English will also require either an international driving permit or an official English translation of the foreign license unless the license is from Brunei, Malaysia, or Indonesia. However, foreigners who are from other countries in Southeast Asia do not require an international driving permit to drive in Singapore. If the foreign driving license does not list its initial issue date, the applicant must receive an extract of the driving license record from the relevant authorities. To be approved, a foreign driving license must have been obtained before any relevant passes were received. For foreigners, these passes may include the Employment Pass, Dependant’s Pass, or Student Pass, among others.

Singaporean Citizens/PRs Who Own Foreign Driving Licenses

There are further steps which must be taken by Singaporean citizens or permanent residents who have a foreign driving license. Such people are required to prove that they have worked or studied abroad for a minimum duration of one year. They are also to submit proof that they lived abroad for at least six months of a 12-month period. Those who held a foreign driving license which had since expired are to obtain a written extract from the relevant authorities abroad. The extract is to include information on the date the foreign driving test was passed, the date on which the foreign license was issued, the class of license which the applicant obtained, and the applicant’s current driving record. Applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of Singapore are to register for the Basic Theory Test within three months of their return to the country.

Applicants who are successful should receive their license within two weeks of making the application.

Further Information

Anyone who has just received a Singapore driving license will be subject to a one-year probationary period. During this probationary period, the new driver is not to accumulate more than 12 demerit points. Drivers who do so are at risk of permanently losing the right to drive in Singapore through the possible revocation of their license. Drivers who are on probation are required to display a Probation Plate on both the front and rear windscreens of their vehicle; this plate informs the public that they are in the midst of a probationary period.

After a foreigner’s foreign driving license has been converted to a Singapore license, it will be valid for five years starting from the date of issuance. The license is to be renewed with the Traffic Police Department within one month of its expiry date. Singaporean citizens and permanent residents’ Singapore driving licenses, on the other hand, are valid for the rest of their lives and will therefore never expire.