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Singapore travel guide

About Singapore

Once routinely criticised for being dull, Singapore has reinvented itself as one of Southeast Asia’s most modern and dynamic cities. Melding together a mass of different cultures, cuisines and architectural styles, the city-state is now studded with vast new showpiece constructions to complement its colonial-era hotels and civic buildings. Cutting-edge tourist developments continue to spring up. Shopping avenues and underground malls throb with life, as do the food courts, the riverside bars and the temple-dotted outlying neighbourhoods. It’s never going to be Bangkok, but it’s doing a fantastic job of being Singapore.

Chinese, Indian, Malay and European influences all flow through daily life here. Boring? Hardly. It’s true to say, however, that the former British trading post and colony still has a reputation for its cleanliness (it’s still panned for its seemingly petty regulations, such as the banning of chewing gum). Likewise, levels of serious crime are very low. It’s worth pointing out, too, that Singapore’s cultural mix has left it with a genuinely world-class food scene – and you won’t need to spend big to eat well.

Recent years have seen the city really pushing for recognition as an international tourist destination in its own right, rather than as a convenient stopover. Significant investment has resulted in developments such as Marina Bay Sands, the three-towered skyscraper that now stands as Singapore’s centrepiece; Resorts World Sentosa, which is home to a Universal Studios theme park; and Gardens by the Bay, a remarkable project complete with “supertrees” and two colossal plant domes.

More traditional attractions include the designer malls of Orchard Road, the exotic clatter of Chinatown and Little India and the elegance of Raffles Hotel, still standing proud more than 125 years after being built. On the subject of hotels, Singapore now offers one of the best spreads of high-end accommodation in the region: a sign, amongst other things, of its ambition to keep visitors flooding in. It’s likely to succeed.

Key facts

Area:

697 sq km (269 sq miles).

Population:

5,696,506 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

7,987.5 per sq km.

Capital:

Singapore.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Halimah Yacob  since 2017.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong since 2004.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Singapore.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. Information on local testing facilities is available.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Singapore

See the Singapore Government website for the latest on the COVID-19 situation and measures in place to curb its spread.

If you do not comply with these measures you could be fined, imprisoned, or both, then deported. Repeat offenders will face further fines and/or prosecution. Be aware that restrictions and penalties are subject to change at short notice.

Public spaces and services

Face masks

You must wear a face mask in public. Some exceptions are: children under 6 years old; anyone eating, drinking or taking medication; or anyone engaged in strenuous exercise. You could be fined, imprisoned, or both if you are found not wearing a face mask without a valid reason.

The Health Sciences Authority’s guide on face masks recommends that masks have at least 2 to 3 layers of fabric.

Trace Together and Health Alerts via SMS

You’ll need to scan in and out of these places using the Trace Together phone app or token:

  • public buildings
  • shopping centres and malls
  • schools
  • workplaces
  • places of worship

If you happen to visit a ‘hotspot’ on the same day as someone infected by the virus, you’ll receive a health alert via SMS and may need to be tested. Read further information in the Ministry of Health press release on reopening.

Dining out

Dining out is not allowed, only take away and home delivery services.

Indoor gyms

Exercise indoors without a mask is not allowed, but is permitted with masks on for classes of up to 30. For further guidance, visit the Singapore government website. You should follow the safe distancing measures in place.

Outdoor exercise

You can exercise outdoors without a mask alone or with one other person.

Work

Working from home is still the default.

If you must go to work, wear a face mask and keep a distance of 1 metre from others.

Social gatherings at work are not allowed.

Social gatherings

When meeting up with friends or family:

  • keep group size to a maximum of 2
  • 2 different people (‘unique visitors’) can visit you at home in 1 day
  • you can have 2 social gatherings per day, whether at home or in a public place
  • keep a distance of 1 metre from each other

If safe distancing is not possible, while on public transport, for example, avoid speaking to each other or talking on the phone.

For guidelines on the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures, visit the Singapore government website.

Healthcare in Singapore

For contact details for English speaking doctors see our list of healthcare providers. English is almost universally spoken in Singapore, so all hospitals – whether private or public – will have English-speaking medical staff.

For a complete list of healthcare institutions in Singapore, see the HCI directory.

Anyone requiring a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can get it from one of the clinics approved by the Ministry of Health.

Antigen Rapid Tests are available to purchase from retailers for those who wish to conduct a self-test.

These clinics issue digital test result certificates. You should have these digital certificates notarised before you travel. Anyone looking to have their digital certificates notarised can use the services provided by the Government of Singapore.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health. View Health for further details on healthcare in Singapore.

If you need some emotional support during this period, you can call one of these numbers:

  • National Care Hotline: 1800 202 6868
  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221 4444
  • Mental Health Helpline (Institute of Mental Health): 6389 2222

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Singapore

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Singapore announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Singapore national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines (delete or expand as applicable). The Singapore government has opened vaccination for all residents and long-term visitors aged 12 years and over (including Permanent Residents, Employment Pass, S-Pass and Work Permit holders, foreign domestic workers, Dependent Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass and Student Pass holders).

Vaccination using Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as Comirnaty) and Moderna is free of charge. Whilst vaccination with other vaccines may be possible at private clinics for a fee, the Singapore government is discouraging the use of other vaccines. People not vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines may face additional restrictions and measures. More information, including on registration, can be found at Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination website. A Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme exists to cover any vaccine related impacts on health.

The local authorities have warned that vaccine-related scams exist. If in doubt, check the Ministry of Health website or call their hotline on 1800-333-9999.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Singapore, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Proof of vaccination

Once vaccinated in Singapore your vaccination status is recorded in the national ‘TraceTogether’ app/token and this can be shown at venues or events which require your vaccination status to enter. There are two ways to otherwise get proof that you have been vaccinated:

Health Hub will only show your Foreign Identification Number (FIN) if you are a resident foreign national, so have a copy of your work pass with you to show that your name matches the FIN.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Check the Singapore Ministry of Health website for full details of Singapore’s coronavirus response and restrictions.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Be aware of the risk of street crime, in particular bag snatching. Take care of your passport. Leave valuables in a hotel safe if possible. Don’t leave valuables in unattended vehicles.

Violent crime is rare.

Road travel

Road conditions in Singapore are generally good. If you’re involved in an accident, you should remain at the scene until the police have arrived.

You can drive in Singapore using a UK driving licence if you’re on a short term visitor pass. If you’re staying in Singapore on a longer term pass or become a Permanent Resident you should get a Singaporean Driving Licence.

Driving under the influence of alcohol carries serious penalties and can include a fine or imprisonment. The traffic police regularly carry out breath tests.

Air travel

The Singaporean authorities will prosecute cases of air rage within their jurisdiction.

Sea travel

There have been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Singapore and the Malacca Straits. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions. Reduce opportunities for theft, establish secure areas onboard and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Singapore.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Singaporean government has put in place extensive measures to combat terrorism and has arrested a number of terrorist suspects.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

On-the-spot fines are common and can be given for a wide range of behaviours which are tolerated in the UK. You can be fined for littering and for smoking in some public places. It’s also illegal to import chewing gum into the country, except for certain medical chewing gums.

Drunk and disorderly conduct

Drunk and disorderly conduct is a serious crime in Singapore. You should drink responsibly and know your limits.

Depending on the severity of the crime, convicted offenders may face up to S$5,000 (about £2,500) in fines, up to 15 years’ imprisonment, or caning.

Drinking in public places

It’s illegal to drink alcohol in a public place between the hours of 10.30pm and 7am, except in restaurants, bars and cafes (note this is also currently prohibited as part of Singapore’s pandemic response measures), the outdoor areas of private condominiums and chalets, and at outdoor events that have obtained a permit.

Geylang and Little India are designated as ‘Liquor Control Zones’. Drinking in public places is prohibited all weekend, on public holidays and on the eve of public holidays. If you ignore this, you could be fined up to S$1,000 (approximately £500). Repeat offenders could be fined up to S$2,000 (about £1,000) or sent to prison for up to 3 months.

E-cigarettes and smoking

You cannot bring vaporisers, like e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigars and refills into the country. These items are likely to be confiscated, and you could be fined or sent to prison.

The minimum age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of all tobacco products in Singapore is 21 years old. Failure to comply carries fines. Along Orchard Road smoking is only permitted in designated smoking areas.

Visa overstay

Penalties for overstaying your visa include fines, imprisonment, corporal punishment (caning) and deportation depending on the length of overstay.

LGBT

Male homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore, but in a statement to Parliament in 2007 Singapore’s Prime Minister said that ‘the government does not act as moral policemen’ and that ‘we do not proactively enforce’ the law on this issue. Openly gay and lesbian support groups and social venues exist. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Outrage of modesty

You should avoid any action that could be interpreted as molestation. Scams involving false claims of molestation are thought to exist. Penalties for convicted offenders include a fine, imprisonment, and/or corporal punishment (caning).

Death penalty

The death penalty exists for certain offences, including murder and drug trafficking. Trafficking is defined by possession of drugs above a certain amount (500g in the case of cannabis). There are severe penalties for all drug offences in Singapore, including possession. The Misuse of Drugs Act sets out the definitions.

Retention of passports during police investigations

If you’re the subject of a police investigation, your passport will be confiscated by the authorities. It will be returned to you once the investigation has concluded (if you’re convicted, it will be returned after you have served your sentence).

Investigations can take anywhere from a few days to many months, depending on the crime. In most cases, you aren’t allowed to leave Singapore while the investigation is ongoing. You must be able to support yourself financially during this period. The British High Commission cannot interfere in these investigations, nor negotiate the release of your passport.

Dual nationals and Permanent Residents

Singapore doesn’t recognise dual nationality beyond the age of 21. The following are liable for National Service:

  • all male Singapore citizens (including dual citizens below 21)
  • all male children granted Permanent Resident (PR) status as part of their parents’ PR application

Specific questions regarding National Service issues can be put to Singapore’s Central Manpower base: contact@ns.sg 

For further information see the following websites for Singapore - Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and  Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).

Others

Disrespecting public servants is treated seriously by the police.

A police permit is needed for any outdoor public assembly or procession. You should avoid street gatherings and public demonstrations as they might be illegal. Filming an illegal public gathering is also forbidden, as is the wearing or displaying of any ‘cause related’ material without permission.

Approval is needed for a foreign national to give a talk on ‘racial, communal, religious, caused-related or political topics’.

The public display of national flags or national emblems is illegal except where a specific exemption has been granted.

Both public and private Jehovah’s Witness meetings are illegal in Singapore. It is also against the law to possess any Jehovah’s Witness publication, including a Jehovah’s Witness bible. Similar measures exist against the Unification Church and the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Thorough checks may be carried out on departing travellers’ vehicles. Fingerprints may be scanned at border exit points.

The use of false ID is illegal.

There is zero tolerance for bribery. Any attempt to bribe or to otherwise prevent an official from carrying out their duties can result in arrest.

Acts of vandalism including graffiti carry harsh penalties such as fines, imprisonment and caning.

There are strict laws regarding rental of short-term accommodation.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Singapore on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Singapore.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medication

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Singapore. Check to see whether you need approval from the Health Sciences Authority to bring in medication from the UK.

Not all medicines from the UK are available in Singapore. Make sure you have a prescription from your GP, then take it to a doctor in Singapore who may be able to issue a prescription for a local equivalent. See the HCI Directory for a listing of licensed healthcare institutions.

Medical treatment

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 995 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Healthcare in Singapore is of a high quality and expensive. You should take enough medication to cover your stay and carry it in your hand baggage. Not all UK prescribed drugs are available in Singapore. Some over-the-counter medications need a prescription. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and that your travel insurance also covers costs for medical repatriation.

Air quality

From June to October Singapore can experience high levels of pollution (haze) from land clearance fires in Indonesia. The haze can cause disruption to local and regional air travel, and the air pollution may have an impact on public health. Keep up-to-date with local information and seek medical advice on appropriate precautions. You should monitor the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) updates and health advisories from the Singapore government.

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever and chikungunya virus occur all year round. You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

UK health authorities have classified Singapore as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is common in Singapore with more serious outbreaks from time to time. Young children are particularly at risk.

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Singapore

Only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents can enter Singapore without permission.

Visitors, including Long Term Pass holders, are not able to enter Singapore without prior permission from the Singapore government

From 24 June, there are new requirements for travellers who have been in the UK or another ‘high risk’ country up to 21 days prior to entry. These requirements are subject to change at short notice. See the Singapore Government website for more information.

See further information, including which countries are considered high risk, from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower will only allow Singapore work pass holders and/or their dependents to enter or re-enter Singapore if their employers have obtained prior approval from the Ministry and will only allow short-term visitors if they have permission. Further details can be found on the Ministry of Manpower website. You will be refused entry or risk deportation if you do not comply with this requirement. You also risk having your work pass revoked.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Once you have permission to enter Singapore you must submit an online health declaration in advance of your arrival. Otherwise, it will need to be completed upon entry and may result in delays to immigration clearance. If you’re allowed to enter, you must have travel insurance of at least S$30,000 covering Covid-19 hospitalisation and treatment.

Travellers are advised to check the Singapore Ministry of Health’s (MOH) website and the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) and its Safe Travel pages before travelling.

All work pass holders must comply with all Singapore government regulations or face their passes being revoked and/or fines/jail.

Quarantine requirements

Everyone granted permission to enter Singapore will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and arrivals from most destinations will be issued with a Stay at Home Notice (SHN) for 14 days. For arrivals from the UK and from most destinations the SHNs must be served at a government designated hotel. The cost must be met by the traveller.

A limited number of countries have been designated as ‘low-risk’ and will be issued with a shorter SHN, or no SHN. Arrivals from these countries may be also be permitted to carry out quarantine at their residence, if applicable. Full details of exemptions including testing requirements and quarantine information can be found on the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) ‘Arrival in Singapore’ and ‘SafeTravel’ webpages. You should check these websites for updates and review SHN details before travelling.

Everyone aged over 12 who is in home quarantine will need by law to wear an electronic tag for the duration of their quarantine period. The tags are about the size of a watch and are worn on the wrist.

In addition to quarantine fees, all arrivals must pay for a COVID-19 test which will be conducted before the SHN quarantine period ends. While you’re serving quarantine you will not be allowed to leave your room/place of residence. Smoking may not be allowed in government allocated quarantine facilities. The quarantine period cannot be reduced, even if you wish to leave Singapore. Failure to comply carries a fine and a jail term of up to six months. More details can be found on the Singapore government website.

Specific schemes exist for essential business travel to Singapore from certain countries. To use these schemes your travel must be sponsored by your employer. Schemes also exist for long-term pass holders to facilitate limited travel between Malaysia and Singapore.

Transiting Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport allows transit of passengers only in certain circumstances. Check with your airline before undertaking a journey via Singapore. You should also familiarise yourself with new transit procedures for Changi Airport before travelling.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

You don’t normally need a visa to enter Singapore for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, business or social visits. You may be eligible to enter Singapore using the enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) under the Frequent Traveller Programme.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Singapore. If you’re intending to transit Singapore to neighbouring countries, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months. You may be refused entry or turned away by airlines if your passport does not meet this requirement.

Entry is normally refused if you have a damaged passport or pages missing. Make sure your passport is in good condition before arriving in Singapore. Being refused entry can result in significant cost and a long stay at the airport.

Travelling while pregnant

Women who are more than six months pregnant no longer need to get permission before travelling, but the final decision on the length of stay permitted rests with the immigration officer on arrival. Prior entry clearance is needed for women intending to give birth in Singapore. You can apply at the High Commission for the Republic of Singapore in London or the nearest Singapore Embassy/High Commission if you’re not in the UK.

Customs regulations

Importing certain controlled drugs and pirated copyright material is prohibited and there are restrictions on entering with items like replica guns, radio communications equipment, and weapons and ammunition (including empty cartridge cases and air guns). For more information visit the travellers section of the Singapore Customs government website.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Arriving from the Middle East

If you’re arriving from an airport in the Middle East, you may be subject to screening for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). If you display symptoms, you may face quarantine or further testing.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Singapore. Your ETD should be valid for at least 6 months. No visa is needed on an ETD when entering or transiting Singapore.

The local currency is the Singapore Dollar, but there is a reciprocal arrangement with Brunei to accept their local currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and department stores. Some shops and services no longer accept coins and notes. Credit card fraud is not a major problem in Singapore, but you should check your statements carefully.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or cannot offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you cannot find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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