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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.

Information on local testing facilities is available.

Entry and borders

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

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. 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

From 29 August 2022 face masks will only be compulsory on public transport, in care homes and inside healthcare facilities, including dentists and clinics. Facemasks will remain required in the queuing areas to board public transport, such as on train platforms and in bus queues, but will not be required inside airports, taxis and privately hired buses. At healthcare facilities all indoor locations, including shops and restaurants contained inside, require masks to be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking. Children under 6 years old do not need to wear masks. You could be fined, imprisoned, or both if you are found not wearing a face mask when it is required.

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 be fully vaccinated to dine out and will need to show proof of vaccination status on the TraceTogether phone app or token to attend an event or activity with more than 500 people and to enter some nightlife venues.

Short term foreign visitors are asked to download the TraceTogether app on their phones and activate it while in Singapore. Mobile phones and/or local tourist SIM cards can be rented/purchased at Changi Airport to enable visitors to do so.

TraceTogether tokens can be rented for children aged 7-12 or those with disabilities. See the TraceTogether for Travellers page.

Vaccination status

To dine out, attend an event with more than 500 people and enter some nightlife venues anyone over 12 years old must be recognised as fully vaccinated by the Singapore government’s definition. You’re considered fully vaccinated 14 days after you’ve completed the required doses of any of these vaccines:

  • Pfizer
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca (also known as CoviShield)
  • Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
  • Sinovac
  • Sinopharm
  • Covaxin
  • Novavax

Singapore’s Vaccine Booster Programme includes those 12 years old and above. If you are resident in Singapore, or have stayed in Singapore for over 30 days, and fail to get your first booster shot within 270 days after your final dose of the primary series you will lose your fully-vaccinated status. See section on booster shots.

Quarantine and home recovery

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will initially be required to isolate at your hotel or residential accommodation. Instructions on what to do next depend on whether you are well or unwell. Details are on Singapore’s Living with COVID-19 page.

Work

If you are unvaccinated, you are not allowed to go into work at all.

Vaccination is required to obtain or renew a long-term pass, work pass or Permanent Residency.

Details on workplace matters are under Advisories on COVID-19 on the Ministry of Manpower 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. These clinics issue digital test result certificates. You can have these digital certificates notarised before you travel.

If you’d like to do a self-test at home, you can buy Antigen Rapid Tests from retailers and chemists. There’s a list of self-test kits authorised for use in Singapore on the Health Sciences Authority website.

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

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.

See Support for British Nationals Abroad for detailed advice on what the British High Commission can do to help you.

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.

Arrests and detentions

If you’re arrested, you may be detained for up to 48 hours. You won’t be allowed to speak with anyone, not even a lawyer, during this period.

The Singapore Constitution allows for access to a lawyer, but timeframes are not defined.

See our guide on Singapore’s legal and criminal system. See Arrested Abroad to find out how we can help if you’ve been arrested or detained.

Passports confiscated by police during investigations

If you’re under police investigation, your passport will be taken from you. It will be returned once the investigation is over. If you’re convicted, the passport will be handed back after you have served your sentence.

There is no set timeline for investigations. In most cases, you will not be allowed to leave Singapore while the case is open. You must be able to support yourself financially during this period.

The British High Commission cannot interfere in the criminal and legal process in Singapore. For more on Singapore’s legal and criminal system, see our Prisoner Pack.

Drunk and disorderly conduct in public is an offence

You could be arrested for:

  • being found drunk and incapable in public
  • fighting and becoming a nuisance in public
  • resisting arrest, assaulting or hurting a public servant
  • touching someone inappropriately (whether resulting from drunken behaviour or not)
  • driving while drunk
  • drinking beyond the prescribed hours and the allowed areas

Depending on how serious the offence is, you could be fined, imprisoned, or caned.

Liquor Control Zones

It’s illegal to drink alcohol in a public place (besides restaurants, bars and licenced entertainment venues) between 10:30pm and 7am.

Geylang and Little India are ‘Liquor Control Zones’. Drinking in these areas is banned all weekend, on public holidays and on the eve of public holidays.

Offenders could be fined up to S$1,000 (approximately £500); repeat offenders could be fined and imprisoned.

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. You could be fined if you don’t comply.

Orchard Road is a No Smoking Zone. You can smoke at designated areas only. From 1 July 2022 smoking is banned at all public parks, all beaches and along certain waterways.

Visa overstay

Penalties for overstaying your visa include fines, imprisonment, corporal punishment (caning) and deportation depending on how long you’ve overstayed.

LGBT

Male homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore. However, 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 caning.

Death penalty and drugs

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.

It is possible to be tested for recent drug consumption upon arrival in Singapore, and to be charged with drug consumption even if the drugs were consumed overseas, including if they were consumed in a country where the use of that particular drug is legal.

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 on National Service 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 on rental of short-term accommodation.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

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.

Monkeypox

If you are assessed to have Monkeypox you will be legally required to isolate at home or in your hotel room until you are considered to have recovered. Anyone considered to be a close contact of someone infected with Monkeypox may similarly be required to isolate at home for a period. If you think you might have Monkeypox symptoms or may have been a close contact of a Monkeypox case you should seek medical advice immediately.

This page has information on travelling to Singapore.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Singapore set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Singapore’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All travellers

In general, British citizens do not need a visa to transit or enter Singapore. It’s up to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to decide who can enter Singapore.

All arrivals in Singapore must complete an electronic SG Arrival Card up to three days before entry into Singapore. This online form requires travel details and a health declaration. It is illegal to submit a false declaration.

If you’re arriving from certain countries in Africa and Latin America, you may need to show a yellow fever certificate to enter Singapore.

There are other measures in place for foreign crew working on ships, small vessels, or pleasure crafts at one of Singapore’s marinas. See guidelines for air/sea crew and pleasure craft owners. Check with your employer or agent for any specific COVID-19 rules at the marina.

Singapore has strict rules on:

  • wearing masks on public transport and in healthcare settings
  • being fully vaccinated to dine out, attend an event with over 500 people and enter some nightlife venues
  • testing, self-isolation and quarantine, whenever these are required

If you test positive for COVID-19 you are required to defer your travel to Singapore until at least 72 hours after you test negative, or, for those who continue to test positive, for at least 7 days for vaccinated people and at least 14 days for unvaccinated people.

Breaking these rules can lead to a lengthy investigation, fines, or a prison sentence. See Coronavirus section.

If you’re fully vaccinated

To enter Singapore you must be fully vaccinated and have digital or physical copies of your vaccination status. If you are not vaccinated, see the entry requirements for unvaccinated people below.

Children aged 12 years and under who are unvaccinated but travelling with fully-vaccinated parents or guardians can enter Singapore. This includes children turning 12 years old in 2022.

If you’re fully vaccinated and you’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months, you may be exempt from taking COVID-19 tests.

See the ICA website for complete information.

What happens if you test positive for COVID-19

You’ll need to self-isolate at the hotel or home you’re staying in. What happens next will depend on whether you’re well or unwell. See Ask MOH. Breaking self-isolation or quarantine orders is an offence. See Coronavirus section.

Proof of vaccination status

You must show proof that you have been fully vaccinated to enter Singapore.

Singapore will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

If you’re on a short-term pass in Singapore, you are asked to download the TraceTogether app or buy a TraceTogether token to scan in and out of public venues.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Until 29 August if you are not fully vaccinated you cannot enter Singapore unless you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident. From 29 August unvaccinated people will be able to enter Singapore for short-term visits but must show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result that was conducted or supervised by healthcare professionals, and that was completed within two days before travel. COVID-19 travel insurance of a minimum cover of S$30,000 is also compulsory and proof of insurance must be shown. For details, visit the ICA website.

Children and young people

Children born on or after 1 January 2010 (i.e. aged 12 and below by year of birth) are exempted from COVID-19 border measures. See Singapore’s ICA website for full guidelines.

If you’re transiting through Singapore

Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.

Check with your airline if it has approval to transit through Singapore.

Passengers transiting Changi Airport for less than 24 hours and not entering Singapore are not required to have proof of vaccination or tests, and are also not required to complete any entry approval measures.

You do not need a visa for an airside transit in Singapore.

More information about transiting through Singapore can be found on the Transiting through Singapore page of the ICA website.

Arriving by car

If you are arriving in a car that is not registered in Singapore, visit the OneMotoring website to apply for a Vehicle Entry Permit.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Passports

If you’re visiting Singapore, your passport should be valid for six months from the date you arrive.

If you’re a resident in Singapore there’s no minimum validity required, but you should apply for a replacement before your passport expires.

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

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. You don’t need a visa on your ETD when entering or transiting Singapore.

Items banned for import into Singapore

It’s a criminal offence to import controlled drugs into Singapore. If convicted, you could be imprisoned, caned or executed.

These items are also considered prohibited – you cannot bring them into Singapore:

  • vaporisers and e-cigarette products, and tobacco products that involve chewing, inhaling and injecting
  • chewing gum - unless you have an exemption from the Health Sciences Authority for medical reasons
  • weapons and ammunition (including empty cartridge cases and air guns)
  • replica guns, including lighters shaped like a pistol or revolver
  • radio communications equipment

See this complete list of prohibited items. Check the Singapore Customs website for full guidelines.

Yellow fever certificates

If you’re arriving from certain countries in Africa and Latin America, you may need to show a yellow fever certificate to enter 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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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