From learning to drive in Singapore to converting your foreign licence, our guide will get you (and your teen!) behind the wheel in no time...
Parenting a teenager is a minefield for sure: they require constant feeding, are endlessly bored despite a ton of cool things for teens to do in Singapore, they’re prone to growth spurts (so there’s a constant need to go shopping for teen-appropriate clothes), and they sometimes lose the ability to communicate beyond the odd grunt. But the moment they reach 18, it’s all about one thing: getting a driving licence in Singapore! So if you have a teenager desperate to start learning to drive, or are looking for refresher lessons yourself, then you need our guide to getting behind the wheel. Read on for the best places in Singapore to learn how to drive, how much it costs and how you can convert your international licence if you are new to town…
LEARNING TO DRIVE
Your teen’s 18th birthday has arrived and with it, no doubt, a strong and sudden desire to want to jump behind the wheel of a car and practise handbrake turns (eek!)! Sure, 18 is the legal age for learning how to drive in Singapore, but here’s how to put your teen on the road to safe driving success…
Step 1: Study for the Basic Theory Test
Back to the books, teens! The first step is to study for and pass the Basic Theory Test. Grab a copy of the BTT Book, and go online to try a heap of mock tests before you attempt the real deal. Once the rules of the road have all sunk in, book a BTT test (either online or in person) at one of the three dedicated driving centres here in Singapore. The test fee is $6.50.
Bukit Batok Driving Centre
815 Bukit Batok West Ave 5, Singapore 659085
T: 1800 666 8888
ComfortDelGro Driving Centre
205 Ubi Ave 4, Singapore 408805 (branches at Kovan and Tampines)
T: 6841 8900, 6848 0617
Singapore Safety Driving Centre
2 Woodlands Industrial Park E4, Singapore 757387 (branch office at Ang Mo Kio)
T: 6482 6060
Step 2: Apply for a Provisional Driving Licence
Your teen is now going to need a Provisional Driving Licence (PDL) for the next stage of learning to drive in Singapore. Send them along to the Traffic Police Test Centre with their BTT pass result, their IC and $25 for the licence (payable by cash or NETS).
Step 3: Driving school or private instructor?
If you don’t fancy denting either your relationship or your car by teaching your teen to drive yourself, then driving lessons with a private instructor or at a driving centre are the sensible options:
Beep, beep: Driving school, here we come
Singapore has three official driving schools: Bukit Batok Driving Centre, Comfort DelGro Driving Centre and Singapore Safety Driving Centre. Driving schools have a fixed syllabus to follow, and often have a minimum number of lessons a student must take before being allowed to go for the big test. The good news is you won’t have to book to use the circuits – you can use them anytime (when your instructor lets you).
Lessons generally cost between $69 and $86 per 100–120-minute lesson. Students are expected to need around 20–25 lessons to complete the task at hand, so you are looking at parting with around $2,000 if your teen manages to pass first time. Lesson costs are also bumped up slightly (around $9 more per session), if you want to request a specific instructor.
Honk, honk: Private lessons, here we come!
There are literally hundreds of driving instructors around Singapore. Word of mouth is always a good bet when it comes to finding a great fit, and online reviews are also helpful for finding the right instructor for you. Budget-wise, you’re looking at around $25–$60 per hour with a private teacher, and because lessons are generally shorter than at driving schools, expect to need around 20–30 lessons, depending on how quickly your teen gets to grips with driving. There’s no strict syllabus to follow if you go the private route, and this choice is generally more flexible with timings, too.
Step 4: Final Theory Test
Once lessons are going well, and your teen (and instructor) are feeling confident, it will be time to book the Final Theory Test (FTT). Procedures for this are much the same as with the BTT, and you will need to book through the driving centres once again. The test fee is also $6.50, and once passed you have two years to complete your Practical Driving Test.
Step 5: The Driving Test
With the BTT and the FTT passed, it’s almost time to legally get onto the PIE, ECP, AYE or even the CTE. (Start memorising all those acronyms!) All that hard graft and outpour of money will end with The Test, aka the Practical Driving Test (PDT). Your driving school or private instructor will be the best authority on knowing when your teen is ready, and will make the booking for you. The test costs $33 to sit and, once booked, you will get a receipt with the time, date and venue for the moment that determines whether your teen can officially hit the road.
The PDT will be conducted by a Driving Examiner (appointed by the Traffic Police), and consists of two parts: first up is a test of skills on a driving circuit, and the second part on the public roads to test abilities in interacting safely with other road users, and compliance with traffic rules and regulations. We feel nervous just writing about it! Serious mistakes will result in an immediate fail, whereas minor errors will be recorded as a series of penalty points along the way: score too highly and it’s back to the driving lesson drawing board (but you can apply for a re-test just as soon as you’ve booked two compulsory revision lessons). Pass? Celebrate by forking out another $50 for the driving licence, which you apply for at the driving centre, and then creep away quietly before the demands for a car begin.
NEW TO SINGAPORE? CONVERT THAT LICENSE
If you hold a driving licence that was issued outside of Singapore, you will need to convert your foreign licence to a Singapore licence within 12 months, or you’ll need to pass the Practical Driving Test.
To convert your foreign licence to a Singapore licence, you are going to have to swot up and pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT). Sadly all that hard work to pass your overseas theory test doesn’t count. Once you are ready, register at one of the three driving schools previously mentioned, and book your test.
When you have passed (well done!), you then need to apply for a licence conversion, in person, at the TP Headquarters, located at 10 Ubi Ave 3, Singapore 408865. Use our handy checklist (see right) to make sure you have everything you need to take with you on Conversion Day, and then voilà, you are free to get behind the wheel and explore Singapore!