Driver’s licence in Singapore
Like having your first drink and registering to vote, getting your driver’s licence is a rite of passage bestowed only to those who’ve turned 18.
As someone who is in the midst of getting her licence, I fully understand the ordeal of getting that coveted piece of plastic that lets you cruise down highways. There are tests to take, lessons to attend and the dilemma of choosing between auto or manual, school or private.
The process can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. But we’ve got the lowdown on all you need to know to get your driver’s licence in Singapore with this comprehensive guide.
An Overview: Steps to attaining your driver’s licence
Before we get started, here’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to get your licence. You can save this checklist and cross off each one when you’re done.
- Register at a driving centre in Singapore.
- Pass your eye and colour test.
- Pass your Basic Theory Test (BTT) and Final Theory Test (FTT).
- Get your Provisional Driving Licence (PDL).
- Take driving lessons.
- Take three sessions of the driving simulator.
- Pass your Practical Driving Test (TP).
- Get your licence.
1. Registration process
Image credit: Google Maps
Regardless of whether or not you choose to take your practical driving lessons with a school or private instructor, you’ll need to register with a driving centre. Try to pick one that would be most convenient for you to get to, as this is where you’ll be taking all your tests – both theory and practical.
For any of the schools, you can register online or at the centres themselves at the self-help kiosks. You’ll need to enrol into the course you’re planning to take. For a car driving licence, it’ll either be Class 3 (manual) or Class 3A (auto).
Here are the main differences between choosing a manual and auto licence:
- Easier to drive without having to use a gear stick and clutch.
- Most cars in Singapore are sold already with auto transmission.
- Easier to get an international licence when driving overseas.
- Fewer learners so it might be easier to book lessons.
Once that has been chosen, you’ll be emailed details on how to sign up for your eye and colour test. You’ll have to go down to the driving centre to take this, before you’re allowed to book a date to take your BTT.
Cost comparison between the driving schools
Image credit: SSDC
Registration fees are fixed across all three schools. They’re the base price you’ll be paying for your licence, even before you get started on the learning process.
The fees include:
- Eyesight test: $1.82
- Photo taking for your licence: $6.42
- PDL: $25
- BTT & FTT: $6.50 for each test
- TP: $33
- Qualified Driving Licence: $50
Total cost: $129.24
From here, each school offers different prices for their lessons, including time on the driving simulator, as well as rental of the car for your TP.
Do note that it is more expensive booking a lesson during peak hours than off-peak hours:
- Peak: Mon – Fri 10.20AM-12PM; 4.25-10.20PM | Sat – Sun 8.30PM-4.30PM
- Off-peak: Mon – Fri 8.30AM-10.10AM; 12.45PM-4.15PM
The schools also offer theory lessons for those who need extra help in studying. But these are optional and not necessary to purchase.
Bukit Batok Driving Centre
Address: 815 Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 Singapore 659085
Contact: 6561 1233
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 7.30AM-10.50PM | Sat – Sun 7.30AM-3PM
ComfortDelgro Driving Centre
Address: 205 Ubi Avenue 4 Singapore 408805
Contact: 6978 8199
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9AM-7PM | Sat – Sun 8.30AM-12.30PM
Singapore Safety Driving Centre
Address: 2 Woodlands Industrial Park E4 Singapore 757387
Contact: 6482 6060
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 9.15AM – 6.30PM | Sat – Sun 9.15AM – 1PM
2. Pass your eye and colour test
For private learners, you’ll have to book an appointment to take your eye and colour test at your registered driving centre. But for driving centre students, you’ll automatically be assigned to take your test on the day of your first theory lesson at the centre.
There are no tips or tricks in passing the eye and colour test. This is a routine practice done after registration to ensure you’re able to distinguish traffic light colours, as well as see well enough to drive.
3. Taking your theory tests and tips on passing
There are two theory tests to take – the BTT, which allows you to get your PDL, and then the FTT, which you’ll need to pass before you can take your driving test.
Image credit: @stay23
There are textbooks that will help you with cramming all that information you need, and are published by Mighty Minds or ACE. You can easily find brand new textbooks in bookstores like Popular. But if you’re looking to save a couple of bucks, there are loads of listings on Carousell and Facebook Marketplace for secondhand books.
Do take note, however, of when these books were published, just in case there have been updated traffic rules and regulations.
Like any good Singaporean student, you’ll want to take practice papers before sitting for the real deal. SG Driving has a bank of more than 400 questions each for BTT and FTT you can refer to. They even have flash cards and topical practice questions so you can focus on the areas you’re weakest in.
Booking a trial theory test
Even if you’ve decided to study the BTT or FTT on your own as a private learner, you can still sign up for a trial theory test at a driving centre to prepare yourself for the actual thing. Prices vary per trial test, depending on the centre you book it at (BBDC: $5.35; SSDC: $5.35; CDC: $6.42 on weekdays before 6.15PM, $7.49 otherwise).
The trial tests replicate the actual examination, where you’ll have to sit for a 50-minute session to answer 50 multiple choice questions. Take note, you’ll only get your score at the end of it, not which questions you’ve gotten wrong – if any.
Do take note that the trial theory tests, also known as internal evaluation, are compulsory for students who have signed up with a driving school.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to score at least a 90% or 45 out of 50 questions in order to pass both theory tests.
Once you’ve passed, congrats – the practical driving test is the only thing standing between you and your licence now.
4. Registering for your PDL
Image credit: DrivingInstructor
Once you’ve passed your BTT, it’s time to apply for a PDL. You can do so online with your Singpass using the Singapore Police Force’s e-services. Otherwise, head down to the Traffic Police Test Centre to apply in person. You’ll need your BTT results and your NRIC, plus $25 to pay for the licence, which can be done via cash or NETs.
Your PDL allows you to drive on roads with a licensed instructor in the front seat next to you. It is a must to present your PDL to your instructor every time you go for your practical licence. You can take a screenshot of your PDL or print it out to carry around with you.
5. Taking your driving lessons
Most student drivers will choose between a private instructor or driving school for their practical lessons. Both have their pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for.
Having lessons with a private instructor will allow you greater flexibility in scheduling lessons to your own convenience. You can even book back-to-back lessons if you want to speed up your learning process.
Driving schools, on the other hand, work on a first-come-first-serve basis when booking lessons. If you miss booking classes for the month, you’ll have to wait another month to book your next lessons. Having a large gap in between classes would mean having to play catch up each time you drive.
Some driving school students resort to camping on the booking website just so they can secure their slots for the month.
If you’re going private, you’ll be stuck with your instructor for the next six months or so, which may be beneficial. Having just one instructor throughout your course of learning means they’ll be able to keep track of your progress. However, if you don’t vibe with your instructor, it may be a hassle to change them. You might even have to restart lessons with a new instructor.
As an added pro, getting a private instructor could mean being picked up at a more convenient location. Some driving schools are in quite ulu locations, which can be difficult to get to, and you might end up spending more time on the commute alone.
Driving schools do not assign a single instructor to their students, although you can request for it at an additional charge. But since the instructors are all from the same school, you should be able to get a similar education from each one.
Also, the myth of driving schools having higher passing rates than private instructors isn’t exactly true – it really depends on the private instructor you have and your own learning trajectory.
Private instructors do generally cost less than signing up for lessons at a school. On average, it’s about $38 per hour for manual driving, and $45 per hour for auto driving. Most private students will take between 15-20 lessons on the road, then book five additional lessons on the driving circuit at a nearby school ($20-30 per use).
Estimated total cost: $1,327.80-$1,642.80
On the flip side, driving schools will charge between $70-$90 per 100-minute driving lesson, but there’s no difference between taking auto or manual lessons. You must attend at least 20 lessons before you’re allowed to sit for the practical driving test. However, you do get unlimited turns at the circuits at no extra cost.
Estimated total cost: $2,078.30-2,620.70
6. Taking the driving simulator
Since December 2019, it’s compulsory for all driving students to complete three sessions on the driving simulator, before you’re able to book the practical test. For private learners, you’ll have to book this through the centre you’ve registered with.
The simulator puts you in the most common causes for traffic accidents for you to pick up tips on defensive driving but in a safe environment.
Image credit: @andrian_id
Whether you’re a private learner or a student at the centre, it’s advisable to book the sessions as soon as you can, as there’s usually a long waiting list. Note that you’ll have to complete at least five practical lessons before booking is allowed.
Cost-wise, we’ve broken it down in the table above, and it’s the same for both private learners and students.
7. Passing your practical driving test
With lessons and theory tests out of the way, you’re now prepared to take your practical driving test. We’ve got you covered too with our driving test tips on how to score better.
P.S. If you’re struggling with parking, many driving instructors recommend downloading Dr. Parking 4 (App Store | Google Play Store). It’s a simulation game to practice what parking is like in real life.
How to get your driver’s licence in Singapore
Getting your driving licence in Singapore may involve lots of steps, but it’s all in the name of making sure our roads are kept safe.
But with this guide and tips we’ve included, passing this milestone in life should hopefully be easier. It won’t be long before you’ll be racing out – carefully and safely – onto the roads.
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