Important COVID-19 travel guidance
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.
This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice, so check our travel guidance.
Local laws and customs
On-the-spot fines are common, and can be given for a wide range of behaviours which are tolerated in the UK. You’ll be fined for littering and smoking in some public places. It’s also illegal to bring 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 SGD5,000 (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, 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 SGD1,000 (approximately £500). Repeat offenders could be fined up to SGD2,000 (about £1,000) or sent to prison for up to 3 months.
E-cigarettes and smoking
You can’t 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 20 years old. This will be raised to 21 years old in 2021. Failure to comply carries fines. Along Orchard Road smoking is only permitted in designated smoking areas.
Penalties for overstaying your visa include fines, imprisonment, corporal punishment (caning) and deportation depending on the length of overstay.
Male homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore, but in a statement to Parliament in 2007 Singapore’s Prime Minister stated 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).
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 several months, depending on the crime. In most cases, you aren’t allowed to leave Singapore while the investigation is ongoing. The British High Commission can’t 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disrespecting public servants is treated seriously by the police.
A police permit is required 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 from the Ministry of Manpower is required 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.
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.