Singapore

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 26 June 2014.   It contains updated information in the Summary and under Health (Singapore has screening arrangements in place at Changi Airport for travellers arriving from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) affected countries in the Middle East). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Singapore.

Singapore overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Singapore.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Penalties for drug offences in Singapore are severe and include the death penalty.
  • Singapore laws on “outrage of modesty” (such as men behaving inappropriately towards women, using inappropriate language and inappropriate touching) are strict. Penalties include imprisonment, fines, and/or corporal punishment (caning).
  • Singapore authorities require all travellers (including those transiting Singapore) to have at least six months validity remaining on their passports.
  • Outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever occur, especially during the wetter months (from December to March and from July to September).
  • Singapore has screening arrangements in place at Changi Airport for travellers arriving from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) affected countries in the Middle East. See the Health section for more information.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of Singapore, for the most up-to-date information.

Singapore authorities require all travellers (including those transiting Singapore) to have at least six months validity remaining on their passports. Many Australians with less than six months validity on their passports have been refused entry into, or exit from, Singapore. If you are refused exit from Singapore, you will need to apply for an emergency passport, which can take the High Commission up to two working days to process. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need to replace your passport while overseas.

People carrying controlled drugs require an import permit before entering Singapore. Permits may be required for medication available over-the-counter in Australia. For more information, contact the Health Science Authority in Singapore.

Singapore has severe penalties for illegal immigration and visa overstay, including fines, imprisonment and corporal punishment.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Singapore.

There is a threat of terrorist attacks against Western interests in Singapore. Possible terrorist targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, markets, places of worship, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and transport hubs such as train stations. Premises and symbols associated with the Singapore Government are also possible targets.

Singapore authorities have strict security measures in place which include strong border controls, security and police surveillance and restrictions on access to some public venues.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

Unauthorised public demonstrations are illegal in Singapore. A police permit is required for a public gathering of more than four people and anyone in breach of this law is liable to be prosecuted. If you are travelling as a group of five or more people, you should not obstruct others or prevent their right of way.

A police permit is also required for an assembly (of one or more people) or procession of two or more people in a public place to which members of the public are invited. More information can be obtained from the Singapore Police Force.

Public demonstrations are permitted only at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park. Foreigners who are not permanent residents require a permit to participate in any activity at Speakers’ Corner. Organisers of illegal demonstrations face hefty fines, imprisonment and deportation. Participants can be fined.

Crime

Violent crimes against tourists are rare.

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and street theft occurs at the airport, tourist destinations, hotels and on public transport.

Expatriates, including Australians, have been targeted by property rental scams. Con artists have posed as landlords on property websites offering fake rental properties. You should avoid making large payments in cash, ensure that you use only accredited agents, and request that all parties (including landlords and agents) are present when signing tenancy documents. Details of a rental property, including the owner, may be obtained from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore or the Singapore Land Authority.

Travellers and residents have been targeted by unscrupulous retailers of mobile phones, electrical goods and cameras in Singapore. Shop in reputable areas, compare prices, research the products and leave the store if you feel pressured into purchasing goods. Affected travellers can register complaints via the Singapore Tourism Board website and Singapore residents can approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Singapore.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

For advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Singapore. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. You should also read our piracy advice. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Pilots must seek permission before flying into Singapore's airspace.

Airline safety

For information, please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Singapore, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Singapore authorities may revoke visas and work passes held by foreign nationals in Singapore who break domestic laws. If you intend to work in Singapore, you must hold a valid work pass. For more information about work passes, visit the Singapore Ministry of Manpower website.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. Serious crimes, such as murder, abduction and weapons offences, may also attract the death penalty.

Corporal punishment (including the rattan cane) may be imposed for crimes including drug offences, rape, rioting, extortion, visa offences and vandalism.

The presence of illegal drugs detected in blood and urine tests constitutes an offence. Singapore permanent residents and citizens can be prosecuted for consumption of drugs even if they were consumed outside Singapore.

Airline passengers who become intoxicated, behave badly or use offensive language during a flight may be arrested on arrival in Singapore. Similar behaviour in transit may also lead to arrest.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence in Singapore. Sentences of up to 10 years in prison apply.

Homosexual acts between men, including kissing, are illegal in Singapore and penalties include imprisonment. There is no specific law against homosexual acts between women, however you should be aware of local sensitivities. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Shoplifting and theft are considered serious offences in Singapore. Australians visiting Singapore and transiting Changi Airport have received jail sentences for such offences. Shopping centres, including those at Changi Airport, have sophisticated surveillance equipment to prevent shoplifting.

Singapore has strict laws and penalties against a variety of actions that may not be illegal or may be considered minor offences in Australia, including smoking in public places or indoor restaurants, spitting, chewing or importing gum (including chewing tobacco), littering and jaywalking.

Singaporean laws on “outrage of modesty” (such as men behaving inappropriately towards women, using inappropriate language and inappropriate touching) are strict. Penalties include imprisonment, fines, corporal punishment (caning) or a combination of these.

Offences associated with “outrage of modesty” may apply on carriers registered in Singapore and inbound Singapore-owned carriers.

Police investigations can take more than a year, during which time you may be required to stay in Singapore, as your passport could be held by authorities. Scams in this field have also been reported.

Crimes that disrupt racial or ethnic harmony, such as racial insults, may attract severe penalties. People intending to speak publicly on racial, communal, religious or political topics must apply for a Miscellaneous Work Pass from the Ministry of Manpower.

The importation of pirated copyright material is prohibited. Offenders may be fined and/or jailed. Printed and recorded material legal in Australia may be considered obscene and prohibited under Singaporean law. For details, visit the Singapore Customs website.

It is an offence to enter or transit through Singapore with weapons, military souvenirs, replica weapons and ammunition (including empty cartridges).For more information on controlled and prohibited items, visit the traveller’s section of the Singapore Customs website.

You should obey signs prohibiting photography of official buildings.

The Singapore Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unification Church have been deregistered. Followers can practise their religion, but cannot participate in public meetings, engage in missionary work or distribute religious publications. Further information on societies may be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Standards of behaviour in Singapore are generally conservative. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Public displays of affection may cause offence.

Information for dual nationals

Singapore does not recognise dual nationality for individuals over the age of 21. Male citizens and permanent residents between the ages of 16 and 50 are liable for two years of national service and further periods of training. If you are a dual Australian-Singaporean citizen or if you are considering taking up permanent residency in Singapore, you should familiarise yourself with these provisions before deciding to travel to or live in Singapore. For further advice, contact the Singapore Ministry of Defence and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority or email Singapore’s Central Manpower Base at the following address: cmpb@starnet.gov.sg.

Our Dual nationals page contains further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Smoke haze occurs across Singapore usually from June to October. Those already in or travelling to Singapore may wish to monitor the haze situation in Singapore and any health warnings issued by the Singapore government and seek medical advice. Singapore’s National Environment Agency website provides updates when smoke haze occurs and contains further information about public health issues.

Some prescription and over the counter medications available in Australian may be considered controlled substances under Singapore law. If you intend to bring personal medication into Singapore that contains a controlled substance, you are required to apply for prior approval at least ten working days before you arrive in Singapore. The Singapore Heath Sciences Authority website website contains a list of controlled substances and information about applying for prior approval (e-mail: HSA_Info@hsa.gov.sg).

Outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Japanese encephalitis, occur, particularly during the wetter months (from November to March and from July to September). We recommend you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including by using insect repellent, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. For more information about dengue fever, visit the Singapore National Environment Agency website. See also the World Health Organization's factsheet on dengue fever.

Many areas of Singapore are regularly 'fogged' to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. The 'fog' consists of toxic chemicals and care should be taken to avoid travelling into areas immediately after fogging has taken place.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in Singapore with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October each year. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing. You should visit Singapore's Ministry of Health website for more information, including disease prevention.

Although there are no confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Singapore, temperature screening is in place at Changi Airport for passengers arriving from affected countries in the Middle East. Australians planning to visit or transit Singapore by air from MERS-COV affected countries in the Middle East should be aware that individuals who display symptoms of MERS-COV may be taken to hospital in Singapore for assessment and be required to remain in hospital if they are a suspected MERS-CoV case. Travellers who have come into contact (within two metres for thirty minutes or more) with a symptomatic person may be placed in quarantine by the Singapore Ministry of Health. For further information visit the Singapore Ministry of Health website and review our Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) travel bulletin.

Where to get help

In Singapore, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission, Singapore

25 Napier Road
SINGAPORE 258507
Telephone: (65) 6836 4100
Facsimile: (65) 6737 7465
Website: http://www.australia.org.sg/
Email: passports_consular.sing@dfat.gov.au

If you are travelling to Singapore, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre toll free (reverse charges) in Singapore on 800 616 2046, or on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Earthquakes in the region can affect Singapore.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis. In the Indian and Pacific oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

The monsoon season is from December to March and from June to September. Strong winds and heavy rain occur during these months.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Singapore is a major aviation hub. Flight disruptions occurring in many parts of the world, including due to volcanic ash plumes, may impact on flights in and out of Singapore. Australians affected by such flight disruptions should contact their airline or travel agent for the latest flight information.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.