A Car in Singapore

Worth the Cost?

A car in Singapore? Get ready to shed tears of shock!

Seriously. If you come from a country where driving is what you learn to do right after saying mommy and daddy, a car in Singapore will make you look at the privilege of private transportation in a whole different light.

First of all, this is what you pay - next to the price of a car - before you are even allowed to leave the dealership:

- a registration fee of $140

- an additional registration fee of 100%, 110% or 130% of the open market value

- a Certificate of Entitlement

- an excise duty 20% of the open market value

So yes, you read correctly:

1. take the manufacturer's price and double it.

2. Then add another 20%.

3. Then buy a COE for about $90,000 (April 2012).

4. Add your registration fee (pretty affordable, eh?)

5. Buy an insurance in advance for a year

6. Pay a road tax of about $1,200.

Finally, fill up the tank and top up your payment card for the on-board unit to get you through the local toll gantries, called (Electronic Road Pricing) and the word sticker shock for a car in Singapore takes on a whole new dimension.

This must be the most expensive place in the world to own a car.

That being said, though, public transportation is excellent, cheap and plentiful and you really can't put that many cars on a small island in the end.

But don't despair.

If you are still itching to trace the Singapore Grand Prix in your own set of wheels, not all hope is lost.

What are the Options?

Quite a few, actually, and not even bad ones at that.

Let me take you through a few.

Off Peak Cars

These autos with red license plates can be used on weekends, night hours and public holidays. Their tax rates are much lower and thus, their overall price is much lower than 'regular plate' automobiles.

The weekend car option used to be a bit stigmatized - har, har, can't afford a real car, huh? - but the government has made the plan even more attractive with extended hours of use, so you see these cars around quite a bit nowadays.

And if you do need the red-plater during prohibited hours, get yourself a $20 day license and off you go.

Used Automobiles

Used vehicles are not cheap, either, especially when people flock to second-hand dealers to avoid high new car prices and during times like now (Jan 2012) when COEs are running around $60,000.

But if you are willing to make do with a car that is a few years old, you can find a good set of affordable and dependable wheels. This is doubly true because Singaporeans take good care of their vehicles.

The first place to go is the online portal Car in Singapore - SG Car Mart and get oriented.


Dealerships seem to be clustered in Singapore and especially used-automobile dealers can be found in 'malls', basically a building full of makes, models and salespeople.

Just walk around a mall and you'll quickly get a good feel for the market. You will be approached frequently, but it is all civilized.

Here are some of the bigger locations, including new vehicle dealerships:

Turf City Mall


Lee Keng Belt

Automobile Megamart at Ubi

View Car Malls in Singapore in a larger map

Buying an Automobile - What You Need to Do

Car in Singapore

As usual in Singapore, not much.

The dealer will take care of everything for you and generally knows all about the required paperwork.

They also have affiliate programs with credit companies and banks as well as insurance companies, but you can buy those services on your own.

Feel free to ask questions and haggle - they will talk to you about most anything. Often, they throw in mats or window sunscreens, but I think getting the price down is a better deal -mats are cheap and plentiful.

The Consumers Association of Singapore has a program in place for dealers called Casetrust. Dealers who sign on are accredited to play fair and honest and adhere to transparent business practices.

If you want to rent a car in Singapore, check here.

Converting your license.

Back to more options in getting around Singapore

City Hall Singapore
Parachute, Singapore
Frangipani, Singapore
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Chinatown, Singapore
HDB, Singapore
Mosque, Singapore