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The Ultimate How to Move to Singapore from America Guide

The Ultimate How to Move
to Singapore from America
Guide

Moving to Singapore from America? Our Ultimate How to Move to Singapore from America Guide covers absolutely everything you need to know about moving from America to Singapore.

With in-depth information and valuable resources, from how to apply for a visa to how to import common household items, from what Singapore's healthcare and education systems are like, to how to decide where to live, our Moving to Singapore from America Guide will help you and your family have a safe, seamless, stress-free move to Singapore.

Chock-full of important international moving tips, as well as insights into Singapore's customs and culture, including everything from table manners, commonly used words, holidays and food, to the sports Singaporeans like to play and watch, our Moving from America to Singapore Guide will also assist you and your family assimilate into day-to-day life quickly and easily on arrival.

As the largest moving company in the world, with over 1,000 service centers across 180 countries, UniGroup Worldwide International Movers will help make your move to Singapore as smooth and stress-free as possible.

With over 85 years' experience, successfully delivering 48,000 international shipments annually, our overseas move experts can help ensure your safe, seamless stress-free move to Singapore from America.

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Americans to Singapore safely, seamlessly and stress-free

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Americans to Singapore safely, seamlessly and stress-free

For your convenience, you may:

  • Easily navigate through our Ultimate How to Move to Singapore from America Guide by clicking the links within the Contents section below.
  • Read our accompanying step-by-step Complete How to Move to Singapore from Americans Checklist, a full-proof list of easy-to-follow, chronologically ordered tasks designed to help ensure you and your family enjoy a smooth, stress-free move to Singapore.

BASIC INFO TO KNOW WHEN MOVING TO SINGAPORE

Nationality

Singapore

National Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Chinese New Year, Date fluctuates Good Friday, Date fluctuates Labour Day, 1 May Vesak Day, Date fluctuates Hari Raya Puasa, Date fluctuates National Day, 9 August Hari Raya Haji, Date fluctuates Deepavali, Date fluctuates Christmas Day, 25 December

Financial Year

1 April - 31 March

Government Type

Parliamentary republic

Currency

Singapore dollar (SGD)

International Dialling Code

65

Country Domain Code

.sg

Road Traffic

Drives on the left

Electricity

230V, 50Hz. UK plugs

Emergency Numbers

112 or 911: Mobile phones
999: Police
995: Ambulance
995: Fire
1777: Non-emergency ambulance
1800 255 0000: Police hotline
6547 0000: Traffic police

Time Zone

GMT+8

HISTORY OF SINGAPORE

Founded as a British colony in 1819, Singapore joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but became independent two years later. Singapore quickly became one of the most prosperous countries in the world due to its strong trading links. Their per capita GDP is equal to that of other leading Western European nations.

POPULATION

Population

5,781,728

Population Growth Rate

1.86%

Median Age

total: 34.3 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 34.4 years

Life Expectancy

85.0 years

GEOGRAPHY

Location

Singapore

Geographic Coordinates

1 22 N, 103 48 E

Area

total: 697km2
land: 687km2
water: 10km2

Geography

Singapore is the central point for the sea routes in Southeast Asia.

Capital

Singapore geographic coordinates: 1 17 N, 103 51 E

Major Urban Areas and Population

Singapore 5.619 Million

CLIMATE

Singapore’s tropical climate means the weather is generally hot and humid. Monsoon season is from December to March in the northeast and June to September in the southwest.

ECONOMY

Singapore is a highly-developed nation that is corruption free and enjoys stable prices and a high per capita GDP. Unemployment is very low. In 2009, Singapore’s economy contracted 0.6% due to the global financial crisis but recovered in 2010 with the help of renewed exports. Growth slowed again between 2014 and 2016. By increasing wages and addressing the country’s dependency on foreign labour, Singapore is aiming to restructure their economy.

GDP Per Capita

$87,100 USD

Taxes and Other Revenues

15.8% of GDP

CULTURE

Languages Spoken

English Malay Mandarin Chinese Tamil

Major Ethnic Groups

Chinese Malay Indian

NATIONAL IDENTITY

National Flag

National Anthem

"Majulah Singapura" (Onward Singapore)

National Symbol(s)

Lion, Merlion (mythical half lion-half fish creature), Orchid

National Colours

Red, white

SINGAPORE's COUNTRY RANKING

Quality of Life

Ranked 6th of 80 countries

Cost of Living

Ranked 7th of 104 countries

Education System

Ranked 9th of 187 countries

Healthcare System

Ranked 6th of 190 countries

Happiness of Residents

Ranked 26th of 155 countries

Crime Rate

Ranked 116th of 117 countries

Suitability for Green Living

Ranked 14th of 180 countries

How Much Does It Cost to Move to Singapore?

Calculating moving to Singapore Calculating moving to Singapore

The cost of moving to Singapore from America comprises of a number of expenses, each with their own variables. The largest components will likely be the shipping of your household belongings, and the relocation of your family. Beyond that, there are additional costs for storage, insurance and temporary accommodation upon arrival.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Household Goods to Singapore?

The cost of shipping your belongings can vary dramatically depending on the volume you're shipping, what you're shipping, how and from where and to you ship it. For example, a sparsely furnished two to three-bedroom home shipped by LCL (Less than Container Load) or Groupage sea freight from Washington DC to Singapore could cost US$1,000 to US$2,000 whereas, a heavily furnished four-bedroom home shipped by FCL (Full Container Load) sea freight from and to the same ports may cost twice that. Furthermore, the cost would increase if you're moving from an inland city, or you're shipping antiques, a piano, wine, and/or expensive or bulky items that may require custom crating or packing. And if you're in hurry to ship your belongings to Singapore, the same size homes could easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars to ship by air freight.

Given all these variables, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a detailed quote from an experienced, reputable international mover like UniGroup Worldwide International Movers.

For more information on the different types of sea and air freight, their respective advantages, disadvantages and how to calculate their costs, read our in-depth guide What is the Best Way to Move Overseas? Best Air & Sea Freight Options.

How Much Does It Cost to Relocate Your Family to Singapore?

The average cost of an economy class ticket from the Washington DC or Portland ME to Singapore is between US$580 and US$1000. So, relocating a family of four from America to Singapore can be between in airfares alone.

Additionally, if you are bringing any pets, there will be costs for their flight, any health checks or vaccinations required, and possible quarantine charges on arrival. Roughly, a cat or medium sized dog would cost between to join you.

What Other Costs are Involved in Moving to Singapore?

There are several other costs involved in moving to Singapore, including:

  • Storage:
    • If you are not moving to Singapore permanently, and opt to leave some of your household goods in America, you may need to organize and pay for secure long-term storage
  • Insurances:
    • When moving to Singapore, you may need to invest in several different types of insurance, including moving insurance, international health insurance and travel insurance
  • Temporary accommodation:
    • If you plan on searching for a new family home once you arrive in Singapore, you will need some form of temporary accommodation for when you first arrive. On average, a hotel room in Singapore costs between US$120 to US$170 per night, while a serviced apartment costs on average between US$800 to US$1,000 per week. So, if you need temporary accommodation for one month, the cost could exceed US$4,000.

How to Apply for a Singapore Visa

Applying for a Singapore visa Applying for a Singapore visa

All Americans who intend to work in Singapore must have a valid ‘work pass' or visa before they commence work. However, individual Americans cannot apply for Singaporean work visas. Singaporean work visas can only be applied for on your behalf by your Singaporean employer or by an appointed employment agent. To ensure that your visa application process runs as smoothly as possible, follow the information below on the types of visas available, the requirements to have a visa granted and the documentation required.

Why Do I Need a Singapore Visa?

American citizens wishing to move to Singapore must obtain a visa. Having a Singapore visa allows you to request permission from the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to enter Singapore. Whilst having a visa does not guarantee you entry into Singapore, it does indicate that a consular officer at a Singapore Embassy or Consulate has determined that you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose.

What Types of Work Visas are Available in Singapore?

There are two main types of Singaporean work visas available: those for Professionals, and those for Skilled and Semi-Skilled Workers. Each of these types has several sub-categories, which is outlined below.

Singapore Work Visas for Professionals

In Singapore, there are three types of work visas for professionals:

  • 1. Employment Pass: For foreign professionals, managers and executives who earn at least S$3,600 per month and hold relevant qualifications
  • 2. EntrePass: For foreign entrepreneurs who plan to establish and operate a new business
  • 3. Personalised Employment Pass: Offering more flexibility than the Employment Pass, this type of pass is for high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals.

Singapore Work Visas for Skilled and Semi-Skilled Workers

In Singapore, there are four types of work visas for skilled and semi-skilled workers, which may be applicable for Americans:

What are the Requirements of a Singapore Work Visa?

Singaporean employers and foreign nationals must satisfy several requirements to be granted a work visa. To ensure your work visa is approved, we suggest you comply with the requirements below.

Employer Requirements

Employers are subject to strict requirements, both before and once a work visa is approved. These requirements include:

  • As part of Singapore's Fair Consideration Framework, employers may be required to advertize the job opening on the  Jobs Bank before submitting an Employment Pass application. The advertisement must be open to Singaporeans and run for at least 14 days
  • Only provide employment to holders of work passes
  • Pay the fixed monthly salary as declared in the application process
  • Cover the cost of upkeep and maintenance of workers, including the cost of any medical expenses incurred while in Singapore
  • Find acceptable housing for workers
  • Purchase and renew medical insurance to ensure workers are covered for in-patient care and surgery costs
  • Send workers for a medical examination, performed by a Singapore-registered doctor. Unfit workers may have their work permit revoked
  • Pay the monthly foreign worker levy for each worker
  • Purchase security bonds
  • Not ask for, nor receive, any sum of money or benefit from an employment agency in connection with the employment of a foreign worker.

Foreign Worker Requirements

Foreign workers are subject to strict requirements, both before and once a work visa is approved. These requirements include:

  • Only work in the occupation and for the employer outlined in the work visa
  • Not accept work in any other business or establish their own income-earning activity
  • Only live at the address provided by their employer, with any changes in address communicated to the employer immediately
  • Carry their work visa on their person at all times so it can be shown to any public officer
  • Work visa holders can only marry Singaporean citizens or permanent residents with the express permission of the Ministry of Manpower. This applies after revoking and lapsing of work visas
  • After completion, termination or resignation, the work visa must be cancelled within seven days. The employer must cover the cost of repatriation and clear all outstanding payment and salaries.

Who Can Apply for a Singapore Work Visa?

An employer or authorized third party must apply for a candidate's work visa. An individual American citizen cannot apply for a Singapore work visa.

If you are employed by an overseas company that does not have a registered office in Singapore:

  • You need to enlist a Singapore-registered company to act as your local sponsor and apply on your behalf
  • The local sponsor must apply manually.

What Documentation Do I Need for a Singapore Visa Application?

Either your Singaporean employer or an employment agency will apply for your work visa on your behalf. As such, they will provide explicit instructions as to what documents you need to provide. However, to help ensure your application process does not meet any undue delays, keep in mind that you will need to compile the following documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Academic records
  • Tax returns for the last three years
  • Bank statements for the last six months
  • Medical examination reports
  • Police check report
  • Previous passports
  • Recent passport photographs.

Do I Need to Apply for a Central Provident Fund Account?

Applying for a Central Provident Fund Applying for a Central Provident Fund

The Central Provident Fund is a key pillar of Singapore's comprehensive social security system. Under the fund, compulsory contributions to retirement, healthcare and housing are made by both employers and employees. This fund can only be accessed once a contributor has reached 55 years of age.

As contributions to the fund are mandatory, there is no need to apply for an account or a number. Your employer will take care of everything for you.

This scheme is available to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who are working under a contract of service in Singapore and are employed on a permanent, part-time or casual basis.

How to Decide Where to Live in Singapore

Deciding where to live in Singapore Deciding where to live in Singapore

If you're not moving from America to Singapore to a specific location for work, you'll need to decide where to live. From low crime rates to superior quality health and education systems, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect place for you and your family to call home. To help you decide where in Singapore will best suit both your needs and those of your family, some of the most important factors are outlined below.

What is Singapore's Unemployment Rate?

Singapore has a low unemployment rate of 2.2% as of March 2017, which is the 13th lowest unemployment rate in the world. As Singapore is a small island city-state unemployment rates vary little around the island. You will have similar access to employment no matter where you choose to live in Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower publishes monthly statistics on unemployment rates.

What is the Average Salary in Singapore?

The average salary in Singapore was S$4,056 per month in 2016, which represents a 3.6% growth from 2015. The Ministry of Manpower publishes salary statistics and growth rates annually. Once again, as Singapore is a small island city-state, average salaries do not vary greatly across the island. So, regardless of where you live, your likely earning potential will be consistent.

What is the Cost of Living in Singapore?

The Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2016ranked Singapore as the 4th most expensive country to live in the world. High wages account for higher living costs, but you need to consider your living costs before you decide on where you will live in Singapore.

The following provides an idea of average pricesyou can expect to pay for products and services in Singapore (although keep in mind that these prices will vary based on both location and provider):

  • Monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city-center: S$4,000
  • A dozen eggs: S$3
  • A liter of milk: S$3
  • A loaf of bread: S$2.30
  • McDonald's Big Mac Meal: S$8
  • A cappuccino: S$6
  • Three course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): S$60
  • Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable): S$50
  • Monthly utilities (gas, power and water) for a small apartment: S$158
  • Petrol (per liter): S$2.13.

What is the Crime Rate in Singapore?

Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world , making it one of the safest places to live. The island city-state is so well-developed that expats can expect to feel safe in any part of Singapore.

What is the Quality and Availability of Health Care Like in Singapore?

The standard of healthcare throughout Singapore is one of the highest in the world. No matter where you decide to live in Singapore, you and your family will have access to quality health care. Medical staff are proficient in English and facilities are world-class.

For more information, visit What is the Healthcare System Like in Singapore?

What is the Quality of Schools Like in Singapore?

Singapore has a world-class education system. However, expats need to be aware of the value that citizens place on education and the competition that exists for places in the best schools. There is also a public and private education system in Singapore, so it is worth researching your options before you arrive. English is the primary language of education, although Mandarin is also mandatory.

Public schools will only accept students from particular catchment areas. So, if you want your children to attend public school, it is important you select where you live based on where you want your children to be educated.

For more information, visit What is the Education and Schooling System Like in Singapore?

What is Population Wellbeing and the Standard of Living in Singapore?

Singapore performs very well in many measures of population wellbeing and standard of living. In fact, Singapore has one of the highest living standards in Southeast Asia, with both necessities and luxuries readily available. 

However, when it comes to deciding on a place to live, you really need an understanding of what local population wellbeing is like. Given that Singapore is a small island state, you can expect to enjoy relatively consistent standards of living and population wellbeing throughout.

What are Tolerance and Diversity Like in Singapore?

As in any country, people throughout Singapore have varying levels of tolerance. Singaporean culture is quite unique. Distinct ethnic and religious groups live side-by-side in harmony, while the laws and culture of the country are conservative in comparison to American standards. Conservative attitudes are common throughout Singapore, and while certain areas may be more liberal, you'll need to respect local attitudes, regardless of where you choose to live.

What is the Average Commute Time in Singapore?

The neighborhoods closest to central Singapore and the Central Business District (CBD) will provide expats with the shortest commute times. Singapore has an extremely well developed public transport system, which makes commute times relatively short from all areas of Singapore. The exclusive neighborhood of Sentosa is perhaps the only area where you will need a car to reach the CBD.

What is the Climate Like in Singapore?

Singapore's climate varies very little throughout the year, and due to its small size, there is little variation throughout the city-state. Singapore is just a few degrees from the equator, which explains the year-round hot and humid temperatures. Your choice of neighborhood won't allow you to escape the heat, so it's important that the home you choose is equipped with an adequate cooling system.

What is the Geography of Singapore?

Singapore is a heavily urbanized island, located between Indonesia and Malaysia, at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Mainland Singapore is just 51km (32 miles) wide, and 27km (17 miles) long. Singapore is very flat, with most of the island sitting just 15m (50ft) above sea level. Given its relatively small size, you likely won't need to account for geography too much when deciding where to live.

What is the Weather Like in Singapore?

Singapore is a small island city-state, situated close to the equator. This means there is very little variation in the weather throughout Singapore. The weather is hot and humid throughout the year. There are two monsoon seasons in Singapore, the first from mid-November to early-March, and the second from June to September.

The only key difference in the weather throughout Singapore is that the eastern side of the island can be drier and therefore hotter than the western side. It is also possible to see rain on one side of the island and sun on the other. However, the differences are not significant enough to make weather a deciding factor in where you choose to live.

Most Popular Neighborhoods to Move to in Singapore

For more information on the most popular Singaporean neighborhoods to live, visit:

When is the Best Time to Move to Singapore?

Deciding when to move to Singapore Deciding when to move to Singapore

Timing your move to Singapore is vital in ensuring the entire process runs as smoothly as possible. The key periods in which to avoid moving to Singapore are holiday seasons and periods of inclement weather. Read below to time your move around these potential roadblocks.

Consider the Weather

It is best to avoid moving to Singapore during monsoon seasons as rainfall can create difficulties in moving. There are two monsoon seasons in Singapore. The first is from mid-November to early-March and the second from June to September.

Year-round hot and humid weather means it is also best to move into your new home early in the morning, before the sun is at its peak.

Consider Holiday Seasons

Moving during holiday seasons in any country is generally more expensive. Consult the list below to ensure your move to Singapore doesn't coincide with any of the holiday seasons.

It is also important to keep in mind that if a public holiday falls on a weekend, usually the following Monday will be declared a holiday.

If possible, avoid the following holiday seasons in Singapore:

  • All federal public holidays
  • New Year's DayNew Year's Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • Good Friday
  • Labor Day
  • Vesak Day (Buddha's Birthday)
  • Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan)
  • National Day
  • Deepavali
  • Christmas Day.

What is the Education and Schooling System Like in Singapore?

Types of schools in Singapore, and how to choose one Types of schools in Singapore, and how to choose one

Singapore is universally-regarded as having one of the best education systems in the world. However, this high rating means competition for places in schools is fierce. Locals also place a high value on education and students may need some time to adjust to this increased external pressure.

In the Singapore education system:

  • Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 15 years old
  • Education is broken down into the following levels:
    • Pre-School or Kindergarten: Children attend pre-school or kindergarten from the age of four to the age of six. The Singapore Ministry of Educationruns 16 kindergartens across the island that have been designed with affordability in mind
    • Primary School: Students attend primary school from the age of six until the age of 10 in Singapore
    • Secondary: There are three streams of secondary school available (Express, Normal and Technical) and the stream your child can enter is dependent on their Primary School Leaving Exam results. The stream in which your child is placed will work to enhance their strengths.
  • The Singapore education system is centralized, with the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education. As such, there is a high-degree of uniformity throughout Singaporean schools. For further information about the curriculum, visit:
  • The academic year is broken up into two semesters:
    • Semester one: January to May
    • Semester two: July to November.
  • There is a strong emphasis on bilingual education in Singapore. However, foreign students can opt out of bilingual education via a written request to the school
  • There are no laws in Singapore that guarantee appropriate facilities for special needs students
  • Singaporean citizens are given first-preference (over foreign nationals) for places at well-appointed schools.

What Types of Schools are there in Singapore?

There are three main types of schools that expats can opt to send their children to in Singapore: public, private or international schools. It is important to remember that public schools will usually give preference to Singaporean students, followed by students with permanent residency and finally those whose parents hold temporary work visas. In contrast, Singaporean students need permission from the Ministry of Education to attend a private or international school, so odds are you'll find it easier to place your child in either a private or an international school.

Public Schools

The public school system in Singapore is excellent due to the national curriculum imposed by the Ministry of Education. Public schools are far more affordable than private or international schools and English is the primary language of education. Public schools only accept students from particular catchment zones, so where you live will have an impact on your child's education options.

If you're relocating to Singapore for an extended period, sending your child to a public school will assist in the assimilation process. Although, you need to prepare your child for the peculiarities of the Singapore education system. For example, corporal punishment is sometimes used, and poorly-performing students can be expelled, especially from the top schools.

If you enroll your children in a public school, you will be expected to make a donation to the national education fund of S$1,000 every two years.

Private Schools

Singaporean students must have permission from the Ministry of Education to attend a private school. As a result, many private schools consist largely of international students. Private Education Institutions (also sometimes called Private Education Organizations) offer Singaporean education qualifications.

Singapore's Committee for Private Education oversees private schools, which are especially useful in filling the gaps in the state system. For example, parents of students with special needs may find the private schools offer facilities and extra assistance that may be missing at public schools.

If you would like to shortlist private schools, the best place to begin your research is with the Ministry of Education's list of private schools.

International Schools

Expats have a broad range of international school options in Singapore. International schools have been established by a number of nationalities, including Americans, and learning standards usually reflect the standards of the country of origin.

There are more than 30 international schools across the city-state, although fees are substantial and places are limited. If you wish to send your child to an international school, make sure you start researching and apply early.

The International Schools Database has published a list of all the international schools in Singapore.

How to Enroll Children in School in Singapore

With competition for places at some schools in Singapore quite fierce, you need to know exactly what is involved in the enrollment process. Keep in mind that there are different requirements depending on whether you want to send your children to a public or private school. Follow the tips outlined below to help ensure your children secure a place at the school of your choice and that the enrolment process is as easy as possible.

How to Enroll in a Public School

Follow these steps to enroll your children in a public school in Singapore:

  • 1. Find the school you wish your children to attend and apply for admission. The admission process and forms that you'll need to complete may differ slightly from school to school
  • 2. If successful, your child will be granted a provisional acceptance
  • 3. Your child will need to complete the Admissions Exercise for International Students (AEIS), which is a compulsory test for all children whose parents hold either an Employment Pass or an S Pass work visa. The AEIS is held in September or October each year, although there is also a 3. Supplementary Admissions Exercise for International Students 3. in March or April. To apply to complete these tests, you will need to:
    • Provide a birth certificate
    • Provide a passport with validity of at least six months
    • Pay the non-refundable fee of S$672.
  • 4. Your children will be offered a place in a school based on both their result in the AEIS and the availability of places.

How to Enroll in a Private or International School

Most private and international schools accept enrollments throughout the year. However, it is important to remember that more popular schools may have waiting lists, so it is best to enroll as soon as possible. Some schools will require that your children sit aptitude tests, focused on English and math skills, to determine in which grade they should be placed.

You will need a copy of most of these documents to enroll in an international or private school:

  • Your child's birth certificate
  • Your child's and your passports
  • Your child's Dependent's Pass
  • Your child's school records for the last three years
  • Your child's immunization and medical records
  • At least two passport-sized photos of your child.

What Types of Tertiary Education are there in Singapore?

In Singapore, students can begin tertiary education from the age of 17. The institutions that provide tertiary education include junior colleges, polytechnics, institutes of technical education and universities. As in all forms of education, Singapore is a world-class provider of tertiary education.

If you're relocating to Singapore with older children, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Singapore tertiary education system, including the types of education available, to help narrow down your child's choices and develop an education plan. Detailed information on the types of tertiary education institutions available in Singapore are outlined below.

Junior Colleges or Pre-Universities

Junior colleges and pre-universities prepare students for tertiary education. The curriculum is made up of two compulsory subjects (Mother Tongue and General Paper), plus four elective GCE ‘A' Level subjects chosen from the fields of arts, math and science. Students who complete pre-university receive a School Graduation Certificate, and can then apply to attend universities.

Polytechnics

Polytechnics award diploma certificates, usually in subjects such as engineering or business studies, as well as specialized courses such as optometry, nursing and early childhood education. There are currently five polytechnics in Singapore:

Institute of Technical Education (ITE)

An ITE provides technical education and training, which prepares students for the workforce. There are three ITEs in Singapore:

Universities

The three local established universities in Singapore are:

There are also several foreign universities, including:

How to Choose a School in Singapore

To assist you in finding the most appropriate school for your children, visit:

How to Ship Household Goods to Singapore

Shipping household goods to Singapore Shipping household goods to Singapore

If you're moving to Singapore, then a huge part of the process is going to involve shipping your household belongings to Singapore, and the associated customs requirements. To ensure that your household items arrive in Singapore safe and sound, and clear customs as quickly and easily as possible, be sure to follow our advice on the documents required, customs prescriptions, and other tips and suggestions below.

Keep the following considerations in mind when shipping your household belongings to Singapore:

  • Household goods may be subject to Goods and Service Tax (GST). If applicable, GST is charged at the rate of 7% of the declared value of goods (not the insured value)
  • You do not need to be in Singapore to clear your household goods through customs, so long as all paperwork is completed in advance and you have supplied a copy of your passport
  • If possible, it is best to include a copy of your work visa with any shipment of household goods. If you do not have a work visa yet, an application or an acknowledgement letter from the Ministry of Manpower with a letter from your employer will suffice
  • Your shipment of household goods can also be cleared through customs without a work visa (or any of the other items mentioned above), so long as you are willing to pay GST and declare the used value of the goods on the GST assessment
  • If you are importing videos or DVDs, they may be subject to screening by customs authorities prior to release. Charges for screening are approximately noun.dvd per hour per item. If the videos or DVDs contain nudity, strong language or culturally sensitive material, they may be subject to editing, with an additional editing charge applied.

What Documents are Required for Shipping Goods to Singapore?

For the safe shipment and smooth customs clearance of your household goods, you'll need to ensure that the following documentation is completed as accurately as possible and provided:

  • Packing inventory in English
  • A copy of the Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your work visa (to secure GST relief).

Depending on the particular items you are shipping, you may also need to complete the following Singapore Customs form (it is recommended that you confirm this requirement with your UniGroup international moving expert): Moving to Singapore Customs Form A-055 Application for GST Relief for Hand-Carried Used Household Articles and Personal Effects and Personal Pets.

For more information, visit Singapore Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Vehicles into Singapore

Importing vehicles into Singapore Importing vehicles into Singapore

The importation of vehicles into Singapore is discouraged. It is extremely expensive to import vehicles, and even more expensive to register a car in Singapore; there is a surcharge of S$10,000 payable on top of the cost of a Certificate of Entitlement (COE). A COE gives you the right to register a vehicle for 10 years. COEs are purchased through a competitive bidding process, with the cost in 2017 reaching S$50,000. As such, it is recommended that you carefully consider whether importing a vehicle into Singapore is necessary.

What Import Taxes Apply to Vehicles in Singapore?

Importing cars into Singapore is incredibly expensive. The taxes imposed on importing cars into Singapore include:

  • A S$1,000 surcharge for every foreign car registered in Singapore
  • Additional Registration Fee of 110% of the car's original market value
  • A customs duty of 20% of the car's original market value
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a rate of 7% of the total cost.

The taxes imposed on importing motorbikes into Singapore include:

  • Additional Registration Fee of 15% of the motorbike's original market value
  • A customs duty of 12% of the motorbike's original market value
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a rate of 7% of the total cost.

What are the Requirements for Importing Vehicles into Singapore?

Before attempting to import any vehicle into Singapore, you must ensure that the vehicle meets all requirements, including:

  • The vehicle you seek to import must be less than three years old. Used vehicles are dated from their first registration in a foreign country
  • The Land Transport Authority will perform a mechanical inspection on your vehicle before it is registered. The requirements for importing a car are:
    • Any safety glass on your vehicle must have a minimum 70% light transmittance and cannot contain any metallic oxide coating
    • The vehicle must be right-hand drive
    • The vehicle must comply with National Environment Agency exhaust emission standards
    • The vehicle must comply with internationally recognized safety standards, such as those adopted by European Union countries, Japan and Singapore
    • The vehicle must use unleaded petrol
    • The vehicle must have a speedometer in units of kilometers per hour
    • If the vehicle has high intensity discharge headlights, they must have an auto-levelling function
    • Must have approved front and rear safety belts
    • Asbestos-free brake and clutch lining is a must
    • Air-conditioners must be CFC-free.

What is the Vehicle Importation Procedure in Singapore?

If you still want to import your car into Singapore, you need to follow these steps:

  • 1. Ensure that your vehicle complies with all necessary standards and requirements
  • 2. Obtain the following documentation:
    • Documents that prove either the vehicle is brand new and has never been registered or for used vehicles, the original registration documents
    • Documents that prove the vehicle complies with exhaust emission standards and safety standards
    • Documents that prove the vehicle's fuel economy
    • Technical specifications for the car, as issued by the manufacturer
    • Original purchase invoice
    • Freight and insurance papers
    • A letter from vehicle manufacturer confirming the date of manufacture of the car.
  • 3. Engage the services of a professional shipping agent, such as UniGroup
  • 4. Depending on the type of vehicle you are importing, you may also need to complete the following Singapore Customs forms4. (it is recommended that you confirm this requirement with your UniGroup international moving expert):
    • Moving to Singapore Customs Form A-011 Valuation of Tax Exempted Motor Vehicles
    • Moving to Singapore Customs Form A-012 Declaration of Facts for Motor Vehicles.
  • 5. Through your shipping agent, obtain an Inward Cargo Clearance Permit and pay all necessary fees, including permit and processing fees, excise duty and GST.

For more information, visit Singapore Customs Guide to Importing Dutiable Motor Vehicles or Singapore Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Pets into Singapore

Importing pets into Singapore Importing pets into Singapore

You can take most pets to Singapore, so long as they are free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans and are not deemed harmful to the environment. With the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore controlling the rules and regulations around importing pets, it is possible to take most types of cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles to Singapore with your family.

Depending on the type of pet you are importing, you may also need to complete the following Singapore Customs form(it is recommended that you confirm this requirement with your UniGroup international moving expert): Moving to Singapore Customs Form A-055 Application for GST Relief for Hand-Carried Used Household Articles and Personal Effects and Personal Pets.

There are also specific requirements for bringing different types of pets into Singapore, each of which is outlined below.

Importing Cats and Dogs into Singapore

You can import your pet cat or dog into Singapore, so long as it is free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans and are not deemed harmful to the environment. To import your cat into Singapore, you must keep in mind:

  • Certain breeds of dogs and cats are banned, with import restrictions on:
    • Pit bulls, including American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs
    • Akita
    • Boerboe
    • Dogo Argentino
    • Fila Brasileiro
    • Neapolitan Mastiff
    • Tosa
    • Perro De Presa Canario
    • Any associated cross-breeds
    • 1st to 4th generation Bengal or Savannah cat crosses.
  • If your cat or dog comes from a country with any risk of rabies, you will need to provide proof of a rabies vaccination. Countries are classified according to their risk status and necessary vaccinations are also influenced by this classification. Visit this page to check your country's classification:
    • If your dog or cat comes from a C or D country category, you will need to reserve a space at the Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station before your arrival in Singapore. You need to reserve a space at least three months before your arrival through the Quarantine Management System
    • Dogs and cats under category C will be required to remain in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, while animals from category D will need to be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days
    • Dogs and Cats from category A and B countries do not need to be quarantined so long as other veterinary conditions are met.
  • Visit Animal Quarantine & AVA's Border Control Checkpoints for further information on the quarantine process
  • You need a dog license and an import license to bring dogs into Singapore. Visit this link to apply for these permits
  • You will also need to obtain a veterinary health certificate to show that your dog or cat has passed all requirements and is free of any infectious or contagious diseases prior to import. This certificate can be completed by your private veterinarian and signed off by an official government veterinarian in your home country
  • You need to book in an inspection online at Intelligent Food Approval & Safety Tracking System (iFAST). You should submit this request at least five days before arrival. An S$80 inspection fee is charged for pets arriving without an appointment.

For more information, read the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore Guide to Importing Cats and Dogs.

Importing Birds into Singapore

Pet birds and birds for breeding may be imported Singapore, including guinea fowls, partridges, parrots, parakeets, budgerigars, cockatoos, doves, peafowls, swans and finches. To import your bird into Singapore, you must keep in mind:

  • Birds originating from countries affected by Notifiable Avian Influenza are not permitted to enter Singapore.
  • You must meet all Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority conditions, namely tests that prove your birds are free of Avian Flu
  • If you're intending to import CITES-listed birds , you need to obtain a CITES export license from your home country and a CITES import permit from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore by applying online via LicenceOne (AVA e-Licensing). The permits carry a fee of S$12 per permit, with a maximum of S$60 per consignment
  • You will also need a Cargo Clearance Permit for your birds to pass through the port of entry
  • Each consignment of birds needs to be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate authorized by a government veterinarian in your home country
  • You will need to make an appointment to have your birds inspected upon arrival. You should submit this request at least five days before arrival via the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority's Intelligent Food Approval & Safety Tracking System (iFAST). If you arrive without an appointment, you will need to pay a S$80 inspection fee.

For more information, read the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore Guide to Importing Birds.

Importing Small Mammals into Singapore

The procedure for importing small mammals (such as rabbits, guinea pigs and mice) into Singapore is the same as the procedure for importing cats and dogs, as listed above. However, to guarantee importation into Singapore, you need to able to prove that you have owned the mammal for at least six months.

For more information, read the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore Guide to Importing Small Mammals.

How to Import Weapons into Singapore

Importing weapons into Singapore Importing weapons into Singapore

Weapons and firearms are subject to complicated customs clearance procedures and are very difficult to import. As such, they can delay customs clearances and result in additional charges. It is worth considering whether you need to import weapons into Singapore at all.

The Police Licensing and Regulatory Department controls the movement of firearms, explosives and weapons in Singapore. To import a restricted item, you will need to apply for a license to possess arms.

If you decide to import weapons, keep in mind that:

  • The following weapons can be imported into Singapore without a license or a permit:
    • Hunting
    • Knife
    • Survival knife
    • Diving knife
    • Machete
    • Parang
    • Kukri
    • Curved Nepalese knife
    • Blow pipe
    • Bow and arrow
    • Leather, rattan and rope whips.
  • The following weapons are restricted and require an import permit and a license. Severe penalties are in place for anyone found importing or possessing restricted weapons without the appropriate license and permit:
    • Firearms
    • Air and spear guns
    • Tasers and stun guns
    • Swords
    • Spears and spear heads
    • Bayonets
    • Daggers
    • All explosives
    • All ammunition
    • Empty cartridges with percussion caps attached
    • Pepper sprays
    • Flares
    • Nanchaku
    • Chain whips
    • Bullet proof vests
    • Steel helmets
    • Toy guns including pistols, revolvers, rifles or machine guns
    • Handcuffs
    • Batons and Nightsticks
    • Truncheons
    • Night vision and infra-red goggles and binoculars.
  • The following items are strictly prohibited and cannot be imported or exported under any circumstances:
    • Flick knives
    • Gravity or butterfly knives
    • Knuckledusters
    • Concealed weapons
    • Wasp knives
    • Throwing knives
    • Ninja stars (Shuriken)
    • Catapults and slingshot cross bows
    • Cigarette lighters in the shape of guns
    • Firecrackers.
  • For more information, visit Singapore Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Alcohol into Singapore

Importing alcohol into Singapore Importing alcohol into Singapore

You may import wines and other alcoholic beverages into Singapore as part of your household goods shipment. However, you must take the following into account:

  • Alcohol may be imported in reasonable quantities for personal consumption
  • Due to the high customs duties, it is best not to include any alcohol in your household goods shipment. If included, it must be packed together and declared on a separate alcohol inventory list
  • Customs use a powerful x-ray scanner able to detect liquors, so make sure that your customs declaration is accurate
  • Intoxicating liquors are dutiable goods under Singaporean law. The import duty is calculated according to the cost of the liquor you import, the cost of freight and the cost of insurance. This rate is standardized at S$48 per liter for beer, perry, stout and cider, and S$70 per liter for all other alcoholic products
  • Your liquor will be subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7%, which is calculated by combining the value of the liquor and the duty paid
  • Alcohol is subject to an excise duty. The rate is variable and is either applied to the value of the alcohol or on units (SGD) per liter for some alcoholic products
  • You can bring the following amounts of alcohol into Singapore without paying any tax or duty:
    • 1 liter of wine, 1 liter of beer and 1 liter of spirits
    • 2 liters of beer and 1 liter of wine
    • 1 liter of beer and 2 liters of wine.
  • For more information, visit Singapore Customs or our Singapore Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Plants into Singapore

Importing plants into Singapore Importing plants into Singapore

There are restrictions in place for the importation of plants in Singapore:

  • Check with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore on the entry status of your types of plants, keeping in mind that these regulations are subject to frequent change
  • You need a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin
  • You need an AVA import permit, also known as a Cargo Clearance Permit, which can be obtained through Tradenet. The permit is valid for two weeks and there is an S$11 levy per permit. It is important you have the correct plant codes on hand when applying for this permit
  • If you're importing any CITES-listed plants, such as Cactaceae, Orchidaceae or American Ginseng, you can apply for this permit online through the  LicenceOne (AVA e-Licensing) website
  • Be sure to book a post-import inspection
  •  LicenceOne (AVA e-Licensing) website post-import inspection
  • General tips to help expedite the import process:
    • Ensure all plants are free of soil, sand and earth
    • Label each plant with the genus and species, preferably using scientific names
    • If your plants will arrive at an inspection station without you, enclose a sheet of paper with your name, home address, and permit number so the plants can be forwarded.
  • For more information, visit the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore or our Singapore Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

H2: How to Find Employment in Singapore

Finding employment in Singapore Finding employment in Singapore

Most people relocating to Singapore will already have employment waiting for them. If you haven't secured a position, and would like to take your talents to Singapore, follow our tips for the easiest job search possible, from using the most popular employment websites and best recruitment agencies in Singapore through to how to establish a business in Singapore.

What are the Best Employment Websites in Singapore?

Some of the major employment websites in Singapore are:

What are the Best Recruitment Agencies in Singapore?

Alternatively, you may wish to register with a recruitment agency. Some of the major professional recruitment agencies in Singapore include:

Some of the major executive recruitment agencies in Singapore include:

Self-Employment and Establishing a Business in Singapore

If you or your partner are considering self-employment or establishing your own business in Singapore, the following resources may be useful:

What is Working in Singapore Like?

Working in Singapore Working in Singapore

Modern Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state, with a large expat workforce. This means that culture can vary from office-to-office. However, there is a certain Singapore work culture of which you need to be aware. In particular, the Singaporean communication style can be less direct than that of America and more focused on avoiding conflict and confrontation.

How Do Singaporeans Communicate in Business?

English is the primary business language of Singapore, although it is common to hear Chinese, Malay and Indian. Most Singaporeans are at least bilingual, if not multi-lingual. So, you don't need to be fluent in any one language to conduct business.

While Singapore is a true mix of east and west, the business culture has retained the Asian avoidance of conflict and confrontation. This means that American expats will find communication is less direct and more aimed at creating harmony than they are used to.

Hierarchies exist within business, and senior members of workforces are afforded a great deal of respect. It is very rare for subordinates to question their superiors and expats should treat superiors carefully and with the utmost respect.

Greetings

A handshake is the most appropriate form of greeting. When offering someone your business card, you should offer it formally, with both hands. Avoid flattery and boasting as both will cause suspicion. Prolonged eye contact should also be avoided, as this is a sign of aggression in Singaporean culture.

Indians and Malays may not shake hands with members of the opposite sex, as this will require additional cleaning before the next prayers. It is important to respect these cultural differences and not display any offense.

You should never use first names unless asked to. Chinese, Malays and Indians have different naming conventions and knowing which to adopt is essential:

Chinese: Title and family name should be presented first. Many Chinese will have an English first name that they prefer to use with a Western business contact. Only use this name if the person introduces themselves with it

Malay: As Malays are predominantly Muslims, you need to follow Islamic naming conventions, which means using a person's first name, plus bin followed by the name of their father. For women, the bin is replaced with binti or binte. It is not uncommon for westernized Malays to drop the bin, binti or binte

Indian: Traditional Indian naming conventions don't use family names. Instead, the initials of the father's name precede the given name. However, some Indian families have adopted a family name.

Business Meetings

  • You should always schedule a business meeting at least two weeks in advance as Singaporeans often have busy travel schedules. Make sure you arrive on time to your meeting, as tardiness is not appreciated.
  • The government's meticulous approach to following protocol has filtered down into business practices and meetings will be procedural. Secretaries will be present to take notes and ensure the honesty of the meeting.
  • In a meeting with a member of the private sector, hospitality will be an essential part of the process. Entertainment and dining will be lavish, and you will be expected to do the same if you hold the meeting. On the other hand, meetings with government officials rarely involve any form of entertainment or socializing, and will move along briskly.
  • Make sure you bring along numbers to your meeting, as Singaporeans respond better to charts and graphs.
  • Remember that a nod up and down signifies that you are listening, and ‘no' is rarely used—even avoided in some instances—even if that is what is meant.
  • The commitment to the hierarchy is also present in business meetings, especially amongst ethnic Chinese. The highest official at the meeting will be treated with a great deal of respect and will never communicate with a subordinate. Instead, communication will be passed down through the ranks.
  • Malays are more willing to engage in collective-decision making that is closer to the American style of conducting business./li>

Email

Communication via email should be no different than any other form of business communication—it should always remain professional. When first contacting a person via email, you should use some degree of formality. As your business relationship progresses, you can adopt a friendlier, more casual tone. Some tips for email communication:

  • Your subject line should be clear, succinct and in line with the content of your email
  • Keep your sentences short, clear and easily understood
  • Include a signature in your email with relevant contact information, such as your return email, cell phone number and landline phone number.

Text Messaging

Business communication via text message is becoming more common in Singapore. However, the appropriateness of texting as a business communication method varies from company-to-company and industry-to-industry and can sometimes even be influenced by regulations.

For instance, a real estate agent and their client may regularly use text messages for communication, particularly as it is an easy communication method to use whilst on the go. However, a financial advisor may be prohibited from texting client's due to security and privacy concerns.

What are Business Hours in Singapore?

Business hours can vary depending on the industry, location and even company. General business hours include:

  • Banks:
    • Weekdays: Most banks are open from 10am or 10am to 4pm
    • Saturdays: Most banks are open from 10am to 12pm
    • Sundays: Banks are closed.
  • Corporate Offices: Working hours in Singapore are similar to those in America – 8am or 9am to 5pm or 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. It is also common to work a half-day on Saturday, from 8.30am to 12.30pm
  • Government: Government offices are usually open from 8am to 4pm, 4.30pm, or 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday
  • Retail Outlets: Usually open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with some shops open on Sunday. Large shopping centers will typically stay open until 9pm each night
  • Friday is a holy day for Muslims. As such, it is not uncommon for Muslim employees to take an extended lunch break on Fridays to celebrate this day, and for shops operated by Muslims to be closed on Friday.

What is the Usual Office Dress Code in Singapore?

  • The year-round hot and humid climate of Singapore means that office dress codes are fairly informal. The banking sector can be more conservative than most, with business suits the norm.
  • For men, a shirt and a tie is expected, while a jacket is only required if there a formal event such as a meeting or function to attend. It is also not uncommon to see local businessmen wearing colorful batik shirts, but expats should avoid wearing these.
  • Women wear pantsuits, skirt suits and dresses to the office. However, when conducting business with Malays and Muslims, it is important for women to adhere to Islamic codes of dress, which means covering the upper arms, knees and back.

What is Common Office Etiquette in Singapore?

Singapore is becoming more and more westernized, and while Asian modes of business etiquette still exist, you'll find that office culture is similar to what you are accustomed to in America.

You should also be aware of the importance of personal relationships in Singapore. Decisions don't happen quickly because business is all about creating the foundation of a strong relationship. It is important to be patient when conducting business.

Work Ethic

Hard work and a desire to succeed are the cornerstones of the Singaporean national identity and consciousness. Singaporeans are prepared to work long hours, sacrifice holidays and put work first to succeed.

There are differences amongst the various ethnic groups; while the Chinese appreciate a strong work ethic, you'll find Malays to be more easy-going. But it doesn't matter where you're working, you need to be prepared to work hard to succeed in the Singaporean business culture.

Gifts

Gifts are not an integral part of Singaporean business culture and you should never give anything to a government official as this can be considered a bribe. You should only give gifts to business contacts with whom you have built a relationship. Chinese contacts will initially try to refuse gifts, so as not seem greedy. You should politely insist that they accept your offer.

You also need to ensure that gifts are culturally appropriate:

  • Do not offer any form of food as a gift as this will be seen as an implication that the host doesn't have enough food for the guests
  • Clocks, handkerchiefs and anything white are seen as signs of mourning, so avoid these types of gifts
  • Indian contacts will appreciate fruit and candy, but remember not to give anything that is associated with cows, such as leather
  • Perfume can be given to Malay women, and shirts or clothing to Malay men. Never give liquor, or anything connected to pigs or dogs, as most Malays are practicing Muslims
  • Avoid white, black or blue wrapping for gifts.

Do's and Don'ts of Business in Singapore

To help ensure that you're successful in the Singaporean world of business, and to avoid any faux pas when you first arrive:

  • Do respect hierarchies and understand your place in the office
  • Do avoid personal contact
  • Do hide the soles of your feet at all times
  • Do take time to build a personal relationship with contacts
  • Don't be late for meetings or appointments
  • Don't point or gesture with your fingers, instead use your whole hand to point or beckon
  • Don't pound your fist into an open palm—this is an obscene gesture
  • Don't touch anyone's head.

What are Common Customs and Social Norms in Singapore?

Customs and social norms in Singapore Customs and social norms in Singapore

If you're an Americans moving to Singapore, you'll need to investigate local Singaporean customs and common cultural differences in Singapore to help you and your family assimilate more easily into Singaporean culture on arrival. Luckily, you can follow our in-depth guide below, which includes everything from Kiasiusm and table manners, through to words commonly used in Singapore.

What is Kiasuism?

Kiasiusm is taken from the Hokkien word Kiasu. It refers to a common trait amongst Singaporeans: a fear of losing or missing out. You'll see manifestations of this trait in people taking excessive amounts of food from buffets, or joining the longest line in front of a restaurant to avoid missing out on the supposedly ‘best' food. It can also manifest itself in a business setting, as Kiasuism also refers to ambitious and successful people. This attitude may seem like something to be avoided, but in Singapore it is celebrated and considered a necessary part of getting ahead in such a competitive society.

What is Religion Like in Singapore?

Singapore is a multi-religious society and an example of various religions' ability to co-exist peacefully. You'll find places of worship for religions from all over the world. Buddhism is the most followed religion in Singapore, with Islam, Taoism and Christianity also having large followings.

Most Christian denominations are represented and expats will find English-language services in Roman Catholic, Anglican, Latter-Day Saints, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Christian Scientist and Seventh Day Adventist churches.

There are also several synagogues throughout Singapore, as well as temples dedicated to Shinto.

What is Considered Good Manners in Singapore?

Much like in America, good manners and politeness are important in Singapore. To ensure that you are exhibiting good manners when you arrive in Singapore, follow our comprehensive list of tips:

  • In general, Asian people do not like to be physically touched by people that they do not know. It is important that you maintain a good level of personal distance when holding a conversation with a Singaporean
  • Don't touch anyone on the head, even a young child. This is extremely disrespectful
  • The Chinese avoidance of standing in lines has been overtaken by the essential orderliness of Singapore, so make sure you stand patiently in line when required
  • The soles of your feet should always be hidden from view
  • Spitting in public is not only disrespectful, but also illegal.

What is Considered Good Table Manners in Singapore?

Always try to use the utensils offered while eating. If you really can't use chopsticks, ask for a knife and fork, but with a little effort, it's not difficult to learn.

You should always avoid touching food or passing dishes with your left hand, especially amongst Indians or Malays. The left hand is reserved for personal hygiene, so if you must use two hands to pass a dish, make sure you avoid any contact with the food.

Dining at a Chinese-style banquet carries a special set of rules around etiquette. Firstly, all guest need to arrive at the same time. Your host will indicate where you are sitting and once you have taken your seat, keep both hands above the table.

Guest should be prepared for a lot of toasts and extended periods of drinking. Women should take care not to drink more than men. Guests of honor should stand up and make a formal toast to thank the host.

Be careful not to overeat early, as there are usually 10 to 12 courses served. You should try everything offered, as it can be considered rude not to do so.

What is Communication and Conversation Like in Singapore?

The way people converse and communicate varies across the world. To help ensure you're neither offended nor offend others when you first arrive in Singapore, follow these rules:

  • Formal niceties should always be observed
  • Singaporeans don't appreciate boasting. While ranks and titles are respected, these may be downplayed to avoid seeming boastful
  • Singaporeans are practical and direct in conversation. They will say what they mean with little embellishment
  • The act of listening is the best way to show that you are taking the speaker seriously. Never interrupt someone. This will be perceived as a lack of interest, rather than a contribution to the conversation
  • If you're attending a business-related social function, you should avoid discussing business or politics, unless the host begins the conversation
  • Laughter during conversation can be viewed as a sign of nervousness, while covering your mouth with your hand is a sign of unease
  • It's not unusual for a Singaporean to ask a personal question, such as how much your watch costs. If you feel uncomfortable answering the question, just give a vague answer while remaining courteous.

What Units of Measurement are Used in Singapore?

Singapore uses the metric system, unlike the United States which uses the imperial system.

The Imperial system is based on the old British system of measurement (as ordered by the king, hence the name Imperial). The units of measurement in the Imperial system are yards, miles, feet, inches, pounds, ounces, and gallons.

The Metric system is an internationally agreed system of measurement. Based on the mètre des Archives and the kilogramme des Archives introduced by the French in 1799, the metric system uses the units of meter, kilogram and second.

Units of Measurement

Units of measurement in the Imperial system, versus those in the Metric system include:

  • 1 inch = 2.54 cm
  • 1 meter = 3.28 feet
  • 1 mile = 1.6 kilometers
  • 1 gallon = 3.78 liters
  • 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.

Some tips and tricks to help remember how to convert units of measurement include:

  • Converting miles to kilometers: Five miles is equivalent to 8 kilometers (this is an easier conversion to remember than 1 kilometer equals 0.62137119 miles). To convert miles to kilometers, the easiest way to formula to use is: divide the number of miles by five, subtract the answer from the number of miles, and then double the number left. For instance:
    • 100 miles ÷ 5 = 20
    • 100 – 20 = 80
    • 80 x 2 = 160km.
  • Converting pounds to kilograms: 2.2 pounds is equivalent to 1 kilogram (this is an easier conversion to remember than 1lb equals 0.45359237 kilograms). To convert pounds to kilograms, halve the number of pounds, and then subtract one tenth of the result. For instance:
    • 100lbs ÷ 2 = 50
    • 50 - 5 = 45kg.
  • Converting gallons to liters: One liter equals 1.8 imperial pints, and there are eight pints in a gallon. Therefore, one gallon equals 4.55 liters. To convert gallons to liters, multiple the number of gallons by nine, and then halve the answer. For instance:
    • 100 gallons x 9 = 900
    • 900 ÷ 2 = 450 liters.
  • Converting inches to centimeters: One inch is equivalent to 2.54cm. So, to convert inches to centimeters, you simply need to multiply by 2.45. For instance: 100 inches x 2.45 = 245 centimeters
  • Converting feet to meters: There are 3.28 feet in a meter. So, to convert feet to meters, take your measurement (in feet) and divide it by 3.28. For instance: 100 feet ÷ 3.28 = 30.48 meters.

Temperature

In Singapore, temperatures are expressed in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit (as in America). A few key temperatures to remember:

  • 32°F = 0°C (freezing)
  • 70°F = 21°C (comfortable)
  • 100°F = 38°C (uncomfortable).

Do Singaporeans Use Different Words to Americans?

Although English is spoken throughout Singapore, and is the primary mode of business communication and instruction at school, you need to be aware that the English spoken in Singapore is different to the English spoken in America. Expats may have to modify their vocabulary and accent to be understood. Singaporean English also uses the Queen's English when it comes to spelling.

What is Singlish?

Singlish is a unique dialect of English that is specific to Singapore. English is spoken by almost all Singaporeans, but it is worth learning or phrase or two in Singlish before you arrive. Singlish is looked down upon from an official level, but for locals, Singlish is something to be proud of and central to their identity.

Singlish Words and Phrases

Try substituting the following Singlish words for their English counterparts:

  • “abuden” means obviously
  • “act blur” means to pretend ignorance
  • “ah beng” is similar to a bogan, “ah lien” is the female form
  • “arrow” means to give someone a task
  • “bao toh” means to tell on someone
  • “bee see” means a nurse
  • “boh eng” means to be busy
  • “catch no ball” means to not understand something
  • “eat snake” means to be lazy
  • “go stun” means to reverse a vehicle
  • “goondu” means a stupid person
  • “jia lat” means to be in trouble
  • “kaki” means a close friend
  • “kantang” is a derogatory term for a westernized Singaporean
  • “kiwi” refers to the act of polishing something
  • “lobang” refers to an opportunity
  • “merliong” means vomiting
  • “pakat” refers to a conspiracy or plot
  • “shag” or “shagged out” refers to being excessively tired
  • “shiok” means pleasure
  • “sekali” means suddenly or unexpected
  • “taiko” means lucky
  • “talk cock” means to talk nonsense, or rubbish
  • “wah koa” means “oh my”
  • “wayang” refers to the act of pretending, especially in front of others.

What is a Credit Rating?

Maintaining a good credit rating is important in Singapore, influencing loan and credit card applications. Major credit bureaus in Singapore include Credit Bureau Singapore, Dun & Bradstreet and DP Information Group, which collect credit rating information. Several factors affect your credit score, some of which include:

  • The number of credit accounts you hold
  • The amount owed on your credit accounts
  • Your total debt
  • Your promptness in paying bills
  • Payment or credit issues, such as bankruptcy, loan defaults or foreclosures
  • Your total available credit limit.

What are the Most Popular Sports to Play and Watch in Singapore?

Most popular sports to play and watch in Singapore Most popular sports to play and watch in Singapore

Despite high- urbanization, Singaporeans love watching and playing sport. Expats will find that getting involved in local sports is a fantastic way to get a sense of the local culture, meet new people and settle in.

The most popular spectator sports in Singapore are cricket, rugby, polo and soccer. Find out more information about these sports below.

Cricket

Cricket matches are held by the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) on the Padang on weekends from March to September. The SCCtwenty20 tournament is a popular event held between February and October every year, which attracts some of the best talent from the area. The club itself is well appointed and a great place to spend the day.

Rugby

Singapore Ruby Union is the main body for rugby in Singapore. There are eight teams in the men's national competition and four in the women's national competition. The Singapore Sevens also compete in the World HSBC Sevens Series and hosts the premier event in April every year.

Polo

Polo matches are held from February to October every year at the Singapore Polo Club. Polo matches are a very glamorous event, but the club has also placed focus on creating a family-friendly atmosphere. The facilities include the Jackpot Club, a spa and corporate event and meeting rooms.

Soccer

The Football Association of Singapore is the governing body of soccer in Singapore. The S League is the main professional league in Singapore. It is made up of nine teams and the season runs from February to November across a variety of stadiums. The Singapore Lions are the national team and they have won the AFF Championship (a biennial international association football competition organized by the ASEAN Football Federation) four times.

Playing Sport in Singapore

Golf is an incredibly popular pastime and Singapore has several world-class courses, including the award-winning Marine Bay Golf Course.

The Botanical Gardens on Cluny Road and the area around Marina Square and Raffles City are beautiful places to go for a jog.

As an island nation, it's no surprise that water sports are popular with the locals, and Singapore is the perfect place to try your hand at water skiing, sailing and wind surfing.

Fitness in Singapore

In addition to sports, physical fitness is a popular pastime and joining a gym is an excellent way to meet new people. Some of the larger private gyms include:

What Holidays and Traditions are Celebrated in Singapore?

Celebrating holidays and traditions in Singapore Celebrating holidays and traditions in Singapore

As a multi-cultural, multi-religious society, Singapore celebrates a diverse range of holidays and traditions. Read our guide below so that you understand the meaning behind each tradition, as well as exactly how and when they are celebrated.

When are School Holidays in Singapore?

The academic year is broken up into two semesters, each of which include two terms:

  • Semester one: January to May
  • Semester two: July to November.

There are four holidays throughout the school year:

  • Break between terms one and two: One week, usually in mid-March
  • Break between semesters one and two: One month holiday, usually from May to June
  • Break between terms three and four: One week, usually in August to September
  • End of school year break: One and a half months' break, from November until early January.

When are Public Holidays in Singapore?

Singapore observes several public holidays, each of which is outlined below. If a federal public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is moved to the first available weekday.

New Year's Day (1 January)

New Year's Day celebrates the beginning of the new calendar year. Generally, people attend large parties on the night of 31 December, bringing in the New Year at midnight. Silosa Beach in Sentosa, Marina Bay and Clarke's Quay are all popular places to celebrate.

Chinese New Year (First Day of the New Moon Between 21 January and 20 February)

This is one of the most significant celebrations in the Singaporean year, especially for the ethnic-Chinese population. It celebrates the first day of the lunar year on the Chinese calendar. The colorful, loud celebrations can last for up to three days.

Good Friday (March to April: First Sunday After the First Full Moon After the Vernal Equinox)

With 18% of Singaporeans being Christian, Good Friday is an important holiday. Good Friday celebrates the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Easter eggs, hot cross buns and chocolate rabbits are all gaining popularity in Singapore around Easter time.

Labour Day (1 May)

Labor Day commemorates workers and the Labor movement around the world, and especially the introduction of the eight-hour working day. In Singapore, Labor Day is also marked by sales in retail stores, so you can spend your day off looking for bargains.

Vesak Day (15th Day of the 4th Month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar)

Vesak Day celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. Worshipers place flowers and candles at the feet of statues, and large gatherings of people gather to sing hymns and chants dedicated to Buddha, his teaching and his followers. Buddhists also believe that committing good deeds on this day increase their merit, so young Buddhists often organize mass blood donations on this day.

Hari Raya Puasa (1st Day of Syawal in the 10th Month of the Hijrah Lunar Calendar)

Hari Raya Puasa means ‘grand day of rejoicing' in Malay. It is held to celebrate the self-restraint displayed throughout the month of Ramadan, as well as being a symbol of renewal and purification. It falls of the first day of Syawal, which is on the tenth month of the Hijrah lunar calendar. In the afternoon, families come together to feast and ask forgiveness and blessings from one another.

National Day (9 August)

National Day celebrates the date that Singapore became independent in 1965. The President gives a speech, and fireworks, skydiving, and several other public shows are put on to celebrate the island city-state. Citizens also take part in a mass pledge to the state.

Hari Raya Haji (70 Days After Ramadan)

Known as the festival of Sacrifice, this day falls 70 days after the month of Ramadan and is held in celebration of Mohammed's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Goats, sheep and cows are sacrificed and the meat is sent to poorer Muslim families as a devotion to the less fortunate.

Deepavali (15th Day of the Month of Kartika in the Hindu Calendar)

Known as the Festival of Lights, this holiday celebrates the Hindu concept of ‘light conquering darkness'. A range of light displays are created around the city to celebrate the day. The Little India district on Serangoon Road is the epicenter of celebrations, as the entire district comes alive with light, celebration and the eating of traditional foods.

Christmas Day (25 December)

Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. However, as in America, the holiday has transcended its original religious roots. Many Singaporean Christians attend church services across Singapore, but for most people this holiday is about Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and families coming together to feast.

The major shopping centers of Marina Bay and Sentosa Island also have big sales on Christmas Eve. It has become something of a ritual to spend the day before Christmas shopping.

Other Singaporean Holidays and Festivals

In addition to federal public holidays, there are various other holidays, festivals and celebrations observed by the Singaporean population, each of which is outlined below.

Valentine's Day (14 February)

Much the same as Valentine's Day in America, this festival is celebrated in memory of St Valentine. Lovers exchange gifts and cards, often anonymously.

St Patrick's Day (17 March)

As in America, St Patrick's Day celebrates Irish culture. It remembers the Christian Saint Patrick, who is one of Ireland's patron saints. On this day, people often wear green to commemorate the occasion. The St Pats Day Street Fest is the biggest celebration of the day in Singapore.

Easter (March to April: First Sunday After the First Full Moon After the Vernal Equinox)

A Christian holiday, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion three days prior.

Passover (14th Day of the First Month of the Jewish Year)

Passover is a Jewish tradition, which lasts for eight days and celebrates the survivals of the Jews in Egypt. The tradition is marked with ritual dinners called Seder. While Passover is not a public holiday, the Jewish population of Singapore may choose to have this day off.

Mother's Day (Second Sunday in May)

Just like Mother's Day in America, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their mother, often buying presents and gifts.

Father's Day (Third Sunday in June)

Once again, just like Father's Day in America, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their father, often buying presents and gifts.

What is Food and Drink Culture Like in Singapore?

The eating and drinking culture of Singapore The eating and drinking culture of Singapore

A key way to experience the culture of a new country is through their food and beverages—Singapore is no different. Not only does Singapore have its own unique food and drinks, it also offers a range of culturally diverse options due to its rich cultural heritage. You'll also need to be aware of some cultural norms when it comes to food and drink in Singapore, such as expectations around tipping and the legal drinking age.

Does Singapore Have a National Dish?

Singapore enjoys a huge variety of specialty foods, thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of its heritage. From traditional Hawker centers to Chinese and Indian food stands and fine-dining establishments, Singapore is a culinary destination. Some specialty foods include:

  • Cantonese and Teochew dishes, such as Kuay Teow and Chinese sausage
  • Ginko nuts with coconut milk
  • Braised pork belly, served with buns, turtle soup and fried oysters
  • Chicken Rice and the Steamboat
  • Fried Hokkien Mee
  • Fish head curry
  • Satay
  • Nasi Padang
  • Gado Gado
  • Soto Ayam
  • Laksa
  • Ayam buah keluak.

Locally-grown fruits produce incredible juices. Tiger and Anchor are locally produced beers, and you'll find Australian, American and European wines throughout wine lists.

What are Restaurants Like in Singapore?

Singapore and Hong Kong are in fierce competition as the best dining cities in Asia. Singaporeans love to dine out for both business and pleasure, and you'll likely find yourself dining out several times a week.

Just as there is a range of cuisines, there is also a range of dining options. You can eat cheap at Hawker centers, which are a Singaporean institution where collections of food stalls compete for customers. Coffee shops or kopi tiam are also Singaporean dining institutions. They are usually found in older parts of the city and serve delicious food at reasonable prices.

Chinese banquets are events not to be missed. If you are invited to one you must accept. You should also reciprocate an invitation to a banquet if possible.

How to Find a Restaurant in Singapore

There is no standard restaurant rating system in Singapore. The easiest way to find restaurants and view their ratings is by visiting review websites:

How to Tip in Singapore

Tipping is not expected in Singapore. In fact, it is discouraged. At larger restaurants, a 10% service charge will be added to the bill. At some smaller restaurants it won't be added, so tipping is at your discretion. Tipping is illegal at the airport.

What is the Legal Drinking Age in Singapore?

The legal drinking age in Singapore is 18.

It is illegal to consume alcohol in public in Singapore, with harsh penalties in place.

You should also be careful if consuming alcohol in the presence of conservative Muslims and Hindus, particularly in business settings.

Shopping for Food

As a small island country, most food in Singapore is imported. This means you may need to be prepared to pay more for certain items. You also need to keep in mind that certain items won't be available all year-round.

However, despite the need to import, food in Singapore is of a high quality and is very fresh.

Supermarkets are open from 10am to 9pm or 10pm, although the best place to find food is in the wet markets. Here, you'll find fresh produce at lower prices than at supermarkets.

You can also find plenty of specialty food shops, spice vendors, bakeries, health food stores, as well has halal and kosher merchants. You'll quickly find that butchers in Singapore specialize in one type of meat, largely because many Singaporeans follow strict religious rules around the types of meat they eat.

Singaporeans also frequently employ the services of a provisioner. A provisioner takes your food order over the phone and organizes delivery to your house. Provisioners can also organize repairs and maintenance services. There is a cost attached to this service, but it is valuable for Americans to have the knowledge of a local on-hand, particularly when you first arrive.

The biggest supermarkets in Singapore are:

What is Housing Like in Singapore?

Housing in Singapore Housing in Singapore

If you're not moving to Singapore from America for work, or your employer hasn't secured housing for you, you'll need to investigate potential properties to buy or rent in Singapore. Before you start your house search, you'll need to understand what renting and buying property is like, as well as what types of houses and apartments are available in Singapore.

What are the Best Real Estate Websites in Singapore?

A good place to start your search is some of the most popular real estate websites. These will give you an idea of the type of housing available, as well as the average cost. Try:

What is Renting Property in Singapore Like?

If you're planning on renting property, keep in mind:

  • You need to contract a property agent to facilitate renting a property on your behalf. You can also use your property agent to make suggestions about improving the home you're going to rent, and negotiating the rental cost
  • In Singapore, you need to provide a Letter of Intent (LOI) to your landlord, which is essentially a mark of your sincerity and commitment to renting their property
  • You also need to make a deposit of one month's rent, which is known as a good faith deposit. This prevents the landlord form offering the home to anyone else until negotiations are finalized
  • If the LOI is well received, you move onto the Tenancy Agreement (TA) stage. The TA is essentially a more detailed version of the LOI in that it includes the responsibilities and rights of both the landlord and the tenant. Singapore's laws are known as being landlord friendly, so if there is anything you are worried about you should have it checked by a lawyer. Remember, rents are negotiable, so use your bargaining power until you reach a fair price
  • Once the TA has been signed, you need to provide the following to your landlord:
    • A copy of your passport
    • A copy of your work visa
    • First month's rent and security deposit.
  • Your agent will usually charge you the equivalent of half a month's rent for a one-year lease and one month's rent for a two-year lease
  • The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore must stamp the TA for it to be a valid legal document
  • Utilities are not included in the rent and you will have to connect these yourself.

What is Buying Property in Singapore Like?

If you're planning on buying property in Singapore, keep in mind:

  • The Residential Property Act of 1973 regulates foreign ownership of property, land and housing. The act applies to everyone who is not a citizen. This is a 200-page legal document and there are numerous restrictions you need to be aware of
  • There are also restrictions on the ability for foreigners to take out bank loans and mortgages in Singapore
  • If you find a property that you can purchase, make the purchase through a respected real estate agency, such as:

What Types of Houses are there in Singapore?

The housing market in Singapore is divided into the public and private sectors. Most locals and Asian expats opt for public houses, which are overseen by the Housing & Development Board:

  • Public housing: This is not the same as public housing in America, and can even include luxury housing options. Most public housing complexes are situated in self-contained neighborhoods that are close to shopping centers, public transport and other important services
  • Private housing: Western expats on a good income often opt to rent private bungalows, apartments and condominiums. Cheaper rents can be found in the suburbs. It is easier to find these properties if your employer chooses to pay your rent via a corporate lease.

What are Houses Like in Singapore?

Due to the size of the island and the pressures of the population, most Singaporeans live in small apartments. Stand-alone buildings and houses are rare and essentially limited to the ‘Black and White Houses' from the colonial era. These big grand houses, left over from Singapore's days as a colony, are highly sought after. They can be found in the expensive areas of Rochester Park, Adam Park, Portsdown Road and Dempsey Road.

What are Apartments Like in Singapore?

Apartments in Singapore may be:

  • Occupant-owned
  • Leased from the building owner (or their appointed representative, such as a real estate agent)
  • Cooperatively-owned (referred to as a co-op), where owners become shareholders in a company that owns the entire building and its grounds. Members of a co-op pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of gardening, maintenance, the mortgage, insurance and taxes. As members have voting rights when new owners seek to rent or buy a property within the building, they can be difficult to rent or buy
  • Condominiums, where the apartment is purchased, but the building and grounds remain the property of the building owner. Condo owners (or renters) are charged maintenance fees, but must pay their own taxes, mortgage, and insurance. Condos often include additional facilities such as a gym, pool, sauna and tennis courts
  • Publicly-owned and controlled by the government through the Housing Development Board.

What is the Best Way to Get Around in Singapore?

Getting around in Singapore Getting around in Singapore

Singapore has an extensive and well-developed public transport, so getting around is easy. As a small city-state, it seems obvious that walking around Singapore would be the easiest option. While this is true to an extent, expats need to be aware that Singapore is quite spaced out, and the heat and humidity can make walking difficult.

What is Driving in Singapore Like?

If you plan to drive once you arrive in the Singapore, there are factors of which you should make yourself aware of:

  • Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Singapore, noun.drive.
  • Driving in Singapore is expensive, with the government introducing several measures to discourage driving. For example, a Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which allows an individual to register a car in Singapore for 10 years, can cost up to S$50,000. In addition, parking is never free and most roads are tolled. However, given Singapore's efficient public transport system, there really is no need to drive a car
  • You must wear a seatbelt at all times
  • Maximum speed limits are 55km (34mph) within the city and 80km (50mph) on expressways. These limits are rigorously enforced and fines are expensive
  • You must give right of way to pedestrians at zebra crossings
  • Parking regulations throughout Singapore are complex and fines are enforced. Make sure you read signs carefully before you park
  • Observe the rules governing access to the Restricted Zone (which is in the Central Business District) and be prepared to pay surcharges for peak hour use of expressways.

Can You Drive in Singapore with a Foreign License?

In Singapore, you can drive on your foreign driver's license for a period of 12 months, after which you will be required to obtain a Singaporean license.

However, keep in mind that you may not be allowed to drive in Singapore as a foreign national, and your work visa may restrict where you can drive. For example, unless your work visa states that you are employed as a driver, you cannot drive on public roads.

For citizens of the United States, the US Government requires that you apply for an IDP through either the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).

To apply for an IDP, you must:

  • Complete the appropriate IDP application form
  • Present your valid US driver's license
  • Provide two passport photos of yourself
  • Make the applicable payment. The fees vary depending on the shipping method,
  • destination and processing time and are listed on the application forms
  • Submitting your application either in person or via mail.

What is Public Transport Like in Singapore?

Singapore has a well-developed and world-class public transport system, particularly its underground train system. Expats should purchase a rechargeable EZ-link card to use the system. These EZ-link cards can be bought and recharged at MRT train stations and 7-Eleven stores and used on both MRT trains, as well as the bus network.

Trains

The MRT is the envy of train networks throughout the world. The system covers the entire island and is clean and efficient, with stops positioned approximately two minutes apart. Exits are named according to significant nearby buildings and landmarks, so finding your destination should be easy.

Buses

Over 300 bus services run throughout the island and they can be used between 5.30am and midnight. The buses service residential areas that the MRT lines don't reach and stops are named according to significant nearby buildings and landmarks, so finding your destination should be easy.

Taxis and Uber

Taxis are common throughout Singapore and they are an easy way to get around. They are also relatively cheap. You can hail cabs with a green light on their roof or wait at the nearest taxi rank. You can find ranks in busy areas such as hawkers centers and shopping areas. You can also book taxis over the phone and online.

A relatively new company, Uber, is an app-based ride share cab company. Uber operates throughout Singapore and is often cheaper than a taxi. Using Uber, you can hire a driver to pick you up in their private car and take you to your desired destination. The nearest driver is at your pickup location within minutes.

What is Air Travel Like in Singapore?

Due to the location of Singapore and its reputation as an international transport hub, air travel is frequently used. The main airport is Singapore Changi Airport. This is the biggest airport in Southeast Asia and one of the world's biggest airports in terms of the number of passengers served and the amount of freight processed. Approximately 7,000 flights take off or land at Changi Airport each week. It is also the head office for some of the largest airlines, including Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Jetstar Asia, Scoot and BOC Aviation.

While air travel is fast, passengers should allow ample time to clear immigration, customs, and security, particularly for international flights.

What Items are Prohibited When Shipping Goods to Singapore?

Prohibited items when shipping goods to Singapore Prohibited items when shipping goods to Singapore

Many dangerous or prohibited goods cannot be shipped to Singapore. People attempting to import prohibited items into Singapore may be subject to a penalty and the items may be seized by customs officials. To help ensure that your goods are not seized, and that your entire shipment is not delayed, follow our guide on prohibited items.

What Items are Prohibited Entry to Singapore?

General items prohibited from entry into Singapore include:

  • Chewing gum (except oral dental and medicated gum approved by the Singapore Health Sciences Authority)
  • Chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products (such as electronic cigarettes)
  • Shisha
  • Smokeless cigars, smokeless cigarillos or smokeless cigarettes
  • Dissolvable tobacco or nicotine
  • Any product containing nicotine or tobacco that may be used topically for application, by implant, or injected into any parts of the body
  • Any solution or substance of which tobacco or nicotine is a constituent that is intended to be used with an electronic nicotine delivery system or vaporizers
  • Nasal and oral snuff
  • Gutkha, khaini and zarda
  • Cigarette lighters of pistol or revolver shape
  • Controlled drugs and psychotropic substances
  • Endangered species of wildlife and their by-products
  • Firecrackers
  • Obscene articles, publications and video tapes and DVDs
  • Reproduction of copyright publications, software, video tapes, video compact discs, laser discs, records or cassettes
  • Seditious and treasonable materials.

What Wildlife Products are Prohibited Entry to Singapore?

Any products made from endangered or threatened wildlife, as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, are prohibited from import into Singapore.

For more information, download our Guide to Moving Dangerous, Prohibited and Restricted Items.

What Items are Restricted When Shipping Goods to Singapore?

Restricted items when shipping goods to Singapore Restricted items when shipping goods to Singapore

When shipping items to Singapore, some items are subject to restrictions and will require additional precautions. People attempting to import restricted items into Singapore may be subject to a penalty, and the items may be seized by customs officials. To help ensure that your goods are not seized, and that your entire shipment is not delayed, follow our guide on restricted items.

Biological Materials

Any type of organism used for education or research must be accompanied by an import permit, issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority or the Ministry of Health.

Money

You must declare any amount of money exceeding S$20,000 to customs when you arrive in Singapore.

Films, Video Games, Publications and Audio Records

Films, videos and video games, publications and audio records, telecommunication, radio communication equipment and toy walkie-talkies are all restricted from entry into Singapore. Carry these items on your person to avoid delays with your shipment of household goods.

Radioactive Materials

Radioactive materials, ionizing radiation, irradiating apparatus (x-ray apparatus) and non-ionizing radiation irradiating apparatus (laser apparatus, laser pointers, Ultra Violet sunlamps and microwaves) are all restricted items. Consult the National Environment Agency for information on importing and possessing these items.

Food (Including Herbs and Spices)

Food can cause delays in customs clearances, so it is recommended not to include food in a general household goods shipment. For more information about importing food products, visit the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

What is the Healthcare System Like in Singapore?

The healthcare system in Singapore The healthcare system in Singapore

Singapore has one of the best health care systems in the world. However, government-funded healthcare programs (such as Medisave) are only available to citizens and full-time residents. As such, it is vital that you take out health insurance so that you are covered in the event of a serious accident or illness.

If you're relocating to Singapore for work, you should check the details of your work visa as your employer is required to pay for your medical insurance and medical costs.

There are three main healthcare schemes in Singapore:

  • Medisave: This is a compulsory state insurance scheme that covers most major medical treatment costs, including surgery, hospital stays and some out-patient fees. Employers contribute 8% to 10% of your wage to the account, which you can withdraw to pay for medical costs for yourself and your family members. Medisave accounts are tax-free, earn interest, and become part of a person's estate after death
  • MediShield: This can be used for chronic disease and other conditions. It is effectively a national insurance scheme for major or prolonged illnesses not covered under Medisave
  • Medifund: This is a means-tested benefit, which is based on an individual's financial circumstances and designed to help the needy.

What is Health Insurance Like in Singapore?

Expats do not need health insurance to access private healthcare. There isn't much difference in the cost of private healthcare compared to public care and the services are better. It is worth taking out private health insurance, just in case you suffer a complicated or serious illness or injury.

Types of Health Insurance

There are several different types of health insurance in Singapore including:

  • Supplement Medical Expense Insurance: You can add extras to your existing coverage to provide you with more coverage
  • Disability Income Insurance: Replaces a portion of your income if you are unable to work due to accident, injury or illness
  • Long Term Care Insurance: Provides a fixed monthly payment if long-term nursing treatment is required
  • Critical Illness Insurance: Provides a fixed-sum payout if the insured is diagnosed with one of the policies listed critical illnesses.

Major Health Insurance Providers

Some of the major health insurance providers in Singapore include:

What are Emergency Medical Services Like in Singapore?

In the event of a medical emergency, dial ‘995' to order an ambulance. Ambulances are well-equipped in Singapore and you will be taken to the nearest hospital by the Singapore Civil Defense Force, whose staff are well-versed in trauma and life support procedures.

If you wish to be taken to a private facility, you need to call the emergency number of that facility and they will organize transport for you. You can also be transferred to the facility of your choice once your condition is stable.

How Do Pharmacies and Prescription Medication Work in Singapore?

You can find both prescription and over-the-counter medications at department stores, supermarkets, shopping centers and pharmacies. Imported medicines are expensive, but generic brands are a lot cheaper.

You should also be aware that some over-the-counter medicines that are readily available in America (particularly those containing codeine), require a prescription in Singapore. American prescriptions won't be filled by Singaporean pharmacists. You will need to take a copy of your American prescription to a doctor and have them write you a local prescription.

How Do Electricity, Water and Gas Utilities Work in Singapore?

Electricity, water and gas utilities in Singapore Electricity, water and gas utilities in Singapore

When moving to Singapore, you'll need to understand how electricity, water and gas utilities work, from the biggest utility companies in the market to connecting your services, as well as whether your American appliances and electronics will work in Singapore.

How to Connect Your Utilities in Singapore

Once you've found a property to rent or buy, you'll need to organize the connection of your electricity, water and gas utilities. Some things to keep in mind:

  • SingaporePower is the main contact point for expats needing utilities connected, while water supply and sanitation are controlled by the Public Utilities Board
  • SingaporePower acts as the public services liaison for the Public Utilities Board, so expats only need to contact SingaporePower to have water, power and gas connected by submitting a joint application
  • You'll need three documents to create a Singapore utilities account:
    • A completed application form with your signature
    • A copy of your ID card or work visa
    • A copy of your tenancy agreement or proof of ownership.
  • You'll need to pay a security deposit, depending on the type and size of accommodation you're connecting utilities to. Small apartments are the cheapest at S$40, while bungalows and penthouses are the most expensive at S$400
  • You typically have to wait three business days to have your utilities connected by SingaporePower, so be sure to lodge your application as early as possible
  • Once you have been approved, a SingaporePower technician will come to your home to connect all your utilities.

Will My American Appliances and Electronics Work in Singapore?

Your American appliances and other household electronics may not work in Singapore due to three potential compatibility issues: the plug, the voltage and the frequency.

The different power plug is easy to overcome with a plug adapter. However, the difference in electricity voltage and frequency can be more challenging. In America, electricity operates at 100 to 110 volts, so you should check manufacturer instructions before plugging appliances in for the first time.

However, it is recommended that you check the power labels or instruction manuals for ‘110-240v 50/60Hz' for all your electronics before plugging them in for the first time in Singapore. Also keep in mind that televisions and video and DVD recorders may operate in different digital formats and standards, which may make them incompatible in Singapore.

You should, therefore, thoroughly check the manuals of all your appliances and electronics to ensure they are compatible with Singapore voltages and frequencies, before incurring the cost of shipping over items that might be useless upon arrival. Buying new or secondhand appliances and electronics once you arrive may not only be more cost-effective, but your only solution.

How Do Cell Phones and the Internet Work in Singapore?

Mobile phones and the internet in Singapore Mobile phones and the internet in Singapore

There are three main providers of cell phone services in Singapore, all of which offer a range of different packages at a range of different price points. Be sure to research which package best suits your needs.

Internet services are of a very high quality in Singapore. The entire island is connected to a Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, which offers incredibly fast connectivity. Cable and DSL were completely phased out in June 2016.

The main mobile and phone providers are:

How to Keep in Touch with Family and Friends Back Home While in Singapore

Keeping in touch with family and friends from Singapore Keeping in touch with family and friends from Singapore

Relocating to Singapore is an exciting experience, but there is no denying that you will miss all your family and friends in America. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to keep in touch, from cell phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) apps, like Skype and WhatsApp, through to the Postal Service.

Phone

Singapore's direct-dial service allows you to call more than 200 countries around the world. To make an international call from Singapore, you'll need to dial:

  • The Singapore international access code, which is ‘005'
  • The international country code for the country you wish to call (this is '1' for America)
  • The area code. For example:

    • '907' for Alaska
    • '302' for Delaware
    • '808' for Hawaii
    • '208' for Idaho
    • '207' for Maine
    • '406' for Montant
    • '605' for South Dakota
    • '802' for Vermont
    • '307' for Wyoming.
  • The number of the person you wish to call.

Different carriers will have different international call rates, so make sure you confirm these rates early on.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Apps

One of the cheapest way to make an international call from your mobile is to take advantage of a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) app, such as:

Using any of these apps while you're connected to Wi-Fi will save you a lot of money compared to an international call. You also won't have to worry about international country codes—just click on the contact and press call. You also have the option of making video calls over Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime, helping you feel more connected to your friends and family.

Internet

Singapore's island-wide National Broad Band connection gives you access to one of the fastest Internet connections in the world. The Internet offers you round-the-clock access to the people you miss back home. Email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all allow you to keep connected and you can also use your computer to make international calls via Facebook and Skype. You'll find Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Singapore.

Postal Service

Singapore enjoys a reliable postal service provided by Singapore Post. Offices are located on most main streets, and postal automated machines and postal label vending machines are also available. You can purchase stamps 24/7 from postal automated machines. Post offices are open from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

International postage rates vary depending on weight; the Singapore Post homepage has a price calculator.

What Tax Do I Pay in Singapore?

Paying tax in Singapore Paying tax in Singapore

As with any developed nation, there are several taxes that you'll be required to pay when living in Singapore, including income tax, sales tax and property tax. So that you understand your personal taxation obligations, be sure to read through the resources below.

What is Income Tax?

Just like in America, if you are an employee, income tax is taken directly from your paycheck, so you won't need to set aside money each month. If you are self-employed or have your own company, you will be responsible for paying your own income tax.

Whether you are required to pay income tax depends on how long you have been in Singapore:

  • If you have been in Singapore for more than 183 days in a year, you will be considered a tax resident for that year and you will pay progressive income tax rates
  • If you've been in Singapore for between 61 and 182 days, you will be taxed at a rate of 15% or at the rate of the progressive tax bracket, whichever is higher
  • If you're employed for 60 days or less, you don't have to pay tax unless you're a company director, public entertainer or a professional in Singapore
  • Directors are taxed at a rate of 20%.

For more information on paying income tax in Singapore, visit the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

What is Sales Tax?

Singapore has a sales tax, known as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7%. This tax applies to all forms of domestic consumption, including imports.

What is Property Tax?

All properties owned in Singapore are subject to a property tax, which is calculated by multiplying the annual value of the property by the tax rate that applies to you. Visit this link for a breakdown of the rates.

What to See and Do in Singapore?

Things to see and do in Singapore Things to see and do in Singapore

Singapore may be a tiny island city-state, but it offers an incredible array of things to see and do. noun.population-alt-1 certainly won't find it difficult to fill their time. Here is just a sample of what you and your family have to look forward to.

Baba House

The Peranakan community was born of the marriages between Chinese traders and local women. This house has been restored to reflect how it looked in the 1920s and it's a beautiful glimpse into Singapore's past. Visit the website to book a free tour.

Club Street and Ann Siang Hill

Club Street and Ann Siang Hill are one of the hippest parts of Singapore and a magnet for banking professionals. You'll love wandering in and out of bars and restaurants on these historic streets. They are located just outside the main Chinatown area.

Exercise and Sight-See

Singaporeans love their water sports and the calm waters around the island are perfect for canoeing. You can hire canoes from Changi Point, Sentosa island and East Coast. It's a great way to see the island from a different point of view.

Fort Canning Park

Once the home of the ancient Malay Kings, Fort Canning Park now contains the ruins of the British Colonial Citadel and cemetery. This stunning piece of history sits on 2.8 acres on Fort Canning Rise.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is one of the most beautiful gardens in Singapore. You'll come time and time again for the skywalk over the expansive gardens and the greenhouses that recreate cold mountain climates and other themed areas.

Istana

This is the official residence of the Singapore's ruler and it is an impressive building. It is only open to the public five times a year. The building dates back to 1869 and the opulent grounds include a nine-hole golf course.

Johore Battery

The Johore Battery was a coastal artillery located in Changi, on the east of Singapore. Here, you can take in the size and power of one of the three monster guns that defended Singapore. Installed by the British in 1939, the guns could fire 15-inch shells over 20 miles.

Jurong Bird Park

Home to South East Asia's largest collection of birds, this bird park on Jurong Hill allows you to walk amongst the birds and witness spectacular bird shows.

National Museum of Singapore

All expats should take the time to get to know the history of their new home and there's no better place to do it than at the National Museum of Singapore. It has recently been renovated and it takes you through every stage of this small, but important island's history.

Night Safari at Singapore Zoo

A night safari is an unmissable opportunity to see the nocturnal animals of the Singapore Zoo at play. The performances of the animals are teamed with world-class performers, which makes for an unforgettable evening.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is Singapore's premier shopping strip. You'll find everything from impossibly priced luxury items to souvenirs and vendor goods. You'll also come across plenty of good places to drink and eat. Undoubtedly one of the most iconic locations in Singapore and located in the heart of Singapore city.

Parliament House

Take another step back into Singapore's colonial past and come face-to-face with the oldest government building in Singapore. You can organize tours and even sit in on a parliamentary session.

Raffles Hotel

Opened in 1887, Raffles Hotel is a luxury five-star resort. It features classic colonial architecture, and is the birthplace of the famous Singapore Sling cocktail. You can take in the old-world charm and try the signature cocktail in the Long Bar.

Religious Sites

Singapore is home to all the world's major religions, and it is a testament for the ability of these religions to live in harmony. To celebrate this spirit of peaceful co-existence tour around the city and learn about all the religions by visiting their places of worship, just some of which include Thian Hock Keng Temple, Sri Verramakaliamman Temple and Siong Lim Temple.

Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer is Singapore's answer to The London Eye. A ride on the Flyer will give expats a view of the Singapore River, Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Empress Place and the Padang. You can even enjoy fine-dining as you make your way around the wheel.

Singapore River

Take in the Victorian buildings as you cruise down the river that made Singapore such a valuable trade outpost. There's no better way to see Singapore than from the river.

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a must-see attraction, for kids and adults alike. There are more than 20 attractions across a number of themed zones. The rollercoasters include two of the world's tallest and you'll spend the whole day having the time of your life. Place, the theme park is located on Sentosa Island, which is a destination in itself.

Further Resources on What to See and Do in Singapore

For further information on what to see and do in Singapore, visit:

Disclaimer

We have been furnished with the above information, however, UniGroup Worldwide Moving gives no guarantees or undertakings concerning the accuracy, completeness, or up-to-date nature of the information provided. It is essential that users verify all information contained here before taking any action, or relying upon it. UniGroup Worldwide Moving cannot be held liable for any actions taken based on the information contained within this Guide.