Singapore is renowned for its stringent regulations to preserve its image as a pristine, secure, and organized metropolis. The diligent enforcement of these regulations has led to minimal crime rates and an exceptional quality of life, rendering the nation appealing to visitors and foreigners residing abroad.
By observing and complying with the established laws and regulations, you actively contribute to Singapore’s ongoing prosperity and ensure a delightful experience during your stay in this dynamic urban center.
This city-state is a tiny island with no natural resources and only people that belong to multiple cultures and religions. The government of Singapore understood that for the country to thrive, it has to rely on the people getting along and helping one another out.
That was one of the main reasons the government of Singapore set many regulations to maintain peace and order.
Here are some essential rules you must remember while visiting the country.
1. Leeching Off Other People’s Wi-Fi
So if you’re going to be a digital nomad in Singapore or heavily rely on the internet during your trip, you might want to invest in a good data plan.
Connecting to someone’s unsecured Wi-Fi in Singapore is considered hacking and can lead to significant penalties.
You may get significant fines of up to SGD$10,000 or be jailed for up to three years.
So if you’re working from a cafe or other public space, ensure you’re using their Wi-Fi with permission.
And, always have a backup plan if you run out of data.
2. Littering and Spitting
You might think throwing away candy wrappers, drink cans or cigarette butts are no big deal in many countries, but in Singapore, it is. Littering and spitting in public is a heavily fined offense that can result in jail time.
Littering punishment for first-time offenders starts with a fine of SGD$500 and can go up to SGD$1,000. And if you’re caught spitting, you can be fined up to SGD$5,000.
If caught spitting, you’ll be made to wash the sidewalks and could even be jailed for up to three months.
Trust me; it’s not worth it. So be sure to keep things clean until you find a garbage can.
3. Jaywalking is an Offense
Singapore’s streets may appear to be a haven to many tourists; however, jaywalking is an offense.
Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian crosses a road other than a designated crossing or within 50m of one.
Tourists should therefore obey the rules of the road, even if they see someone else around them breaking the law.
Pedestrians who flout the rules can be fined up to $1000 or jailed for up to three months or both.
The penalties are harsher if you jaywalk more than once.
4. Vandalism and Graffiti
Any vandalism and public mischief are taken very seriously here, resulting in a fine or jail time.
If you’re caught damaging public property, you could be fined up to SGD$2,000 or may face a jail sentence of up to three years.
And if that’s not enough to deter you, know that the punishment for graffiti is caning.
Often you can see street art along with many places, such as Chinatown, Haji Lane, and Little India.
However, any form of street art without permission from the relevant authority in Singapore is considered graffiti vandalism.
The following case, which happened in Singapore, received much attention as the whole affair sparked considerable controversy.
Michael P. Fay, an American citizen, aged 19, spray-painted cars as a prank. He was eventually sentenced to two months in jail and six strokes of caning after pleading guilty to two counts of vandalism.
Following a request for clemency from U.S. President Bill Clinton, the caning was reduced.
In another case, two Germans were sentenced to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane by a Singapore court for breaking into a depot and defacing railway carriages with graffiti.
5. Chewing Gum Ban
There is a law in Singapore that prohibits the import and selling of chewing gum.
You may be wondering why to ban such a small and seemingly innocuous thing as chewing gum in Singapore.
This ban is due to Singapore’s littering problem caused by chewing gum in the early 1990s.
Chewers spit their gum out on the sidewalks, causing a sticky and unsightly mess.
Since chewing gum is non-biodegradable, removing it from pavements and other public areas can be a real pain.
The Singapore government spent a lot of money cleaning up chewing gum, which has also caused problems with the operation of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
It’s best to play it safe and avoid chewing gum altogether in the city.
6. Smoking in the Public, E-Cigarettes, and Shisha
Forbidden to smoke in public, this includes all indoor and outdoor areas, except for a few designated smoking zones.
Smoking is also not allowed within five meters of bus shelters, covered walkways, or building entrances and exits.
If caught smoking in a non-designated area, you may be fined up to SGD$1,000.
If you are caught more than once, you may be fined up to SGD$2,000 and/or jailed for up to three months.
Littering in Singapore is illegal, including throwing cigarette butts on the ground or leaving your empty cigarette pack behind when you leave a place.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and shisha are prohibited in Singapore, even in private homes. If caught using either of these products, you may be fined up to SGD$2,000.
7. Drug-Related Activities are Serious Offences
The country does not tolerate drug offenses, and they will come down hard on anyone caught with drugs.
You will be arrested and jailed if caught in possession of illegal drugs in Singapore. There is no leniency given to both Singaporeans and foreigners.
The punishment for those caught in smuggling and drug trafficking is even harsher – a mandatory death sentence.
The Singapore officials from the relevant authority also have the right to conduct anonymous and random drug tests on anyone without a warrant.
Suppose you’re caught with drugs in your system when you arrive in Singapore. In that case, you can be sent off if it’s prior approval from an immigration officer.
8. Cannabis is Considered Illegal
In many countries, cannabis may be decriminalized, but it is still illegal in Singapore.
Singapore’s government has an unwavering zero-tolerance policy for anything related to cannabis, which will result in harsh penalties like prison time if caught by law enforcement there.
The punishment for cannabis possession can be jail and caning, and the penalty for cultivating and distributing cannabis in the country is the death penalty.
According to the Central Narcotics Bureau, it’s a class A drug listed under the Misuse Of Drugs Act – meaning 10 years behind bars or fined SGD$20,000 if caught with any amount over 200 grams.
If your crime involved importing/exporting more than 1kg, there would be no hesitation before receiving capital punishment.
9. Alcohol Consumption and Partying between 10:30 pm and 7 am
Drinking in public places is banned between 10.30 pm to 7 am, and retail shops or supermarkets are not allowed to sell alcohol during this period.
Anyone caught drinking may face a fine of up to SGD$1,000 or three months in jail.
You can only consume alcohol at food and beverage (F&B) outlets or nightlife business establishments that have licenses and are permitted to sell alcohol.
Depending on their license, these places can operate until late night/early morning.
Purchasing and consuming alcohol are prohibited for Individuals under the age of 18.
It is also illegal in Singapore to drink and drive a vehicle; if caught drunk driving, you may face a hefty fine of SGD$5,000, jail time of up to 12 months, or both.
Offenders who are caught multiple times may have their driving licenses suspended or revoked.
10. Busking and Public Annoyance of Any Instrument or Singing
Busking without a permit is not allowed in the country to control the noise level on its streets and prevent public disturbance.
If you’re caught playing an instrument or singing in the public, creating a nuisance to others, you may face up to three months in prison, a fine, or even both.
Think again if you plan to bring your guitar and play it at the park for leisure.
You can apply for a public performance license online if you wish to play music in public places like Orchard Road, Sentosa, and other locations.
You can visit the National Arts Council website for more information regarding the application.
11. Noise Regulations in Singapore
As a tourist visiting Singapore, it’s important to know the local noise regulations to ensure a respectful and enjoyable stay.
Be mindful that excessive noise that disrupts peace in residential areas can result in fines, as per the Public Order and Nuisance Act. This includes everything from loud music to rowdy late-night conversations.
Also, when visiting restaurants, pubs, or entertainment venues, you might notice they adhere to specific noise management guidelines under the Code of Practice on Environmental Health.
This can mean quieter music volumes after certain hours. Remember, a key part of travel is respecting local customs and laws.
12. Public Nudity or Walking Naked in your House
Nudity in both public spaces and private properties can get you into trouble with the law. While it’s “technically” legal to be nude in your own home, you can be charged if visible to others.
If you’re caught without your towel after taking a shower or if there are no window blinds closed before entering bedtime attire, then be prepared for the consequences.
In Singapore, there are cases of people being arrested or fined for walking around the house naked. So if you’re planning on letting it all hangout, make sure you do so in the privacy of your own home.
Bottom line – don’t go around the house naked. If you want to be nude, ensure you’re not visible to others.
13. Any Racism and Discrimination are Not Tolerated
Singapore has a long history as a country open to different cultures and religions.
To maintain peace and harmony among its citizens, Singapore officials have put in place strict laws that prohibit any type of racism or discrimination. This allows Singapore to be a welcoming place for all travelers.
Singapore has managed to create harmony among the major races in this country. Any activity that disrupts this, like racial slurs or religious conflicts, carries severe punishments.
Certain laws deal with any act intended to disrupt racial harmony in society. Talking publicly about sensitive issues like race and religion requires approval from the Ministry of Manpower.
If you’re planning on visiting Singapore, it’s essential to be aware of these laws and respect cultural differences. You can have a great time in this fine city with some preparation.
14. Any Forms of Firecracker are Not Allowed
The sound of firecrackers is a staple for many festivals and celebrations. Still, due to the 1972 Dangerous Fireworks Act, it has been illegal in Singapore since then.
You might be wondering why fireworks are not allowed in Singapore, and it is due to the high-rise buildings and the many trees and plants around.
The fire risk is simply too significant, and with such a densely populated city best to err on the side of caution.
If you’re looking into catching some fireworks during your trip, visit National Day on the 9th of August or during the Formula 1 race, as plenty will go down.
15. Flying Kites May Interfere Public Traffic
Kites may be dangerous to aircraft during take-off, landing, and being ingested by engines. Kites can also be hazardous if they land on the windscreen and block the view of the vehicles.
There was an incident a driver lost control of his car after a falling kite hit his windscreen. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the accident.
You can get a hefty fine of up to SGD$5,000 if you fly a kite that endangers people’s or property’s safety.
You can visit the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) website to find information on where you can fly a kite without affecting the air traffic.
16. Register Before Flying a Drone above 250 grams
Drone flying is a popular activity among hobbyists and professionals alike.
In 2015, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) released guidelines on the use of drones, stating that anyone flying a drone for “recreational purposes” would need to obtain a license from the CAAS.
The process of obtaining a license is not complicated. Still, it is essential to follow the guidelines set forth by the CAAS.
Anyone who flies a drone without a license can be imprisoned for up to two years and get stiff fines of up to SGD$50,000, while more severe penalties apply to repeat offenders.
A Singaporean man was fined SGD$51,000 for flying a drone illegally.
He was flying his drone on a flight path at Tengah, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) military airbase forcing two inbound RSAF aircraft to reroute.
Thaeroscope’s detection of the drone, spotted at Tengah Air Base, prompted the RSAF to shut down the damaged runway for half an hour.
So if you plan to fly a drone in the country, make sure you are familiar with the regulations set forth by the CAAS.
Failure to do so could result in severe penalties.
To register, a tourist must create a UAPass Account on the CAAS online portal.
You are advised to create a UAPass Account before your trip, as it will take five working days for the account to be approved.
More information can be found on the CAAS website.
17. Urinating in Public Areas & Not Flushing the Public Toilet
You will be fined if caught urinating in public places such as Orchard Road or Clarke Quay. The maximum fine is SGD$1000.
You could get fine if you do not flush the public toilets after use. The maximum fine for this offense is SGD$500. There is also a fine if you do not flush the public toilet after use.
Not flushing the toilet can be an act that breaches both propriety and law in Singapore. If caught not flushing the public toilets, you could be fined SGD$150.
So, if you have to go and there are no public toilets around, remember to hold them in. Or go to the toilet every time there is one before you actually need to visit. And please, remember to always flush the toilet after use.
18. Taking Durian on Public Transportation
If you love durian, you’ll be happy to know that you can find this spiky fruit all over Singapore.
Eating durian is banned on all public transportation in Singapore. The pungent smell can be very unpleasant for other commuters.
Though it is banned on public transport, you can still do it at home or in a restaurant if you want to enjoy this delicious treat.
If you want to take durian with you when you travel, you can take a taxi or private car riding services like Grab or GoJek.
Just don’t try to take it on public buses or Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
19. Feeding of Pigeons is Prohibited
Pigeons are commonly known to cause hygiene problems in Singapore neighborhoods. The droppings of pigeons can damage buildings and cars. You might not think twice before giving them some crumbs from that piece of bread. Don’t share any of your food with the local pigeons in Singapore is a good idea.
If you’re caught feeding pigeons, you may be fined up to SGD$500. So, avoid feeding these birds if you don’t want to get into trouble with the law.
20. No pornography of any kind
When you come to Singapore, ensure you are free of any pornography, whether downloaded on your computer or in physical form for personal use. For example, you could get fined or imprisoned for importing pornography.
Streaming porn in the country is not an offense. However, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) has banned approximately 100 porn websites to prevent young children and youth from accessing these websites.
Nonetheless, government censorship does not restrict one’s access to internet material beyond these sites.
21. Traveling from Malaysia
If you plan to travel from Malaysia, check on what to bring with you, as customs laws can be pretty strict.
There are foods you buy in Malaysia that you are not allowed to bring into Singapore. For example, Malaysia’s poultry and eggs purchased for personal use are not permitted in Singapore due to the Avian Flu.
Do not import pirated VCDs, DVDs, Videos, and other items prohibited under Singapore law.
Cigarettes are also prohibited, and smuggling them carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail for a first-time offender.