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Singapore : Local Customs and Laws

British ConsulateIf you are considering moving to Singapore then consider some of the following customs and laws of the country. You can contact the British High Commission in Singapore for more direction and advice or speak to a local attorney at a Singaporean law firm as listed on this website.

Death Penalty in Singapore:

If you did not know then you may be surprised that the death penalty exists for certain offences in Singapore. These include murder as well as drug trafficking. Note that there are also severe penalties for all drug offences in Singapore and these laws are tough. Trafficking in drugs is defined by possession of drugs above a certain amount of grams (500g in the case of cannabis). Yes 500 grams of weed could get you the death penalty in Singapore.

Alcohol in Public:

The laws had been changed in April 2015 which now prohibits the drinking of alcohol in public places between 10.30pm and 7am. Note however that you can drink alcohol between these hours in restaurants, bars and cafes as well as outdoor areas of private condominiums and chalets, and outdoor events that have obtained a permit from the government. Note also that Singapore has ‘Liquor Control Zones’ where drinking in public places is prohibited all weekend, on public holidays and the eve of public holidays. These areas are Geylang and Little India.

The fines for drinking in public are SG$1,000 (approximately £500) and if you are a repeat offender then the fine will be SG$2,000 (approximately £1,000) or/and being sent to prison for up to 3 months. Drunk and disorderly is a serious offence in Singapore.

E-cigarettes in Singapore:

If you did not know then you will note that e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigars, and refills are banned in Singapore. You may be fined or imprisoned for this. If you are bringing it into the country then it will be confiscated when you enter the country.

Corporal Punishment:

Corporal punishment in Singapore is handed out for many offences. These included but not limited to ‘outrage of modesty’ (inappropriate behaviour by men towards women) and vandalism. Overstaying your visa will result in a fine, deportation and corporal punishment depending on your length of overstay.

Gatherings & T-Shirts:

If you are planing an outdoor public assembly or procession then a police permit is required. Always avoid public demonstrations that are illegal. Filming an illegal public gathering is also illegal and also note that wearing or displaying of any ‘cause related’ material without permission is illegal. A good example of this is vulgar and offensive images, graphics and text – most of which are too rude to describe in print. This is covered by Section 13A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act. The fines are very heavy.

If a foreign national is to give a talk on ‘racial, communal, religious, caused-related or political topics then permission needs to be granted by the Department of Labour. The public display of national flags or national emblems is illegal except where a specific exemption has been granted.

Religion:

Note that male homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore. Both public and private Jehovah’s Witness meetings are illegal in Singapore. I am sure that many did not know this. Jehovah’s Witness bibles and publications are all deemed illegal in Singapore. The same goes for the Unification Church.

Fines:

Importation into Singapore of any chewing gum is prohibited. Smoking within 5 meters of a bus stop is illegal as well as smoking in a covered walkway.

National Service:

You cannot have dual nationality once you are over the age of 21.  All male children granted Permanent Resident status as part of their parent’s Permanent Resident application are also liable for national service. Also note that From the age of 13, male Singapore citizens and permanent residents must apply for an exit permit to travel outside Singapore for 3 months or more.

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