Your Complete Guide to Getting a Licence to Drive in Singapore

9 minutes

Getting a Driver's Licence in Singapore

Getting a driver's licence in Singapore is a big deal that opens up a world of freedom and opportunities. Whether you're a teenager eager to hit the road or an adult who’s looking towards becoming more independent, it’s an empowering tool that enhances your overall independence and personal growth.

In this complete guide, we'll go over all the steps you need to take to get a driving licence. Let's start this journey of learning!

Automatic vs Manual Licence

Before you start getting a driver's licence, you need to decide whether you want an automatic (Class 3A) or a manual (Class 3) licence. Here's a look at each choice in more detail.

Auto Licence (Class 3A)

Drivers with Class 3A licence are allowed to drive cars with automatic transmission (does not require the use of a clutch pedal). These are the cars you would normally see on roads.


Easier to Learn: You don't have to worry about controlling the clutch or changing gears.

Convenient in Heavy Traffic: Auto cars are great when there is heavy traffic - you don't have to switch gears as often.


Driving Limitations: With this licence, you are restricted to driving motor cars with automatic transmissions only. You can't drive cars or vans that have manual transmission.

Travelling: In European/South American countries where manual transmissions are more common, you won’t be able to rent these manual cars with an auto license.

Manual Licence (Class 3)

Drivers with Class 3 licence are allowed to drive cars with both auto & manual transmissions.


Versatility: You can drive cars/vans with either automatic or manual transmission.

Better Control and Understanding: You can learn more about the mechanics behind how a car works. Manual transmission also gives you more control over the vehicle (Automatic transmissions are designed to assign the best gear, but this tends to waste engine power when it shifts to too high a gear).


Steeper Learning Curve: It requires more practice and skill to learn how to drive a manual car, especially when it comes to controlling the clutch and changing gears.

Stalling & Rollback: There is a risk of stalling and/or rolling back the vehicle in traffic, on a steep slope or in front of a gantry, which may cause panic to new drivers.

Driving School vs Private Driving Instructor

Now that you’ve picked your licence, you'll have to decide if you would like a private instructor or learn at a driving school.

Private Driving Instructor

You will be assigned to the same private driving instructor from the start to the end of your lessons. Do not look for agencies to recommend you a private driving instructor, we recommend to approach the private instructor directly.


Personalised Attention: Your instructor may have a better grasp of your learning progression and focus on your weaker areas that require improvement.

Flexible Scheduling: There is more flexibility when it comes to the timing and length of your lessons. You can arrange with your instructor on your lesson plans too.

Cheaper: Unlike a driving school, you don’t have to follow a rigid course structure. If you’re a fast learner, you  can opt to attend fewer lessons.


Sourcing for a Good Instructor: It may be a challenge to find a good private instructor. You can consult your friends, family, or online platforms like Singapore Police Force (SPF) website for recommendations.

Lower Chances of Passing: According to past statistics, private instructors have lower first timer & retest passing rates

Less Support: You may need to take care of certain tasks on your own, like studying for your basic and theory tests or arranging for simulation tests. You'll also have to pay additional fees for each time you enter the driving school circuit.

Driving Schools

Driving schools offer organised lessons under a full course structure.


Structured Curriculum: Driving schools follow a structured curriculum that cover both the theory & practise of driving systematically.

Familiarity: Your lessons and practical test will be held in the premises of the driving school, so it'll help you build familiarity with the circuit better.

Classroom Setting: Driving schools offer classroom lessons where you can learn about traffic rules, road signs, and safe driving in a group setting, where you can bounce off learning from one another.


Cost: It is generally more costly to learn at a driving school due to its structured curriculum.

Limited slots: Depending on the driving school, there are popular time slots at non-peak hours that are high in-demand. At times, you will have to fight for these time slots or settle for more expensive lesson fees for other slots.

Setting: Theoretical lessons in the classroom are helpful, but some prefer to study for BTT & FTT theory tests as the former may be more time-consuming.

How to Get Your Driver's Licence:

Step 1:

Enrol in a driving school, do indicate if you’re enrolling as a private candidate or as a student at the driving school. Try to make your appointment in advance as the waiting time can take up to 2 months or more. Kindly note that the premises does not allow walk ins without appointment. On the day of the appointment, you will have to pay fees for your enrolment, eyesight test, theory tests, driving simulator and membership fees.

Step 2:

BTT, or Basic Theory Test.

The Basic Theory Test (BTT) is the first step towards getting your licence. 

BTT tests how well you know the basic traffic rules, road signs, signals and general road safety. You can find learning resources online or register for the driving school’s practice test sessions.

Step 3: Get a temporary licence (PDL).

You will have to apply for a Provisional Driving Licence (PDL) after you’ve passed your BTT. This will require an eyesight test and your photo taken at your driving school. With the PDL, you can practise driving on public roads under the supervision of a trained driving instructor. You can apply your PDL from the SPF website here.

Step 4: Learn on the road and in a circuit.

This is the stage where you’ll learn how to go through an S-course, go up & down the slope, parallel parking, vertical parking and emergency braking within the circuit.

When you’ve gained sufficient experience, you will be led to the actual road where you’ll learn how to handle unpredictable scenarios on the road, carry out safe driving checks and apply driving skills taught by your instructors.

Step 5: FTT, or Final Theory Test.

You will need to pass the Final Theory Test (FTT) while you are taking your actual lessons. 

The FTT tests your knowledge on proper driving techniques and how to interact with other road users whilst driving. This includes basic driving techniques when moving off and stopping, overtaking or how you should drive when approaching cyclist, pedestrians, large vehicles & more.

Step 6: Traffic Police Driving Simulator

The current curriculum requires students to sign up for simulator lessons. The simulator mirrors actual real-life scenarios, including wet weather conditions and road hazards such as fallen trees. It allows learners to have a safe and controlled environment to practise defensive driving.  There will be 3 mandatory training sessions on the simulator.

Step 7: Mock Practical Driving Test

Your instructor will run you through a mock test experience and avoid giving any instruction during the test.It will be set out in a similar way to the actual practical test to give learners a chance to see what they should expect on the day of their test.

Step 8: Test by the police

After enough practise and when you feel ready, you can make an appointment with the Traffic Police to take your driving test. You may look up for driving test assessment checklist online to have a rough gauge on how the demerit point/penalty system is like.

Step 9: Get Your Licence

You can apply for your approved driver's licence after you pass the Traffic Police Test. Congratulations! You now have your driver's licence and are legally allowed to drive on Singapore's roads on your own.

To get a driver's licence in Singapore, you have to work hard, practise and know the process inside and out. Think about whether you'd be better off with an automatic or manual licence, and decide if you'd learn better with solo lessons or at a driving school. Follow the step-by-step guide, which starts with the Basic Theory Test and ends with the Traffic Police Test. Always put safety and responsibility first when you drive. Embrace the process and have fun with it, and soon you'll be driving safely on Singapore's roads with your licence in hand. Safe travels!

If you've attained your driving licence and want to opt for a driving refresher course to boost your driving confidence on Singapore's roads, sign up for noto's Street Smart Programme today!

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