Singapore: Travel update

It’s illegal to drink alcohol in public places (eg beyond the premises of bars and restaurants) from 10.30pm to 7am and all day at weekends in certain areas. Offenders will be fined. 

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment, corporal punishment or the death penalty.

The offence of ‘outrage of modesty’ (molestation) can result in a fine, jail or corporal punishment. Scams involving false claims of molest are thought to exist.

Local laws and customs

The death penalty exists for certain offences, including murder and drug trafficking. There are severe penalties for all drug offences in Singapore. Trafficking is defined by possession of drugs above a certain amount (500g in the case of cannabis).

As of 1 April 2015, it’s illegal to drink alcohol in a public place between 10.30pm and 7am. You can drink alcohol between these hours in restaurants, bars and cafes, the outdoor areas of private condominiums and chalets, and outdoor events that have obtained a permit. Geylang and Little India are designated as ‘Liquor Control Zones’ where drinking in public places is prohibited all weekend, on public holidays and the eve of public holidays. You could be fined up to SG$1,000 (approximately £500). Repeat offenders may be fined up to SG$2,000 (approximately £1,000) or sent to prison for up to 3 months. Drunk and disorderly conduct are treated seriously, and can lead to a fine or being sent to prison.

You can’t bring vaporisers, like e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigars, and refills into the country. These items are likely to be confiscated, and you could be fined or sent to prison.

Penalties for overstaying your visa include fines, imprisonment, corporal punishment (the rattan cane) and deportation depending on the length of overstay.

A wide range of offences, including ‘outrage of modesty’ (inappropriate behaviour by men towards women) and vandalism carry corporal punishment (the rattan cane).

You should avoid any action that could be interpreted as molestation. Scams involving false claims of molestation are thought to exist. Usually once the complaint is made by the victim and the accused is arrested the police will not allow the accused person to travel and their passport will be confiscated while investigations are carried out. This can take several months.

Male homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore, but in a statement to Parliament in 2007 Singapore’s Prime Minister stated that ‘The Government does not act as moral policemen’ and that ‘we do not proactively enforce’ the law on this issue. Openly gay and lesbian support groups and social venues exist.

Both public and private Jehovah’s Witness meetings are illegal in Singapore. It is also against the law to possess any Jehovah’s Witness publication, including a Jehovah’s Witness bible. Similar measures exist against the Unification Church.

On-the-spot fines are common, and can be given for a wide range of behaviours which are tolerated in the UK. You’ll be fined for littering and smoking in some public places. It’s also illegal to bring chewing gum into the country, except for certain medical chewing gums.

Remember to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK