Local Laws To Be Aware Of On Your Trip To Singapore
Ah, wonderful Singapore. Probably one of the most relaxing and scenic countries in Southeast Asia and well known for being a highly advanced and absolutely beautiful place to visit. On average, Singapore draws in over 6 million tourists a year, and it’s likely this is going to increase in the coming years, as the country’s new technological marvels and gorgeous tourist attractions become more popular the world over.
While Singapore is definitely a country you’ll never forget, it’s important to know that they are incredibly strict when it comes to preserving their laws. Not only this, but there are loads of customs and traditions that are a core part of the society in Singapore and are also strictly adhered to.
If you are planning on visiting Singapore, you’ll definitely need to do a little research before landing. From incredibly strict littering fines, to bans on walking around naked in your own home, Singapore literally has a rule for everything. A lot of absent-minded foreigners have found out about this the hard way. So a little research and some preparedness before arriving in Singapore will definitely go a long way to ensuring that your trip goes off without a hitch!
1. No Walking Around In Your House Naked
Come on, admit it. Everyone loves boasting their nakedness to an empty apartment or home. It’s definitely one of the perks of being an adult and having your own place. There’s nothing more freeing than wandering around after a shower without a single piece of clothing on. Western countries are generally totally fine with this, so long as you aren’t doing so in an attempt to expose yourself to anyone, and it’s considered perfectly safe and legal to do so.
However, in Singapore, the government recognizes this as a form of ‘pornography’, and since pornography is illegal in Singapore, you can be fined S$2,000 ($1,459) and even spend up to 3 months in prison. If you do plan on being naked in your home, hotel room, or apartment while in Singapore, make sure all your curtains and windows are shut first and save yourself the trouble of garnering a permanent record for a little private time!
2. Shake, Rattle, and Slow Your Roll
For those who wanted to partake in a little gambling while visiting Singapore, know that the government has largely banned all forms of it. However, there is one company that is licensed to operate within Singapore, and they own three luxury casinos within the country, visiting them might be the main purpose of your trip. Thankfully, you can safely gamble here without any issues and shouldn’t have any issues while you enjoy your games – just don’t expect drinks after 11:59 PM (as we’ll explain later).
And if you’re looking to enjoy some games when resting in your hotel room, remember that online gambling is also largely prohibited in Singapore. As such, a lot of people there tend to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to get around this issue in order to access their favorite online casino.
You shouldn’t have any issues doing this, just be sure not to deposit your winnings into a local bank account, as this is usually where the trouble comes in. Instead, using a crypto-wallet or an e-wallet will allow you to safely store and use your funds abroad. Roughly 0.3% of the population of Singapore participates in online gambling, so don’t worry – you’re not alone! Just follow the guidelines and you’ll be fine.
3. Drop The Gum
While it might not seem like something so serious, Singapore takes an incredibly harsh stance on any form of chewing gum. The country has made it completely illegal to buy or sell gum! The sentence for getting caught with chewing gum is incredibly harsh. You can be fined up to S$100,000 ($72,947) and serve up to 2 years in prison, simply for enjoying a piece of gum after a meal.
The reason the government banned it was because they hated seeing it on public spaces like park benches and tables and went all out to get rid of the stuff in their country. Frankly, it’s simply not worth it, so don’t try to smuggle any in or you’ll likely just get caught at the airport or port of entry and be forced to throw it away anyway. If anyone, somehow, manages to offer you the stuff while in Singapore, simply say “no thanks”.
4. The Birds
Most of us have taken an old loaf of bread to the nearby park to feed the birds. It’s usually quite a nice way to pass the time and seems pretty harmless, right? Not in Singapore.
In Singapore, it’s illegal to feed the birds anywhere, and you can face a fine of up to S$500 ($364) for doing so. The law was passed back in 1987 and was done to help prevent the increase of litter in public areas. This is one thing you need to know about Singapore. It’s an incredibly clean country, largely because the law is really strict when it comes to tackling litter bugs.
People can be fined up to S$10,000 ($7296) for littering in Singapore and the government has cameras installed everywhere. So even if you accidentally drop something, be sure to go back and pick it up, as you could be tracked down like you’re Jason Bourne and held accountable for littering.
5. Annoying Melodies
If you’ve ever come across a street performer you simply can’t stand hearing, don’t worry, Singapore knows how you feel. In Western countries, so long as a street performer isn’t saying or doing anything offensive and isn’t blocking the foot traffic, they’re largely free to perform almost wherever they want.
Singapore is the furthest place from Hyde Park in the world in this way, and they will put you in prison for up to 3 months if you decide to do a street performance that is deemed annoying. Thankfully this means that all the street performances you encounter while on your journey there are likely to be of a pretty high standard, it’s important to know that if you ever felt like busking through Singapore, you better be really good and incredibly conscientious to the locals.
If you choose the wrong place to perform, or are simply bad, you’ll garner a pretty serious criminal offense instead of applause. So be warned buskers!
6. Party Like a Rockstar, Then Go To Sleep at 10:30
If you were planning on going on a pub crawl through the city and staying up until 3 in the morning having a raucous load of fun with your friends, then Singapore definitely isn’t the place for you.
In order to keep the peace and quiet, Singapore has basically banned drinking from after 10:30 PM until 7 AM practically everywhere in the country. Some places even have drinking banned from as early as 7 PM on weekdays!
While there are bars and clubs that are licensed to serve alcohol a little later, this will only allow you to party until 11:59 PM, at which point it’s illegal to have another drink after that time. So the final bell rings really early in Singapore and remember, if you’re caught drinking from your own supply, you may be fined up to S$1,000 ($729).
7. Royal Flush
While flushing your toilet is generally considered a pretty basic part of life in Western countries, there aren’t any rules regulating the act, although it’s socially accepted to flush after you go. However, in Singapore, it’s illegal not to flush a toilet regardless of what you do there!
While this law isn’t very easy to enforce, as cameras are not allowed inside toilets in the country, if you are somehow caught not flushing you can face fines of up to S$500 ($364).
So don’t take the risk, honestly, it’s just easier to flush.
8. Don’t Eat On The Beat
While it’s totally acceptable in Western countries to enjoy a snack while on most forms of public transport, in Singapore it’s very much illegal – but not entirely. Most public transport is highly monitored by private or public security to ensure that all the rules are enforced. However, the ban on eating on public transport is largely only enforced on public trains in Singapore.
People caught eating on trains in Singapore can face fines of up to S$500 ($364). While it is okay to eat a snack on a bus in Singapore, it’s still largely frowned upon. So best to just wait until you’re at your destination, and be sure to have a good meal before leaving on any long train rides.
9. No Smoking in Public Areas
While Western countries do have laws restricting smoking in certain areas, they’re often not as strict when it comes to enforcing these laws. However, Singapore has taken a very direct route to banning smoking in most places and unless you’re in an area that is specifically designated as a smoking zone, you can get fined anywhere from $200 to $1000.
In most cases, they give people caught smoking in unwanted areas a legal warning which lasts up to 3 months. If you get caught again, you get charged. Just to give you an idea of where you can’t smoke, the list includes:
- Bus Shelters
- Public transport
- Indoor locations
- Public pools
- Public toilets
- Exercise areas
- Parking lots
Given the lengthy list of banned places, you’d honestly be better off either just not smoking while abroad in Singapore, or taking the time to find all the designated smoking areas around the area you’ll be staying in before you go.
Local Singapore Laws – FAQs
Is Drinking Illegal in Singapore?
No, drinking is not illegal in Singapore so long as you’re over the age of 18 and do so within the set times when drinking is permitted i.e. up until 10:30 PM in most parts of the country, and 11:59 PM in certain licensed establishments. Certain areas like Little India and Geylang, for instance, ban drinking after 7 PM on weeknights, so be sure to check the rules in your relevant area.
What are the Charges for Drugs in Singapore?
Singapore is incredibly strict when it comes to regulating any form of drug-related activity in their country. People caught with illicit substances can be fined around S$20,000 ($14,592) or more and face 10 years in prison or more. In some cases, the death penalty will be utilized in case of drug trafficking. Singapore is definitely not a suitable place for anything other than alcohol.
Can I Bring Cigarettes into Singapore?
You cannot bring any cigarettes into Singapore via any port of entry, and all cigarettes will be confiscated upon arrival. The cigarettes in Singapore are all taxed quite heavily, so don’t think you can try and buy cheap, untaxed cigarettes as they’re illegal and impossible to find. The fine for being caught with cigarettes at the border you try to smuggle in can be as high as S$5,000 ($3648).
What is the Fine For Jaywalking in Singapore?
Jaywalking is illegal in most parts of the world. However, Singapore is particularly strict when it comes to enforcing their laws regarding jaywalking. People caught doing so can be fined up to S$1,000 ($729) and even earn a record for repeat offenders. Be sure to use the designated street crossings or bridges to cross the roads in Singapore and avoid the hassle of fines.
Is Tipping Okay in Singapore?
Tipping culture is quite popular and very normalized in Western countries. However, in Singapore it is heavily frowned upon. While it’s not illegal to tip, most establishments will make it clear that they don’t want or expect tips from their patrons. So don’t worry about rounding off the bill in Singapore.
When is Making a Noise in Singapore Illegal?
In Singapore, it is generally considered to be illegal to make a noise after 10 PM. This can range from shouting and playing music, to revving a motorbike and using power tools. Be sure to keep the volume down and not get too rowdy after 10 PM or you could face a fine of up to S$2000 ($1459).
Is It Illegal to Connect To Another Person’s Wi-Fi in Singapore?
Yes, it’s very illegal to connect to someone’s Wi-Fi without their express permission. The law in Singapore is incredibly strict when it comes to data privacy and integrity, and as a result, using another person’s Wi-Fi without their consent is seen as a form of ‘hacking’ and can earn you a S$10,000 ($7296) fine and up to 3 years in prison. So be sure to ask if you find any open networks and in general, stick to the safe-to-use public Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi available at restaurants, hotels, and other establishments with permission of course. As a rule of thumb, just avoid any unsecured Wi-Fi connections you might find while in Singapore.
Why is Flying A Kite Illegal in Singapore?
To be specific, flying a kite in general is not illegal in Singapore. The law states that flying a kite in such a way as to distract traffic is illegal. In other words, this means flying a kite near busy roads and airports etc. You can be fined from S$5,000 ($3648) upwards and even sentenced to prison if you’re liable for any serious damage for doing so. Best to just stick to open fields, far away from roads if you plan on flying a kite of any kind!