Know Before You Go: Singaporean Laws Part 1

Singapore has a really low crime rate, partly due to the existence of strict laws and the strong enforcement of said laws, but also due to the high moral standards of locals. That’s not to say that the country sees no crime; as with every place in the world, Singapore does still have some crime. But it’s a lot rarer than many other places in the world.

There are several Singaporean laws that are worth keeping in mind when visiting this small but interesting nation. You don’t want to spoil your trip and end up on the wrong side of the law! Singapore is also amongst the least corrupted countries in the world. Don’t even think about trying to bribe officials if you do find yourself in hot water – that would only land you in even more trouble.

Not only is keeping on the right side of the law prudent for yourself, but why would you want to visit a country and knowingly break their laws? Respecting your host country is such a big part of travelling. That said, there are some laws that you could inadvertently break without intending to. Learn a few relevant laws before you travel to be totally sure that you are a law-abiding visitor when in Singapore.

Some top Singapore laws to know before you go include:

Drug Laws

As with most countries around the world, Singapore takes a very dim view of drug-related activities. Singapore’s drug laws relate to all controlled substances. Prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are not controlled substances.

The laws are related to trafficking, selling, consumption, and possession of drugs. Whilst this is perhaps common sense, one important point to note is that there is no distinction as to where substances were taken / used. Police can, and do, randomly test locals and visitors for drug traces in their body. Even if you have been squeaky clean when in Singapore but drugs are found in your system you will be prosecuted.

Keep in mind that substances may be legal (or decriminalised) in the place where used, but illegal in Singapore. That means no flying into Singapore straight after heavy cannabis use in, for example, Holland, Spain, or certain states in the USA. There is also no allowance for cannabis use in Singapore under medical grounds. Whilst you may legally be using cannabis for medical purposes in your home country or elsewhere, you would be breaking the law in Singapore.

Penalties are severe, with hefty fines, long prison sentences, corporal punishment, and even capital punishment (the death penalty) in some instances.

Smoking Laws

Smoking is not allowed in any indoor public place in Singapore. There are also some open-air public places where you shouldn’t smoke. There is a large fine for first offences, and this increases if you are caught again. There are, however, clearly marked smoking areas where you can indulge if you choose.
It is legal to buy cigarettes in Singapore, and smoke at home or in designated smoking areas. Check before you light up!

Alcohol Laws

Whilst there is no age limit for drinking alcohol in private places in Singapore, the legal age to buy alcoholic beverages and drink alcohol in public places (including bars, nightclubs, and restaurants) is 18. People must also be over the age of 18 to enter nightclubs; you cannot enter underage and abstain.

Drinking alcohol in public places is prohibited between the hours of 10.30pm and 7am, including places such as beaches, parks, and the streets. Retail outlets are also prohibited from selling alcohol between these times. Some areas, known as Liquor Control Zones, have even tighter restrictions.

Alcohol consumption is fine on licensed premises, in terms with the relevant license. This covers places like nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. It is also possible to apply for a permit to drink at BBQ pits.

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