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A Foreigner’s Guide to Buying a Second Hand Car in Singapore

Buying a second hand car in Singapore is a great way to get behind the wheel of your dream car without spending more than you can afford.  But if you are a foreigner who wants to drive in Singapore, you might be wondering:

Foreigner Buying a Second hand vehicle in Singapore | Car World Automobile

Can foreigners own cars in Singapore?

The answer is yes. Foreigners can buy cars in Singapore! While the island city has an efficient and clean public transportation system for getting around town, foreigners might want to buy a car for many reasons. 

Buying a second hand car can be a great way to get around and feel like part of the city—especially if you are renting or own an apartment here. It is also helpful if you have children and must ferry them for various enrichment activities! 

If you are a foreigner thinking of buying a second hand car in Singapore, here is a list of valuable tips you need to heed.

How we drive in Singapore

In Singapore, motorists drive on the left hand of the road, which means the driver’s seat is on the right. It is rare to see a car with a driver’s seat to the left, although they do exist. These are usually authorised vehicles such as construction transportation or licensed vintage cars. When you drive in Singapore, the right side is the fast lane.

Seat belts and child seats are a must in Singapore. In addition, the law mandates that passengers below the height of 1.35m must be secured with appropriate restraint, booster seat, or adjustable seatbelt. Those over 1.35m must put on their seatbelts or risk getting fined.

Driving while drunk is also strictly prohibited here, with vigilant traffic police ready to make checks. In addition, you need to turn on your headlights between 7 pm and 7 am. If you already have a foreign driving permit and need to convert your license, you will familiarise yourself with the above in the theory test. So do not worry if you cannot keep up with the rules and regulations. 

Requirements for driving license in Singapore

If you are here temporarily, you can drive using a valid foreign license and an international permit from the Automobile Association. You do not need to apply for an international license for foreigners from an ASEAN state. 

But since you are buying a car in Singapore, you are probably here to stay for a while. So if you have visited for more than 12 months, the law requires that you obtain a local driving permit. You must be 18 and above to get your driving permit. 

Here is a brief checklist of what to do:

  • Pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT) in a driving school
  • For those who do not have a license, you will need to also sit for the Advanced Theory Test and Practical Driving Test
  • If you own a license and pass the BTT, you can apply online to exchange your foreign license for a local one
  • Do prepare relevant documents indicated on the site, such as your passport and residency documentation, your foreign driving license and a passport-sized photograph

This driving license is valid for five years from the date of issue. Foreigners should then carry out renewals within a month of the permit’s expiry date. 

However, the license has unlimited validity for permanent residents and does not need to be renewed.

Foreigner Buying a Used Car in Singapore | Car World Automobile

How much does it cost to buy and own a car in Singapore?

You might have come across the Bloomberg article stating that you will need $75,000 just to own a car in Singapore. Well, the article is partially true. The cost cited includes a document known as the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), and it’s part of the Singapore government’s plan to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. 

A COE document is obtained through a bidding process, and the number of documents issued is based on the number of cars allowed on the road. Being able to purchase the document entitles you to register a vehicle. But the high price also deters many from buying a car in Singapore.

If you are buying a new car in Singapore, you might have to think twice if COE prices increase beyond your budget. But for used cars in Singapore, there is a silver lining.

The silver lining is you do not have to go through the open bidding process to get a COE document. Each COE term is ten years. So, if the car you buy is less than ten years old, you will inherit the remaining lease on the COE paid for by its first owner. You do not have to bid for a new COE; you merely need to carry out the transfer of ownership. 

When you deregister your vehicle, you will inherit any rebates tagged to your car, such as PARF (Preferential Additional Registration Fee (PARF) rebates.

If the car you want is more than ten years old, you will need to renew the COE to continue your car ownership. Car owners may renew COEs for five or ten years. However, you may perform a five-year renewal only once. The renewal fee follows the Prevailing Quota Premium (PQP), the moving average of COE prices in the preceding three months. You can check PQP rates here

With this in mind, you will notice the price of cars less than ten years old is much higher than older vehicles. That is because the seller will factor in the amount you can get back should you deregister the car. If you will get back a fair amount when you deregister the vehicle, it also makes sense for the seller to increase the sale price. 

So, when considering how much to buy a used car in Singapore, you must consider its age and COE term. That way, you can calculate whether you will need to renew its COE document or the amount you can get back when you deregister the car. 

There are other costs involved as well. For more examples, read our article on the costs of owning a car in Singapore (anchor link to previous post).

Comfortable Car for Foreigners in Singapore | Car World Automobile

Understand the purchase processes of used cars in Singapore

It is a simple three-step process if you want to buy a used car in Singapore. After obtaining your license, you just need to do the following:

Research the Market

First, make sure you know what type of car you want. Next, do some online research to find out which models are best-selling, and then narrow down your options based on price range and features.

Find a Dealer

Next, find a trustworthy dealer with cars that fit your criteria—they should have several different models available for sale at reasonable prices with excellent customer service. Make sure they have plenty of inventory as well—the more options you have, the better!

Test Drive & Purchase

Finally, you will need to test drive some vehicles that interest you before making any purchases! Once you have found one that seems perfect for your needs (and budget), do not hesitate—go for it! Negotiate with the dealer to get the best value for your purchase. You might also need to arrange for a car loan to make the downpayment and purchase car insurance. Read more in our article ‘5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Car (Part 1)’ to learn more about other steps to take when buying a second hand car in Singapore.

At Car World Automobile Pte Ltd, we promise to provide the best experience with our experts so that you can find your dream car.
Contact Car World Automobile Pte Ltd or visit our Ubi showroom today! Our team of experts has extensive experience with Korean, Japanese and Continental cars. So, let us get you driving soon!

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