|Preface Last Updated: 3/24/2005
According to Malay legend, a Sumatran prince encountered a
lion—considered a good omen—on Temasek, prompting him to found
Singapura, or Lion City. It mattered little that lions had never
inhabited Singapore (more likely the prince had seen a tiger); what
did matter was the establishment of the region as a minor trading
post for the powerful Sumatran Srivijaya empire.
Singapore might have remained a quiet backwater if not for Sir
Stamford Raffles' intervention in 1819. The British had first
established a presence in the Straits of Malacca in the 18th
century, when the East India Company set out to secure and protect
its line of trade from China to the colonies in India. Fearing
expansionism from the Dutch, who had been the dominant European
power in the region for nearly 200 years, Raffles argued for a
British presence, which he was promptly given.
Under his tutelage, Singapore's forlorn reputation was forgotten.
Migrants, attracted by a tariff-free port, poured in by the
thousands, and a flourishing colony with a military and naval base
was established. Singapore's inexorable growth continued into the
A diversity of races lives here. The Chinese are predominantly
followers of Buddhism and Shenism; Malays are overwhelmingly
Muslims; and most of Singapore's Indians are Hindus. And despite the
country's rapid industrialization, the majority of Singaporeans
still celebrate the major festivals associated with their respective
Street performances are held during important festivals, such as
Chinese New Year. The Lion Dance is a spectacular, acrobatic dance
usually performed during Chinese festivals. Other performing arts
include Malay and Indian dances. There are also those who consider
that the mainstay of Singaporean culture must be shopping.
The four official languages are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and
English. English is widespread and unites the various ethnic groups.
Older Singaporeans use a unique patois called Singlish, which uses a
clipped form of English mixed with Malay and Hokkien words.
Singapore is the food capital of Asia. Chinese, Indian, Malay,
Indonesian, and Western foods are all on offer, and some of the
tastiest creations are those sold from the atmospheric street
The country has been the economic success story of the region and
has grown into one of Asia's economic powerhouses. The city-state
can be seen, when viewed in comparison to its sprawling and socially
fractured neighboring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia, as an
island of flawlessness—neatly manicured lawns and identical flower
planters, freshly painted buildings, and squeaky-clean streets.
Singapore is a nation that seems, on the outside, and to the
visitor, to be nearly perfect.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
The Republic of Singapore is a small city/state island located at
the tip of the Malay Peninsula, 85 miles north of the Equator. It is
a flat country of 250 square miles (641 square miles) with a maximum
elevation of 581 feet. At its widest points it measures 26 miles
from east to west and 14 miles north to south.
Vegetation is lush and tropical. Seasons are nonexistent. In this
"Land of Eternal Summer," the mean high temperature is 90ºF and
varies little from month to month. Humidity is high (average 70%)
and annual rainfall is about 96 inches. Wet and dry seasons are not
distinct, but November through February is wetter and cooler than
other months. Over an extended period, the climate can be
oppressive. Depending on the length of your stay, the lack of
climatic variation coupled with the difficulties in living on an
island may cause psychological weariness. For this reason regular
exercise and vacations are important here. Even in a clean city like
Singapore, the tropical climate fosters minor health problems; germs
and viruses thrive here. Complaints of recurring colds and other
infections are common. Air-conditioning probably contributes to the
Many shops and restaurants are overly cooled, and frequent
transitions from heat to cold promote illnesses. Mildew is another
problem. Books, records, leather goods and any items not used or
aired regularly or stored in a non-air-conditioned room are
vulnerable. Closets and bureau drawers often have a musty odor that
is difficult to eliminate. Rust is also a problem. Metal items that
aren't painted or tropicalized begin to rust in a short time.
Singapore, like all tropical areas, has its share of cockroaches,
water bugs, ants and termites, but few flies. Despite the annoying
mosquitoes, malaria is not a problem here. The Singapore Government
has made great strides in controlling the breeding areas of most
Population Last Updated: 2/16/2005 1:34 AM
Singapore's population in 2004 is 4.24 million and comprises
mainly Chinese, Malays, Indians, and others. A fascinating melange
of cultures fulfills the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board's promise
of instant Asia with many of the sights, sounds, tastes and smells
of the East available here. Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil (the
language of southeastern India) are official languages. Most of the
Chinese are descendants of immigrants who came from China's southern
provinces; their main dialects are Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese.
Nevertheless, the Government has initiated a campaign stressing the
learning of Mandarin by all Singaporeans, particularly the Chinese.
English is the language of administration; 75% of Singapore's
citizens speak and understand at least rudimentary English. A
knowledge of one of the other languages is not necessary, but
Mandarin and Malay can be useful, the latter especially for
traveling in Malaysia.
Singapore is a secular state with considerable religious
tolerance. In terms of the number of adherents, the main religions
are Taoism, Islam, Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Christianity (almost
equally divided between Catholic and Protestant), and Hinduism, but
the population also includes Sikhs, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Jains.
Two holidays of each major religious group in Singapore are
set-aside as national holidays. And each ethnic group preserves its
individuality by enthusiastically celebrating its cultural and
religious traditions. For example, Thaipusam, a Hindu religious
observance that is dying out in India, is celebrated widely in
Singapore. Chinese New Year is a 2-week festival marked by feasting
and home celebration. Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Puasa and Hari
The many languages, races, religions and cultures in Singapore
have resulted in an acceptance on all sides of the varied character
of life here. Except for Muslim or Hindu dietary restrictions, which
must be honored when entertaining Malays or Indians, few taboos
differ markedly from those in the U.S.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 3/24/2005 2:07 AM
The ruling political party in Singapore, in power since 1959, is
the People's Action Party (PAP), now headed by Prime Minister Lee
Hsien Loong, a son of Lee Kuan Yew who served as Singapore's prime
minister from independence through 1990. The elder Lee is still in
the government as minister mentor. Mr. Goh Chok Tong who was prime
minister from 1990 stepped down in 2004 but has remained in the
government as senior minister. The PAP has held the overwhelming
majority of seats in Parliament since 1966, when the opposition
Barisan Sosiahs Party (Socialist Front), a left-wing group that
split off from the PAP in 1961, resigned from Parliament, leaving
the PAP as the sole representative party. In the general elections
of 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980, the PAP won all of the seats in an
expanding Parliament. Workers' Party Secretary General J.B.
Jeyaretnam became the first opposition party MP in 15 years when he
won a 1981 election. Opposition parties gained small numbers of
seats in the general elections of 1984 (2 seats out of a total of
79), 1988 (1 seat of 81), 1991 (4 seats of 81) and 1997 (2 seats of
81), and 2001 (2 seats of 84). Meanwhile, the PAP share of the
popular vote in contested seats has ranged from 61% in 1991 to 75%
in 2001; less than half the seats were contested by the opposition
in the three general elections since 1991.
Singapore has remained in the Commonwealth of Nations, and it
joined the United Nations in 1965; it was one of the founding
members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in
Singapore is a free trading country and a significant importer of
food and agricultural products. But, as the major trading center for
Southeast Asia, Singapore trades or transships 75% of imports to
neighboring markets. The government is committed to a policy of free
enterprise but is involved in commerce and industry.
Singapore has instituted an extensive social development program
of education, housing, medical care and social welfare. One of the
most impressive achievements is low-cost public housing. This
housing consists of high-rise apartments built by the government.
Eighty-six percent of the public lives in public housing blocks,
with almost all owning their apartments. The Housing Development
Board controls public housing.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:29 AM
The Singapore Government provides at least 10 years of education
for each child. Students are required to pay a nominal fee. The
quality of education is excellent by world standards. The language
of instruction in most schools is English and the literacy rate in
at least one of the four official languages is estimated to be 94%.
This is the result of an education policy which emphasizes the
learning of English and the mother tongue.
Singapore's universities are also of high quality. Singapore is
positioning itself as an educational hub; a number of foreign
universities have established branches or affiliated programs in
Singapore. Singapore actively recruits international students.
Singapore's institutions of higher learning are the National
University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU),
Singapore Management University (SMU), and several polytechnics.
Both NUS and NTU offer courses leading to bachelor and graduate
degrees in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses at the
polytechnics are comparable to U.S. junior colleges. Each year, a
large number of Singaporean students also go abroad for higher
studies. Most go to the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and
The NUS offers noncredit evening lecture series in a variety of
subjects, such as language instruction, painting, public speaking,
interior decorating and photography. Similar courses are offered by
community centers and the YWCA/YMCA. The community centers and
YWCA/YMCA also teach yoga, Pilates, cooking, flower arrangement,
children's art and social dancing. Language and other courses are
widely available. To view the range of courses offered at community
centers, visit the People's Association website at http://www.pa.gov.sg/.
Lessons in most sports are available, but participation may require
membership in a club. Golf, bowling, tennis, squash, rugby, soccer,
softball, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, judo and ice-skating
are among those available.
Culture. It is the government's policy to preserve and nurture
the traditions of the various ethnic communities. The arts in
Singapore are as varied as its cultural heritage. A variety of
amateur organizations regularly put on ethnic dance, drama, and
musical performances. In addition, foreign artists and groups,
including popular recording artists, are frequent visitors and
perform to full houses and appreciative audiences.
The National Arts Council is the principal impresario, with
sponsorship from the government, diplomatic missions, the business
community and foundations. The premier cultural event is the annual
Singapore Arts Festival. More information is available on the
Festival's website at http://www.singaporeartsfest.com/. The
month-long Festival features outstanding local, regional, and
international productions, representing all facets of the performing
arts. The Houston Ballet, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Magic
Theater of San Francisco, and jazz greats Ellis Marsalis, Billy
Taylor and Herbie Mann are some of the American groups participating
in previous festivals. There are also annual jazz, drama, comedy and
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), a full-time professional
orchestra, performs regularly at the Esplanade and occasionally
gives outdoor performances at parks and community centers. The
Symphony's season is divided into four quarterly series, each
consisting of six to eight pairs of concerts. The SSO also performs
pops concerts. The orchestra often features renowned conductors and
soloists as guest performers.
The Singapore History Museum displays the rich historical
heritage of Singapore as a nation. The Asian Civilizations Museum
focuses on the cultures of the different ethnic groups that make up
Singapore society. The Singapore Art Museum houses the national art
collection of Singapore and is dedicated to the collection and
display of 20th-century Singapore and Southeast Asian modern and
contemporary art. More information about the museums, which comes
under the National Heritage Board, is available on their website at
Information on current cultural events is provided daily in the
Straits Times and other local papers. Upcoming cultural events are
also publicized over radio and television.
The Singapore Science Center was established in 1970 and is rated
as one of the most outstanding institutions of its kind in the
world. It is a non-formal educational institution dedicated to the
promotion of science and technology among students and public. More
information on the Singapore Science Center is available at http://www.science.edu.sg/ssc/index.jsp.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Singapore's strategic location on major sea-lanes and its
industrious population have given the country an economic importance
in Southeast Asia disproportionate to its small size. Upon
independence in 1965 Singapore was faced with a lack of physical
resources and a small domestic market. In response, the Singapore
Government developed an international business outlook and an
export-oriented economic policy framework that encouraged two-way
flows of trade and investment. Singapore's economic strategy proved
Singapore's honest government, willing workforce, and modern
efficient infrastructure have attracted investments from more than
3,000 multinational corporations (MNCs) from the U.S., Japan, and
Europe. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the
economy. MNCs account for more than two-thirds of manufacturing
output and direct export sales. Manufacturing and financial and
business services are the twin engines of Singapore's economy.
Tourism is also a major income generator for the economy. The
electronics industry leads Singapore's manufacturing sector.
Infrastructure. With the interests of business in mind, Singapore
has forged an infrastructure on par with that of many developed
nations. Singapore has reliable and sophisticated networks for
telecommunications, transportation and utilities.
Singapore's highly developed telecommunications infrastructure
has a phone line penetration rate rivaling that of developed
countries. About a quarter of Singaporeans have mobile phones and
almost half own pagers. To promote the growth of information
industries, Broadband internet access is available throughout the
Singapore's transportation network is efficient and modern. Its
port competes with Hong Kong's for the title of world's busiest
port. Singapore's airport is considered among the best in the world.
The road system is well maintained and congestion is managed through
the use of road pricing schemes and a quota on the vehicle
population (Note: Singapore implemented an electronic road pricing
system in August 1998). The public transportation system, which
includes an efficient metro system, provides island-wide coverage
for a reasonable price.
The utility networks provide reliable services. Health, safety
and building codes have become increasingly strict over the years
and provide adequate protection.
Automobiles Last Updated: 7/29/2005 4:05 AM
Importing a Vehicle
Employees on the diplomatic list are allowed to import one
duty-free, tax-free (right-hand or left-hand drive) personally owned
vehicle (POV) into Singapore. Aministrative & Technical (A&T) staff
are authorized to import or locally purchase only one right-hand
drive duty-free, tax-free vehicle per family. A&T staff are not
authorized to import or purchase a left-hand drive vehicle.
Importation of vehicles requires special approval in all cases
and vehicles more than seven years old cannot be imported under any
circumstances. Left-hand drive vehicles imported into Singapore must
be re-exported upon completion of the employee's tour.
A right-hand drive vehicle that is less than 3 years old when it
is originally imported and registered can be re-sold here. If the
car is between 3-7 years old when imported, it must be exported or
scrapped when it reaches ten years of age. The GSO section will send
you more details regarding vehicle importation upon request. Under
no circumstances should you ship a POV to Post without first
requesting full instructions from GSO. All imported vehicles must
comply with rigorous testing and registration requirements. The GSO
section will send you more details regarding vehicle importation
upon request. Under no circumstances should you ship a POV to post
without first requesting full instruction.
A motorcycle is considered a POV for duty-free importation and
Purchasing a Vehicle in Singapore
Employees on the diplomatic list may purchase a second vehicle
locally in the name of their spouse. However, if both the diplomatic
staff member’s and the spouse’s vehicles are purchased locally, the
vehicle registered in the name of the spouse must be exported or
scrapped at the end of the employee’s tour of duty.
All vehicles purchased by diplomatic and A&T staff are exempted
from duties, road tax and certificate of entitlement. A S$10 fee is
charged for the transfer of a vehicle from one owner to another.
All personnel are advised to check with GSO before agreeing to
purchase a vehicle or making a down payment.
Registering a Vehicle.
When an employee notifies GSO of their intent to import or
purchase a vehicle, GSO will write to the Ministry asking
permission. The entire process to register the vehicle (including
MFA permission, customs exemption and application to LTA) can take
up to a month.
After an employee registers a vehicle, he or she may not register
a replacement vehicle for 3 years without special permission from
MFA. Normally, permission will only be given if the first vehicle is
The minimum insurance requirement by the Singapore Government is
third party liability coverage. This must be purchased from an
insurance company operating in Singapore. Comprehensive policies are
also available. GSO will be able to provide you the list of
insurance companies from whom you can get quotations and policy
plans. If you can provide a “no claim letter” from your last
insurance company, you can receive a premium discount of 10% for
each year without a claim, up to a maximum of 50%.
Employees can also purchase collision insurance coverage from
firms not operating in Singapore. However, if you do so, you will be
responsible for paying for any repairs and then filing a claim with
your insurance company.
Embassy personnel are allowed to drive in Singapore with their
American license for one year. After one year, they are required to
obtain a Singapore license. Employees on the diplomatic list can
convert their U.S. license without taking an examination. In order
for GSO Shipping Section to submit the application to the Traffic
Police, please forward a valid U.S. license, diplomatic I.D.,
passport, one photo and a completed application form to them. There
is no fee charged for diplomatic personnel and their spouses to
obtain a Singapore drivers license.
A&T staff members and/or spouses are required to pass a Basic
Theory Test before applying for a Singapore driving license. Both
the application for test date and conversion of license must be made
in person at any of the following driving centers:
a) Comfort Driving Center
205 Ubi Avenue 4
b) Bukit Batok Driving Center
815 Bukit Batok West Avenue 5
c) Singapore Safety Driving Center
3 Ang Mo Kio Street 62
The applicant has to furnish the following document and fee for
the booking of a test date:
a) Passport and Entry Permit
b) Test Fee: S$6.00 Registration Fee: S$5.25
After passing the test, the following documents (both originals &
photocopies) are required for license conversion:
a) Passport and Entry Permit
b) A valid qualified foreign driving license
c) A recent colored passport size photograph with matt or
semi-matt finish on white background
d) A fee of S$50.00
The license issued to staff members on both the diplomatic and
A&T lists is valid for 5 years. The processing time to obtain a
Singapore drivers license is about 2 weeks from the time of
Local Transportation Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:00 AM
Taxis are affordable, clean and safe. They are generally
plentiful, except during rush hours or when it rains. Bus service is
frequent and inexpensive. Most housing in Post’s pool is within
walking distance of a bus stop with a direct line to the Embassy.
The underground transportation system, called the MRT, is one of the
best in the world. However, there is no MRT station near the
Embassy. Singapore’s main roads and streets are excellent.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:01 AM
Planes: More than 29 airlines and about 250 shipping lines serve
Singapore. Flights link neighboring countries, and distances (in
terms of air miles) are: Kuala Lumpur, 204; Jakarta, 557; Bangkok,
897; Manila, 1,481; Hong Kong, 1,607. United Airlines has daily
flights to Singapore from the US via Hong Kong and Tokyo. Northwest
Airlines also has daily flights to and from the US via Tokyo. The
Changi International Airport in Singapore is one of the most
efficient airports in the world.
Trains: Rail trips by Embassy personnel are rare. The Malayan
Railroad offers service to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and connections
through to Bangkok and other points in Thailand. Service is good and
cars are clean and sometimes air-conditioned. Use second- and
third-class travel only if you are willing to endure some
discomfort. The trip from Singapore to Penang takes 20 to 22 hours.
Round-trip train fare to Bangkok is S$408 and takes 46 hours one
Buses: Local companies offer bus trips to destinations in
Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. Buses are air
conditioned, reasonably comfortable, and affordable. A bus to KL
takes approximately 5 hours and costs S$50. A bus to Malacca takes
approximately 4 hours and costs S$30.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 5/2/2005 10:12 PM
The telephone system works better here than in other major
Southeast Asian cities. International connections are excellent and
calls to the U.S. are clearer than those to Manila, Bangkok and
Each residence is wired with one residential telephone line and
equipped with one push button phone. An unlisted directory number
for the residential phone line will be arranged by the embassy on
your behalf prior to arrival if your agency's ICASS service
agreement permits it. This will be done for all Department of State
employees. The monthly bill for the telephone service is the
responsibility of the resident. Each month, a bill addressed to the
resident will arrive at the embassy. The national phone company is
SingTel (http://www.singtel.com). SingTel offers a wide variety of
consumer services comparable to anything available in the US.
Reliability is also comparable to the US. Information on consumer
rates and services can be obtained from their website. SingTel
offers a series of different International Direct Dial (IDD)
prefixes that offer varying degrees of cost vs. quality. They are:
"001" which offers the best quality but the highest rate; "013"
which offers moderate quality at a less expensive rate; "019" which
offers voice-over-IP quality at a discount rate; "020" which offers
discounted rates to Malaysia. A 15-minute call to the US from
Singapore using the "019" prefix costs $2.66 Singapore dollars.
Mobile phones or cell phones in Singapore are referred to as
"hand phones." There are three major providers in Singapore: SingTel
(http://www.singtel.com), Starhub (http://www.starhub.com) and M1
(http://www.m1.com.sg). The quality and reliability of mobile phone
communications in Singapore is as good as anything available in the
US. All providers offer a wide variety of consumer features and
services. Visit their websites to learn more. Simple Message Service
(SMS) is available and widely used. Singapore uses the GSM-GPRS
standard. All Singapore mobile phones use SIMM-cards to identify
themselves on the cell network. Therefore, you can easily move your
directory number from one phone to another at will. An inexpensive
dual-band device will work in Singapore and surrounding countries
such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Tri-band or
quad-band devices will be needed if you wish to have one device work
in the US or Japan as well as Singapore. A used dual band device can
be purchased in Singapore for as little as $50 US dollars. A cell
phone with a local Singapore directory number will be provided for
you by the Embassy if your agency's ICASS service agreement permits
it. This will be done for all Department of State employees. In this
case, monthly bills will be sent to the Embassy and you will be
responsible for all charges and tolls not related official use.
Internet Last Updated: 5/2/2005 10:13 PM
Internet access is widely available in Singapore and is hosted
over cable, DSL and dial-up connections. Starhub (http://starhub.com)
and SingTel (http://www.singtel.com) are the two largest providers.
Reliability and speed are comparable to anything offered in the US.
Starhub offers cable connectivity at 6.5Mbps for $50 USD per month.
SingTel offers DSL and dialup capability. Discount dial-up service
often found in the US is not available in Singapore. Therefore,
dialup is not really cost-effective. However, as a quick way to get
online you may wish to register your SingTel residential phone line
for their dialup pay-as-you go plan. There is no base charge for
this service and it costs $0.02 SGD per minute. This would be a
convenient way to get connected as soon as you arrive or until you
have a broadband solution installed at your home.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:46 AM
Mail and Pouch
The American Embassy has a Fleet Post Office (FPO) which
processes official mail, plus incoming and outgoing personal mail,
for direct-hire U.S. citizen employees and their dependents. The FPO
sells U.S. postage stamps that may be purchased by check or cash.
FPO users can send mail postage-free to other regional posts within
the FPO/APO Pacific region. The FPO window hours are 8:30 am - 3:30
pm, Monday through Friday, except local and American holidays and on
diplomatic pouch days (every other Tuesday). Any parcels mailed
through the FPO for the U.S. must have a U.S. Customs form attached
(provided by the FPO).
Mail from the United States can be sent with domestic first-class
postage when addressed as follows:
FPO address: Your Full Name
American Embassy Singapore
Box (your office)
FPO AP 96507
Unclassified Pouch & Local Mailroom processes mail daily to and
from the Singapore postal service. It does not sell local stamps,
but does have a franking machine for official mail. It also handles
DHL and FedEx, plus unclassified diplomatic pouch mail. Interoffice
messenger envelopes may also be dropped in the Local Mailroom's drop
box for distribution to the receiving office's mailbox. Except in
approved circumstances, personal mail should not be sent by
unclassified pouch, but rather by FPO.
Local Mailroom hours are:
09:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
02:00 p.m. - 04:30 p.m.
Pouch Address for Official mail:
Your Full Name
4280 Singapore Place
Washington DC 20521-4280
Pouch Addresses for Personal Mail:
Your Full Name
4280 Singapore Place
Dulles VA 20521-4280
Singapore Post International Mail As of March 2005, current
Singapore Post rates for mail to the U.S. are: S$1.00 for a 20-gram
airmail letter; S$0.35 for every additional 10 grams; S$0.50 for an
airmail post card; S$0.50 for a 20-gram surface letter.
International airmail between Singapore and the U.S. is dependable
and generally efficient. Surface packages take from 6 weeks to 2
months to reach the U.S. Mail within Southeast Asia is sometimes
less dependable. The most current postage rates can be found at
For mail that is air-couriered, or mailed from countries other
than the U.S., use the following International Mail address:
Attn: Your Name
27 Napier Road
Radio and TV Last Updated: 3/24/2005 0:24 AM
The state-owned Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp) radio
broadcasts daily on AM and FM, in four official languages: English,
Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, on separate frequencies. Programs are
varied and news is reported on the hour. There is an 18-hour news
and information radio station and numerous 24-hour FM stereo popular
music stations broadcasting in English. VOA morning and evening
newscasts can be heard on short wave, and BBC "World Service"
broadcasts are relayed on FM 24 hours a day. All types of radios are
sold in Singapore at reasonable prices.
Six Singaporean and three Malaysian color TV channels are
received here. Many American programs are shown, including popular
series and documentaries. There is cable in most apartments for a
minimum charge of about S$20 a month, which has Star TV, ESPN, CNN,
Discovery, Cartoon Network, HBO, Disney, Nickelodeon and Hallmark as
well as local programs. The TV system is 625 PAL, as opposed to the
U.S. system, which is 525 NTSC. Therefore, American TVs will not
operate here without expensive and sometimes unsuccessful
alterations. Multi-system (NTSC, PAL, SECAM) TV monitors and video
players can be purchased locally at reasonable prices. Multi-system
video equipment can be used in the U.S. In Singapore, a color set
can be purchased for about S$200 for a small screen TV to about
S$8000 for a large screen plasma TV.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
3/24/2005 0:25 AM
Several local English-language newspapers are published in
Singapore, led by the Straits Times. International news coverage in
The Straits Times is excellent. The International Herald Tribune is
printed in Singapore via satellite and available on newsstands the
same day. International editions of Time and Newsweek are on
newsstands every Thursday, and the Asian edition of Reader's Digest
is also available. Many other U.S. magazines appear on newsstands at
two or three times their U.S. price. Highly specialized periodicals
and most general interest magazines are available. However, to
ensure an affordable supply of favorite periodicals, subscribe to
them using the FPO address.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Medical facilities are excellent for most health problems.
Competent English speaking specialists in almost every field can be
found in Singapore. Good obstetric care is available and most women
can deliver their babies safely. Many of the specialists have
trained in the U.K., Australia, U.S. or Canada as well as in
Singapore and speak English well. Most Americans use Mt. Elizabeth,
Gleneagles, Mt. Alvernia, Thomas Medical Center, and East Shore
Hospitals. Both government and private hospitals with the latest
diagnostic equipment can be found in Singapore. Very good dental
care is available. Homeopathic, Chinese herbal and acupuncture
practitioners as well as chiropractors do not have governing bodies
and therefore should be used with caution.
Community Health Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Singapore is probably the cleanest city in Asia. Sewage and
garbage disposal is not a problem. Daily trash collection is
efficient. Tap water is potable and contains fluoride. Keep in mind
that the hot humid weather causes foods to spoil more quickly. Eat
foods that are well cooked or well refrigerated especially foods
with fish or dairy.
The government keeps up a constant battle against mosquitoes and
other insects. Ants and cockroaches are more of a problem here than
in temperate climates. Most Americans have found that typical
overseas precautions in food preparation are unnecessary here.
Fruits and vegetables should be washed. Locally packaged food causes
no ill effects. Most local restaurants, including hawker stalls, are
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 3/23/2005 10:47 PM
Singapore has few health hazards. Malaria has been eradicated,
although it may be contracted in surrounding countries. Also
transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue fever is more of a problem, and
may last for 2 or 3 months.
Singapore provides a good environment for young children.
The Singapore Ministry of Health recommends that those coming to
Singapore be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping
cough, but merely as a precautionary measure. You do not need
smallpox and cholera shots.
The Ministry's Medical Division may recommend other inoculations
that are authorized by the personnel officer for staff and their
families on request. It is not necessary to ship drugs or sundry
items unless you prefer certain brands. Because vitamins are
expensive here, bring a supply from the U.S.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 3/24/2005
The American Association Career Resource Center for expats (CRCE)
operates an employment program in conjunction with U.S. companies in
Singapore for American spouses and for students during school-summer
Work permits for employment outside the Embassy are difficult, but
not impossible to obtain. The CRCE will provide guidance in applying
for a letter of consent, which permits an individual to work under a
dependent pass. "The Letter of Consent (LOC) accelerates the lengthy
employment pass process and allows the individual to commence work
Dependents working on the local economy, regardless of whether
they are on the diplomatic list, are required to file Singapore
income tax returns and pay any income taxes that may be due.
Embassy policy provides hiring preference for U. S. citizen adult
family members when fully qualified. Certain temporary Family Member
Appointment (FMA) positions are available, one of which is the
Community Liaison Coordinator position. The Embassy has a summer
program for dependent students from June to August. Other temporary
and limited appointments may be available occasionally with other
U.S. Government agencies.
The Singapore American School and other international schools
often seek trained teachers. Any interested and qualified family
member should correspond directly with the school before arriving at
post. The address is:
40, Woodlands Street 41,
Tel: (65) 363-3408
Home Page: http//www.sas.edu.sg.
The Singapore Ministry of Education also hires some Americans to
teach English in public schools. A good deal of voluntary work is
American Embassy - Singapore
Post City Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
For centuries, Singapore has been a commercial hub and travel
center of the world's most storied region. Its compact 250 square
miles (641 kilometers) contain a little corner of China, Malaysia,
India, Indonesia and Hong Kong. In an unprecedented social
experiment, modern Singapore has united these diverse cultures in
building a dynamic, prosperous country. Here is the world's second
largest port, a banking and business capital, a handsome city of the
future that offers the ultimate in comfort.
Security Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:47 AM
Threat Assessment and Security Information: All travelers should
be aware of Department of State's latest travel warnings and public
announcements, available at the Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov.
In December of 2001 and again in August 2002, Singapore security
services arrested members of a domestic terrorist network with links
to Al-Qaida. The network had planned attacks against government and
private targets in Singapore associated with the U.S., Singapore,
and other countries. In the aftermath of October 2002 terrorist
bombings in Bali, Indonesia, however, the State Department is
concerned that similar attacks may occur in other Southeast Asian
nations, including Singapore, because extremist groups present in
Southeast Asia have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry
out attacks against locations where westerners congregate. Terrorist
groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.
Americans residing in or traveling to Singapore and neighboring
countries should therefore exercise particular caution, especially
in locations where westerners congregate, such as clubs, discos,
bars, restaurants, hotels, places of worship, schools, outdoor
recreation venues, tourist areas, resorts, beaches and other places
frequented by foreigners. They should remain vigilant regarding
their personal security.
Crime in Singapore is generally non-confrontational in nature.
Criminal acts are usually crimes of opportunity such as purse
snatching, pick pocketing, or thefts of unattended property.
Visitors should be especially alert in crowded buses, streets and
markets. Visitors should not leave any valuables in their hotel
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 3/29/2005 10:04 PM
The Chancery is a contemporary American office building in a
tropical garden city. The Embassy features a stone facing for the
first two stories with a three-story office tower rising from the
base. It also includes a reflecting pool and a landscaped colonnade
at the entrance. The Embassy is located on Napier Road, just a short
walking distance from Orchard Road. Located in the building, in
addition to the Department of State, are the Defense Attaché’s
Office (with Air, Army and Navy Attaché’s), the Drug Enforcement
Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcment, U.S.
Agricultural Office, Transport Securiity Administration, the U.S.
Foreign Commercial Service, Office of Defense Cooperation, and the
Legal Attaché Office. The Embassy's Office of Public Affairs is
dedicated to the understanding and support by foreign countries of
U.S. policies and actions through cultural and public information
programs. A U.S. Government agency that is located elsewhere is the
Federal Aviation Administration at Changi Airport. Also assigned to
the Embassy is a unit of the U.S. Coast Guard, and a Marine Security
Embassy hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.
There is a duty officer on call after work hours and on weekends.
Duty is assigned on a rotational basis. Employees are paid every
other Thursday, 12 days after the end of the pay period.
Most agencies at the U.S. Embassy participate in the
International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS)
system, and all fiscal matters, including payroll, are handled by
the Financial Service Center in Bangkok. The exchange rate has
declined steadily in recent years. At present the rate is
S$1.64=US$1. American employees have up to US$1500 of check cashing
privileges per week with the Embassy cashier. Cashier hours are from
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily. For larger amounts, an approval from
the financial management officer must be obtained.
Housing Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:05 AM
The Embassy provides government-leased quarters for all personnel
except those assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and
the U.S. Coast Guard. The Inter-Agency Housing Board follows
official guidelines for providing suitable housing based on rank and
family size. Employees are usually housed in apartments in modern
complexes, which generally feature swimming pools and work out
rooms. It is the policy of the Mission to assign housing to new
employees before arrival. Therefore, it is critical that all
newly-assigned personnel make any special needs known to GSO/Housing
by promptly completing a housing questionnaire, which the GSO
Housing Coordinator will forward to all assigned officers.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:08 AM
It is Mission policy to assign permanent quarters to all
in-coming employees before arrival. However, in instances where
temporary quarters are required, employees stay at one of the many
modern hotels or serviced apartments available in Singapore.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:09 AM
The Embassy provides government-leased quarters for all personnel
except those assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and
the U.S. Coast Guard. The Inter-Agency Housing Board follows
official guidelines for providing suitable housing based on rank and
family size. Employees are usually housed in apartments in modern
complexes, which generally feature swimming pools and work out
rooms. It is the policy of the Mission to assign housing to new
employees before arrival. Therefore, it is critical that all
newly-assigned personnel make any special needs known to GSO/Housing
by promptly completing a housing questionnaire, which the GSO
Housing Coordinator will forward to all assigned officers.
Furnishings Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:06 AM
Government furniture is provided, either by the individual agency
or by the ICASS housing pool, for employees of all agencies except
DEA, ICE, ODC, and US Coast Guard. Employees of the agencies listed
above are authorized full shipments of their household goods.
Government furnishings generally consist of a European-style oven
and range, a refrigerator, washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, 2-3
transformers, and basic living room, dining room, and bedroom
furniture. A desk, entertainment center, and 2-3 bookshelves are
Employees should bring knickknacks, pictures, linens,
kitchenware, dinnerware, flatware, and cookbooks to make the home as
comfortable as possible. Commercial storage is expensive in
Singapore, and housing is small, so in-coming personnel should be
careful not to ship too much.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:06 AM
Electricity is 220v, single-phase, 50-cycle, AC, and is very
reliable. Light bulbs for local fixtures are both the bayonet and
the screw-in types and both are readily available. All quarters have
hot and cold running water 24 hours a day. A gas or electric water
heater is installed for the kitchen and bathrooms. All Embassy
housing comes with air conditioning. As the weather in Singapore is
warm all year round, heaters are unnecessary.
Plugs are the three-prong square British type. Most 110/115/120v
motor driven appliances will work here but require a transformer.
The Embassy provides 2-3 transformers per residence. A large supply
of transformers is also available on the local economy at reasonable
A variety of stereos, televisions, and other electronic equipment
is available at competitive prices. The TV system in use is PAL.
Food Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:01 AM
There is a small Navy Exchange for U.S. Government employees in
Singapore located about a half hour from the Embassy. However, most
international food items are available in local groceries. Some
items are occasionally out of stock, and most U.S. products are
The major supermarkets are comparable to U.S. supermarkets (Cold
Storage, Jasons, and Fairprice). Some families also have a grocer
who takes daily telephone orders and delivers goods to their homes.
These items cost more than in the supermarket, but for many the
service is timesaving and convenient. Additionally, many grocery
stores have an online ordering system for home delivery.
The American Employees Association operates a small store in the
Embassy that sells liquor, beer, and wine to members from 10:00 a.m.
to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant, both the local,
tropical varieties and those imported from either the Northern or
Southern Hemisphere, depending on the season. Oranges and apples
shipped from the U.S. and elsewhere are of high quality. Orange
juice is expensive. Canned goods are imported from Australia,
Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, the U.S., and various
European countries. Baby foods and formulas, both U.S. and
Australian brands, are available but are more expensive than in the
U.S. Frozen foods are available; the Australian brands are less
expensive. Variety is somewhat limited. Fresh milk and other fresh
dairy products are imported from Australia and are expensive.
Good meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand. Most is
fresh frozen and is available in ample quantities and varieties.
Australian beef has a slightly different taste and texture, as the
cattle are grass fed rather than corn fed. Domestic chicken and
locally raised pork of good quality are readily available at
reasonable prices. Prepared mixes, cereals, cookies, and fresh
breads are available. While U.S. flour is obtainable at most times,
the most easily available and economical flour is Australian, which
is finer than U.S. plain flour, and requires some adjustment in
measurement. U.S. brands and spices are available. Local and
imported soft drinks and snack foods are abundant. Specialty foods
such as artichoke hearts are usually in stock. Disposable diapers
are available in all sizes.
Food spoils quickly in this hot, humid climate. Airtight
containers (which are available here) prolong freshness and keep
ants and weevils out of flour, sugar, crackers, and cookies.
Caterers are widely used for both official and private
entertaining. Dinners and cocktail parties are their specialties.
Any of the local foods and/or a variety of Western foods may be
served. Party equipment (tables, chairs, dishes, serving trays, and
carts) can be rented, and servants can be hired, all at reasonable
The Embassy cafeteria, open to all personnel, serves breakfast at
7:30 a.m. and lunch until 2 p.m.
One of the pleasures of living in Singapore is the profusion of
restaurants and other eating establishments. A national pastime is
eating at the numerous hawkers' centers, where local foods are
served inexpensively. Buffet-style brunch and lunch are popular at
the major hotels. International cuisine and Western fast food
outlets are found conveniently located throughout the city.
Clothing Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:03 AM
Bring lightweight woolen clothing for trips to hill station parks
in Malaysia where it is from 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in
Singapore. For non-air-conditioned activities, clothing that would
be appropriate during August in Washington, D.C. is suitable.
Ready-made women's clothing is available in Singapore, both
locally made and imported from Australia, Europe, and the U.S. Local
readymade garments are often inexpensive but difficult to find in
sizes 12 and larger. Most often, the cut is sufficiently different
and will not fit the American figure. Prices for imported clothing
vary, from fairly reasonable to very overpriced. Most dressmakers
are in the moderate price range, but their skill may be mediocre.
Many US retailers will now take online orders and deliver to the FPO.
Men Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:03 AM
Lightweight trousers, shirt (long sleeved), and tie are
appropriate office wear. Many men keep a jacket on hand only for
official visits, introductions, etc. Dark suits are worn at some
cocktail parties and informal receptions. Formal occasions are
infrequent but require black tie (black tuxedo trousers with black
lightweight dinner jacket). White-tie attire is not needed. Suitable
fabrics for trousers and suits are lightweight Dacron, cotton
blends, or any other washable fabrics. Casual ready-to-wear shorts
and trousers are available. Some men have clothing tailor-made at
about the same cost as a better quality ready-to-wear suit would
cost in the U.S. Workmanship is good. A variety of British and U.S.
men's clothing, such as shirts, socks, underwear, handkerchiefs,
ties, and accessories, are sold in Singapore. U.S. items are more
expensive. Size 34 waist and above is not easily obtained.
Women Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:04 AM
Cool and washable cottons and cotton blends are the best fabric
choices in Singapore's heat and humidity. Frequent laundering is
necessary, and clothes fade and wear more rapidly here than in the
U.S. Dry-cleaning is available but expensive and not always
reliable. Light colors are cooler for day, though both dark and
light colors are worn day and evening. You can wear short- or
long-sleeved and sleeveless dresses, depending on air-conditioning
and personal preference. In the office, women wear dresses and may
wear pantsuits; a sweater is useful because of air-conditioning.
Casual, summer daytime wear is appropriate for other everyday
activities. Singaporeans dress conservatively but stylishly and are
not usually seen in bare-shoulder or bare midriff-type dresses
during the day. However, the very young post-teenage crowd wears
them. Shorts and pants are worn for most. Eveningwear can be casual,
dressy, or formal. Fabrics for daytime and eveningwear include Thai
silk and other such materials, but the emphasis is always on cool,
cotton fabrics. Women should bring at least one or two cocktail
dresses. For formal occasions long and/or dressy cocktail dresses
also can be made locally. All types of underwear are available with
a choice of U.K., Australian, European and some U.S. brands. Cotton
underwear is not easy to find locally, and neither is nylon hosiery.
Leather, patent leather, linen, and silk shoes are worn as in the
U.S. Low-heeled sandals are most comfortable, as closed shoes may be
warm. Ready-made shoes are available, but sizes 8 or larger and
narrow widths are available only in expensive European imports.
Shoes can be made, but often with disappointing results. If proper
fit is a problem for you, bring a good supply. Remember that your
feet might swell in the tropical weather.
Children Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:06 AM
All schools, including the American School, require locally made
uniforms. The Singapore American School uniform consists of a white
polo shirt with school logo, which must be purchased from the
school, and navy blue bottoms of any style (shorts, shirts, capris
and pants are all acceptable). Bring play clothes for outside
activities and some dress clothes for parties and church. Available
ready-to-wear clothing includes some U.S. brands, but parents rely
on local ready-made play clothes. Children's dress clothes can be
made here inexpensively. Many parents order children's underwear
from the U.S., particularly all-cotton socks, as most locally made
socks are synthetic. Some good children's shoes are available, but
proper fit may be a problem. Sports shoes in popular brands (Nike,
Adidas, etc.) are readily available. Bring an adequate supply and
decide after arrival whether to order from the U.S. or purchase
locally available footwear. Clothing catalogs are available in the
Community Liaison Office (CLO).
Office Attire Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:07 AM
Office attire in Singapore is business casual. Men typically
where a long-sleeved white shirt and may or may not where a tie.
Women may wish to have a jacket or sweater for indoors as
air-conditioning can be extreme.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
There is no doubt that anything can be found in Singapore for a
price. Toiletries and cosmetics available locally include most major
U.S. brands but are expensive. Bring a limited supply of products
that you require or prefer, and for items not available locally
arrange to order additional supplies. There are several common
brands of feminine personal products that are available on the local
market. All types but not all brands of nonprescription drugs are
here, but bring a limited supply and arrange to order any
prescription that cannot be filled locally. American and other
cigarettes, as well as cigars and pipe tobacco, are plentiful.
Basic Services Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Singapore offers many types of repair services. Local
craftsmanship is good quality and less expensive than in the U.S. In
the Eastern tradition, china, furniture, shoes, etc., are repaired
time and again; nothing that can be salvaged is discarded.
Quality of dry-cleaning varies, and even a firm you have come to
trust can be undependable. Prices are high. Bring few clothes that
will need dry-cleaning. Singapore has laundries, but an "amah"
(domestic servant) will probably do the laundry in your home. Amahs
are thorough, but not always gentle. They are one of the reasons
clothes fade and wear out quickly.
Many beauty shops offer services comparable with those of average
quality in the U.S. Some stylists or services are excellent, and
most women eventually make satisfactory arrangements. Prices vary,
but the average charge for a shampoo and set is US$25-US$35 and a
haircut is US$40-US$60.
Most electronic equipment can be repaired locally; workmanship is
reliable. U.S. equipment is more expensive to repair than Japanese
and European brands. One of the few bargains in Singapore, picture
framing, is inexpensive and of good quality. Nonreflecting glass is
available, as is acid-free matting.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/29/2005 1:28 AM
Embassy employees employ both full-time live-in and part-time
domestic employees. The Singapore government's Foreign Domestic
Worker Scheme allows employers to employ female foreign domestic
workers from approved sources such as Malaysia, Philippines,
Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. It
may be extremely difficult to bring a domestic employee from a
country not on the approved list. Employees wishing to bring a
domestic worker with them from another post should contact the HR
office for detailed advice.
There are two common ways of finding a suitable foreign domestic
worker for your household. One way is to employ a domestic worker
through a licensed employment agency. Another way is through a
recommendation from another employer who, for reasons such as a
completion of his/her assignment in Singapore, refers his/her
domestic worker to you.
An employer who wishes to employ a foreign domestic worker must
apply for a work permit. First-time employers of foreign domestic
workers in Singapore are required to attend the compulsory Employers
Orientation Program before submitting a work permit application for
the worker. A foreign domestic worker can enter Singapore only after
the employer has obtained an in-principle approval (IPA) letter from
the Work Pass Division (WPD), furnished a security bond of S$5,000
in the form of a banker's/insurance guarantee or in cash and
purchased a Personal Accident insurance with a minimum coverage of
S$10,000. This requirement is strictly enforced by the WPD. A
foreign domestic worker who is brought in by the employer without
first obtaining an IPA and an acknowledgement of a banker's
guarantee from the WPD will be repatriated at the employer's
First time domestic workers in Singapore must be at least 23 and
below 50 years of age and must also show proof that they have at
least 8 years of formal education. They are required to sit for an
entry test within three work days after their arrival in Singapore
and attend a compulsory Safety Awareness course after arrival in
Singapore. Within 14 days of the worker's arrival, the worker must
also undergo a medical examination and be certified fit by a
Singapore registered doctor before they are issued a work permit.
Subsequently, they must undergo six monthly medical examinations. If
the worker has previously worked in Singapore, she must be at least
18 and below 50 years of age. A work permit is usually issued for
two years subject to the foreign domestic worker's passport
Foreign domestic workers employed by staff members (Diplomatic
and A&T) of a diplomatic mission in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) Scheme are exempt from payment
of the foreign workers' levy. For more detailed guidelines on
employing a foreign domestic worker, please visit the Ministry of
Manpower's website at www.mom.gov.sg (click on Work Permits).
Officers may contact the HR Office or write to email@example.com if
there are questions on the employment of a foreign domestic worker.
An employee who employs a part-time Singaporean domestic worker
need not seek approval from the Work Permit Department.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Places of worship are as varied as the nation's ancestors. Roman
Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist,
Church of Christ, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican,
Christian Scientist, Jewish, Pentecostal, Church of Latter-day
Saints, Hindu, Islamic, Sikh, Buddhist and more can be found in
Services are conducted at most churches in English, although
Mandarin is used in the predominately Chinese neighborhoods.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:14 AM
Singapore American School (SAS). Singapore American School is a
U.S. State Department sponsored school and makes every effort to
accept all American Embassy children immediately on request. Advance
notice of entrants, however, is helpful, and because the school
operates at full capacity, parents should apply as early as
possible. The at-post education allowance is adequate to cover basic
tuition and transportation for all grades, but not the specialized
Interim Semester sponsored for the high school.
The school is located on a 36-acre campus approximately 30
minutes' drive from downtown Singapore. Due to bus schedules,
children from most embassy housing areas are picked up around 7:00
am. New state-of-the-art facilities house four separate divisions,
including primary (preschool through grade 2), intermediate (grades
3 through 5), middle (grades 6 through 8), and high school (grades 9
through 12). Each division has its own classrooms, library, and
offices. Support facilities include 4 air-conditioned gymnasiums; 2
outdoor covered play areas; 2 swimming pools; 2 cafeterias; 6 tennis
courts; a 1,000-seat stadium; track and field areas, and baseball,
softball, soccer, and rugby fields. Middle and high school
facilities include modern science laboratories; computer facilities;
a language lab; and drafting, home economics, business, and applied
technology classrooms. The campus also has a variety of performing
arts facilities, including an 800-seat auditorium, a 350-seat drama
theater, a 750-seat elementary theater, and designated classroom
spaces for music, art, and drama. All facilities are fully
The school is an independent, nonprofit, coeducational day
school, which offers an educational program from preschool through
grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The schoolyear is
comprised of two semesters extending from approximately August 19 to
As of the 2004-2005 school year, the enrollment was around 3000.
Of the total, about 60% were U.S. citizens. There were 216 full-time
and 8 part-time staff members. The curriculum is that of a U.S.
general academic, college-preparatory public school. Instruction is
in English. French, Spanish, and Mandarin are taught as foreign
languages. It is fully accredited by the Western Association of
Schools and Colleges (WASC). The SAS dress code consists of navy
blue pants, shorts, skirt or culottes, and a white polo-style shirt
with school logo. The shirt must be purchased at the school; navy
blue bottoms may be of any type. Parents may wish to bring them from
the U.S. as children may not like the styles availalbe locally. The
second and fourth Wednesdays of each month are designated as
alternate dress days, and students may wear clothing of their
Singapore American School
40, Woodlands Street 41
Tel: (65) 363-3403
Fax: (65) 363-3408
Home page: http://www.sas.edu.sg
Overseas Family School (OFS) occupies its own seven-building area
spanning 5 acres located near the Orchard Road shopping district. It
has 1,500 students from 53 nations (not one dominating) in grades
K-12 and college. OFS is accredited by the Western Association of
Schools and Colleges (WASC). It offers a U.S. curriculum, with most
teachers from Britain and the U.S.
Overseas Family School
25 F Patterson Road
Tel: (65) 738-0211
Fax: (65) 733-8825
International Community School is a member of the Network of
International Christian Schools and uses an American curriculum
modified to fit the needs of the international student body. It has
accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
and the Association of Christian Schools, International.
International Community School, Singapore
#3 Mount Faber Road
Tel: (65) 270-3387
Fax: (65) 270-3370
Home page: www.nics.org/singapore
The United World College of South East Asia is an international
day and boarding school offering a British curriculum for students
in grades K-12.
United World College of South East Asia
P.O. Box 15
Tel: (65) 775-5344
Fax: (65) 778-5846
Dover Court Preparatory School is an international preparatory
school offering a British curriculum for children (ages 4-13).
Classrooms are large, light, and well equipped. The buildings are
set in 12 acres of parkland, and the school has ample playing areas.
The Center for Special Education at Dover Court offers a
multifaceted comprehensive program for children with special needs
from 3 to 18 years of age. It provides an educational context in
which pupils of all abilities are able to flourish in various ways
and to a degree that might otherwise not be possible.
Dover Court Preparatory School
Dover Court, Dover Road
Tel: (65) 775-7664, & (65) 775-7665
Fax: (65) 777-4165
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:17 AM
The National University of Singapore (NUS) has a noncredit,
evening lecture series on a variety of subjects. The Vocational
Institute Training Board offers a variety of practical courses such
as boat handling, interior decorating, Japanese flower arranging,
silkscreen printing, photography, and woodworking. Courses are open
to Americans upon application. The YWCA offers yoga, painting,
mahjong, and courses in Chinese cooking, etc. The American Women's
Association, the Pan Pacific South East Asian Women's Association,
the Chinese Women's Association, and other groups offer similar
Language-study programs are available. The Alliance Francaise
offers a complete range of courses in French. Both the NUS and the
VITB teach several languages in evening classes. NUS offers
full-time Mandarin instruction. A commercial language center
features up-to-date language equipment.
College Opportunities. In addition to the local universities,
there are opportunities for American-type college curriculum:
American College in Singapore
25 Paterson Rd.
Tel: (65) 233-4566
Fax: (65) 337-7068
University of Maryland Asian Division, Singapore
Sembawang-Logistics Group Western Pacific
Overseas Family School-California State University-Dominguez
25 F Paterson Road
Tel: (65) 738-0211
Fax: (65) 733-8825
Home Page: http:www.ofs.ac.sg
American students cannot enroll in Singapore University degree
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:27 AM
Although sports activities occur within private clubs, some of
which are specialized, you can learn or participate in most sports
Lessons in golf, bowling, tennis, squash, rugby, soccer,
softball, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, scuba diving, judo,
aerobics, yoga, and ice-skating are among those available. Boating
is popular; sailboats and motorboats are available as well as water
skiing and scuba diving. Scuba-diving lessons for beginners average
S$500 for a 1-week course to receive your basic PADI certification,
which includes intense pool and classroom sessions. Most equipment
is available but costs more here than in the U.S. Tanks may be
filled for a reasonable cost, and shops that you patronize may allow
you to leave your tank with them.
Singapore's few beaches are very poor. The best beaches are on
the islands off Malaysia or a 11/2 to 3-hour drive away on the
Malaysian East Coast. Singapore has several yacht clubs: the
Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, the Singapore Sailing Club at
Changi, and the Singapore Armed Forces Yacht Club. Most clubs offer
daily and monthly charter of dinghies and motorboats for a nominal
fee. The Singapore Swimming Club has a large saltwater pool. The
membership fee is S$3,000, plus S$100 refundable deposit and a S$25
The American Club is noted for its lanes and sponsors a bowling
league. The club has a pool-small for children-and tennis, squash,
and racquetball facilities. The entrance fee is S$3,000, plus a
S$500 refundable deposit. Monthly dues are S$180 for families, plus
S$2 for each child 12-21. The minimum expenditure must be at least
S$180 over a month period.
The Singapore Tennis Center compares with U.S. tennis centers and
has nine outdoor courts and three indoor courts. It is open to the
public for hourly and seasonal rental.
Golf is popular. The Singapore Island Country Club has four
excellent courses at two separate locations, but it is expensive,
and the waiting period is several years. Other golf clubs, which
have less expensive, nine-hole courses and shorter waiting periods
for membership, are the Warren, Changi, Seletar, Keppel, Sembawang,
Jurong, and Tengah. Non-members may play on weekdays by paying a
The Singapore Sports Council operates several swimming pools, 12
squash courts, more than 30 tennis courts, and a 7-hole golf course.
All are open to the public for a nominal fee. The YMCA and YWCA
offer tennis, squash, martial arts such as karate and Tae Kwon Do,
yoga, and other sports and recreational activities for a nominal
Malaysia is no longer a good hunting country, and game conservation
efforts are being made. Wild pig is the only game bagged, despite
some press reports of tigers and rogue elephants being hunted
successfully. Importation and licensing of firearms is strictly
controlled, and obtaining a permit for possession involves
considerable delay. See also: Firearms and Ammunition.
Some surf fishing is done off the Malaysian coast. Taman Negara
National Park, north of Kuala Lumpur, is well stocked for stream and
river fishing. The park is accessible only by river. Although heat
and intense sun discourage hiking and cross-country running, clubs
meet in the evenings. Jungle hiking is pleasant in Malaysia's cool
hill country. Strive for regular exercise, as those who do seem less
prone to illness. Sports clothes and equipment compare to those in
the U.S. Most items are available locally. However, swimwear in
larger sizes is hard to find.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:26 AM
Singapore is famous for its Botanical Gardens, where the first
rubber saplings of Southeast Asia were brought from South America
and planted. Today, thousands of exotic tropical plants flourish,
including rare orchid hybrids. Black swans float in a tranquil lake.
The beautiful park merits a Sunday afternoon stroll.
The Mandai Orchid Gardens contain thousands of colorful hybrids,
but commercial shipments often strip these gardens of their flowers.
Since the area is small and well organized, a visit could be
combined with a trip to the zoo and the Night Safari.
Jurong Bird Park, with the world's largest and most colorful
aviary, is inhabited by thousands of birds, including dozens of rare
species. Electric tramcars take visitors around to see them all, as
well as to see the world's tallest man-made waterfall.
The Singapore Zoological Garden is modern and attractive. Most
animals live in a natural park, a promontory with open enclosures
similar to their natural habitats. Visitors may take an electric
train around the park.
For a change from the main island of Singapore, take the cable
car at Mount Faber or the World Trade Center to the island of
Sentosa. At 385 feet above sea level, Mount Faber is the perfect
spot to watch the sun set and city lights appear. Telescopes provide
an excellent view of the harbor, the Southern Islands and on a clear
day, the Indonesian Archipelago. The cable car spans the water to
Sentosa Island. A monorail encircling the island affords visitors a
view of Sentosa's lush greenery. An unspoiled island with a natural
forest and quiet village, it features a superb 18-hole golf course
on the sea, the world's first coralarium and swimming lagoon (pool),
and a picnic area. Also on the island is the Surrender Chamber, a
replica of the site of the original surrender of the island of
Singapore by the Japanese Occupation Forces to the Allied Forces
during World War II. There are a few other attractions and/or
memorials to see. Visitors may reach Sentosa by motorcar, cable car
or ferryboat from the Harbour Front Center.
Sightseeing opportunities in Singapore include the Esplanade
(Theatres on the Bay), Chinatown, Little India, Kranji War Memorial,
Singapore River, Chinese and Japanese Gardens, and various temples
and mosques. The Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place
features cultural presentations on loan from around the world. The
National University of Singapore has a small but excellent
collection of oriental ceramics, which is on long-term loan to the
National History Museum. Those interested in stamp collections can
visit the Singapore Philatelic Museum.
Americans rely on Malaysia for occasional weekend excursions or
more extended trips. The Malaysian macadam two-lane back roads are
good, though narrow, and frequent congestion often results in
extended delays on the causeway into Malaysia. Government-operated
rest houses throughout Malaysia are inexpensive, clean, and
comfortable. Dining facilities provide Chinese, Indian, and Malay
food, as well as simple Western dishes.
The Safari Park, north of Singapore in Johor State, Malaysia,
features wild animals roaming freely in an enclosed area. Visitors
drive through the park in cars to observe the animals in their
natural habitat. Roads on Malaysia's East Coast up to the northern
border are passable during the dry season. During the November to
February rainy season, however, travelers must allow for flooded
road conditions. A few streams and rivers still have unreliable
ferry systems, but modern bridges are under construction. A bridge
connecting the island of Penang to West Malaysia is now open to
Entertainment Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:28 AM
Several air-conditioned, first-run theaters show most recent
American, British, and Chinese films. A local impresario shows
high-quality but less-popular art films at the Goethe Institute,
Penang Road. Some private clubs and film societies offer members a
wide spectrum of classic popular films. A number of commercial DVD
and VCD rental shops exist, but videotapes are increasingly
difficult to find. All films and videos are censored.
The Government-sponsored Singapore Symphony Orchestra made its
debut in early 1979 and features both guest conductors and soloists.
Instrumental and choral groups and solo musicians also give public
recitals, some of them at the Music for Everyone series sponsored by
the Ministry of Culture. Popular artists and groups frequently
appear at various hotels and in large outdoor concerts. Asian music,
such as the traditional Malay "kronchong" (orchestra) performance,
is performed as well. Those who wish to participate in musical
activities have many opportunities to do so.
Many capable amateur groups occasionally present plays; they
welcome community participation. Impresarios bring in one-person
shows or small theater troupes. Dinner theater is common here.
Traditional Chinese opera and Indian and Malay dances are popular in
The Singapore National Library, considered one of the best in the
area, contains over 400,000 English-language books and fewer volumes
in the other official languages. The National University of
Singapore has an extensive library facility, which may be used with
permission granted on individual application. The city has several
specialized libraries, and the Tanglin and American Clubs maintain
small libraries for members' use.
Singapore has many well-stocked bookstores. A good selection of
both American and British paperbacks is available at prices
considerably higher than those in the U.S. Selection is good at
Singapore's many record and tape stores, but new releases are not
Dining out is a pleasure. Restaurants in Singapore offer every
type of cuisine. Asian food is available inexpensively, at local
hawkers stalls, which are clean and safe. Many American fast-food
chains are represented. The city's dozens of luxurious restaurants
have prices similar to, or slightly less than, those in comparable
Social Activities Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:34 AM
Singapore's social life is diverse and multi-faceted. In addition
to social facilities at apartment buildings, some staff seek
membership in clubs, but for most Embassy personnel, their high
costs are prohibitive.
Among Americans Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:33 AM
The American Club, with special Embassy rates, has a good bar and
restaurant, and offers many children's activities—including junior
bowling leagues and periodic movies.
Opportunities abound to devote time to charity. Many institutions
for orphans and handicapped welcome volunteers.
The American Association coordinates activities of other American
groups. Its work includes organizing various social functions and
publishing the monthly community newspaper and the book, Living in
The Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC), created
in 1973, works with the American schools to promote a healthy home
environment by providing counseling and by sponsoring activities for
singles, families, and young people.
The American Women's Association (AWA) is a large and active
organization. Monthly meetings at the American Club feature a
speaker. The AWA sponsors many trips, courses, and other activities.
AWA's community service provides outreach opportunities for
The American Chamber of Commerce, a large group of resident
Americans representing most U.S. companies in Singapore, discusses
matters through specialized committees. This organization provides
briefings to the Ambassador and other Mission officers.
International Contacts Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:33 AM
Singapore offers an interesting and varied social life; an
individual's work and personal wishes determine the degree of
involvement. Singaporeans are friendly and sociable, although
unpredictable in responding to formal invitations. Opportunities to
meet members of the large and growing multinational business
community are numerous. The diplomatic community is active and
friendly. Social and business contacts are easy to establish and
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Most entertaining, both official and private, centers on
restaurant luncheons, cocktails, and cocktail-buffets. Many formal
and informal dinners are held both in the home and at social clubs.
Informal dinners often feature local cuisine. Some entertaining
takes place in restaurants and hotels. Numerous hotel, club and
independent caterers are moderately priced and reliable, making home
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/30/2002 6:00 PM
Embassy personnel find calling cards useful for professional and
social purposes. (Singaporeans frequently expect to exchange cards
upon first introduction.) Local printing of calling cards and
invitations is inexpensive and of average quality. Local printing is
acceptable and advised.
Special Information Last Updated: 3/24/2005 1:20 AM
Post Orientation Program
The Community Liaison Office (CLO) provides a comprehensive
orientation program for newly assigned employees. At post, a
sponsoring individual or family is assigned to new personnel. Those
assigned to Singapore receive informative letters of welcome and a
copy of Living in Singapore, a book published by the American
Association that provides much of the basic information needed by
newcomers. The welcome telegram informs all employees before arrival
of any regulations governing shipments of household effects,
airfreight, pets, and vehicles. The General Services Office (GSO)
also provides information on quarters to be occupied.
All employees are met at the airport. Post policy is to
accommodate new arrivals in their permanent quarters upon arrival,
when possible. A Welcome Kit contains items needed for moving into
permanent quarters until airfreight arrives. The CLO coordinator or
sponsor introduces newcomers to members of the American and national
employee staff and provides a Welcome Packet and tour of the
Embassy. The Administrative Section staff briefs all employees.
Spouses are encouraged to attend these briefings that address local
security conditions, medical facilities, housing, travel vouchers,
allowances, and household effects/airfreight shipments. Section
heads are accorded an in-depth briefing by other agency or section
chiefs, if desired. Periodic orientation briefings for all newly
assigned employees and their adult family members consist of short
informal talks by the Ambassador and/or the DCM, the regional
security officer, and other sections represented in the Mission.
Sponsors and other Mission members are willing to assist in shopping
tours, general orientation of Singapore, the bus and MRT (subway)
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 3/30/2005 2:50 AM
U.S. passport holders do not need to obtain a visa prior to their
arrival in Singapore. American travelers are required to complete a
Disembarkation/Embarkation Card (D/E card), which is usually issued
on the airplane or can be obtained from the immigration counter upon
arrival. The Immigration Officer will issue a social visit pass up
to 90 days on your D/E card and the passport. You must ensure that
your passport is valid for at least 6 months. The same procedures
apply to family members.
Singapore is about halfway around the world from Washington, DC.
The Fly America Act requires employees to use US-carriers for trips
to and from the United States. United and Northwest Airlines both
have daily flights from the U.S. to Singapore via Hong Dong or
Warning: The death penalty may be imposed on any traveler
importing narcotics and other dangerous drugs into Singapore.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 3/30/2005 2:50 AM
Embassy officers on the diplomatic list are exempt from all
duties. Other employees (A&T Staff) are exempt from customs duties
on household effects sent via international transport for up to 6
months from date of arrival, excluding liquor and tobacco. All
officers must contact the Embassy for specific instructions before a
vehicle can be imported. See the "Transportation" section for
further details on importing vehicles.
Any amount of travelers checks, bank drafts, or U.S. currency can
be brought into Singapore. Similarly, there is no limitation on
A visa is not necessary for initial entry into Singapore. A
Social Visit Pass, which is valid for 2 weeks (or 1 month on
request), will be issued at the airport. After arrival, the Embassy
will submit passports to the Foreign Ministry to obtain the required
visas for residence. Resident visas can be requested for the
duration of the tour of Mission members.
Pets Last Updated: 3/30/2005 3:58 AM
Transportation and Clearance for Pets
Singapore law requires that pets be quarantined for a period not
less than 30 days. There are absolutely no exceptions to this
regulation. Since there is only one quarantine station in Singapore,
post advises employees to make all the necessary arrangements 3
months in advance to ensure a place.
All cost related to transportation, import license, quarantine
and clearance of pets are the responsibility of the employee.
Approximate local fees required to import, process and quarantine a
pet in a room with a fan are S$ 1200 – S$ 1400. Employees should
contact one of the following companies directly for arrangements and
Animal World Express Pte Ltd
160 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh
Tel: (65) 6259-2229 Fax: (65) 6353-2894
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com (Mr. Bernard Liew)
Pet Movers (s) Pte Ltd
4 Pasir Ris Farmway 2, Singapore 519318 to
61 Pasir Ris Farmway 3, Singapore 518232
Tel: (65) 6581-3688 (24 Hrs) Fax: (65) 6581-3735
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mr. Sam Lee)
The Pet Hotel
20, Pasir Ris Farmway 2
Tel: (65) 582-222 Fax: (65) 583-4986
Email: email@example.com (Mr. K.C. Tan)
Further information can also be found on the Agri-Food &
Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) website at www.ava.gov.sg .
The companies will ask you to provide the name of the pet, sex,
age, breed, color, and whether the animal is spayed or neutered.
Please also let Post know if pets are arriving together with you or
Arrival: Plan your pet’s arrival on a weekday. Pets arriving on
Sundays or public holidays will not be transferred to the quarantine
station until the next working day, but rather will be held at the
Rabies vaccination: Rabies vaccination is compulsory upon arrival
irrespective of current vaccination status, although other countries
through which the pet transits may require it.
Quarantine facilities are modern and adequate. Pet owners may
visit their animals at the Animal Quarantine Station, 53 Jalan
Buroh, from 4-6 pm, Monday through Friday, and
2-6 pm on Saturday. The station is closed on Sundays and public
Food & Treats
Pet supplies are found in supermarkets, pet stores, and
veterinary offices. Special dietary foods are available, as are
grooming and boarding facilities.
Excellent veterinary care is available locally. The following are
just a few of the many veterinary clinics:
Mt Pleasant Animal Hospital – 6250-8333
James Tan Veterinary Centre Pte Ltd – 6253-1122
Toa Payoh Veterinary Surgery – 6254-3326
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/29/2005 1:18 AM
Due to stringent host country regulations, the Chief of Mission
has determined that employees and family members are prohibited from
importing or owning firearms or ammunition.
Forbidden Items: The following items are listed as controlled
items and may not be brought into Singapore either as hand-carry or
checked baggage without first obtaining approval from the arms and
explosives branch: all weapons, handcuffs, collapsible
batons/nightsticks, bulletproof vests, explosives, to include
ammunition and empty shell casings, toy guns, antique guns, all
swords, daggers/bayonets, pepper spray/tear gas spray, cigarette
lighters resembling weapons, fireworks, butterfly knife/switchblade
knife, stun gun, etc.
Several USG personnel have recently been detained at Changi
Airport with empty shell casings in their checked baggage. While
eventually released, they endured great inconvenience. Do not let
this happen to you. Shell casings are contraband items in Singapore,
and all baggage is x-rayed. Read and heed the preceding paragraph.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
3/24/2005 1:50 AM
Singapore's currency is based on the decimal system. The exchange
rate is S$1.63=US$1 (March 2005). On arrival, U.S. currency may be
converted at the airport. Employees should change a limited amount,
as the Embassy cashier offers a slightly better rate of exchange.
The Embassy does not have full-scale disbursing facilities and
limits check-cashing for U.S. personnel. Embassy personnel may cash
only personal U.S. checks from US$25 (minimum amount) to US$500 per
day, up to $S1,500 a week (spouses must have power of attorney to
act on behalf of an employee). Travelers checks are available at any
bank or at the American Express Representative in the Travel Section
of the Embassy. While maintaining their own U.S. personal checking
account, most personnel find a local checking account very helpful
and convenient for paying local bills.
Singapore uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 3/30/2005
There is a 4% general sales tax in Singapore. All members of the
Mission are exempt from TV and radio licensing fees and are
authorized to purchase duty-free gasoline using a special card at
approved gas stations. Personnel not on the diplomatic list (A&T
Staff) must pay an alien worker tax if they sponsor a domestic
All sales of personal property are governed by Embassy rules,
which follow Department policy.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 3/24/2005 2:11 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Baker, Jim. Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia and
Singapore. Times Books International: Singapore, 1999.
Barber, Noel. Sinister Twilight: The Fall of Singapore. London:
Collins, 1968, is a novel depicting social life and scenes of
Singapore from the early 1900s to just after W.W.II.
Bloodworth, Dennis. An Eye for the Dragon: Southeast Asia
Observed, 1954-1970. London.
Bloodworth, Dennis. The Tiger and the Trojan Horse. Times Books
International: Singapore, 1986.
Chen, Peter S.J., editor. Singapore Development Policies and
Trends. Oxford University Press: Singapore, 1983.
Clutterbuck, R. Riot and Revolution in Singapore. London: Faber,
Collis, Maurice. Raffles. New York: J. Day, 1968.
Cunha, Derek. Debating Singapore: Reflective Essays. Singapore:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994.
Drysdale, John. Singapore: The Struggle for Success. Times Books
International: Singapore, 1984.
George, Cherian. Singapore: The Air-conditioned Nation: Essays on
the Politics of Comfort and Control, 1990-2000. Landmark Books,
Juan, Dr. Chee Son. Dare to Change: Alternative Vision for
Singapore. Singapore Democratic Party, 1994.
Kirby, S.W. Singapore; The Chain of Disaster. London: Cassell,
Lim Chong Yah. Economic Restructuring in Singapore.
The Singapore Economy: The New Directions; Report of the
Economics Committee. Ministry of Trade and Industry: Singapore,
Local Holidays Last Updated: 3/29/2005 10:37 PM
The Government of Singapore has designated the following local
public holidays in 2005:
OFFICIAL DATE HOLIDAY DATE OBSERVED
January 1 New Year's Day Friday, December 31*
January 21 Hari Raya Haji Friday, January 21
February 9 & 10 Lunar New Year Wednesday, February 9
Thursday, February 10
March 25 Good Friday Friday, March 25
May 1 Labor Day Monday, May 2
May 22 Vesak Day Monday, May 23
August 9 National Day Tuesday, August 9
November 1 *Deepavali Tuesday, November 1
November 3 *Hari Raya Puasa Thursday, November 3
December 25 Christmas Monday, December 26
*Movable dates which are determined by the position of the moon, in
accordance with the Muslim or Hindu calendars. These holidays move
through the Gregorian year at the rate of about 8 days per year,
making the full cycle in 44 years.