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Foreign Participant Information

Foreign Participant Information


Here, you may find some frequently asked questions by newcomers to Singapore, which we hope you will find useful. For more information, please feel free to contact Pearline (pearlinemv.2013@smu.edu.sg) or Rhea (rhea.arora.2014@smu.edu.sg).

Before your flight to Singapore…

Located just north of the equator, Singapore enjoys a tropical climate, staying hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures average around 31º C (88º F) during the day with little seasonal variation, although it’s slightly cooler in December to January, and hottest in April to May. Temperatures are unlikely to dip below 23º C (74º F) at night. In addition, Singapore receives a considerable amount of rainfall annually and is accompanied by more frequent rain particularly from the period of November to January.

Our island is also extremely humid, with humidity levels ranging from 70% to 90%. On rainy days, it is not unreasonable to expect the humidity level to reach 100%. While visiting, be sure to stay hydrated at all times.

Travelers are advised to pack lightweight cottons and linens to avoid suffering from heat related injuries. Do remember to always carry an umbrella with you as the weather here can be unpredictable.

Source: World Travel Guide

Singapore adopts the Singapore dollar, locally referred to as the ‘sing-dollar’. Singapore uses denominations of 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢ and $1 coins, while notes come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $50, $100, $500 and $1000.

Money changing services can be found not only at the Singapore Changi Airport but also at most shopping centres and hotels around the island. Moneychangers do not charge additional fees and most of them accept foreign cash and travelers cheques, albeit at a slightly lower rate. You can check the daily exchange rates at the following websites:

You can access Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) located everywhere (even in the most obscure bits) in Singapore, that accept most major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

Major credit cards are widely accepted. The tourism authorities suggest that if shops insist on adding a credit card surcharge (which they should not do), you should contact the relevant credit company in Singapore. Credit card companies in Singapore include the following:

Credit Card Companies Contact No.
American Express 6396 6000
Diners Club 6571 0128
UnionPay 800 860 0028
Visa 800 448 1250
MasterCard 800 110 0113

British and Irish passport holders do not require visas to visit Singapore for a stay of less than one month, if they have a passport valid for at least 6 months upon entry, a confirmed onward return ticket and sufficient funds for their stay in Singapore. Citizens of British Commonwealth countries (except India) and citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Netherlands, San Marino, Switzerland and the USA do not require visas to visit Singapore. Citizens of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and Sweden do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days for social purposes.

You’ll be given a 30-day visitor’s visa if you arrive by air and a 14-day visa if you are arriving by land or sea. Extensions can be applied for at the Immigration Department (6391 6100; 10 Kallang Rd; Lavender MRT).

The requirements for entry into Singapore are regularly reviewed based on global climate and current events. For an updated list of requirements and eligible countries, kindly visit the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website at: http://www.ica.gov.sg/services_centre_overview.aspx?pageid=252.

Source: High Commission of the Republic of Singapore

Under the Singapore law, prohibited items are not allowed to be imported into Singapore. These items include:

  • Chewing gum (except oral dental and medicated gum)
  • Chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products, for e.g., electronic cigarettes
  • Cigarette lighters of pistol or revolver shape
  • Controlled drugs and psychotropic substances
  • Firecrackers
  • Obscene articles, publications, video tapes/discs and software
  • Reproduction of copyright publications, video tapes, video compact discs, laser discs, records or cassettes
  • Seditious and treasonable materials

Controlled goods are items that require an import permit or authorization from the relevant controlling authority for importation into Singapore.

For a more comprehensive list of both controlled and prohibited items, please click on the following link: Prohibited & Controlled Items

The standard voltage in Singapore is 220V/240V, 50 Hz. If you have equipment that runs on a higher voltage, you should not connect it to Singaporean power unless you have the correct transformer (voltage adaptor). Singapore uses the British BS1363 three-pronged square pin type socket. Plugs from the US, Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia will not fit into a Singapore power plug.

In the event should you need a plug adaptor or transformer, it is advisable to buy one before your arrival as not hotels are able to provide them. Below are some power plugs used in Singapore for reference:


It is safe to drink water straight from the tap in Singapore. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, various brands are available at local supermarkets and groceries.

Sources: Spring and PUB

Upon Arrival in Singapore...

Buses in Singapore operate all around Singapore, providing travelers convenient access to areas beyond the city centre and the heartlands. Most of the buses are equipped with air-conditioning and provide trunk, feeder, Express, Townlink and Premium services. There are also night special bus services called the Nite Owl and NightRider. The Nite Owl operates on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of Public Holidays while the NightRider operates in the weekends between 11.30pm to 4am.

Travelers can either use cash or purchase a stored value card, locally known as an Ez-link card, from the Transit Link Ticket Office located at selected SMRT stations. Standard value tickets for single trips may also be purchased from General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) located at all SMRT stations.

Travelers can utilize the iris Journey Planner (found on Apple and Andriod appstore) to check for bus arrival time estimations. It also provides travel solutions by bus based on the cheapest fare, shortest walking distance or shortest travelling time. You can find both of these services at www.sbstransit.com.sg, and via GPRS and SMS on mobile devices.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system is probably the fastest way to get around Singapore besides taxis. You can download the train route map from http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/public-transport/mrt-and-lrt-trains/train-system-map.html for a complete listing of train services and use it to navigate your way around our island.

There is a host of ticketing schemes based on stored value smartcards to suit your needs – from standard one-time travel tickets to tourist concession passes. Stored value cards, locally known as E-link cards, can be purchased from the Transit Link Ticket Office located at selected MRT stations, and standard value tickets may be purchased from General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) located at all MRT stations.

You may top up your Ez-link cards at any Transit link Ticket Office or GTM using cash or NETS. The minimum top-up value is S$10 while the maximum stored value allowed on your card is S$100. You may also choose to buy a Standard Ticket that can be used up to six times within 30 days from the date of purchase. An S$0.10 deposit is required and will be automatically refunded through an off-set against your third trip.

You should be able to hail a taxi without any problems in most parts of Singapore. However, do remember that taxis are only allowed to pick up or alight passengers at designated taxi stands in the city centre. Hotels and shopping centre taxi stands are always good places to hail a taxi.

If you’re travelling in a group, carrying a lot of shopping or luggage, or unable to find a taxi for any other reason, you may want to book a taxi to get to your desired destination. A booking fee is applicable for taxi bookings and charges vary for different taxi companies. Most concierge services will also be happy to call a taxi for you.

For a list of taxi companies which you may contact, click here.

Source: YourSingapore

You can get a local SIM card from post offices, convenience stores such as Cheers and 7-eleven, FairPrice supermarkets and the customer service outlets of each telecom, namely SingTel, Starhub and M1. You have to present your passport when applying for the SIM card.

SingTel’s 3G-enabled hi! Card and the 3G SIM cards from Starhub and M1 cost $15 and come with $18 stored credit.

For more information regarding the prepaid SIM cards offers from each telecommunications company, please refer to these links: Singtel, Starhub and M1.

Please refer to the links below for a list of shop locations for each of the telecommunications companies:

SingTel stores near SMU:

  • Bugis Junction
    200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction
    #01-50/50A S(180021)
    Nearest MRT Station: Bugis MRT
  • ComCentre
    31 Exeter Road S’pore 239732
    Nearest MRT Station: Somerset MRT

Starhub stores near SMU:

  • Plaza Singapura
    68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura
    #B2-17/18/18A S(238839)
    Nearest MRT Station: Dhoby Ghaut MRT
  • Bugis Junction
    200 Victoria Street
    #01-83/84 S(180021)
    Nearest MRT Station: Bugis MRT

M1 stores near SMU:

  • Bugis Junction
    200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction
    #01-81/82 S(188021)
    Nearest MRT Station: Bugis MRT

Singapore’s international dialing code is + (65). While in Singapore, or if you have international roaming service on your mobile phone, you do not have to press + (65) as it will automatically connect you to the local numbers here.

Source: YourSingapore

Wireless @SG allows you to enjoy free internet in public areas such as cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, libraries and other public venues.

You can find out more here.

Although Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, tourists are advised to be careful with their belongings and to exercise the usual precautions. Police posts and stations throughout the island contribute towards maintaining the peace of the city.

Smoking is an offence in air-conditioned areas such as shopping centres, restaurants, entertainment outlets, cinemas, public transportation, lifts and certain public areas. However, there are designated smoking areas all over town. Smoking is also prohibited in any common area of any residential premises or building (e.g. common corridor, void decks, staircases); any covered or underground pedestrian walkway, whether permanent or temporary; any pedestrian overhead bridge; any bus stop or bus shelter, including any area within a radius of 5 metres from the outer edge of the shelter; and hospital outdoor compounds.

For more information, please visit here.

The import of dutiable goods is subject to the payment of duties and the Goods & Services Tax whilst the import of all other goods is subject only to the payment of the Goods & Services Tax.

The dutiable items are intoxicating liquors, cigarettes and other tobacco products, motor vehicles including motor cycles/scooters and petroleum products. You can find the complete list of dutiable goods and their tax rates at the Singapore Customs website.

All goods other than the three categories of dutiable goods listed above. Examples of non-dutiable goods are:

  • Electronic and electrical goods
  • Cosmetics
  • Cameras, clocks and watches
  • Jewellery, precious metals and precious stones
  • Apparel and Footwear
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Toys

There is a 7% Goods and Services Tax levied on all goods imported into Singapore.

IRAS has introduced the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) to replace the paper refund form system from 19 August 2012. eTRS, which connects multiple Central Refund Agencies and retailers on a single platform, offers the tourists a seamless and hassle-free experience when they shop in Singapore. Tourists who wish to seek a refund of GST for their purchases under the TRS, are no longer required to fill up the different refund forms issued by the participating retailers at each retail shop.

When making purchases from retailers who are on eTRS, you have to show your passport (a photocopy or an image of the passport is not acceptable) in person to the retailers to prove your eligibility under the TRS. You may ask the retailer to use your credit/debit card as an eTRS token to link your purchases for tax refund purposes. You are strongly encouraged to choose one credit/debit card to be used as an eTRS Token.  With a single credit/debit card as your eTRS Token, you will be able to retrieve all your purchases at one go when applying for your GST refund claims using the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airport or cruise terminal.  Payment can be made with any other credit/debit card or cash.

The retailer will issue an eTRS Ticket to you at the point of purchase. If you do not use a credit/debit card as an eTRS Token, you can still use the Tickets to apply for your refund claims at the airport or cruise terminal.  Please collect your original receipt/invoice and eTRS Ticket before leaving the shop.

For more information, please visit here.

Bona-fide travellers are entitled to duty-free allowance for spirits, wine and beer only if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. You are 18 years old or above;
  2. You have spent 48 hours or more outside Singapore immediately before your arrival;
  3. You have not arrived from Malaysia;
  4. The liquors are for your own consumption; and
  5. The liquors are not prohibited under section 38 of the Customs Act.

You will given one of the options below:

There is no GST relief and Duty-Free concession on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Please declare them at the Red Channel for payment of duty and GST. For more information on other Duty-Free Concessions, please visit the Singapore Customs website.

Source: ICA

Most Singapore retailers have fair business practices, but there are a small number of shops and restaurants that might make your shopping experience less than ideal. Here are some smart shopping tips to ensure that your retail experience is a pleasant one.

  1. Price Research and Comparison

Prices may vary widely between shops because distributors are not obliged to abide by each product’s Recommended Retail Price (RRP). Nonetheless, almost all local major departmental stores will display prices of goods clearly.

Look out for the price tag on the item.  If you have agreed on a price with the retailer, request to have it written on the invoice before making payment.

Research on information such as product model and features, accessories as well as product warranty (including the extent of geographical coverage) beforehand.  Try to compare prices of the product or service between shops before purchasing.

  1. Note that purchases made are usually final

In Singapore, retailers may enforce strict policies of return, exchange and/or refund the moment payment is made. Always ask your retailer about their store’s policies before making payment for your purchase.

You can also request that the retailer indicate their return, exchange and/or refund policy on their invoice.

  1. Check receipts or invoices for accuracy

It is always handy to obtain and keep your purchase receipt in the event you require an exchange or refund on your items.  Check that prices and item descriptions on the receipt or invoice are correct to ensure that you do not pay more than what is required.

Make sure that you test the item you wish to purchase to ensure that they operate as they should. Check that the promised accessories, peripherals and free gifts, if any, are included in the package.  It is good practice to pay only when the price is finalised and your purchase is ready to be handed to you.

In circumstances where price of goods are quoted by weight, such as seafood and fruits, request for the final price and weight to be confirmed in writing before finalising an order or purchase. This greatly reduces the chances of miscommunication that may result in a bill that is larger than expected.

  1. Verify what your ‘international warranty’ covers

International warranties are not standardised, and you should always ask and verify that your warranty is valid in your home country. Ensure that both your invoice and warranty card bear your retailer’s stamp and signature. In the case of electronic goods, note down the product’s serial number as well.

  • Also note that there are no international warranties on the purchase of mobile phones.
  • A “worldwide local warranty” means that the warranty is available only in the country of purchase– “worldwide” here refers to the availability of the product, not the warranty.
  • Parallel imported items have no warranty, and retailers usually do not entertain returns, exchanges and/or refunds.

For additional assistance or to flag inappropriate retailer behaviour, call Touristline at 1800 736 2000 (toll-free in Singapore), or (65) 6736 2000 (from overseas).

*Operating hours for Touristline is Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays), 9am to 6pm

Source: YourSingapore

Visitor centres are an ideal place to learn more about the sights and attractions of Singapore, as well as a place to secure transport and tickets into said attractions. Compiled below is a list of visitor centres which are closely situated to the Singapore Management University:


1. Singapore Visitors Centre @ Orchard

Junction of Cairnhill Road and Orchard Road

Opening Hours: 9.30am to 10.30pm daily

Nearest MRT Station: Somerset (NS23)


2. Singapore Visitors Centre @ ION Orchard

ION Orchard Level 1 Concierge

Opening Hours: 10.00am to 10.00pm daily

Nearest MRT Station: Orchard (NS24)

Source: YourSingapore

Tipping is not a common practice in Singapore. Most of Singapore’s hotels and restaurants will automatically include a 10 percent service charge in the bill. Tipping is prohibited at Changi Airport, and the same rule applies at dining areas, including sit-down restaurants.

Source: USAToday

Police 999
Non-emergency ambulance 1777
Emergencies/ Ambulance/ Fire Brigade 995
Singapore Tourism Board Touristline(24hrs automated tourist information system) 1800-736-2000 (toll-free in Singapore only)(65) 6736 6622 (Outside Singapore)
Flight Information 1800-542-4422 (toll-free in Singapore only)

Indulging in the Singapore Culture…


 BugisStreet The busy Bugis precinct is a lively mix of uptown chic and downtown hip. You’ll find high street brands like Topshop and Miss Selfridge at the Bugis Junction mall, but pop outside and onto Bugis Street and you’ll find cheap eats, clothes and accessories in an offbeat outdoor market setting.



 ChinatownSG With its rich history and iconic status, Chinatown draws in a great mix of folks, from the expats to the locals, and has a colorful array of sights, shops and stuff to check out. The refreshed Chinatown Food Street (CFS), located on Smith Street offers a diverse spread of local delights, with iconic food from local cultures all represented on one street.



 LittleIndiaSG Little India’s charm lies in the fact that many of olden-day trades can still be found by its roadsides, alleys and back lanes. Fortune-tellers and their parrots, flower vendors selling garlands of jasmine and street-side newspaper vendors are just some of the interesting sights to be found. Mustafa Centre, an iconic shopping destination in the heart of Little India, is somewhere that you would like to visit.



 MarinaBaySands At Marina Bay Sands, you’ll be able to shop the latest seasons by Chanel, Dior, Escada and Louis Vuitton, which has one of its Island Maison concept boutiques here, as well as sample the creations of celebrity chefs at restaurants Guy Savoy, db Bistro Moderne, CUT, Waku Ghin and more.



 IONOrchard ION Orchard’s spectacular frontage makes it perhaps the most eye-catching mall on the Orchard Road strip. Located on levels 55 and 56 and at an impressive 218 metres, ION Sky is the new focal point of the city. A must-visit destination offering an unrivalled 360-degree view from the highest point on Orchard Road. It operates daily from 10am to 8pm and admission is free.



 Esplanade Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is a waterside building located on six hectares of waterfront land alongside Marina Bay near the mouth of the Singapore River, purpose-built to be the centre for performing arts for the island nation of Singapore.



  A popular island resort located just south of Singapore, it is easily accessible by bus, car, monorail, and even cable car. Attractions include the famed Merlion, Fort Siloso, and the Resort Worlds Sentosa, which features both Universal Studios Singapore as well as the S.E.A. Aquarium.



  A nature park that spans 101 hectares of reclaimed land, it was built both to be Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, as well as a national icon. Instantly recognizable by its Supertrees, it boasts attractions such as the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, among others.



  Opened in November 2015 on Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the National Gallery Singapore contains the world’s largest collection of Southeast Asian and Singaporean art. Exhibits on display include works by renowned Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong, and by local artists such as Chua Ek Kay.



  A favorite for locals and tourists alike, the Singapore Zoological Gardens holds an impressive 315 animal species within its grounds, 16% of which are considered to be threatened species. It is also notable for housing the largest captive colony of orangutans in the world.



  Opened in January 1971, the Jurong Bird Park is widely considered to be the largest bird zoo in the world in terms of bird numbers. It currently holds 5000 birds of 400 species, 29 of which are considered to be threatened. It is also famed for its Lorry Loft, which is the world’s largest walk-in aviary for both lories and lorikeets.



  Best known as the world’s first nocturnal zoo, the Night Safari currently houses over 2500 nocturnal animals from 130 species, of which 38% are considered to be threatened. Unlike other nocturnal zoos which reverse the day-night cycle of animals to make them active by day, the Night Safari forgoes this practice, and is open only at night.



  A stalwart of the Singapore skyline, the Singapore Flyer has been entertaining tourists and locals alike since its official opening in April 2008. It features 28 air-conditioned capsules, each capable of holding 28 passengers, and is capable of reaching a maximum height of 165 metres (541 ft).



  Built at the confluence of 5 rivers, the Marina Barrage is Singapore’s 15th reservoir, and serves a multitude of purposes such as water catchment and flood control in the city. It is also a popular place for recreational activities such as dragon-boating and kite-flying.



  Once the commercial centre of trade during Singapore’s colonial past, Clarke Quay in modern times is instead a bustling area famed for both its cuisine and its vibrant nightlife. It is very popular among locals due to its ambience and stunning riverside scenery.



  Founded in 1859, the Singapore Botanic gardens has consistently been named as Asia’s top park attraction since 2013 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards. To date, it is the only tropical garden in the world to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It holds over 10000 species of flora.