Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Driving A Car

Two years ago when my little brother had to travel to Singapore for a business and a few of us grabbed the chance to visit the country for fun, we decided to drive instead since driving would be more economical than flying for a group of 5. Having no experience of driving to the Little Red Dot (well, we travelled by road to Singapore before but that was like 30 years ago lol), we did a few internet searches and asked here and there of what we should know beforehand; yet nothing beats our personal experience. It's actually not as daunting as we thought; instead it was easier than what we have anticipated :D

Recently, we drove to Singapore again and my memory kinds of refreshed again of the 'process' to drive Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, which took about 4-hour journey. I think it's good to share my experience with all and hope it's a good guide to first-timer!


Well-maintained Car
I definitely do not want my car to break down in the middle of highway or in Singapore; I'm sure you are too! So ensure your car is in roadworthy condition by sending your car to workshop for check and service, days before your departure day.

Touch n' Go with Sufficient Credit
Wherever you are travelling from West Malaysia, ensure your TnG has sufficient credit to pay the tolls (i.e. PLUS Highway) to reach Singapore AND back to your home location when you leave Singapore.
It's no fun to queue long at the top-up booth which would be wasting a lot of time. Not only the PLUS highway, there's also a short expressway within JB - Lebuhraya EDL that charges toll fee.

Valid Car Insurance Coverage
Ensure your car is adequately covered by insurance, at least for the period of your stay in Singapore. Bring along the car insurance cover note or policy with you.

Valid Car Road Tax
Of course, the car must have 'license' to be on the road.

Car Grant
This is required especially if the car is entering Singapore for the first time, to apply for the Autopass Card (Singapore's equivalent of Touch n' Go for toll payments and various other points of purchase), so bring along this document too.

Valid International Passport
This is a complete no-brainer lol... simple logic: no passport, no entry (you can't even exit Malaysia). All passengers in your car must be carrying valid passports.

Blue/ Black Inked Pen
As you would need to fill in the Disembarkation/Embarkation Card (D/E Card) or commonly known as "white card", bringing along a pen or two would be very handy. Probably the officers at checkpoint booths would lend one to you, but well, I always think it's best to prepare beforehand. If you have a few passengers, it's better to have a few pens so that you don't have to take turn to fill in the card. Or better yet, if you could get the D/E Card in-advanced and fill in before reach the checkpoints.

Address of the Lodging and Contact Number in Singapore
Yes, you need to fill in your address in Singapore on the D/E Card, so it's good to have your hotel/ lodging address and contact number with you.

Autopass Card
If your car has entered Singapore before, then bring the registered Autopass Card along. Else you would have to apply a new one.
Else, if your car is entering Singapore for the first time, then you would have to apply one.
Please do note that Autopass card is uniquely registered to each car; it's an offence to use the same one Autopass card for another different car!

Singapore Dollar Notes
Even if you plan to exchange the Malaysia Ringgit notes for Singapore Dollar notes in Singapore, I would recommend exchanging some beforehand in Malaysia. You would not want to waste time looking for a money changer in a foreign land.
Moreover, if you do not already have an Autopass Card for your car, you'd need cash to purchase one at the Woodlands or Tuas checkpoints.

Full Tank of Petrol
Right before you reach the Custom Immigration Complex at JB, it's best to fill up the petrol tank of your car. You would not want to pay triple price of the petrol haha...
One would think there would be a petrol station along the highway before exit, but surprisingly there is none!
The last petrol station along highway is about 80km+ away from the exit.
Luckily though, there is a Shell Petrol Station after exit, right before entering the JB Custom complex. You would need to make a short detour but it's really near so don't worry. Try use your GPS to search for it when near the JB Custom Complex.


Malaysian Custom Immigration Clearance
This should be a hassle-free procedure...just remember your valid international passport!


Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoint
After clearing the Malaysian Custom Immigration at JB, you would be driving into the Woodlands or Tuas checkpoints via the bridge that link the land of Malaysia and Singapore.
I have only driven into Woodlands Checkpoint before; never experienced Tuas Checkpoint yet. That was mainly because of the cheaper toll at Woodlands hehe...I'll share the toll rate later on...

Car Boot Inspection
While car-queuing for the immigration clearance booth, designated officers would come to cars to do the car boot inspection. Just open the car boot, and get down from car and get acknowledgement from the officer that the inspection is cleared. Make sure you do not bring any controlled or prohibited items. If you do, please declare it to the officer.

Immigration Checkpoint Booth
Upon drive through the Singapore Immigration Checkpoint Booth, you would need to present the passports including your passengers' and wind down your car windows so that the officer could clearly see your face.
Also, you would see an Autopass card reader machine installed at the booth.

If you have an Autopass card for your vehicle, insert the Autopass card to the machine to register your vehicle entry into Singapore.
In the event the Autopass card shows error due to outdated info (e.g. invalid road tax and insurance, like my case...well, that's because my car road tax and insurance registered with the Singapore Immigration was previous years'), you would need to update the information at the VEP/ Toll Office.
Or, if you do not have the Autopass card, you would need to purchase one also at the VEP/ Toll Office.
Don't worry, the officers are friendly and would instruct you on what to do :)

VEP/ Toll Office
So you would be directed here if you don't have an Autopass card, or the information in your Autopass card is outdated.
The officers here would ensure that you have the valid vehicle insurance and road tax before giving you a queuing number; that's why you need to bring along the car insurance cover note or policy as a proof.
And, if you have to purchase a Autopass card, you may need to show the car grant too.
Autopass card is sold at S$10; S$6 for the card and S$4 for preloaded credit in the card.
Note that, if you are coming in group in few cars, each car has to have its own Autopass card.
In fact, if you are coming in your new car, the Autopass card for your previous card is no longer valid and you need to apply a new one for your new car, because again, Autopass card is uniquely registered to each car and is not transferable. You can apply for refund for your old card (that attached to your previous car) if there is still any credit balance left.

And thus, after going through the checkpoint procedure, you can now drive into Singapore :D
Drive safe and make sure you abide to all the traffic regulations.


Top-up Autopass Card
You would have to pay the tolls and all road charges before exiting Singapore at the Singapore Immigration exit checkpoint.
Top-up Autopass card is easy; you can do it at convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or at MRT Stations.
If not mistaken, there are top-up booths also near the checkpoints, however do expect the long queue.


Immigration Clearance
The procedure is similar as when you enter Singapore, except that now when you insert the Autopass card to the reader, it would register your car as exit and also, deduct all the chargeable toll and charges.
There are basically three types of charges; namely Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee, Toll Charges and Reciprocal Road Charge.

Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) Fee
Each vehicle is given a 10 days VEP-free per calendar year.
Means, you don't have to pay any VEP fee if you are in Singapore for the first 10 days per calendar year. Once this 10-day allowance is utilized, then the VEP fee will be applicable as per the following operating hours:

Source: LTA website

Also, you car can only be in Singapore for 14 days each time from date of entry, or up to the expiry of your car's road tax or insurance. If you wish to stay longer, then you have to apply for extension from the Singapore's Land Transport Authority.

Toll Charges
Toll is chargeable per trip basis, as following:

Source: LTA website

You only need to pay the exit toll charge if you enter Singapore via Woodlands Checkpoint, whereas you would have to pay the enter toll charge if you enter via Tuas Checkpont; not to mention the more expensive exit toll charge at Tuas compared to Woodlands Checkpoint. That is one of the reasons why I prefer Woodlands Checkpoint hohoho...

Reciprocal Road Charge (RRC)
The RRC is levied at S$6.40 per entry, regardless of how long you stay or whichever checkpoint you use.

Electronic Road Pricing (ERP)
Beside all these 3 charges, you may have to pay the ERP charges too, in the event your vehicle needs to pass through priced roads during ERP hours. If your vehicle has the In-vehicle Unit (a device similar to our SmartTag) installed, then you would have paid the normal ERP charge. However if you do not have the device, then you would need to pay a flat charge at S$5 per every day that your car pass through the roads with operating ERP.

Thus, the minimum you would have to pay upon exit would be S$7.40 (S$1 departure at Woodlands, S$6.40 for RRC, within VEP-free days); so ensure you have sufficient credit balance in your Autopass card before exiting Singapore to avoid any inconvenience.

Driving into Malaysia is almost similar as how you drive into Singapore; there would be a car boot inspection as well, beside the passport inspection.
And now that you have entered Malaysia highway, ensure you have sufficient credit in your Touch n' Go card to avoid long queue at toll booth.

For more information on diving into Singapore, you may also refer the following websites:
Land Transport Singapore website: 
Online Calculator for VEP Fees, Toll Charges & Reciprocal Road Charge:  https://www.onemotoring.com.sg/content/onemotoring/en/lta_e_services/online_enquiries/vep.html

And thus...Happy driving! Let's discover the joy of road trip to Singapore ^^

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