Transportation

Getting a Driving License in Singapore – How Much Does It Cost?

driving license school fees singapore

Peter Lin

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If you can afford to cab everywhere, or have no shame about asking for a lift from family, friends and colleagues, you’re either filthy rich or my girlfriend. She has no plans to get a driving license. She’d rather rely on our world-class transportation system. You know, the one with so many breakdowns SMRT and SBS have started writing blank cheques for the inevitable annual fine from LTA. But if we’re going to be objective, being able to drive is an important skill in Singapore.

So, if you’re 18 and above, physically and mentally fit, and have no major problems with your eye-sight or with colour-blindness, then it’s a good idea to apply for your driving license. But should you go with a driving school like SSDCL, CDC and BBDC, or a private driving instructor? We weigh the costs.

(Note: This comparison only refers to the costs of a Class 3/3A driving license.)

Driving School Private Driving Instructor
Enrolment $96.30 $50 to $60
Driving Lessons (Theory) $69.55 (for 4 classes)
Basic Theory Test $6.50 $6.50
Final Theory Test $6.50 $6.50
Driving Lessons (Practical) at Driving Centre About $1,400 to $1,900 (for 20 to 25 classes)
Diving Lessons (Practical) with Private Instructor About $1,000 to $1,400 (for 40 hours of instruction)
Practical Driving Test $33 $33
Practical Test Car Rental $195.81 to $231.12 $195.81 to $231.12
Driving License Fee $50 $50
ESTIMATED TOTAL $1,860 to $2,400 $1,340 to $1,790

 

1. Driving School Enrolment Fee

Enrolment fees at a driving school should set you back by $96.30. This is regardless of which driving school you’re under and valid only for a year.

There are three driving schools in Singapore. Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDCL) is in Woodlands, ComfortDelGro Driving Centre (CDC) is in Ubi and Bukit Batok Driving Centre (BBDC) is (surprise, surprise) in Bukit Batok. Ideally, you would want to pick a school that is most convenient for you in terms of distance, but there may be other factors (like pricing and passing rate) that may affect your decision.

If you don’t have the time or the dedication to rush through all your lessons within the span of a year, you will end up paying more. The rates are as follows:

School Course Extension Fee
SSDCL $48.15 (for 6 months)
CDC $53.50 (for 6 months)
BBDC $8.03 (for 1 month)

If you don’t think you can pass your driving test after a year of lessons, consider going with BBDC. Paying $8.03 a month may be cheaper than the other schools if you don’t need another 6 months of lessons to pass.

Enrolment fees for a private instructor should set you back by $50-$60 depending on the instructor. The difference in the fees is because driving schools tend to have higher overheads, which they pass on to you, the customer.

Whether you choose to learn via a driving school or a private instructor, you will still need to open an account at the driving school. This is because you will be taking the driving theory tests through the school.

 

2. Driving Lessons (Theory)

If you have enrolled with the driving school, you will need to pay for theory lessons together with your enrolment fee. This is before you can apply to take the Basic Theory Test and Final Theory Test. How much you pay depends on whether you’ve taken and passed either these Tests before. In the case of a total newcomer to driving, the fees are as follows:

School Theory Lesson Fees
SSDCL $69.55 (for 4 classes)
CDC $69.55 (for 4 classes)
BBDC $17.12 (for 1 class), $68.48 (for 4 classes)

BBDC is the cheaper of the three schools, but only barely.

 

3. Driving Theory Tests (Basic Theory & Final Theory)

If you have enrolled with the driving school, you will need to pay for theory lessons together with your enrolment fee. This is before you can apply to take the Basic Theory Test and Final Theory Test. How much you pay depends on whether you’ve taken and passed either these Tests before. In the case of a total newcomer to driving, the fees are as follows:

After you’ve gone through the lessons – which can be done online, thank goodness – you can apply for the Basic Theory Test. The test fee has recently been increased to $6.50. Once you’ve passed the Basic Theory Test, you will be eligible to apply for your Provisional Driving License (PDL). You will need to pay $25 for the PDL, which is valid for two years. This means you can start driving!

In the meantime, you can also apply for your Final Theory Test. The test fee has recently been increased to $6.50. You will need to have passed your Final Theory Test before you can book a date for your Practical Driving Test.

If you’re learning via a private instructor, you technically don’t need to go through any lessons and can just go straight for the theory tests. However, you should probably just go for one or two theory trial tests before your official test date. These trial tests will help you get the hang of the test system and, if your memory is good enough, you’ll notice the same questions will come out in the actual test.

Now, for the main costs in learning to drive – the practical lessons.

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4a. Driving Lessons (Practical) at Driving Centre

Driving schools have a fixed syllabus that they follow, and sometimes have a minimum number of lessons that a student MUST take before you’ll be allowed to book your driving test. Lesson fees fall under two categories – peak and off-peak.

School Practical Lesson Fees
SSDCL $77.04 – $85.60 per 120 minute class
CDC $68.48 – $77.04 per 100 minute class
BBDC $68.48 – $77.04 per 100 minute class

While it is more expensive at first glance, SSDCL beats both CDC and BBDC if you’re looking at how much you’re paying per minute. And depending on the instructor, that extra 20 minutes per lesson at SSDCL does go a really long way because it gives you more time to practice.

In general, you will need about 20-25 lessons at least to complete the syllabus. How quickly you learn is of course dependent on you and the instructor. When learning at a driving school, your instructor may not be fixed. Some schools, like SSDCL, charge an extra fee of $8.56 per session if you want to request for a specific instructor.

 

4b. Driving Lessons (Practical) with Private Instructor

With hundreds of private driving instructors across the island, you’re spoilt for choice. There are those who advertise online and those who rely on word of mouth to get customers. There are also those who have the time to take over a hundred students, which could mean that they’re more experienced.

In general, you can expect private driving instructors to charge $25-$35 per hour. You learn at your own pace, but you would still need about 20-30 lessons (since the lessons are per hour) before you’re ready for the test. Also, it’s definitely a good idea to book a warm up session or two in the driving centre’s test circuit. That way, you’ll get used to the circuit ahead of the practical test.

 

5. Practical Driving Test

Once you have passed your Final Theory Test and completed your lessons, you can book a date for your practical driving test. The test will now cost you $33. That fee’s just to take the test. You will also need to pay for the test vehicle rental and a “warm-up” session prior to test itself. The fees are as follows:

School Practical Test Vehicle Rental Fees
SSDCL $171.20 + $35.31 (warm up fee) = $206.51
CDC $252.52 (price includes warm up fee)
BBDC $171.20 + $38.52 (warm up fee) = $209.72

SSDCL may have the cheapest driving test fees, but do remember that you’ve technically been paying more for both theory and practical lessons compared to the other schools. BBDC costs about $3.20 more than SSDCL, but hopefully you’d have saved more than that on the theory and practical lessons.

 

6. Driver’s License Fee

If you pass, congratulations! You now have to pay a fee of $50 when you apply for your driving license. We hope it was worth it!

 

Should you learn to drive at a driving centre or with a private driving instructor?

If it’s solely about the cost alone, then there’s no contest, really. Private driving instructors aren’t obliged to strictly follow a syllabus so the pace of the lessons depend on how quickly you pick up the skills. So if you’re confident about your driving ability, it might be more prudent to sign up with a private driving instructor. Based on the cost of practical lessons alone, you could save up to $700 by going with a private driving instructor instead of a driving school.

When it comes to convenience, both driving schools and private driving instructors have pros and cons. Driving schools, like SSDCL, CDC and BBDC, have all the necessary facilities in-house, so if you need more time on the test circuit you won’t be charged extra, unlike if you were under a private driving instructor. On the other hand, a private driving instructor should be able to arrange for lessons that suit your busy schedule, unlike a driving school that has very inflexible lesson times.

A private driving instructor also has the benefit of being able to meet at a location convenient to both of you. Two of the three driving schools aren’t very easy to get to for most Singaporeans. Unless you stay in the far West or the far North, getting to BBDC and SSDCL in Bukit Batok and Woodlands respectively can be quite the commute. On the other hand, CDC is more centrally located in Ubi, relatively speaking.

So, if you’re a busy person with very little time to spare, or if you’re confident about your driving skills and the speed that you’ll learn, you’ll definitely save more by going with a private driving instructor.

Otherwise, a driving school might be the more expensive, but also more appropriate option. After all, the point is to pass your driving test. There’s no point breezing through the lessons and rushing to take your test if you end up failing. Failing your driving test simply means spending more money in your attempt to earn your driving license.

 

Did you get your driving license after learning with a driving school or a private driving instructor? Share your story with us.

 

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Peter Lin

I am the poster boy for reinventing one's self. I've been a broadcast journalist, technical writer, banking customer service officer and a Catholic friar. My life experiences have made me the most cynical idealist you'll ever meet, which is why I'm also the co-founder of a local pop culture website. I believe ignorance is not bliss, and that money is the root of all evil only if you allow it to be.