How the (COE) Certificate of Entitlement System Works: Bidding & Process


Singapore holds a unique Guinness World Record—though it’s not necessarily one to be proud of. We’re the most expensive city in the world to own a car. The record was awarded in 2018, but it still holds true today.

All this is because of something called the “certificate of entitlement” system, introduced in 1990 to control the number of vehicles on our roads.

But guess what? Nothing has stopped Singaporeans from buying cars. If you’re interested in becoming a car owner, here’s a crash course on how the COE system works.

What is a Certificate of Entitlement (COE)?

The COE gives you the right to own and operate a vehicle for a period of 10 years, and it is divided into 5 categories.

Non-fully electric cars (Petrol, diesel, hybrid) Fully electric cars
Category A Engines up to 1,600cc and Maximum Power Output up to 97kW (130bhp) Maximum Power Output up to 110kW (147bhp)
Category B Engines above 1,600cc or Maximum Power Output above 97kW (130bhp) Maximum Power Output above 110kW (147bhp)
Category C Buses and goods-carrying vehicles
Category D Motorcycles
Category E This is an “open category” COE, which can be used for all of the above

The number of available COEs in each category is determined by the Vehicle Quota System (VQS), which is updated every 3 months. 

Since the quota is limited, not everyone who wants a COE can get one. That’s where the COE open bidding system comes in. That’s right, the government makes people bid for the right to own vehicles, just like you would for precious memorabilia like Michael Jackson’s glove.

ALSO READ: Getting a Driving Licence in Singapore (2023)—Prices and Reviews of BBDC, SSDC, and CDC

The COE Open Bidding System

How this works is that car buyers bid against each other to win COEs. COEs for each category are bid for separately, so the price of COEs fluctuates (COE bidding is conducted twice a month).

Here’s a step-by-step process of how the bidding exercise works:

  1. It starts when bidders submit their reserve price in the open bidding system. The reserve price is the amount being bid.
  2. The bidding system then automatically raises the Current COE Price (CCP) upward by increments of S$1.
  3. When the CCP exceeds a bidder’s reserve price, that bidder is out of the running (no chance of getting a COE).
  4. The CCP keeps rising and stops once the number of bidders still in the running equals the number of available COEs.
  5. The bidding exercise then ends, and whoever’s still in the running is a successful bidder.

The latest CCP (whatever dollar amount it ends on) is called the quota premium (QP). All successful bidders in the same category pay the same quota premium.

How Much Does the COE Cost?

As mentioned, the COE bidding exercise is conducted twice a month. So prices are constantly fluctuating. Here are the latest COE prices for the month of April (2nd bidding).

Quota Premium S$94,010 S$102,001 S$68,502 S$9,990 S$103,249

Remember, paying the quota premium only gives you the right to own a car. You still have to pay for the car itself, so this is like a top-up on the cost of your new car. Ouch.

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How Do I Bid for a COE?

COE open bidding exercises are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. They start at 12 pm and end two days later (on Wednesday) at 4 pm.

There may be exceptions, such as if a public holiday occurs between Monday and Wednesday. In these cases, the bidding exercise will close a day later.

If you are submitting a bid as an individual (and not under a corporate account), there is only 1 way to do it—via DBS or POSB ATMs. You must use your own bank account when placing your bid—you can’t bid on behalf of someone else. You’re also allowed to use a joint account, but be sure to use your personal bank card for the bid.

After you submit your bid and it goes through, you’ll receive an acknowledgement code. Keep this code private because you’ll need it if you have any questions about your bid or if you decide to increase your reserve price later.

What Happens When My COE Expires?

When your COE expires, you can extend it for 5–10 years. There is no bidding; you simply pay the Prevailing Quota Premium (PQP), which is the moving average of the past 3 months QP.

Here are the latest PQP rates for a 10-year renewal (it is half the rate for a 5-year renewal):

Category Prevailing Quota Premium (PQP)
CAT A April 2024 – S$78,482

May 2024 – S$84,550

CAT B April 2024 – S$98,062

May 2024 – S$99,116

CAT C April 2024 – S$71,053

May 2024 – S$71,120

CAT D April 2024 – S$9,547

May 2024 – S$9,286


You must renew your COE before it expires. There is a 1-month grace period after it expires, but you’ll have to pay a late renewal fee.

If you choose not to renew the COE, your beloved vehicle must be deregistered and disposed of at a scrap yard. If you de-register your car early, you get a rebate based on the amount of “unused time” on your COE. The formula can be found on the One Motoring website.

If you know anyone shopping for a new car, share this article with them!