Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

Business discussions are usually very straightforward. Most businesspeople speak English. They are usually skilled and technically knowledgeable. Many agents and distributors have visited the United States and often handle several American product lines. Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks Singapore fifth of 180 countries globally, the highest-ranking Asian country.

Many Singapore businesspeople are of ethnic Chinese background and will have “Western” first names (e.g., Melody Yeo). Those with only a Chinese name presented on business cards will list their family name before their first name. For example, a person whose card reads “Mr. Chan Yiu Kei” would be addressed as “Mr. Chan.”

The names of businesspeople of Malay or Indian descent are written and spoken as a given name followed by a family name. For politeness and respect, it is wise to address a businessperson by the last name rather than the first name until invited to use a given word. When in doubt, it is not impolite to ask. The standard and polite Singaporean phrase is ‘How shall I address you?’

Business cards are a must and are the first item exchanged during business and social meetings. The business card is present using both hands. There is no need to have unique business cards printed in Chinese. Digital name cards are becoming more popular as companies and the Government tries to reduce carbon footprints and costs.  

Located one degree north of the Equator, Singapore has a constant tropical climate year-round. Daytime temperatures average between 85- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is very high, and rain showers are frequent.  Night temperatures average between 76 and 80 degrees. All public buildings, indoor restaurants, and taxis are air-conditioned.

Business travelers should pack summer-weight suits/dresses, several dress shirts, plus an umbrella. Singapore business dress is a long-sleeved shirt, and the absence of a tie is acceptable. Some formal meetings call for a coat and tie. Businesswomen wear lightweight attire. Evening/dinner dress is a shirt and tie for men, but there is no strict dress code for women.

Tipping is not customary in Singapore. Restaurants automatically add a 10 percent service charge and the prevailing goods and services tax (GST) to the bill. 

Travel Advisory

Americans planning to travel to Singapore should regularly monitor The State Department Travel Advisory on Singapore and the United States Embassy in Singapore COVID-19 Info Page.  In addition to tracking the travel advisory level, all intending travelers could read through each section as it has practical, comprehensive information extending beyond what is in included in the guide. 

While in a foreign country, a United States citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under United States law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Singapore laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

There are strict penalties for the possession and use of drugs and for trafficking illegal drugs. Visitors should be aware of Singapore’s strict laws and penalties for actions that might not be illegal or considered minor offenses in the United States. Commercial disputes dealt with as civil suits in the United States can escalate to criminal cases in Singapore and may result in heavy fines and prison sentences.

Singapore customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import and export of items such as weapons, illegal drugs, certain religious materials, and pornographic material. Singapore customs authorities’ definition of “weapon” is inclusive and, in addition to firearms, includes many items which are not necessarily seen as weapons in the United States, such as dive knives, kitchen knives, handcuffs, and expended shell casings. Carrying any of these items without permission may result in immediate arrest. Inspections are on all bags for regulated entities.

Singapore has four types of dutiable goods: alcoholic beverages, tobacco, gasoline, and motor vehicles. Travelers entering Singapore at any port of entry must approach an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer at the “Red Channel” for payment of duty (e.g., alcohol and tobacco) and goods and services tax (GST) if you have dutiable goods which exceed the GST relief or duty-free concession. It is an offense to proceed to the “Green Channel” for clearance if you have items subject to payment of duty and GST.

Visa Requirements

United States citizens do not need a visa if their visit to Singapore is for business or social purposes and their stay is for 90 days or less. Travelers to the region should note that Singapore and some neighboring countries do not allow Americans to enter under any circumstances with fewer than six months of validity remaining on their passports. Travelers should note that there are also stringent penalties for overstaying their visas.  The Embassy of the Republic of Singapore has information on entry into Singapore.

United States companies should note that Singapore is part of the Visa Waiver Program and that nationals of Singapore are eligible to travel to the United States without a visa for tourist and business travel of 90 days or less, provided they possess an e-passport, a return/onward ticket and an approved authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Approval via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival.

Singaporeans are also eligible to participate in the United States Global Entry Program, which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Third-country nationals living and working in Singapore may have to obtain a visa before visiting the United States. U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s).

•             State Department Visa Website

•             United States Embassy Singapore

•             ESTA


Singapore’s unit of currency is the Singapore dollar. Visitors may exchange their Travelers’ Checks and cash in the baggage claim area at Changi Airport (at a reasonable rate) or at any hotel (at a less favorable rate). Singapore features dozens of Government-authorized “money changers” located in major shopping centers, offering competitive rates, and they will usually accept United States travelers’ checks as well as major currencies. Hotels, restaurants, and retail shops welcome international credit cards. ATMs that accept United States cards are widely available.


Telecommunications and Internet facilities in Singapore are state-of-the-art, providing high-quality communications with the rest of the world. Whether you want to hop on Instagram or log into your email for work, it is easy to find an Internet connection in Singapore, from free Wi-Fi hotspots to prepaid data plans. The Visit Singapore website has more information.

Singapore is well-connected by multiple satellite and submarine cable systems supporting international and regional telecoms connectivity and a national broadband network infrastructure. She prides herself on innovation and has become one of the first countries in the world to be covered by standalone 5G, with over 95 percent standalone 5G network coverage.

The standard electrical current used in Singapore is 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles), and the power sockets are three square prongs, so do bring an adapter.


Situated at the crossroads of international shipping and air routes, Singapore is a center for transportation and communication in Southeast Asia.

Singapore’s Changi Airport has established itself as a significant aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region. The country is one of the busiest ports globally and is joined to Malaysia by road.

Taxis are abundant, metered, safe, inexpensive, and air-conditioned, and most drivers speak English. Building names or landmarks should be told to the driver as the destination when entering taxis, as these are often more familiar than street names. To promote traffic flow, the Government limits the cars on the road through heavy fees/taxes and imposes a surcharge on vehicles entering the Central Business District during peak hours. Other alternative transport is private hire car services such as Grab and Gojek. In addition, Singapore has an immaculate, efficient subway system and bus network.


Most people speak English in Singapore. It is the language of business, Government, education, and the media. Many businesspeople are highly educated and have traveled extensively.


Good medical care is widely available in Singapore, and high-end medical tourism is growing. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate payment for health services by credit card or cash and generally do not accept United States health insurance. Healthcare recipients should be aware that the Ministry of Health auditors, in certain circumstances, may be granted access to patient medical records without the patient’s consent. Physicians must provide information on the diagnosis or treatment without the patient’s consent in certain circumstances.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult their medical insurance company before traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Other health information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions is obtainable from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s website.

The Singapore Ministry of Health’s website contains helpful health information and the latest updates on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

Local time, business hours, and holidays:

Singapore is twelve hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Savings or thirteen hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Normal business hours are 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. Government of Singapore agencies and many private sector companies are closed for business on Saturday. Shops are generally open every day from 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.


January 1New Year’s DayNew Year’s Day

Sunday, January 1

*Monday, January 2

3rd Mon in JanuaryBirthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, January 16
January 22-23 Chinese New Year

Sunday, January 22

Monday, January 23

*Tuesday, January 24

3rd Mon in FebruaryWashington’s Birthday Monday, February 20
April 7 Good FridayFriday, April 7
Apr 22 Hari Raya Puasa

*Friday, April 21

Saturday, April 22

May 1 Labor DayMonday, May 1
Last Monday in MayMemorial Day Monday, May 29
June 3 Vesak Day

*Friday, June 2

Saturday, June 3

June 19Juneteenth Monday, June 19
June 29 Hari Raya HajiThursday, June 29
July 4Independence Day Tuesday, July 4
August 9 National DayWednesday, August 9
1st Monday in SeptemberLabor Day Monday, September 4
2nd Monday in OctoberColumbus Day Monday, October 9
November 11Veteran’s Day 

*Friday, November 10

Saturday, November 11

November 12 Deepavali

Sunday, November 12

*Monday, November 13

4th Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving Thursday, November 23
December 25ChristmasChristmasMonday, December 25



January 1New Year’s DayNew Year’s DayMonday, January 1, 2024
3rd Mon in JanuaryBirthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, January 15
February 10-11 Chinese New Year

*Friday, February 9

Saturday, February 10

Sunday, February 11

*Monday, February 12

3rd Mon in FebruaryWashington’s Birthday Monday, February 19
March 29 Good FridayFriday, March 29
April 10 Hari Raya PuasaWednesday, April 10
May 1 Labor DayWednesday, May 1
May 22 Vesak DayWednesday, May 22
Last Monday in MayMemorial Day Monday, May 27
June 17 Hari Raya HajiMonday, June 17
June 19Juneteenth Wednesday, June 19
July 4Independence Day Thursday, July 4
August 9 National DayFriday, August 9
1st Monday in SeptemberLabor Day Monday, September 2
2nd Monday in OctoberColumbus Day Monday, October 14
October 31 DeepavaliThursday, October 31
November 11Veteran’s Day Monday, November 11
4th Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving Thursday, November 28
December 25ChristmasChristmasWednesday, December 25

* U.S. Embassy Singapore will observe local and American holidays that fall on a Saturday the preceding Friday and local and American holidays that fall on a Sunday the following Monday.

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Goods may be temporarily imported under the Temporary Import Scheme for a period of six months and for purposes such as repairs, testing and stage performances, auctions, displays, exhibitions or other similar events without the payment of duty and/or GST.  A banker’s guarantee or insurance bond is required under the Temporary Import Scheme.  The temporary imports are covered by a Customs Inward Permit or a Carnet.  Goods temporarily imported must be re-exported within the prescribed period using a Customs Export permit.  GST must be paid if the goods are not subsequently re-exported.  The procedures governing such importation can be found at the website of Singapore Customs.