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Banks & Taxes in Singapore

Currency in Singapore

The local currency in Singapore is the dollar. Take care not to confuse it with the US dollar —it hasn’t been pegged to a foreign currency for years. Our guide tells you all about coins and notes, cash import, foreign exchange, and money transfer to and from Singapore.

  • Singapore is home to the world’s largest banknote, the golden 10,000 SGD bill.
  • There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can bring in, though amounts over 20,000 SGD must be declared to customs.
  • As well as banks, Singapore’s official moneychangers are a reputable way to exchange currency.
  • Most visitors consider travelers’ checks an unnecessary precaution in the safe city-state, and they are not widely accepted as a result. 

The currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD). It was introduced two years after the republic became independent, in 1967.

Originally, the currency in Singapore was interchangeable with the Malaysian ringgit. Later on, it was pegged to the British pound and then to the US dollar. However, this all changed in the 1970s. Today the local currency in Singapore can still be exchanged for Brunei dollars at a ratio of 1:1.

Small Change to Record-Breaking Notes

The currency in Singapore is closely monitored by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The MAS is more or less responsible for all financial matters in the city-state, including issuing cent coins and dollar notes.

Coins come in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent denominations, and there’s also a one dollar coin. Banknotes are available for the value of 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 1,000 SGD, and Singapore is also home to the world’s most valuable banknote — the golden 10,000 SGD bill!  As of 2015, the MAS stopped issuing these notes in an attempt to decrease fraud; however, those already in circulation are still legal tender.  

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Getting It Right at the Airport

When you arrive at Changi International Airport, you should know that there are no import or customs restrictions for currency in Singapore. You can bring as much money as you wish in any currency. However, if you have 20,000 SGD or more, you should declare it to Singapore Customs. To do so, choose the red immigration channel with the sign, “Customs Goods to Declare”.

Changing Money After You Land

If you import foreign currency to Singapore, you can easily exchange your cash for Singapore dollars at many locations. Nearly every bank in Singapore offers this service, though the foreign exchange counter is closed at some branches on Saturday. Moreover, banks usually charge a service fee for currency exchange services. This fee starts at a small charge of two or three dollars, but can be higher.

If you want to save the service charge, you should give Singapore’s official moneychangers a try. They need a license from the MAS, so they are reliable and safe. You can find these moneychangers in large shopping malls, the touristy neighborhood along Orchard Road, or in Chinatown and Little India. If you want to trade a large sum of foreign currency for local dollars (or vice versa), comparing various offers is worth the effort.

Can You Use Travelers’ Checks?

At moneychangers as well as banks in Singapore, you can cash your travelers’ checks. However, you may get slightly lower exchange rates for checks in a foreign currency than for cash.

As you need to show your passport when cashing the check, it offers an extra layer of security. However, with very low crime rates in Singapore, most travelers don’t consider this necessary. Travelers’ checks are therefore only the preferred option for the most safety-conscious tourists and expats.

Questions to Ask When Transferring Money

Various banks, “moneygram” services, and online companies provide money transfers to Singapore, or back to your home country. In addition to the banks, the MAS currently lists about 75 officially licensed remittance services for money transfer in Singapore — international websites like PayPal are not included.

Though we can’t go through each of these options in details, below are some general points to take into account when you transfer money to or from Singapore:

  • Is there a service charge per transfer? If so, who has to pay it, the sender or the recipient?
  • Is it a flat flee, or does it depend on the amount of money transferred?
  • Do you and the recipient both need an account with that service, or can you do a one-off transfer?
  • How can you handle your international transactions? In person? On the phone? Online?
  • How long does it take to complete the money transfer?
  • Which countries does the service cover?
  • Is there a minimum or maximum amount per transaction?
  • What is the foreign exchange rate for a money transfer from or to Singapore?

If you want to make frequent transactions or need to transfer large sums, comparing the aspects listed above is worth the effort. To transfer money abroad quickly, you can also visit Singapore Post offices where Western Union money transfer services are available. 

Updated on: December 06, 2018

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