Car Terms That Every Car Owner In Singapore Should Know

Published by on . Updated on 29 May 2020

Motorist All Car Terms Car Owners Know Singapore 2019(Photo Credit: Straits Times)

The sheer number of car terms used in Singapore can be confusing to new or inexperienced drivers. Therefore, here’s our complete list of important car terms to know in Singapore.

The various terms in the automotive industry related to cars, motor insurance and more can often be puzzling to figure out. In addition to universal car terms, there are also those unique to Singapore that you need to take note of. If you’re starting out as a new car owner or driver in Singapore, the magnitude of these terms can seem intimidating.

To help you keep up with the various confusing terms in the automotive industry, we at Motorist have compiled a list of useful car terms you need to know. This list has been divided into seven categories as listed below.

Terms Related to Buying/Owning a Car

An acronym that stands for the Additional Registration Fee, it is known as the tax imposed upon registration of a new vehicle. Calculated based on the Open Market Value (OMV) of the vehicle, the ARF is also able to determine your PARF rebate which is a component of your de-registration value.

Authorised Distributors (AD)

AD stands for Authorised Distributors. This term refers to companies that have won distribution rights for a specific car brand from its manufacturer. This allows them to showcase these vehicles to interested buyers in various showrooms. For example, the authorized distributor for Toyota is Borneo Motors, while for Nissan it is Tan Chong Motors.


AutoConcierge refers to third party platforms that provide services akin to that of a hotel concierge for the automotive industry. They offer various services in relation to vehicle ownership such as selling, scrapping, or exporting your car for you. An AutoConcierge service is therefore attuned to every need the customer may have, whether it be answering enquiries about the valuation of the vehicle they own or matching them to interested buyers. An example of a platform providing such services is Motorist. We offer services such as car valuations, matching sellers with interested buyers, scrapping or exporting your car and much more.


This acronym refers to the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS). This scheme was first introduced in 2013 to encourage the purchase of low carbon emission vehicles. This was attempted through rebates and surcharges, which were increased for low and high carbon emission vehicles respectively. However, it was revised in 2015, under which all cars registered from 1 July 2015 with low carbon emissions qualified for rebates, which were offset against each vehicle’s Additional Registration Fee (ARF).


The COE, a widely used term specific to the automotive industry in Singapore, stands for the Certificate of Entitlement. This refers to the right to vehicle ownership within Singapore. Anyone wishing to register a new vehicle in Singapore will have to apply for the COE in the appropriate vehicle category. There are five categories of vehicles, each differentiated based on fuel capacity and size. A COE allows use of limited road space for 10 years, after which it can be renewed or deregistered.

Dealer’s Margin

Dealer’s Margin refers to the difference between the price your car dealer pays for a vehicle and the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of the vehicle. Car dealers typically add a margin between the MSRP and the own price they pay. This is done so as to incur a profit and additionally, to cover their own costs.

Excise Duty

Excise Duty is a form of tax imposed on specific goods within a country. The Excise Duty on cars in Singapore is 20% of the Open Market Value (OMV).


Exporting is a disposal option available for you as a car owner, once the COE on your car expires. Exporting your car will fetch a better price as compared to scrapping. For those unaware, an exporter will help you sell your vehicle to dealers in other countries. However, your car has to meet several requirements before being exported.

Kindly note that requirements may change from time to time, however, the three criteria below are the most common ones we have observed thus far.

  1. Popularity
  2. Demand
  3. Driving condition

An acronym most commonly used and unique to Singapore, it refers to the Land Transport Authority. The Land Transport Authority is the statutory board under the ministry that handles and maintains Singapore’s land transport infrastructure and systems, and collects vehicle taxes.


The Open Market Value (OMV) of a vehicle is the price paid when a vehicle is imported into Singapore. The OMV is assessed by the Singapore Customs, and may include components such as the cost of shipping and insuring in addition to other charges of importing the vehicle. A vehicle’s OMV can be considered to be the baseline price of the car, and allows you to see what other countries are paying.

Parallel Importers (PI)

PI stands for Parallel Importers. Parallel importers conversely refer to smaller companies than authorized distributors. They purchase the vehicles they want to sell directly from the factories producing them and then import them into Singapore. Unlike authorized distributors which are restricted on the brand of vehicle they can sell due to the distribution rights they’ve acquired, parallel importers can choose to sell any brand. Although it may not seem as such, parallel importing of cars is also legal and at times may seem like the preferred choice due to the cheaper prices offered.

PARF Rebate

PARF refers to the Preferential Additional Registration Fee Rebate that you’re eligible for if the car you’re deregistering is under a decade old. As you are expected to pay an ARF upon registering your car, this rebate is compensation for when you deregister it before ten years.


An acronym that stands for Prevailing Quota Premium (PQP). The PQP is the moving average of the COE prices (QPs) in the last 3 months and varies from month to month. To renew your COE, you will have to pay it to allow your vehicle to have limited road space for another 5-10 years.

Road Tax

Road tax is a form of tax on driving a vehicle in Singapore. It is also required by law for every registered vehicle to have road tax. It has to be renewed annually or on a 6 month basis and is part of your vehicle ownership tax, adding onto the cost of owning a car.


This acronym refers to the Revised Off-Peak Car scheme. As the name implies, it is a revision of the old off-peak car/weekend car scheme. Under the previous scheme, drivers using their vehicle during the off-peak hours would be eligible for rebates on their COE and any additional fees, as well as on road tax. Conversely, the revised scheme has a higher minimum road tax, but more hours outside of what has been restricted.

Special tax

Special Tax is a form of tax levied on diesel cars. As with road tax, it is required by law for Diesel or Diesel-CNG vehicles to have special tax, which can be payable in addition to road tax.

Vehicle Lay-Up

If you are not driving your vehicle for an extended period of time, you can choose to lay-up your vehicle. However, it must be done at a declared garage address. A lay-up is done to prevent the insurance and road tax of the vehicle from running. You can lay-up your vehicle up to 1 year per application, up to a maximum of 3 years consecutively.

VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

A car's vehicle identification number (VIN) refers to its identifying code. No two vehicles have the same VIN, and each VIN is composed of 17 characters of digits and capital letters. This allows it to serve as each vehicle’s identifying feature.

Terms Related to Car Insurance

Comprehensive car insurance policies cover damages incurred to your own vehicle. This is in contrast to third-party only insurance (TPO), which only covers damage to others in an accident caused by you.


Excess is more simply known as the money you agree to pay when you make a claim on your policy, with your insurer paying the remaining amount. This usually occurs when the expenses of the damage to your vehicle exceeds the extent of your insurance.


NCD refers to a no-claim discount and can help to reduce the cost of car insurance, especially if accumulated over time by the insured. The amount saved will increase proportionately with the number of years the insured party will go without making a claim. Every type of car insurance policy will be able to accumulate NCD. How much NCD is allowed to accumulate will depend on the insurance company itself, but typically it is capped at five years. The NCD may be used once per policy, so it cannot be used for multiple cars no matter how high it is accumulated.

NCD protector

The NCD Protector is basically an extension of the car insurance policy. Like the name suggests, it allows you to make a claim without losing the chance to leverage on NCD.


TPO refers to third-party only insurance, which covers damages to third parties involved in the accident. Under the Motor Vehicles Act, third-party insurance is the minimum requirement for all car owners and drivers. In addition, it ensures that the insured’s ability to provide for any third parties affected by the accident is covered.

TPFT (Third-Party, Fire & Theft)

Third-Party, Fire & Theft is basically the same as TPO, except with some added coverage. While you won’t get reimbursed for damages to your car, there is the option of a pay out in instances like fire and theft. This particular option comes in handy for vehicles driving out of Singapore, but only if your car insurance policy covers this option.

Read more: What Your Car Insurance Policy Doesn't Cover

Terms Related to Travelling to Malaysia

The Autopass card is required for foreign-registered vehicles to enter Singapore. All foreign-registered vehicles are required to have a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) to enter Singapore. The Autopass card therefore contains this VEP specific to each vehicle. The Autopass card is available for purchase at all VEP/Toll offices located at Woodlands or Tuas checkpoints.


In short, this acronym refers to the Road Transport Department of Malaysia. The JPJ is responsible for handling all issues regarding the registration and licensing of all drivers and vehicles in Malaysia.


MACS is an acronym that stands for Malaysia Automated Clearance System. Like the name suggests, it is an automated immigration clearance system in Malaysia that introduces a swift clearance system for foreigners wishing to register with it. MACS works by using a sticker embedded with an RFID chip which is then consequently affixed to a passport and scanned upon entry and exit from Malaysia. It doesn’t require the typical stamps from immigration officers. Therefore, the process of immigration becomes much more rapid. While this system had been stopped for a while, it is now once again available to foreigners who are long-term social visit pass holders.


An alternative to the Touch ‘N Go cards system, it stands for “radio-frequency identification”. It uses a technology whereby the digital data encoded in the RFID sticker affixed to the vehicle’s windscreen is scanned by a reader through radio waves.

Smart Tag

The SmarTAG is known as an infrared device that doubles as an electronic toll collection system over long distances to go hand in hand with the Touch N Go card. It allows vehicle drivers to drive through SmarTAG labelled lanes and pay the toll without needing to stop.

Touch ‘N Go (TNG)

The Touch ‘N Go cards are mainly used to pay fees at tolls along the North-South highway. Instead of queueing up at the cash lanes, tapping on the terminal booth makes the immigration process that much faster.


The permit issued by the Road Transport Department of Malaysia allowing the entry of foreign vehicles into the country. Owners of foreign-registered vehicles entering Malaysia are all required to register online for VEP through the online portal.

Read more: Malaysia Adopts New Measures to Help Curb Congestion at Checkpoints

Terms Related to Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

This refers to the Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational License (PDVL). Drivers wishing to be employed under companies providing private hire services would have to apply for a PDVL application.


This refers to vehicles hired by drivers to provide services for passengers under a company separate from taxi companies. Examples of such services would be Grab and Go-Jek.


TDVL stands for Taxi Driver’s Vocational License in Singapore, and is required by the LTA for drivers wishing to work as a taxi driver in Singapore.

Terms Related to Driving Offences
DUI (Drink driving)

DUI is an acronym that refers to the act of driving while under the influences of vices such as alcohol. It is legally classified as an offense under the Road Traffic Act. If you are pulled over and the content of alcohol in your bloodstream exceeds that of the prescribed limit, you will be convicted of such an offense.

Did we miss out on explaining any other car terms used in Singapore? If we did, do let us know in the comments below!

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