Driving License!

Ravi and I were starting to wonder if we’d hallucinated the whole thing.  Perhaps the stress of studying for the test had grown so great that we somehow simultaneously dreamed that we’d taken and passed the Basic Theory of Driving Test?  The standing in line?  The endless paperwork?  Because our licenses had not shown up, and we were approaching three weeks out.

But last Friday, we were thrilled to get our “registered mail” alerts, and on Saturday I went down to the post office and picked up our driving licenses.

I half apologize for the deliberately crappy picture.  I wanted to make it difficult to see anything important, so I used my iPhone camera.  I post-edited the picture to further eliminate personal info like a number, part of the barcode and my full name in the name of healthy paranoia.

I’m not sure if this is true, but according to R’s cousin, if you are a citizen or a PR (permanent resident) of Singapore, your license looks slightly different.  Perhaps a color difference?  Or maybe you can tell just by the number…my license number is based off my dependent pass ID number, so there might be something in that series that identifies me as a legal alien as opposed to a citizen/PR.

To the right of my picture is the crescent moon and stars superimposed over an outline of Singapore.  The photo is a passport photo that I actually got to okay, which is a nice change from the mug shot look of  US licenses.

Ravi’s and my licenses here are provisional for a year.  We are kind of unclear as to whether or not that means we’re supposed to use the “learning driver” warning sticker in the front and rear windows like new drivers do, or if we’re exempted as we aren’t “NEW” drivers.  As we don’t have a car, it’s kind of moot, but it is an interesting sight.  It warns other drivers that regardless of your age, you’re a noob on the road, and to keep an eye out.

For my non-American friends, in the name of fairness, here is my Massachusetts driver’s license (not driving license, as we call them in Singapore).

In the US, each state issues driver’s licenses.  This can cause variation in how old you are when you’re first allowed to get a learner’s permit or a license.  If I recall correctly, it used to be that you could get a permit at 15 1/2 and a license at 16 when I was a kid, but it changed either just before or just after I turned 16, and is now (I believe) 16 for a permit and 16 1/2 to get a “junior operator” license, which means you can’t drive at certain hours or something.  I actually didn’t get my license until I was 18, so I skipped “drivers ed” classes in high school and all of that jr. operator stuff.  To the left, you can see the outline of my home state, Massachusetts in green.  The heart at the bottom right indicates that I have signed up as an organ donor, and if killed in a car accident, would alert the medics/hospital of this fact, giving them permission to take whatever could help others before it had been too long for them to successfully do so.  I don’t recall if Singapore has the same.

In case you’re curious, on my MA license picture I blanked out my number (I had the choice of using my social security number…the equivalent of an IC number or having a random one assigned…and have a random one), my full name and my address (even though the address on the front of my license is several addresses old) and my signature.

As Singapore doesn’t issue licenses to people under 18, which is also the legal drinking age, there isn’t a concern about trying to differentiate between legal and minor patrons at bars.  Most states in the US have different licenses for under 21 drivers and over 21 drivers–in MA it (at least the version when I was 21) said in big red letters “UNDER 21 UNTIL” and then a date.  Believe me, as someone who got her first license as 18, and spent 2 years after turning 21 with that same license, people don’t look at the date; they just see the red and hand it back to you saying “nice try, kid.”  This is in no way helped if, like me, you look younger than you really are.  They also carry other special security measures to make it harder to make fake ID cards, like the state seal that slightly overlaps both of my pictures on the license.

In the US, you don’t provide passport photos for your license…you go, do the paperwork and then stand awkwardly as the RMV or DMV (registry or department of motor vehicles, depending on your state) takes a terrible webcam shot of you for the license.  Hence, having a GOOD license picture is almost rarer than a unicorn sighting, although I have seen a few in my day.   I strongly prefer the passport photo approach in Singapore.

Wow…800+ words on licenses…who knew there was so much to say?

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4 Responses to Driving License!

  1. When I moved to France there are a handful of states that you can get a free transfer of your license. I’m from Kansas and it is one of those states. So if you apply within the first year of you moving there it’s done free with no classes needed. Thankfully I got mine done. They took my US one and now I have my French Drivers license which doesn’t expire. Even though we don’t have a car and I don’t really need it!

    • Crystal says:

      It lets you legally drive back in the states though. In MA, keeping a current license is the equivalent of declaring residency, which would then make us pay a shitload of state taxes we currently aren’t required to pay as non-residents. Singapore allows conversion within one year (we got in just under the wire for we are lazy and procrastinate) with the passage of the Basic theory test (which is an evil, evil, evil exam).

      What will be interesting is that where we move back to, once we decide to return to the US, requirements to get a license will be very different. Super easy in MA…basically a no questions asked conversion. NY state will require us to take a 5 hour course and (if I recall correctly) pass a written and practical exam (which doesn’t phase me…I lived in NYC for just under a year and regularly drive there…but does stroke me as a pain in the ass). Not sure what would happen if we ended up in another state.

  2. bookjunkie says:

    you look so young on your US license…were you like 15 or 16 then?

    Your Singapore one looks exactly the same as mine and I would think you would still need their provisional thingy on your car. Knowing how Singapore works it would probably apply to everyone even not really newbie drivers.

    • Crystal says:

      I think the picture was from age 23/24? I sort of remember having FAR too long hair at that age, and it obviously wasn’t being colored in a salon back then!

      Good to know it’s the same. Maybe it’s my cousin ID number that changed when she got her PR?

      And you make an excellent point that SG really doesn’t differentiate like that. Sigh.

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