Timothy Tye
Certificate of Entitlement for Cars in Singapore

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The Certificate of Entitlement or COE is a document introduced by the government of Singapore in May 1990 to cap the number of cars on the roads in the island nation. The government limits the growth of vehicles on the road to not more than 3% per year.

The number of certificates issued every month is restricted to prevent the roads in the country from getting congested. Potential car buyers have to bid for the COE. The number of COEs released is based on the number of old cars taken off the road.

There are five categories of Certificate of Entitlement. They are:
  1. Category A: Cars 1600 cc and below, and taxis
  2. Category B: Cars 1601 cc and above
  3. Category C: Good vehicles and buses
  4. Category D: Motorcycles
  5. Category E: Open Category
COEs in categories A, B and D are non-transferable, meaning the COE cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another. The COE under these categories follow the vehicle when it changes ownership.

To bid, a potential car owner keys in a reserve price, which is the maximum he is willing to pay for a COE. This can be done via phone banking, ATM and Internet banking. The following are the options available:
  1. Land Transport Authority Phone System: call 6362 1465
  2. LTA Open Bidding Website: https://ocoe.lta.gov.sg
  3. Citibank Internet Banking: www.citibank.com.sg
  4. OCBC Phone Banking: 1800 363 3333
  5. UOB Internet Banking: www.uobgroup.com
Bidding for COEs are done on the first and third Monday of every month. The results are then published in the newspaper as well as on One Motoring, a website maintained by the Land Transport Authority.

As an example, at time of writing (August 2012), there is a quota of 421 for Category A. For the biding exercise ending 8 August, 724 bids were received for Category A cars, of which 415 were successful, 309 unsuccessful and 6 unused. The Quota Premium stands at S$73,501. That is the highest unsuccessful bid price plus S$1, and represents the price of the Certificate of Entitlement to own a Category A car.

The Certificate of Entitlement is valid for 10 years after you register your car. At the end of the 10 years, if you wish to keep the car, you can bid for another COE at the prevailing rate, allowing you to use the car for a further 5 or 10 years, after which it is no longer renewable.

There are about 20,000 cars deregistered from the roads every six months. With about 800,000 registered cars on the roads in Singapore, and allowing for a growth of 1.5% every six months, the COE quota was around 26,000 in 2010. However, the government intends to reduce the growth from 1.5% to just 1.0% in 2012, meaning the number of COEs available in 2012 and the immediate future will also be reduced.
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