5 Facts About The Legality of Sky Lanterns in Singapore


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Singaporeans are brought together by several things — good food, good lobang, and not-so-good lobang.

This time, after Singaporeans were “robbed” of what was meant to be a beautiful show of sky lanterns at the Sky Lantern Festival, we saw a stunning show of solidarity from Singaporeans on social media sites ranting about the Sky Lantern Festival instead.

If you haven’t already heard of the Sky Lantern Festival saga, you can find out more here. In essence, Singaporeans paid for tickets to a Sky Lantern Festival, thinking they could release sky lanterns, but surprise — the lantern release was abruptly cancelled.

The funny thing about the whole saga is this: sky lanterns are legal in Singapore, albeit with a set of laws applying. Here are five facts about the legality of sky lanterns in Singapore.

The Free Release of Sky Lanterns is Illegal; The Release of Tethered Sky Lanterns is Not So Illegal

Let’s start with the basics by drawing a fundamental distinction between sky lanterns’ free release and tethered sky lanterns’ release.

And no, we don’t mean “free” as in free-of-charge or a free char kway teow bought using your CDC vouchers. We mean “free”, as in the sky lantern is free to fly anywhere, like the release of sky lanterns on your holiday in Taiwan.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the free release of sky lanterns is prohibited. However, the release of tethered sky lanterns is good to go as long as other conditions are adequately fulfilled.

So, as long as your lanterns are stuck to the ground, you’ll probably have a better shot of your sky lantern event flying by the authorities lah (pun intended).

The rationale behind prohibiting the free release of sky lanterns is simple — there are many “things” in the sky. Be it aircraft or birds, sky lanterns pose several dangers to these “things” in the sky when released freely.

For one, the sky lantern could be ingested by aircraft engines or distract aircraft pilots during take-off or landing.

Yes, some people have actual jobs to do even while you’re writing wishes in your half-broken Mandarin on a sky lantern.

On the other hand, the release of sky lanterns may be allowed where the lanterns are adequately tethered to the ground — this ensures the lanterns won’t drift off and give a bird in the sky a heart attack.

The tethers must also be sufficiently strong such that the lantern won’t break free from the tethers and give Chang’e a jumpscare this early in the year.

The Sky Lantern Festival was initially supposed to tether the sky lanterns to the ground for release. However, a site inspection done by SCDF on the day of the Sky Lantern Festival revealed that the tethers were not proper.

A trial run two days before the event also revealed other safety concerns. For one, a lantern candle ignited a small fire on the artificial grass.

I guess that foreshadowed Singaporeans’ fiery rage. Perhaps the organisers should consider switching careers to become fortune tellers.


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Tethered Sky Lanterns Can Only Be Released During Certain Periods

However, for your sky lantern event to be legal, the CAAS requires other conditions to be fulfilled beyond the tethering of the sky lanterns.

One such condition is when you may release your sky lantern.

On weekdays (i.e., Mondays to Fridays), tethered sky lanterns can only be released between 7 pm and 7 am the next day.

Otherwise, the lanterns may only be released from 1 pm on Saturdays to 7 am on Mondays and public holidays.

If you suaku, this means you can release sky lanterns through the weekends and on public holidays, as long as you’re not releasing your sky lantern between 7 am and 1 pm on Saturday (assuming you’re even awake on a Saturday morning).


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It makes sense lah — you release sky lanterns in the day for what? Cannot even see sia.

You Have to Apply for a Permit from CAAS and SCDF

That’s far from the end of the list of conditions you must meet to legally release sky lanterns.

Aiya, at this point, just book a flight to Taiwan and release your sky lanterns there lah.

According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), you must apply for clearances from CAAS and SCDF to release your sky lanterns — even if your lanterns are properly tethered and released only during the allowed periods.

However, according to the CAAS website, it seems that you only have to apply for a permit (one type of “clearance” as opposed to another, which we will explain later) if you’re releasing the sky lantern in certain areas.

If you’re releasing sky lanterns in the areas demarcated in red below, you definitely have to apply for a permit from CAAS.


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Image: CAAS

It seems like the west side is getting away with having to apply for a CAAS permit. Perhaps the west side really is the best side.

But the thing is this — even if you’re a lucky Clementi resident who doesn’t fall within the areas demarcated in red on the map, you must also apply for a CAAS permit if you’re releasing the sky lantern higher than 200 feet above mean sea level.

And if you, the lucky Clementi resident, are sure that your sky lantern release is below 200 feet above mean sea level, it doesn’t matter anyway — you still have to notify CAAS through email about your sky lantern release.

So, the gist is that no matter what, you still have to contact CAAS for clearance on your sky lantern release lah. It’s just a matter of whether you’re applying for a permit to release or merely notifying CAAS of the release.

One last thing to note regarding the legality of sky lanterns in Singapore, concerning obtaining clearances from CAAS in particular, is that your applications for clearance must be submitted at least seven working days before the intended release of tethered sky lanterns. This is regardless of whether you’ll be applying for a permit to release or merely notifying CAAS of the release.


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You can click here to apply for a permit to release sky lanterns.

To notify CAAS of your intended release of sky lanterns, you can email them at [email protected]. Don’t try to contact them on LinkedIn, by pigeon, or anything else.

You Must Also Have Safety Marshals On-Site With Fire Extinguishers to Supervise the Event

How do your sky lanterns fly? It’s because of the hot air generated by the lantern candle in the sky lantern. Essentially, your sky lantern works kind of like a hot air balloon.

So, if you want to play with fire (pun intended, again) and organise a sky lantern event, you best believe that one of the conditions you must meet is to have safety marshals on-site with fire extinguishers to supervise the event.

These safety marshals are responsible for ensuring lanterns are not intentionally or inadvertently released into the air (depending on how sohai of a Singaporean you are) and for dealing with fire-related contingencies.

In the context of the recent Sky Lantern Festival, a big part of it was ensuring Sentosa didn’t become a black spot on the little red dot lah.

That’s one of the reasons why the Sky Lantern Festival failed — SCDF conducted a site inspection on the event date and found that aside from the failure to provide proper tethers for the sky lanterns, safety marshals and fire extinguishers were not present.

We must say this — the organisers were setting themselves up for failure here.


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An Organiser of Sky Lantern Release Events is Allowed to Release a Maximum of 100 Tethered Sky Lanterns

If you’ve reached this point in the article, congratulations on abiding by all the extensive laws above for the sky lantern release. Your final step in ensuring your sky lantern release will be 100% legal is ensuring that you don’t release too many sky lanterns.

Sounds simple, right? But it’s not so simple when you’re running an event that every FOMO Singaporean wants to attend so they can “act cool” on their Instagram stories.

According to SCDF, an organiser of sky lantern release events can only release up to five batches of sky lanterns. One batch of sky lanterns equates to 20 tethered sky lanterns — this means you can only release 100 tethered sky lanterns at the maximum.

If you were the unfortunate organiser of the Sky Lantern Festival, all we can say is that you’ve earned our respect with your OT lah.

If you want to find out more about the legality of releasing sky lanterns in Singapore, Goody Feed’s Blue Cat explains it in this video here: