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  • 19 Feb 2021
  • Singapore
  • Importer of Records
  • Singapore
  • IOR
  • Trade
  • Import

Importing into Singapore with Importer of Records

Table of Contents:

Importing into Singapore with Importer of Records: Information for New Importers

Required Clearance Documents for Importing into Singapore

Complying with Regulations using IOR

Importing into Singapore with Importer of Record Services from GeTS

Singapore is one of the most vibrant economies in Asia and an ideal market for eCommerce businesses. If you are based in North America or Europe, exporting products to Singapore requires minimal documentation. Low-value shipments like eCommerce parcels transported by air are also free from duty and tax. Read on to learn more about importing into Singapore with Importer of Records (IOR).


Importing into Singapore with Importer of Records: Information for New Importers


All Singapore imports are subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST) and/or duty payment. Whether you need to pay GST and/or duty depends on the type of product you are importing. Goods that require GST and duty payment include liquors, tobacco, motor vehicles and petroleum products, and certain goods are subject to ad valorem or specific duty rates. All other products incur GST only, which is 7% of the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value. This includes all applicable duties and fees.


Customs Permits


Importers or their Declaring Agent must apply for a customs permit to declare the shipment and account for applicable fees. An importer is considered the party that imports the goods into Singapore for their own use or the use of another individual or entity. If you are an ecommerce retailer based in the U.S., for example, and you sold products to a Singapore business indicated on the invoice as the consignee, the Singapore business is the importer of the goods.


Some goods do not require a customs permit, including dutiable and non-dutiable goods imported by postal or courier service (unless required by Singapore Customs) and non-controlled goods imported by post, including investment precious metals. For the full list, visit the Singapore Customs website. Note that importers may still be required to pay duty and/or GST if there is no applicable duty-free rule for the goods.


Customs Permit Applications


Before importing goods into Singapore, you must register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or the relevant Unique Entity Number (UEN) issuance agency to obtain a UEN and activate your customs account. After activation, you can either appoint a third-party declaring agent to apply for customs permits on your behalf, or apply for customs permits for your own shipments or for other clients.


To apply for customs permits for your own shipments, you must register as a Declaring Agent and apply for a TradeNet user ID. Singapore Customs uses the TradeNet platform to process trade declarations and exchange information with the trading community. You can also submit customs permit applications via TradeNet software from a third-party solutions provider or via the government front-end application.


Required Clearance Documents for Importing into Singapore


Containerised Cargo


Provide the container number and shipper seal number when applying for a customs permit. For imports by air or land, you need to provide a copy of the customs permit and supporting documents (invoice, packing list and air waybill/consignment note) to checkpoint officers for clearance. You do not need to present the customs permit and supporting documents for imports by sea.


Conventional Cargo and Hand-Carried Goods


Provide the customs permit and supporting documents such as invoice, packing list and bill of lading/air waybill to checkpoint officers at the entry points for verification. If the shipment requires partial clearance, present the same customs permit for each endorsement.


Air Imports with GST Relief (including low-value ecommerce parcels)


Non-controlled and non-dutiable imports by air or post with a CIF not exceeding S$400 can enter Singapore free of GST. Air courier parcels that are cleared at the Changi Airfreight Centre (CAC) Checkpoint require a summary list, invoice, house air waybill (HAWB)/consignment note for each parcel. Note: GST must be paid for goods imported by land, sea or truck-flights for clearance at CAC Checkpoint, even if the CIF does not exceed S$400.


The summary list must include:

  • Company letterhead
  • Page number and total number of pages
  • List of items in alphabetical order with parcel tracking number/HAWB/reference number, outer packing number, consignee name and address, CIF in S$, and total CIF of all items with same parcel tracking number


Letter of undertaking from a company officer stating that:

  • Parcels in the summary list are non-controlled, non-dutiable and valued at S$400.00 or less
  • Parcels did not enter Singapore by land or sea
  • The company will pay any duty/GST for goods not covered by GST relief
  • Parcels are labelled with invoice and HAWB/consignment note


Complying with Regulations using IOR


All information submitted to Singapore Customs must be complete, true, and accurate. Failure to comply with documentation requirements and other regulations may lead to hefty fines and non-monetary penalties that could put you out of business. Minor offences may cost up to a maximum of $5,000 per offence, while serious or fraudulent cases may be prosecuted.


Some common errors that new importers should look out for are incorrect valuation of the goods (like omitting insurance charges and free gifts when declaring the GST), failure to produce shipment documentation when required by customs, failure to provide customs permits for clearance, failure to declare goods, and tampering or altering customs locks and seals on containers.


Overseas Exporters/Importers


Businesses based out of Singapore can easily export their goods provided all Singapore Customs requirements are met. If you do not have a physical presence in Singapore, are entering the Singapore ecommerce market for the first time, are looking to sell products without setting up as a distributor, or you are an international franchiser supplying goods to a local franchisee, you can work with a local declaring agent or third-party solutions provider like Global eTrade Services (GeTS) to streamline trade declaration and accounting.


Importing into Singapore with Importer of Record Services from GeTS

Importing into Singapore with Importer of Record Services from GeTS

GeTS provides intelligent trade and compliance solutions to help global businesses succeed in ecommerce. GeTS Importer of Record (IOR) services are ideal for traders based outside of Singapore.


GeTS IOR services include:

  • IOR Named services
  • Import and Export Customs Declaration
  • GST and Duty payment
  • Quarterly IRAS Tax Filing
  • Shipment inspection and coordination
  • Clearance services (working with freight forwarders and truckers)


Why use GeTS IOR services?


We act on your behalf.


Even if you are based overseas, we act as your Declaring Agent so you can clear imports/exports quickly and efficiently. Our comprehensive services cover everything from the preparation and submission of customs permits to filing of quarterly taxes. Using advanced front-end software, we help you obtain permit approvals for high-volume shipments in minutes. We respond to customs messages, amend submissions as needed, and provide up-to-date shipment status and other important notifications.


We liaise with freight forwarders, truckers and other local partners.


To ensure fast and smooth delivery of shipments to your customers, we work with local transport providers, freight forwarders, handling agents and government agencies. We also provide logistics consolidation, cargo insurance, cross-border payments and other services through curated partners.


We handle GST/Duty payments and accounting.


Customs payments and accounting can get complicated. We handle goods valuation and GST/duty payments on behalf of overseas principals so you can focus on your core business. Accurate valuation ensures compliance and quick cargo release.


We provide seamless solutions that complements the FBA programme.


Are you using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) or want to get started? GeTS provides expert advisory consultation from the country of origin, as well as facilitating in customs clearance and last mile delivery services in Singapore.


To learn more, visit our page on importing into Singapore with Importer of Records or contact us today!