HomeGuide to Import into Singapore

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With an advantageous geographical location and proximity to emerging markets, Singapore is a stepping stone to reach out to other countries in the Asia Pacific effectively. As the world’s top trading and transportation hub, Singapore has extensive air and sea connectivity, making it easier and more convenient for business when it comes to trade.

Here is a quick guide on import procedures to import and expand your business activities to Singapore.

Import procedures can be quite complex, and the preparation to apply for import permits and paperwork for controlled goods can be tedious.

Import4U is here to help you overcome these challenges. Connect with our team of experts for advice to import into Singapore.

Step 1 – Register and Activate Customs Account

You must first register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or the relevant Unique Entity Number (UEN) issuance agency to obtain a UEN; to activate its Customs Account.

Step 2 – Check if your Goods are Controlled

Before importing your goods into Singapore, check if your goods are controlled goods or goods subject to Competent Authorities (CAs) restrictions in Singapore. If your goods are subject to control, they must be authorized by the respective CA, which will be indicated next to the goods’ Harmonized System (HS) code on the Singapore Customs’ database. If you need advice on your goods’ HS code, you may apply for an official classification ruling for Singapore.

Step 3 – Apply for Inter-Bank GIRO Account

Importers must have an Inter-Bank GIRO (General Interbank Recurring Order) account with Singapore Customs to pay for GST and other customs fees. To apply for Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG), you need to complete the IBG form and mail it to Singapore Customs. Once your import permit is approved, the respective payment for GST and, if applicable, duties and other fees will be deducted directly from your bank account through IBG.

Step 4 – Furnish Security

Importers are obligated to furnish security for transactions involving dutiable goods, temporary import of goods for approved purposes, and the operation of licensed premises such as licensed warehouses and excise factories. Banker’s guarantee, finance company guarantee, and insurance bond are accepted as security.

Step 5 – Apply for Customs Import Permit

Importers may apply for customs permits themselves or appoint a declaring agent to act on their behalf. All permit applications are submitted online through the TradeNet system.

Step 6 – Prepare Documents for Cargo Clearance

At the entry points, checkpoint officers will be checking your customs permit and various supporting documents.

For both conventional cargo and containerized cargo, a printed copy of the customs permit and supporting documents such as invoice, packing list, and Bill of Lading/Air Waybill, are required for verification.

However, if you import containerized cargo by sea, you do not need to present the documents’ printed copy to the checkpoint officers.

Step 7 - Retain your Trade Documents

Keep all the relevant supporting documents of your imports for a period of 5 years from the date of the permit application approval. These documents can be in the form of hard copies or digital and submitted to Singapore Customs upon request.

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