How to Import from China to Singapore: Duties, Permits, and Customs Clearance

Basic knowledge import offers beginners a brief overview of the import law of the Southeast Asian country. In addition to information on the customs clearance procedure, the brief description contains information on customs duties and additional import charges, import licenses / permits, labeling and marking regulations as well as certification / norms and standards.

Import duties and other import duties

Singapore is a member of the WTO. Free trade agreements exist with the countries of the Southeast Asian community of states ASEAN as the Southeast Asian Free Trade Area (AFTA) and within the framework of the ASEAN + 1 agreements with China, Korea (Rep.), Japan, India and Australia / New Zealand. In addition, there is a free trade agreement with the USA. According to an opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dated May 20, 2017, the negotiated EU-Singapore free trade agreement requires the approval of the national parliaments. Import duties and / or excise taxes are only levied in Singapore on alcoholic beverages and liquids, tobacco products, motor vehicles and petroleum products. All other import goods are exempt from customs duties and excise duties. In contrast, the Singaporean sales tax (Goods and Services Tax – GST) is generally due for all goods imports. The tax rate is currently 7%.

Customs clearance

The digital platform TradeNet® can be used for commercial goods imports into Singapore. The importer must have activated a customs account with the customs administration via TradeNet® with a “Unique Entity Number (UEN)”. Apart from a few exceptions, an application for an import permit (customs import permit) must be submitted via TradeNet® for every import of goods. The importer can also be represented by customs agents registered with the customs administration.

Import restrictions

For a number of goods (“controlled goods”) an import permit from the competent authority in Singapore is required in addition to the import permit: live animals and goods of animal origin, vegetable products, natural sands of all kinds, gravel and crushed stones, various pharmaceutical products, radioactive materials and radiation devices (e.g. X-ray devices), poisons and hazardous substances, toxic chemicals and preliminary products, pesticides, certain primary batteries, etc.

Shipping documents

Various documents are required for customs clearance, such as: signed commercial invoice (3 copies) in English with all customary information: packages (brand, number, number, type), exact description of goods, weight (gross, net), value (fob, possibly cif), possibly granted discounts, etc. (source: K and M consulate and model regulations, publisher Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, 41st edition, p. 435); Packing lists with a detailed overview of the packages; Bill of lading or air waybill, non-preferential certificates of origin (IHK certificates of origin) are generally not required, but can be requested in individual cases; if necessary, further evidence such as a health certificate or phytosanitary certificate; possibly.

Labeling and identification regulations, packaging

All packaged food must be labeled in English with the following minimum information: Name of the product, ingredients and additives, volume or net weight, country of origin, name and address of the importer, sales company or agent in Singapore. Further information depends on the product. The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority is responsible in Singapore.

In order to kill harmful organisms, packaging wood must first be subjected to a heat treatment or chemical treatment (ISPM 15 standard).

Import bans

There is an import ban on chewing gum (with the exception of medical dental care chewing gum approved by the health authorities), chewing tobacco, prohibited telecommunication equipment such as radio communication equipment in the frequency bands 880-915MHz, 925-960MHz, 1900-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz with the exception of cell phones or other officially approved telecommunications equipment, fireworks, etc.

Certification / norms and standards

For the placing on the market or the commissioning of 45 categories of consumer goods such as electrical household appliances (e.g. irons, washing machines), other electronics (e.g. PC monitors, PC printers, DVD / VCD / CD players) and certain gas appliances, according to the regulations of For consumer protection, a conformity assessment by the accredited bodies (Conformity Assessment Bodies) is required in advance. The SPRING Singapore authority in the department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is responsible for the procedure. The internationally recognized standards (ISO / IEC) apply in Singapore to mechanical engineering products and electrotechnical goods. According to the Environmental Protection and Energy Saving Act, registration and labeling regulations for air conditioning systems, refrigerators, dryers, televisions and energy-saving lamps must be observed.

Singapore Customs Administration:


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