5 minutes

Singapore Imports And Exports for Your Singapore Business

singapore imports and exports

Singapore’s strategic location and robust economy make it an ideal hub for international trade. Because of this, understanding the customs processes and regulations surrounding Singapore imports and exports is crucial for successful international trade operations. 

This article will delve into the key aspects of Singapore imports and exports. We’ll cover the essential steps, requirements, and considerations for smooth customs processes. We’ve got you covered, from import declarations and duty payments to export declarations and the benefits of exporting from Singapore.

Step 1: Register with ACRA

To carry out operations related to Singapore imports and exports, as well as get the necessary permits or certifications, your firm must register with ACRA or the agency issuing the Unique Entity Number (UEN).

Through this registration, you will receive a UEN, a nine or 10-digit identification number that enables convenient interactions with government agencies for trade-related activities. 

Registering with ACRA establishes the transparency and legality of your business, instilling trust among stakeholders and unlocking many opportunities in Singapore’s business-friendly environment.

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Step 2: Activate Your Customs Account

Next, it is crucial to activate your customs account. The activation process can be completed conveniently through the Singapore Customs online portal, typically taking around 15 minutes. 

Activating your customs account allows your entity to effectively transact with the Customs when it comes to Singapore imports and exports. It also allows you to sign up for free notification alerts, ensuring you stay informed whenever permits under your Unique Entity Number (UEN) are approved by TradeNet.

Step 3: Verify the Controlled Status of the Goods

When it comes to Singapore imports and exports, you must check if the importing or exporting items are restricted by Singapore’s Competent Authorities (CAs) or come under the category of controlled goods.

On TradeNet, you can search using the product’s description, Harmonized System (HS) code, or CA product code to determine if your items are restricted. The name of the relevant CA will be included next to the HS code if the products are subject to control. Directly contacting the relevant CAs is advised for proper license requirements.

You can get an official classification ruling for Singapore imports and exports if you need assistance determining the 8-digit HS code for your goods. This service, priced at S$75 per product, offers expert advice on the HS code. Note that this service is only applicable within Singapore.

Step 4: Apply for an Inter-Bank GIRO Account

Applying for an Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) account is highly recommended to streamline payment processes for your Singapore imports and exports. By maintaining an IBG, you can conduct smooth electronic transactions and pay Singapore Customs directly from your bank account for taxes, duties, fees, fines, and other costs related to customs-related operations.

Fill out the Application for Inter-Bank GIRO form and mail it to the designated Singapore Customs address to request an IBG. Additionally, from the day after your IBG application is granted, you can give your Declaring Agent permission to utilize your IBG to make duty and GST payments related to your customs permit. If you don’t keep one on file with Singapore Customs, the duties and GST will be taken from your Declaring Agent’s IBG.

Step 5: Obtain Customs Permit for Singapore Imports and Exports

You have two options for obtaining customs permits for your Singapore imports and exports. Firstly, you can designate a Declaring Agent to handle the application process for import or export permits from customs on your behalf. In addition, you might also need to apply for an import license, if required, depending on your product.

Alternatively, you can apply for a customs permit, whether for your own company or on behalf of a client. To apply, your company must first register as a Declaring Agent and obtain a TradeNet user ID. Do note that an individual must be a Declarant to obtain a TradeNet user ID. 

To submit permit requests, you can access TradeNet, the platform used for customs-related transactions. TradeNet can be accessed through two methods: utilizing front-end TradeNet software from a certified software provider or accessing the front-end application provided by the government. 

Refer to the relevant guidelines for detailed information on permits, documentation, and other fees relating to Singapore imports and exports. It’s important to note that declaring agents may charge additional service fees. We recommend checking with your appointed declaring agent for the charges involved.

Step 6: Prepare Documentation for Cargo Clearance

Here are important things to know when it comes to preparing documents for the cargo clearance of your Singapore imports and exports.


When clearing cargo at an entry point, submit the required documents to checkpoint officers.

For containerized cargo imports by sea, immediate presentation of printed customs permits and supporting documents is unnecessary. For imports by air or land, present the customs permit and supporting documents for verification.

Provide goods, the printed customs permit, and any necessary supporting documentation for imports of conventional cargo.

Use the same customs permit for endorsement as long as your shipment needs partial clearance if that’s the case. Note that the checkpoints at Woodlands and Tuas do not permit partial clearance.


Present specific documentation when submitting goods for export based on the permit’s requirements or whether the shipment is subject to duty.

For the export of containerized cargo, present the authorized customs export permit and any accompanying documentation. The permit number should always be accessible.

For the export of conventional cargo, present the authorized customs export permit and any accompanying documentation.

Goods leaving the checkpoints at Tuas and Woodlands cannot receive partial clearance. An individual permit application is required for each cargo container or vehicle.

Ensure you have the documents ready for cargo clearance to facilitate efficient import and export operations. Compliance with these requirements avoids delays and ensures a smooth customs clearance process.

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How We Can Help: Our Company Incorporation Service

At Premia TNC, we specialize in providing a comprehensive company incorporation service tailored to your specific needs.

With our deep understanding of Singapore’s import and export landscape, we are well-equipped to guide you through the process. Our experienced team is well-versed in the requirements set by ACRA, ensuring a seamless and efficient incorporation journey.

From document preparation to liaising with government agencies, we handle the intricacies of the process, allowing you to focus on your core business activities. Our personalized approach ensures that we provide the guidance and support you need at every step.

Ready to start the process? Contact us today for a FREE consultation, where our experts will assess your specific needs and provide personalized advice tailored to your business. Take the first step towards successful company incorporation in Singapore with Premia TNC.

Singapore Imports and Exports – FAQs

1. What are the benefits of engaging in Singapore imports and exports?

Singapore offers numerous advantages for businesses involved in imports and exports. These include its strategic location, excellent infrastructure, efficient customs processes, strong legal framework, and business-friendly environment. Additionally, Singapore’s extensive network of free trade agreements provides access to global markets and enhances trade opportunities.

2. Are there any restrictions on exporting goods from Singapore?

Singapore maintains an open and liberal trade policy with minimal export restrictions. However, certain items, such as strategic goods, controlled chemicals, or cultural artifacts, may require export permits from the appropriate government agencies.

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