How to Import Goods?

Now you have done all your research and decided to start your own business. You have registered your company with ACRA. You also have a Unique Entity Number (UEN) for your company. What should you do next?
If you are getting all your stock locally, there won’t be much issues. However if you are venturing to get your stock from overseas, what should you do? What do you need to take note when arranging to import goods?
Other than getting your company registered with ACRA, you have to get your company registered with Singapore Customs. This is to ensure that your company has the proper licenses to trade. UEN is your company’s business registration number which all the government departments use to identify your company.

What are Imports?

An import refers to goods brought into a customs territory from an entry point or a free trade zone (FTZ). It can also mean overseas goods brought into a FTZ for storage and pending re-export. To import goods into Singapore, you are required to make a declaration to Singapore Customs. Goods and Services Tax (GST) is payable on non-dutiable goods. Most of the goods imported will be under this category. Both GST and duty are payable for dutiable goods if these goods are imported for local consumption. Dutiable goods are vehicles, alcohol, cigarettes and petroleum related products. Usually for these items, both duty and GST are applicable.

How to arrange Import?

As a general rule, all imported goods are required to pay GST unless you have special licenses or exemption from certain authorities. Do also take note that the value to base the GST on is the cost of the goods including the Insurance and Freight to send the goods to Singapore.

What can be imported?

With your company’s UEN, you need to activate your company’s account with Singapore Customs. (Activate Customs Account) As with any country, there are certain goods that are controlled goods or goods subject to restrictions by relevant Competent Authorities (CAs) in Singapore. Do check using the description of the goods, HS code or CA product code. (Check) If the proposed imported item is subject to control, you can find the name of the CA indicated next to its HS code. You may check directly with the respective CAs on their licensing requirements. The relevant contact numbers and emails are also readily available together with the CAs in charge of the said item.

Should I handle on my own or engage a declaring agent?

If you intent to do major imports and exports of goods, it makes more economic sense to have your company’s own bank account with Singapore Customs. This is for the direct payment of duties, GST or other miscellaneous fees. Then you can authorise your declaring agent to deduct the payment directly from your giro account.

Your declaring agent pays the relevant duties and GST on your company’s behalf. This is only if you do not maintain a giro account with Singapore Customs. Do also note your declaring agent may have deduction limits on their account. They may also charge a fee for using their giro facilities.

Similarly if you are intending to major in imports and exports of your goods, it is more economical to do your own declaration for the customs permit. Otherwise, it is easier to engage a declaring agent for assistance in declaring the permit with fees involved. All permits have a validity period. You have to ensure the validity of the permit presented for goods clearance at any customs checkpoint. Do take note that checkpoint officers require relevant supporting documents presented to them for verification together with the customs import permit. Supporting documents refer to invoice, packing list and Bill of Lading/Air Waybill.

How long is it required to keep relevant documents?

As a general guideline, importers need to keep all relevant documents for a period of 5 years from the date of the customs permit approval. Do also note that you are required to produce these supporting documents to Singapore Customs upon request.

For more information, please see below websites.

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