Am I liable to pay GST? or Duties?

Now you have done all your online research and decided to buy some stuff online to save some cash for your daily necessities or your parties or even your new house renovation. When you arrange to send these stuff to your home in Singapore, are you liable to pay for GST or duties? Why are some forwarders charging GST while others are not? Can you avoid paying them? Is it alright for you to split your order into multiple small parcels to avoid paying GST?

What is considered as Imports?

An import refers to goods that are brought into Singapore from anywhere else in the world that passes through any of the customs checkpoint of Singapore. For purchases under a company name, please see our other article on this.

Goods (e.g. new or used articles, online purchases, gifts) imported by post or courier services are subject to payment of GST and/or duty. GST relief is granted on goods imported by post or air, excluding intoxicating liquors and tobacco, with a total Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value not exceeding S$400. Please note that GST relief is not granted for goods imported by other transport modes e.g. sea freight and land unless specified.

How to determine CIF value?

All goods consigned to the same importer and arriving in Singapore on the same flight are treated as a whole, even if the goods are covered by different freight documents. The importer is the party indicated as the consignee in the freight documents such as the House Airway Bill (HAWB) or consignment note. In cases where end buyers are named as the consignees in different consignment notes and the courier service company or freight forwarder is named as the consignee in the HAWB, each of the end buyers may be considered as an importer.

Where the insurance and freight charges are excluded from the value of the goods, importers may use the flat rates for freight and insurance provided by Singapore Customs to compute the customs value of the goods and determine the GST and/or duty payable. For goods imported by post, if the insurance and freight charges are excluded from the value of the goods, the postage charge paid shall be taken as the insurance and freight charges to be included in the CIF value of the goods and determination of the GST and/or duty payable.

As a general rule, even if the item is free, a value for customs purposes for all free items has to be stated for GST calculation and payment.

GST payable for postal parcels?

The addressee indicated on the postal parcels from overseas is deemed to be the importer. Goods imported by post or Speedpost services are processed and managed by Singapore Post (SingPost). The collection procedures for postal parcels would depend on the type of goods and CIF value.

If the goods are non-dutiable and non-controlled, there is a minimum GST relief of S$400.00. This means that if the GST value is less than S$400.00, you do not have to pay for GST. Any items that are dutiable or controlled, an import permit or license from the relevant authorities is / are required.

To facilitate clearance, the importer should arrange with the overseas sender to attach the invoice or confirmation slip (with the value of goods indicated) or Postal Convention Note (with the value of goods indicated) to the postal parcel for the computation of GST and/or duty payable.

It is not permissible for a postal parcel consigned to the same importer and arriving in Singapore on the same flight to be split into separate packages for tax assessment purposes.

If GST is payable, SingPost will contact you accordingly for the payment. If the goods are dutiable or controlled, you will be informed by SingPost to contact and follow up with the relevant authorities for the proper authorisation before collecting the postal parcel.

GST payable for courier parcels?

Similar to postal parcels, if the goods are non-dutiable and non-controlled, there is a minimum GST relief of S$400.00. Any items that are dutiable or controlled, an import permit or license from the relevant authorities is / are required.

It is again not permissible for a courier parcel consigned to the same importer and arriving in Singapore on the same flight to be split into separate packages for tax assessment purposes.

If GST is payable, the courier company will contact you accordingly for the payment. Prior arrangements have to be made with the courier companies before the shipment arrangement to avoid delays and relevant additional costs due to the delays. Please note that additional service fees for services rendered (i.e. customs clearance and documentation) may apply.

Where to pay GST?

For postal parcels, you can make payment at the ICA counter at Singapore Post Centre using NETS, CashCard, Visa/MasterCard or Inter-Bank GIRO. For GIRO payments, the addressee must first sign up for the Singapore Post GIRO scheme.

Alternatively, we can also help to apply for a Customs permit for clearance and payment of the postal parcels on your behalf. With the permit, you can then show it to ICA (for collection at SPC) or Singapore Post (for delivery) as proof of payment for the relevant GST and/or duty charges for your parcel.

For more information, please see below websites.

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