What is considered as Imports?
Any goods brought into Singapore from anywhere else in the world are imports. The goods or parcel 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 Goods and Services Tax (GST) and/or duty. Any goods imported by post or air with a total Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value not exceeding S$400 has GST relief granted. However, this relief do not apply to intoxicating liquors and tobacco products. For goods imported by other transport modes e.g. sea freight and land unless specified, there is also no GST relief granted.
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 shipment. This is so even if the goods are covered by different freight documents. The importer is the party indicated as the consignee in the freight documents. Freight documents can be the House Airway Bill (HAWB) or consignment note. If the courier service company or freight forwarder is named as the consignee in the HAWB, the end buyers stated on consignment note may be considered as an importer.
As a guide, Singapore Customs provides flat rates for freight and insurance for the computation the customs value of the goods. If the insurance and freight charges are excluded from the value of the goods, importers may use these flat rates to determine the GST and/or duty payable. For goods imported by post, the insurance and freight charges is to be added to the value of the goods. If not available, the postage charge paid will be used and included in the CIF value of the goods to determine the GST and/or duty payable.
As a general rule, a value for customs purposes for all free items has to be stated for GST calculation and payment. This is required even if the item is free.
Pay GST for postal parcels?
The addressee indicated on the postal parcels from overseas is deemed to be the importer. Goods imported by post or Speed post services are processed and managed by Singapore Post (Sing Post). 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. This means that if the GST value is less than S$400, you do not have to pay for GST. For any items that are dutiable or controlled, an import permit or license from the relevant authorities is / are required. This is in addition to the GST payment.
The importer should arrange with the overseas sender to attach the invoice, confirmation slip or Postal Convention Note. The invoice, confirmation slip or Postal Convention Note needs to indicate the value of goods. This helps to facilitate clearance and computation of GST and/or duty payable.
It is not allowed to split a postal parcel into separate small packages for tax assessment purposes. If all the packages are consigned to the same importer and on the same arriving flight, it will be considered as one parcel.
If GST is payable, Sing Post will contact you accordingly for the GST payment. Sing Post will also contact you accordingly if the goods are dutiable or controlled. You need to follow up with the relevant authorities accordingly for the proper additional authorisation. This has to be done before collecting the postal parcel.
Pay GST for courier parcels?
Similar to postal parcels, there is a minimum GST relief of S$400. This does not apply if the goods are dutiable and controlled. Any items that are dutiable or controlled, an import permit or license from the relevant authorities is / are required.
Similar to postal parcels, it is not allowed to split into separate small packages for tax assessment purposes. If all the packages are consigned to the same importer and on the same arriving flight, it will be considered as one package.
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 arranging the shipment. This is to avoid delays and relevant additional costs due to the documentation or processing 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. Payment is by using NETS, Cash Card, 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 assist to apply for a Customs GST permit for clearance and payment of the postal parcels on your behalf. With the permit, you can then show it to relevant agents. They are ICA (for collection at Singapore Post Centre) or Singapore Post (for delivery). This will also act as proof of payment for the relevant GST and/or duty charges for your parcel.