A cross-border guide to Singaporean ecommerce, shipping, and importing goods
If you are looking to grow your ecommerce business into Singapore , you’ve come to the right place. In our guide, created by Zonos' cross-border experts, you will find the following:
Ease of doing business 5/5
- With global online payment methods and minimal paperwork needed, Singapore is a fairly easy choice for doing international business.
- Singapore’s membership in the World Trade Organization makes doing business freer between member countries.
Landed cost fairness 4/5
- A fair import tax rate and 99% of imports into Singapore being duty free make for a favorable landed cost.
- Singapore’s relatively high duty and tax de minimis makes it easier for businesses to keep landed costs low.
Flexibility of legal regulations 3/5
- There are only a few strict legal regulations when importing into Singapore in addition to the tax registration requirements for businesses that meet the criteria (discussed below).
Availability and accessibility of shipping 5/5
- All major global couriers ship to Singapore making it accessible for international shipments.
Accessibility and variety of payment methods 5/5
- Singapore accepts a variety of internationally-accepted payment methods, making it easy for Singaporean shoppers to purchase anywhere in the world.
Market opportunity 4/5
- More than half of Singapore’s population shops online, and the majority of these purchases are through popular worldwide ecommerce categories, making Singapore a good international market choice.
|Population||5.64 million (2022)|
|GDP||423 billion USD (2022)|
|GDP per capita||79,436 USD (2022)|
|Internet penetration||92% of the population use the internet (2022)|
|Ecommerce users||62% of the population shop online (2022)|
|Leading product categories||Electronics, fashion, toys, beauty, and personal care products|
|Preferred online payment method(s)||Debit and credit cards and online payment gateways (PayPal, DBS PayLah, etc.)|
|Languages||English, Tamil, Malay, and Mandarin Chinese|
The landed cost for a cross-border transaction includes all duties, taxes, and fees associated with the purchase. This includes:
- Fees (currency conversion, carrier, broker, customs, or government fees)
Singaporean de minimis, tax, and duty
CIF: CIF (cost, insurance, freight) is a valuation method for calculating import taxes where the tax is calculated on the cost of the goods plus the cost of freight, insurance, and seller's commission.
Duty and tax de minimis
- Duty and tax de minimis: 400 SGD
Applied to the CIF value of the order
De minimis value
Duty and tax will be charged on imports into Singapore where the total CIF value of the import exceeds Singapore’s minimum value threshold (de minimis), which is 400 SGD. Anything under the tax de minimis value will be considered a tax-free import, and anything under the duty de minimis value will be considered a duty-free import.
A 8% GST is levied on imports into Singapore if the CIF value of the order exceeds 400 SGD.
Only larger retailers are affected by the low-value tax change. If your business sells, or expects to sell, more than 100k SGD (cost of goods only) worth of low-value goods into Singapore within a 12-month period or you sell, or expect to sell, more than 1M SGD (CIF) globally within a 12-month period must a register, collect, and remit GST on all orders into Singapore. Additionally, the 400 SGD de minimis is removed for retailers who exceed the above sales. The de minimis remains for retailers who do not meet the registration thresholds.
- Standard rate for most imports: 0%
Applied to the CIF value of the order or based on volume of the goods
99% of imports into Singapore are duty free. Exceptions, due to social and/or environmental reasons, are intoxicating liquor, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and petroleum products. These goods may incur customs and excise duties. Here are some examples:
|Product||Customs duty||Excise duty|
|Stout or porter of alcoholic strength not exceeding 5.8% vol||$16.00 per litre of alcohol||$60.00 per litre of alcohol|
|Non CKD sedan with both compression-ignition combustion diesel or semi-diesel engine and electric motor over 1500cc but not over 1800cc charged by external electric source||N/A||20%|
|Tobacco unmanufactured partly or wholly stemmed or stripped Virginia type not flue cured||N/A||$388.00 per kgm|
Landed cost examples
Below are sample landed cost breakdowns for Singapore calculated using Zonos Quoter. The example landed cost for a shipment to Singapor over the de minimis shows that no duty is charged becuase the average duty rate for shipments to Singapore is 0%:
Landed cost for a shipment to Singapore below the de minimis:
Landed cost for a shipment to Singapore above the de minimis:
Singapore has at least 27 trade agreements that offer a zero or highly discounted duty rate for goods made in participating countries.
Singapore is a member of the World Trade Organization
Singapore is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Therefore, Singapore must abide by the most-favored-nation (MFN) clause, which requires a country to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation in a trade agreement to all other WTO member countries. For example, if a country reduces duties by 10% for one country, the MFN clause states that all WTO members will have their duties cut by 10% in that country.
Singapore’s Customs authority
Customs refund in Singapore
Talk to your carrier about customs refunds.
Top courier services:
- DHL Express
Depending on the courier, additional shipping fees may include:
- Fuel surcharge
- Remote delivery charge
- Signature fee
- Overweight or oversized fee
- Special handling fee
- Dangerous goods fee
Documentation and paperwork
Customs permit for the following goods:
- Animals, birds, and their by-products
- Endangered species of wildlife and their by-products
- Meat and meat products
- Fish and seafood products
- Fruits and vegetables
- Arms and explosives
- Bullet-proof clothing
- Toy guns, pistols, and revolvers
- Weapons, spears, and swords
- Films, video, and video games
- Publications and audio records
- Telecommunication and radio communication equipment
Restricted, prohibited, and controlled items
Government agencies regulate imports.
Restricted items are different from prohibited items. Prohibited items are not allowed to be imported into a country at all. Restricted items are not allowed to be imported into a country unless the importer has approval or a special license that allows them. Controlled goods have military or national security significance.
The following are the Singaporean authorities and the goods that they prohibit, restrict, and/or control:
- Chewing gum (excluding Health Sciences Authority-approved oral, dental, and medicinal chewing gum)
Arms & Explosives Division, General Licensing Division, Police Licensing & Regulatory Department, Singapore Police Force
- Pistol or revolver-shaped cigarette lighters
National Parks Board
- Rhinoceros horns (worked, unworked, or prepared and any part, power, or waste of such horn)
- Endangered species of wildlife and products derived from the body of such animals
Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore
- Telecommunication equipment
(examples of prohibited telecommunication equipment)
- Scanning receivers
- Military communication equipment
- Telephone voice changing equipment
- Radio-communication equipment operating in frequency bands 880-915 MHz, 925-960 MHz, 1900-1980 MHz, and 2110-2170 MHz except for cellular mobile phones or such other equipment approved by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore
- Radio-communication jamming devices operating in any frequency band
- Obscene articles, publications, and videotapes or discs
- Seditious and treasonable materials
- Telecommunication equipment
Tobacco Regulation Branch, Health Sciences Authority
- Chewing tobacco (loose leaf chewing tobacco, plug chewing tobacco, twist chewing tobacco, tobacco bits intended for chewing)
- Imitation tobacco products (electronic cigarettes, vaporizers) and components of imitation tobacco products
- Smokeless cigars, smokeless cigarillos, or smokeless cigarettes
- Dissolvable tobacco or nicotine
- Any product containing nicotine or tobacco that may be applied topically, implanted, or injected into any part of the body
- Any solution or substance where tobacco or nicotine is a constituent that is intended to be used with an electronic nicotine delivery system or vaporizers
- Nasal snuff
- Oral snuff
- Gutkha, khaini and zarda
Health Products Regulation Group, Health Sciences Authority
- Controlled drugs listed under the 4th Schedule of Misuse of Drugs Regulation
Legal regulations for businesses
If you choose to register on your own, you can do it through this online form. This registration process will require a username and password, which you will use to access your account, check deadlines, and remit taxes.
Before calculating GST, you must first make certain decisions that will affect the calculations.
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What changed due to the Singaporean OVR GST?
- The 400 SGD de minimis is removed for retailers who exceed the thresholds. The de minimis remains for retailers who do not meet the registration thresholds.
- Qualifying retailers must register, collect, and remit GST on all orders into Singapore.
- The GST rate increased from 7% to 8% for all sellers, not just retailers that exceed the thresholds.