All your efforts at ensuring the good quality of your products will come to naught if your products do not reach your intended customers. Determining and planning ahead the best mode of transporting your products internationally is fundamental to closing a successful sale.
There are four main modes of transporting your goods to your overseas export market, namely by air, sea, road and rail. Based on your customer’s requirements and orders, you could work out your logistics plan by choosing one of the transport modes or use a mixture of them. In addition, it is important for you to factor in the possibility of delays during the journey.
This section discusses the four main modes of transporting your goods in terms of their respective strengths, cost and utility.
Air transport is the fastest mode of delivery and therefore suitable for delivering goods over a long distance, when the goods are required urgently or perishable. It may be one of the most expensive modes of transport, but it is your best choice if delivery speed is your main concern.
Freight shipping is one of the most economical ways to deliver your goods, particularly for bulky items. However, this mode is also the slowest delivery method.
Road transport by trucks or goods vehicles is best for delivering goods within a country, district or overland to the airport or port.
Rail transport is a common for delivering goods within a country, or from country to country within the same continent. However, the use of rail depends on the infrastructure available and the country you are transporting to.
This section gives you an overview of Singapore’s goods clearance regime, and points you to resource where you can obtain more knowledge on the different technical aspects of handling the logistics of exporting your goods.
Singapore Customs is the government authority of Singapore on trade facilitation and revenue enforcement matters. It is responsible for the implementation of customs and trade enforcement regulations including those related to free trade agreements and strategic goods. You need to be registered with Singapore Customs before you can import, export or tranship goods in, out of or through Singapore.
Most countries restrict the movement of certain items such as pharmaceuticals, animals, explosives, etc. Governments issue permits to control the outflow of goods across their national borders. The Singapore government adopts the same principles and practices. If you are intending to import, export or tranship goods which are restricted or controlled by Singapore, you may face more stringent requirements when seeking approval to do so.
In Singapore, the import, export and transhipment of some goods are subject to the control of their respective controlling agencies. Some agencies require you to apply for a licence or obtain approval prior to the intended import, export or transhipment. You should submit applications to the relevant agencies through the TradeNet® system to obtain licence or approval before importing, exporting or transhipping the goods.
Please view here for the list of controlling agencies in Singapore.
Please view here for the list of controlled goods.
Please view here for the list of controlled exports.
For a more comprehensive list of items that are subject to control by the relevant controlling agency, please view here.
You can apply here for approval or licence from a controlling agency.
The Strategic Goods Control List contains descriptions of items that are subject to control under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act. If you are intending to import, export or tranship any strategic goods you required to apply for a strategic goods permit.
All imports, exports and transshipment of goods have to be done according to the standard procedures of Singapore Customs. Singapore Customs publishes its import and export procedures together on its webpage. It is important that you familiarise yourself with these procedures before attempting to move goods in or out of Singapore.
Permits are required for all movements of goods in, out or transshipping from, Singapore. The application processes for all three categories of permits are published together by Singapore Customs on its webpage here. All permit applications have to be submitted electronically through the TradeNet® system for approval and processing by Singapore Customs for moving goods via sea, road, rail or air in, out or through Singapore.
The export of goods from Singapore is regulated under the Customs Act and the Regulation of Imports and Exports Act as well as their relevant subsidiary legislations.
Generally, all goods (controlled or non-controlled) exported from Singapore are not subjected to GST and/or duty payment.
This is the first step you need to take. Prior to seeking any approval, you need to verify whether your goods are considered as controlled or strategic goods by the Singapore Customs, as more stringent restrictions will apply to the export of such goods out of Singapore.
Once you have verified whether your goods are restricted or not, next you will need to apply for an OUT Permit though TradeNet® whether or not your goods are controlled or non-controlled items.
As the exporter, you will be the party that issues the commercial invoice to your overseas customer. You are required to declare the FOB value of the goods in the export permit application. More information on export requirements can be found here.
Getting your goods out of Singapore is first half of your goods’ journey to their destination market. The last half involves clearing them through the customs of their destination market.
The customs of one market differ from the next. In this section, we point you towards the customs authorities of the most common destinations where you can obtain further information and assistance.
The Indonesian Directorate General of Customs and Excise is an authority under the Ministry of Transportation Republic of Indonesia. There are several forms and documents you need to complete when exporting to Indonesia, for example the Indonesian Customs Tariff Book (BTBMI) and the Customs Declaration for Importation (PIB). View the import and export regulations here.
China Customs provides the customs policy and regulations for goods entering China, the import and export statistics of the country, and a guide to its formalities. For HS codes, tariffs, and service providers (logistics providers, distributors etc), please refer to the ETCN website for more information.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs is India’s government authority overseeing the collection of customs duties and administration of matters relating to India’s customs. It is an arm of India’s Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
Vietnam Customs is the main government body in charge of all import and export procedures and regulations of Vietnam. When importing goods into Vietnam, there are customs declaration procedures and several documents to submit, such as the import goods declaration forms, commercial invoice, bill of landing and more. It is important for you to understand the formalities and procedures before exporting to Vietnam.
When exporting to Myanmar, you have to prepare a customs declaration form for clearance by the Myanmar Customs Department. The import documents required include the import license/permit, bill of landing, invoice, packing list and more.
The above information provided by the customs authorities of the various countries gives a general view of their respective customs procedures. You should always consult your appointed logistics provider for the latest updates from the ground in your export market.
FTAs are free trade agreements, signed between countries to lower or abolish tariffs on movement of goods between their borders. The aim of FTAs is to facilitate and encourage trade flows between two nations by lowering the costs for businesses trading between the agreement countries. Knowing what FTAs are and utilising them will help lower your costs, increase your bottomlines, and improve your ease of market entry. This is because FTAs are legally binding agreements made by two or more countries which result in benefits for your export business in terms of:
Singapore exporters can enjoy the highest number of trade benefits in the regions, with its 19 FTAs currently in force. Benefits range from preferential access to certain sectors, tariff concessions, easier entry into other markets and intellectual property protection. To know more about the benefits of FTAs and the latest FTAs updates, please explore the Singapore FTA website.
Many things can happen to your goods from the moment they leave your possession until they reach your buyer. The most common logistics risks usually are loss of goods or damage to goods occurring during transit, or goods being denied customs clearance at destination. Less common logistics risks occur when an unforeseen circumstance arise, such as theft, accidents, natural disasters or negative political events resulting in confiscation. Please refer to Step 7 of this Export Guide for some ideas on how you can reduce your transport risks.
When you arm yourself with basic customs knowledge, you are better placed to lever up your skills or those of your employees when taking care of your delivering operations. You will also be better placed to assess if you will be getting value for money if you decide to engage a logistics service provider, which will in turn help you fully maximise the services you paid for.
There are several logistics companies that you can engage for a one-stop service, and you may wish to consider establishing a working relationship with one or more of such firms to increase your long-term operational productivity by reducing daily hassles. International logistics firms such as UPS, DHL or FedEx may be more expensive but possess a wider global coverage. In recent years, some Singapore logistics firms have become strong regionally and may cost less if your export strategy covers only the ASEAN region. Whichever provider you choose, you should always balance cost against utility.
Singapore Customs Academy is run by Singapore Customs to train Singapore-based businesses in customs procedures, customs laws and international regimes and more. Please check its training calendar regularly for the latest training programmes and updates.
Enterprise Singapore’s iAdvisory Seminar Series are market specific seminars targeted at delivering the latest, on-the-ground market intelligence for Singapore businesses by our in-market speakers and Enterprise Singapore’s Centre Directors. Beginning 2012, our iAdvisory Seminars incorporate presentation segments and panel discussions on logistics and customs issues of the market addressed by each seminar, where it is relevant to address the topic of logistics. Please browse through our all iAdvisory Seminar highlights for the market of your interest, or check regularly for updates.