Shipping and Removals in Singapore

Singapore has one of the world’s finest and busiest harbours, which is well-equipped to handle both personal and professional shipments efficiently and effectively.

Shipped items at Singapore's harbourThat said, prior to packing up your home and shipping it to Singapore, either by sea or by air, take some time to decide if this is, in fact, a necessity. A good deal of furnished accommodation is available in Singapore, and the city-state claims a consumer society - which means you can buy whatever you need at very competitive prices. So think carefully about shipping over white label goods and appliances, as you are likely to find it far cheaper on arrival (there’s even an IKEA).

What’s more, given the transient nature of the expat community, there’s plenty of opportunity to procure used goods in great condition from those repatriating to their country of origin.

If you’re sentimental or set on bringing your prized possessions abroad, you can ship either by sea or by air to Singapore. It’s cheaper to ship by sea, though, it does take longer. Time associated with shipments varies according to the destination from which goods are being shipped.

It’s recommended that expats employ the services of a professional shipping company, as these organisations are familiar with the logistics involved in the shipping process, and can advise in regard to documentation and duties.

Expats importing their goods to Singapore should note that the nation has a relatively long list of prohibited items.

Banned items in Singapore
  • Chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products
  • Cigarette lighters of pistol or revolver shape
  • Controlled drugs and psychotropic substances
  • Endangered species of wildlife and their by-products
  • Firecrackers
  • Obscene articles, publications, video tapes/discs and software (this included pornography and media that contains violent material).
  • Reproduction of copyright publications, video tapes, video compact discs, laser discs, records or cassettes
  • Seditious and treasonable materials

Importing household goods to Singapore

Those expats shipping their household goods to Singapore can do so duty free as long as they play by the rules; that said, cars, liquor and tobacco are subject to a Goods and Services Tax (GST) always.

Rules for shipping items to Singapore duty free
  • you’ve owned the goods being shipped for more than three months
  • you’re shipping the goods to Singapore by air or by sea, not by road
  • you’re importing the goods within your first six months in Singapore
  • you’re formally changing your residence to Singapore (temporarily)
To be successfully exempt from import duties it’s necessary to submit a Personal Effects Exemption Declaration.You’ll also need to submit a completed "Declaration of Facts", along with a copy of your passport, your employment pass, your entry permit, and your bill of lading/airway bill. If your employment pass is still being processed, customs will accept a copy of the application for employment pass as received by the Ministry Of Manpower.

Lastly, be sure to bring an inventory of all items you’re shipping. Do not give the customs officials original documents, make copies for them, and simply show them the originals if they ask for them.

Importing a car to Singapore

Expats planning to import their car to Singapore will need to apply for a GST payment permit and a duty permit. Duties are levied at 20 percent of the assessed value of the car, and GST is 7 percent of the cost, insurance and freight value.  Expats are also required to submit a number of documents that customs can use to evaluate the cost, ownership and performance of the car.

Documents required for importing a car to Singapore
  • Form SC-A-012
  • Commercial Invoice, Bill of Lading
  • Freight and Insurance Papers
  • Bills/Receipts relating to other charges
  • Documents relating to exhaust emission test, windscreen test, etc
  • Vehicle Data Card
  • Vehicle's registration and/or de-registration documents (if previously registered)
  • A manufacturer's letter confirming the date of manufacture of the vehicle

Shipping pets to Singapore

Expats who simply can’t survive sans their furry friends may nonetheless want to think twice about shipping their pets to dog to be shipped to SingaporeSingapore. Cats and dogs are subjected to a mandatory 30 days of quarantine upon arrival in the country, no exceptions allowed. The only animals not subjected to this quarantine are those from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland.

Still, if you prefer to have your ex-pet with you, there’s a very specific procedure that needs to be followed to ensure your cat or dog enjoys as smooth a relocation as possible.

Step 1 – Reserve quarantine space. Do this 3 months before you depart to avoid complication. Make the reservation with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) by submitting the completed reservation form, vaccination records, and the anticipated date of arrival.
Step 2 – Wait for confirmation. The AVA usually confirms receipt of your request within three working days, and then sends you a formal confirmation of quarantine space availability one month prior to your departure.  
Step 3 – Apply for your import license. Once you’ve received the quarantine space confirmation, apply for an import license through e-CliPS – this should be done within 30 days of your departure. For cross breed or mixed dogs it’s necessary to attach a coloured photo of the dog’s face and body. Licenses are valid for 30 days and cost 50 SGD.

All cats and dogs shipped to Singapore must have an ISO standard microchip, no other forms of identification, like tattoos, are acceptable. Furthermore, they must have an appropriate vaccination record and they must have received a treatment for external parasites between 2 and 10 days prior to their departure, and one for internal parasites within four days prior to export.

Expats shipping dogs to Singapore must obtain the appropriate license before retrieving them from quarantine.

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