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How to Start an Import and Export Business in Singapore

April 28, 2015 | Sharon Cheong

As a global port of call, Singapore is known the world over as a major import exporter. In fact, this country is currently the 14th largest exporter of merchandise in the world. Entrepreneurs come here each year looking to establish a successful import export business. Though many of them do succeed, a number of them fail and the reasons for this can be varied. Most often a business fails for lack of preparation. 

Supply Chain 

Thousands of local and international supply chain managers work out of Singapore, offering shippers a wide selection of shipping lines. Singapore also boasts some of the best seaports and shipping lanes in the world. It features state of the art technology such as container load transferring. Dock personnel are usually highly trained and accustomed to working with cargo agents, airlines and shippers from all over the world. 

Registering your Business 

In order to be successful, it is important that your cargo is handled efficiently, but Singapore has numerous well defined import export procedures already in place. Of course, if you are just starting out, it's important to register your business with the proper authorities. Next learn about the various permits and licenses required for the import and export of your company's goods. 

Learning about Restricted Goods 

The trade of some types of goods is highly restricted. Consult Singapore's Ministry of trade to ensure that the import export of your goods is freely allowed. Set up a new account with Singapore customs. This application often takes several days to be approved but once you have been issued customs approval, this is valid for the life of your business. In order to export some types of items, you are required to get an OUT Permit through TradeNet®. 

Various rules, regulations, and restrictions can apply depending upon whether your goods will be transported via road, rail, air or sea. Importing and exporting controlled goods require an additional permit. You can submit your application to the proper controlling agency through the TradeNet® system. 

Import Export Procedures 

High technology items and strategic goods also require additional permits and you may need to provide an Import Certificate and Delivery Verification (ICDV). If you're new to the area you can benefit by getting help from a local consultant who specializes in import and export. Very often this can prevent you from making common mistakes that can be costly. Most experts recommend that those new to Singapore avoid products considered high risk such as liquor and firearms. There are specific taxes and fees, as well as customs and excise duty which are levied on high risk products and other goods. 

Taxes and Fees 

Goods and services taxes are also imposed on the value of items and this rate can change depending upon the types of goods. The Goods and Services Tax is administered by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. This charge can be passed on to customers in some cases. Numerous special schemes can help to defer the goods and services tax to reduce your tax burden. 

When coming to Singapore to set up your new import export business, do plenty of research and learn all you can about this lucrative industry. There are many money-saving ideas that can help new entrepreneurs get established. One of the best ideas around is leasing a serviced office space in a professional building. This allows your new business to have an upscale presence at a much lower cost. 

Servcorp Serviced Offices give you a long list of amenities such as skilled IT professionals, mail forwarding, meeting rooms and board rooms, a dedicated receptionist, and many others. Please call to learn more about serviced offices in Singapore.