Singapore, known for its thriving business environment, is a prime destination for international trade and investment. As a business owner looking to expand your operations to Singapore, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the country’s import duties and tax regulations. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the types of duties and taxes, calculation methods, thresholds, exemptions, and payment options for importing goods into Singapore. Let’s dive in and unravel the intricacies of Singapore’s import duties and taxes.

Latest update on 20 February, 2024 by Caspian Ng– Marketing Analyst at FreightAmigo

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Types of Duties and Taxes

When importing goods into Singapore, you need to be aware of three types of duties and taxes: excise tax, customs duties, and goods and services tax (GST). However, it is important to note that only GST applies to all imported goods, regardless of their value.

Excise Tax

Singapore imposes an excise tax on four categories of dutiable goods: intoxicating liquors, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and petroleum or biodiesel fuel. The excise tax rates vary depending on the specific category of goods.

Customs Duties

Customs duties are levied on specific alcohol imports such as stout, porter, ale, and samsu. The duty rates for these alcoholic beverages range from SGD 8 to SGD 16 per liter, depending on the type and alcohol content.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

All imported goods in Singapore, except for specific exempted items, are subject to GST. Currently, the GST rate is 8%. However, it is important to note that the GST rate is set to increase to 9% in 2024.

Calculating Duties and Taxes

The calculation of duties and taxes in Singapore varies depending on the type of duty or tax applied. Let’s explore the calculation methods for each category.

Excise Tax Calculation

The calculation of excise tax differs based on the category of goods. For alcoholic products with duty rates based on per liter of alcohol, the formula is:

Duties Payable = Total quantity in liters x Customs and/or excise duty rate x Percentage of alcoholic strength

For alcoholic products with duty rates based on dutiable content (weight/volume), the formula is:

Duties Payable = Total dutiable quantity in kilograms x Customs duty rate

Customs Duty Calculation

Customs duty rates in Singapore are specific to each product type. To calculate customs duty, multiply the specific duty rate applicable to your goods by the volume of the goods. The formula is:

Customs Duties Payable = Alcohol Volume (liters) x Customs Duty Rate (SGD 8 or 16)

GST Calculation

To calculate the applicable GST for your goods, multiply the GST rate (currently 8%) by the Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) value, which includes the value of the goods, insurance charges, and freight costs. The formula is:

GST Payable = CIF Value x 8%

It is important to accurately declare the value of the goods, insurance charges, and freight costs to ensure the correct calculation of GST payable.

Duties Threshold

Singapore has an import de minimis value of SGD 400. Despite this threshold, all imports are still subject to an 8% GST fee, regardless of their value. However, it is important to note that Singapore does not levy customs duty on most imported goods, except for specific types of alcohol.

Duties Exemption

While customs duty is exempt for the majority of imported goods, all imported goods are subject to the 8% GST. The exemption from customs duty aims to facilitate trade and promote international business relations.

Payment Methods

There are two main ways to pay import duties and taxes in Singapore: using Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) or appointing a Declaring Agent to pay on your behalf.

Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG)

To pay directly to Singapore Customs using IBG, you need to register for an IBG account with Singapore Customs. After registration, the payment will be automatically debited from your chosen bank account on the payment due date.

Declaring Agent

Alternatively, you can appoint a Declaring Agent to pay on your behalf. The Declaring Agent will deduct the tax payment from their IBG account. To authorize a Declaring Agent to use your IBG account, you need to submit an application to Singapore Customs.

Best Practices and Tips

To ensure smooth customs clearance and compliance with Singapore’s import regulations, here are some best practices and tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay updated: Regularly check for updates on regulatory changes and requirements by keeping in touch with Singapore Customs and other relevant authorities.
  • Understand the import procedures: Familiarize yourself with the import procedures and declaration requirements before importing goods. Check with the relevant Competent Authority for any specific requirements related to controlled items.
  • Provide accurate information: Ensure that you provide all the necessary supporting documents and accurate information for permit applications. Include freight and insurance charges in the declared value of imported goods.
  • Declare all goods: Declare any additional goods, such as samples, gifts, or free-of-charge items, in the permit application. It is important to provide complete and accurate details of the goods, including the Harmonized System (HS) code, quantity, and description.
  • Comply with permit conditions: Ensure that you and your Declaring Agents or freight forwarders comply with all the permit conditions set by Singapore Customs.
  • Retain trade documents: Keep all supporting documents related to your import activities for a minimum of five years. These documents may include invoices, bills of lading, certificates of origin, and customs permits.

Penalties and Offences

Failure to comply with Singapore’s import regulations and requirements can result in penalties and offences. Importers may be penalized if they do not comply with the requirements imposed under the Customs Act and the Regulation of Imports and Exports Act. Offences include making incorrect declarations, failure to produce trade documents upon request, and unauthorized tampering or removal of customs seals.

The penalties upon conviction for key offences include fines, imprisonment, or both. It is crucial to adhere to the regulations and requirements to avoid legal consequences.


Understanding Singapore’s import duties and tax regulations is essential for any business looking to expand into the country. By familiarizing yourself with the types of duties and taxes, calculation methods, thresholds, exemptions, and payment options, you can navigate the import process smoothly and comply with Singapore’s import regulations. Remember to stay updated, provide accurate information, and retain all necessary documents to ensure a seamless customs clearance experience. With this expert guide, you are equipped with the knowledge to embark on your import journey to Singapore with confidence and success.

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