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A Guide to Setting Up an Import and Export Company

Last modified: May 6, 2021
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A Guide to Setting Up an Import and Export Company

It would be a great idea to opt for company incorporation Singapore to set up your import or export business. After all, Singapore is an entrepot that serves East and West. And as a registered filing agent in Singapore, SBS Consulting Pte Ltd is well-equipped to lend you expert assistance to form your company within 1-3 days.


Why Singapore Best Place to Form an Import or Export Company

Pro-Business Environment

Singapore is a trading economy and encourages import and export activities. The authorities have kept the process for company incorporation Singapore easy to encourage entrepreneurs. It is also free of bureaucratic obstacles and red-tape. Their policies have earned Singapore 2nd ranking for the Ease of Doing Business indicator. Registering a trading company is a hassle-free experience.

Singapore Taxation

Singapore corporate tax is in the range of 0%-17%. However, because of the tax benefits, exemptions, and rebates that the Singapore companies get, the effective tax rate for most of them comes to 8%-9%. They also benefit from the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements signed by Singapore.

Singapore individual income tax rate is in the range of 0%-22%. The shareholders do not have to pay any capital gain tax on the dividends they get from the company.


Setting Up an Import or Export Company in Singapore

Register Your Company With ACRA

ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) is the Company Registrar of Singapore. You need to register your business with ACRA. You can choose the following business structure:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Private Limited Company (Pte Ltd)

Most of the business owners prefer to register a private limited company. It is flexible, dynamic and scalable business structure. Foreigners need to appoint an incorporation service for the task as they cannot self-register a company in Singapore.

It is a 2 step procedure:

You can log on BizFile+ portal and initiate the online process for company incorporation Singapore.

  • Firstly, you must get ACRA’s approval for the company name
  • Secondly, get your company registered with ACRA

Before you go ahead, you must fulfil the following pre-incorporation requirements:

  • At least 1 shareholder
  • At least 1 local or resident director
  • At least 1 company secretary
  • Minimum initial paid-up capital of S$1
  • Registered local address for the office

After the company is successfully registered, ACRA sends you an email containing the company’s Unique Entity Number and other details.


Activate Customs Account for Your Company

Your company needs a customs account to conduct its import or export activities. So, first of all, activate the free account by submitting an application on the Singapore Customs’ Customs Account portal. Supply company’s UEN and details of the primary and secondary contact person. The application needs 4 working hours for processing.

Controlled Goods

The nature of goods that you want to import or export decides the regulations you must follow. Check if you need permits or licenses for controlled goods like medicine and food products.

Strategic Goods

If you intend to be active in strategic goods, apply for a permit via the TradeNet system. You need it to import or export goods related to technology, military use, and those used in tools of mass destruction.

Apply for Business License and Permit

You also need to apply and get Customs Import Permit or a Customs Export Permit before starting your business activities. You will need to appoint a Declaring Agent to act on your behalf.

Importing Goods Into Singapore

Before you start importing goods into Singapore, you need to be ready with the 3 things:

Set Up GIRO Account

During the course of your import and export business, you will need to pay duties, fees, taxes and other charges to the customs department. Registering an inter-bank GIRO (IB) account for your company will enable you to do so online. Apply to Singapore Customs department for the account.

Declaring Financial Security

Depending on the circumstances, you may require to provide Finance Company Guarantee, a Banker’s Guarantee or an Insurance Bond as security. You need to provide it for the importation goods for approved purposes, dutiable goods, etc. The security also covers the use of excised factories and licensed warehouses.

Get Customs Clearance

In addition to the permits, you need cargo clearance from the authorities. You need to submit documents at an entry point:

  • Approved customs permit (printed copy)
  • Packing list, invoice, air waybill or bill of landing

Exporting Goods from Singapore

First, you need to declare the goods you are exporting to Singapore Customs.

Your Goods are Transiting Through Singapore

You need a transhipment permit. After activating your Customs Account apply to be a Declaring and Transhipment Agent. Apply to customs for Transhipment Permit and prepare documents for cargo clearance.

Your Goods Not Transiting Through Singapore

If your Singapore company intends to engage in overseas trade or transit goods through another country’s territory, your activities will be governed by the laws of that particular country. The country may need you to register a company with its agencies.

Goods and Services Tax & duty

You may have to pay GST and duty on dutiable and non-dutiable goods imported and sold in Singapore. It will not apply to goods exporting from or transiting through Singapore.

Storage of Your Goods

You store the imported goods or goods to export at Licensed, Zero-GST, or Free Trade Zone Warehouses.

If you want to form an import and export company Singapore, you need to set up a private limited company. And acquire the appropriate business licenses and permits before starting your business activities.

SBS Consulting Pte Ltd is an incorporation service. If you have any questions regarding company incorporation Singapore, do emails us at info@sbsgroup.com.sg or contact us on +65 6536 0036 for the answers.

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