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International shipping guide from Singapore

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Updated on 04 Jul 202112 min read

Whether your business is based in Singapore and will be expanding into overseas markets, or is located elsewhere and will be depending on products or components manufactured in the city-state, this page is for you.

Here you will find some useful information relating to the procedures involved in air and ocean freight shipping from Singapore to the USA, Europe, and other parts of Asia, as well as the key trade lanes connecting the island’s businesses and industries with commercial centers around the world.

Customs Requirements for Shipping Freight from Singapore

Like every country, Singapore has its own procedures, requirements, and regulations surrounding the shipment of goods across its borders to overseas markets. Unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, though, export processes for ocean and air freight in Singapore are reasonably straightforward.

That said, it pays to understand the basics of those processes, even if you will enlist one of the many freight forwarding companies in Singapore to manage the export process for you.

The Benefits of Singapore Shipping Specialists

In fact, it makes a lot of sense to use a freight forwarder unless you or someone in your business has the requisite skills, knowledge, and time to coordinate the various resources and parties involved in the international shipment of commercial products.

Shipa Freight is an online logistics platform and service provider, with a local presence (via our parent company, Agility Logistics) in Singapore and 100 other countries around the world. We make it simple for your business to ship ocean and air freight from Singapore, not least by taking care of compliance with shipping and customs procedures and regulations.

Because we do all that for you, we are providing the following details purely for your information, and of course, if you prefer to work with one of the local brick-and-mortar shipping companies in Singapore, we hope the information will help you in your discussions with prospective service providers.

The Export Process in Brief

If your business is or has been involved in importing to Singapore, the export process should seem very familiar and indeed, the customs service has done a good job of harmonizing the two processes. If you’re not familiar with either importing or exporting though, the following brief step-by-step guide should help you to understand the basics.

Step 1 - Register as an exporter: You will need to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), in order to receive a Unique Entity Number (UEN).

Step 2 - Activate your customs account: To do this, you will need your UEN. You can activate your customs account online and it should be live within four hours of application. Your business will be able to declare goods for export the next business day after account activation. (This to allow the Singapore Customs to update records into their Systems.) Please note that your customs account, once activated, can be utilized for exporting as well as importing.

Step 3 - Apply for an export permit (AED – Advance Export Declaration) for your shipment: While this activity is known as permit application in Singapore, it is essentially a customs declaration, and you can appoint your freight forwarder in Singapore (or Shipa Freight if you are our customer) to conduct applications on your behalf.

Step 4 - Receive your permit and ship your freight: Assuming your permit request is approved, you (or your declaring agent) will receive a permit number and can proceed to have your goods loaded aboard the vessel or aircraft.

The four steps described above are a simplified overview of the process, but overall, it is quite straightforward… and very straightforward if you appoint a freight forwarder or shipping company in Singapore to manage the process for you.

Controls and Prohibitions on Export Freight from Singapore

The government of Singapore has a relaxed approach to exports compared with many countries, primarily because the city-state does not have great reserves of natural resources that demand protection. You can find details of restricted and prohibited items on the Singapore Customs website, but for a general idea of the types of goods that are subject to restriction, see the list below:

  • Toy guns
  • Certain types of timber
  • Rubber
  • Rice
  • Meat and meat products
  • Military equipment
  • Fish and fishery products
  • Chemicals

All of the controlled items listed above may only be shipped as freight from Singapore if you obtain the appropriate authorizations, licenses, or permits from the relevant agency. Singapore Customs lists the controlling agencies for each category of controlled goods on its website.

In addition to the list above, it’s worth noting that the customs service operates a program of controls on the export of locally produced textiles to the European Union and the United States.

Shipping Singapore Exports as Ocean Freight

The following information will help you get an idea of the main ocean routes from Singapore. These are the routes served by major shipping lines, which freight forwarding companies in Singapore and around the world use to move their customers’ cargo. Cargo ship at sea

Although the information we share here relates only to the port-to-port routes used for shipping from Singapore to the USA, Europe, and Asia, the team at Shipa Freight will be pleased to manage the domestic, as well as international legs of your export shipments. This is known as door-to-door shipping, and is available for shipments from Singapore to around 100 different countries.

Which are the Busiest Routes for Ocean Shipping from Singapore?

Shipping companies in Singapore are engaged to send more ocean freight to countries within Asia than anywhere else. Indeed, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and South Korea are Singapore’s largest export markets. Ocean trade lanes to Asia are therefore the busiest for outbound freight from Singapore. The following five routes carry some of the highest volumes of export goods:

  • Singapore to Shanghai (China)
  • Singapore to Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  • Singapore to Ningbo (China)
  • Singapore to Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Singapore to Port Klang (Malaysia)

Longest and Shortest Transit Times for Shipping Singapore Exports

Perhaps surprisingly, businesses shipping Singapore exports don’t endure extremely long transit times when compared to some ocean lanes from other parts of the world. If your freight requires shipping from Singapore to the USA, then you or your consignees will have the longest wait for ocean freight to arrive, particularly if the destination is in one of the East Coast states.

The route from Singapore to Charleston in South Carolina for example, takes around 37 days to complete, with a similar timeframe for shipments heading to New Orleans.

The shortest routes connect Singapore exporters with markets in Indonesia and Malaysia, with ocean freight spending little more than a day in transit to ports such as Jakarta and Port Klang.

Routes for Shipping Singapore Ocean Freight

***Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance only. They are not guaranteed to be precise, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate. ***

To America

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Singapore Argentina Buenos Aires 26 Days
Singapore Brazil Paranagua 23 Days
Singapore Brazil Rio de Janeiro 22 Days
Singapore Brazil Santos 21 Days
Singapore Canada Montreal 30 Days
Singapore Canada Vancouver 26 Days
Singapore United States Atlanta 34 Days
Singapore United States Boston 25 Days
Singapore United States Seattle 28 Days
Singapore United States Baltimore 35 Days
Singapore United States Houston 32 Days
Singapore United States Charleston 37 Days
Singapore United States Miami 35 Days
Singapore United States Mobile 35 Days
Singapore United States New Orleans 36 Days
Singapore United States Norfolk 32 Days
Singapore United States Port Everglades 32 Days
Singapore United States Savannah 35 Days
Singapore United States New York 27 Days
Singapore United States Long beach 24 Days
Singapore United States Los Angeles 24 Days
Singapore United States Oakland 29 Days
Singapore Montevideo Uruguay 24 Days

To Europe

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Singapore Belgium Antwerp 27 Days
Singapore Croatia Rijeka 22 Days
Singapore Denmark Aarhus 28 Days
Singapore Denmark Copenhagen 32 Days
Singapore Finland Helsinki 33 Days
Singapore France Le Havre 21 Days
Singapore France Fos-sur-Mer 24 Days
Singapore Germany Bremerhaven 26 Days
Singapore Germany Hamburg 23 Days
Singapore Greece Athinai 18 Days
Singapore Ireland Cork 25 Days
Singapore Italy Ancona 22 Days
Singapore Italy La Spezia 18 Days
Singapore Italy Genoa 20 Days
Singapore Lithuania Klaipeda 30 Days
Singapore Netherlands Rotterdam 24 Days
Singapore Poland Gdansk 32 Days
Singapore Portugal Lisbon 31 Days
Singapore Romania Constanta 22 Days
Singapore Russia Novorossiysk 24 Days
Singapore Russia Vladivostok 20 Days
Singapore Slovenia Koper 25 Days
Singapore Spain Barcelona 20 Days
Singapore Spain Valencia 21 Days
Singapore Spain Algeciras 16 Days
Singapore Sweden Gothenburg 30 Days
Singapore United Kingdom Grangemouth 29 Days
Singapore United Kingdom London Gateway 19 Days
Singapore United Kingdom Southampton 19 Days
Singapore United Kingdom Felixstowe 20 Days
Singapore United Kingdom Liverpool 22 Days

To Asia

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Singapore Adelaide Singapore 16 Days
Singapore Brisbane Singapore 11 Days
Singapore Fremantle Singapore 7 Days
Singapore Melbourne Singapore 13 Days
Singapore Sydney Singapore 12 Days
Singapore Bangladesh Chittagong 7 Days
Singapore Cambodia Kâmpóng Saôm 2 Days
Singapore China Shanghai 13 Days
Singapore China Dalian 7 Days
Singapore China Ningbo 13 Days
Singapore China Xiamen 21 Days
Singapore China Qingdao 33 Days
Singapore China Shenzhen 14 Days
Singapore China Nanjing 17 Days
Singapore India Mundra 8 Days
Singapore Indonesia Jakarta 1 Day
Singapore Indonesia Surabaya 2 Days
Singapore Indonesia Belawan 2 Days
Singapore Indonesia Semarang 3 Days
Singapore Japan Kobe 10 Days
Singapore Japan Shimizu 11 Days
Singapore Japan Yokohama 10 Days
Singapore Hong Kong Hong Kong 8 Days
Singapore Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas 1 Day
Singapore Malaysia Port Klang 1 Day
Singapore Malaysia Penang 2 Days
Singapore New Zealand Auckland 15 Days
Singapore New Zealand Tauranga 22 Days
Singapore Philippines Manila 13 Days
Singapore Philippines Cebu 9 Days
Singapore Philippines Davao 4 Days
Singapore South Korea Busan 12 Days
Singapore Sri Lanka Colombo 5 Days
Singapore Taiwan Kaohsiung 5 Days
Singapore Thailand Laem Chabang 3 Days
Singapore Thailand Bangkok 3 Days
Singapore Vietnam Ho Chi Min City 5 Days

Air Freight from Singapore

If your business has the budget to ship goods by air, or it is a necessity to do so, the best source of assistance will be a global logistics company or a freight forwarder in Singapore that specializes in air freight.

Shipa Freight is one such company, with thousands of routes in our database, and the ability to deliver online air freight quotes in moments. You can get a quote for airport-to-airport or door-to-door shipping, and our prices are competitive—a vital factor given the high cost of air freight. Air cargo being loaded on Airplane

High Volume Trade Lanes for Air Freight from Singapore

As with ocean shipping, the busiest air freight routes are those channeling exports from Singapore to other nations in Asia. Five routes that see some of the highest air freight volumes are…

  • Singapore to Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  • Singapore to Manila (Philippines)
  • Singapore to Denpasar (Indonesia )
  • Singapore to Shanghai (China)
  • Singapore to Seoul (South Korea)

Longest and Shortest Transit Times for Air Freight from Singapore

If you choose air freight for shipping from Singapore, it’s likely to be because you need to get your goods moved quickly, so transit times are probably important to you and your business.

If your business is based in Malaysia, air freight will certainly be fast, and a good freight forwarder in Singapore should be able to get your shipments cleared through airport customs without delay, perhaps getting them to their consignees faster than they would arrive by road freight. After all, the flight from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Kuala Lumpur is less than one hour, making it possibly the shortest route from Singapore in terms of transit time.

At the other end of the time scale, transit time from Changi to San Francisco is 17 hours, making it the longest route for air freight shipping from Singapore to the USA—and indeed, to anywhere.

List of Key Routes for Shipping Singapore Air Freight

Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance. They show flight durations for direct routes only, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate.

To America

Airport of Origin Destination country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Singapore United States Los Angeles 16 Hours
Singapore United States San Francisco 17 Hours

To Europe

Airport of Origin Destination country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Singapore Denmark Copenhagen 12 Hours
Singapore Finland Helsinki 12 Hours
Singapore France Paris 13 Hours
Singapore Germany Frankfurt 13 Hours
Singapore Italy Milan 12 Hours
Singapore Italy Rome 12 Hours
Singapore Netherlands Amsterdam 12 Hours
Singapore Poland Warsaw 12 Hours
Singapore Russia Moscow 10 Hours
Singapore Spain Barcelona 13 Hours
Singapore Switzerland Zurich 13 Hours
Singapore United Kingdom Manchester 14 Hours
Singapore United Kingdom London Heathrow 14 Hours

To Asia/Oceania

Airport of Origin Destination country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Singapore Australia Brisbane 7 Hours
Singapore Australia Sydney 7 Hours
Singapore Australia Perth 5 Hours
Singapore Australia Adelaide 6 Hours
Singapore Australia Melbourne 7 Hours
Singapore Cambodia Phnom Penh 2 Hours
Singapore China Beijing 6 Hours
Singapore China Shanghai 5 Hours
Singapore China Guangzhou 4 Hours
Singapore China Xiamen 4 Hours
Singapore China Qingdao 5 Hours
Singapore China Chengdu 5 Hours
Singapore Hong Kong Hong Kong 4 Hours
Singapore India Hyderabad 5 Hours
Singapore India Coimbatore 4 Hours
Singapore Indonesia Surabaya 3 Hours
Singapore Indonesia Jakarta 2 Hours
Singapore Indonesia Denpasar 3 Hours
Singapore Japan Tokyo 7 Hours
Singapore Japan Osaka 6 Hours
Singapore Malaysia Kuala Lumpur >1 Hour
Singapore Malaysia Penang 1 Hour
Singapore New Zealand Christchurch 9 Hours
Singapore New Zealand Auckland 10 Hours
Singapore Philippines Manila 3 Hours
Singapore Philippines Cebu 4 Hours
Singapore South Korea Seoul 6 Hours
Singapore Sri Lanka Colombo 4 Hours
Singapore Taiwan Kaohsiung 4 Hours
Singapore Taiwan Taipei 4 Hours
Singapore Thailand Bangkok 3 Hours
Singapore Vietnam Hanoi 3 Hours
Singapore Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 2 Hours

Need a Faster Forwarder for Singapore Shipping?

When you start looking for a logistics partner to help you with commercial freight shipping, you will find more than enough freight forwarding companies in Singapore from which to choose. However, what many of them have in common is that they need time to provide you with a quote. You may need to wait at least a day or two to hear back from each provider.

Shipa Freight is different from conventional forwarders in that we can generate competitive freight quotes in moments, thanks to our industry-leading technology, a vast database of ocean and air freight routes, and a global network of logistics resources.

A fast quote doesn’t mean you can’t shop around though. Your online Shipa Freight quote will remain valid for a period of time, so you can feel free to compare it with those of other forwarders—or if you don’t want your freight to wait, you can convert it to a booking right here on our platform.

For fast, efficient forwarding at an affordable rate, with a choice of air or ocean services from Singapore to hundreds of destinations, you don’t need to wait, just book online with Shipa Freight.

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