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International shipping guide to Singapore

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If there is one thing that keeps international shipping to Singapore simple, it's the fact that there is just one airport and only one ocean port through which your goods will enter the small, but incredibly prosperous city-state. This saves the need to decide which border gateway will present the most cost-efficient solution, as is necessary when shipping to countries with multiple ports.

Because Singapore is a wealthy nation, and small, its population has a healthy appetite for products and materials from overseas. This presents a potentially lucrative market into which your business could expand.

If you do decide to market and sell your products in the famous Asian island nation, you should find this page useful for your research, as we share some of the things you need to know about importing goods into the country. Included as well are details of the key inbound shipping routes known to every freight forwarder in Singapore.

Standards and Border Procedures for Shipping to Singapore

Singapore is one of the most business-friendly nations in the world, and in keeping with that status, you will find import and customs procedures to be efficient and straightforward, especially when compared with many other Southeast Asian countries.

Nevertheless, import formalities can seem daunting if you are not familiar with them. This is why we are sharing some of the facts you should know about border processes for inbound freight to Singapore.

As a Shipa Freight customer, you won’t need to worry unduly about the customs formalities, since we will serve as your declaring agent. We will therefore manage the completion and submission of customs documents, and ensure compliance with appropriate procedures. If you plan to ship your goods with us, the following details are more for your information than as a guide to steps you must take.

On the other hand, if you will be engaging one of the local freight forwarding companies in Singapore, or you decide to manage the importation process yourself (or appoint somebody in your business to do it), the information that follows should serve as a useful introduction to the main issues you might encounter.

3 Key Steps in the Import Process

  1. Activating Your Customs Account: If you or your business will be an importer of goods into Singapore, you will need to have a customs account. To obtain your account and begin shipping to Singapore, you must register with the country’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  2. Register for an Inter-Bank GIRO Account: In addition to a customs account, you will need an Inter-Bank GIRO account with Singapore Customs. This is the account through which you will make GST or duty payments for each of your shipments after it is cleared to receive an import permit.
  3. Obtain Customs Import Permit: After you have completed the first two steps above, you will be able to engage in freight shipping to Singapore. You will need to make a customs declaration online for each shipment before it arrives in Singapore. Once the customs service approves your declaration, you will receive an import permit. For containerized ocean freight, your declaration must include the container number and the shipper seal number for the container/s used to transport your goods.

If you don’t wish to manage import declarations yourself, you can appoint a declaring agent to act for you. Your freight forwarder in Singapore will be able to act as your declaring agent. If you choose Shipa Freight to be your forwarder, we will make your declaration for you and submit the necessary supporting documents to the customs service.

Shipping to Singapore: Restrictions and Prohibitions

The government of Singapore places restrictions and prohibitions on the importation of certain goods and materials. It will be your responsibility as a shipper to make sure you are not trying to import prohibited items. If your shipments contain controlled or restricted items, you first acquire the appropriate licenses, permits, or authorization from the controlling agency.

The Singapore Customs website has a complete list of controlled imports . The list is especially helpful in that it states which agency is responsible for controlling each type of product or material. Just to give you an idea though, the following list highlights a few examples of goods subject to import controls:

  • Slot machines
  • Animal products
  • Arms and explosives
  • Bullet-proof vests
  • Batteries
  • Chemicals
  • Fish and fishery products
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Meat and meat products
  • Rice
  • China/porcelain kitchen and tableware
  • Toy guns

You will find a list of prohibited products on the same website page as the controlled-imports list, but again, here are a few examples of items that you may not send as freight to Singapore:

  • Chewing gum
  • Firecrackers
  • Scanning radio receivers
  • Radio receiving equipment operating on certain specified frequencies (e.g. 880 - 915 MHz)
  • E-cigarettes and vaporizers
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Snuff

Ocean Freight Shipping to Singapore

While Singapore has just one port, this should not lead you to believe that difficulties exist in sending your goods there as ocean freight. Singapore is actually the second busiest container port in the world, and is served by ocean freight routes from around 600 ports in 120 countries.

Shipa Freight meanwhile, has access to our parent company’s logistics teams at 500 offices in 100 countries. Our own customer support team is well-versed in Singapore shipping, making us an ideal choice as your forwarder for Singapore imports.

We offer a wide range of international logistics services, including port-to-port and door-to-door shipping. This is done so you can safely place your freight into our hands, knowing we will manage it with speed and efficiency all the way from its origin to its final destination in Singapore.

The following information outlines just a few of the ocean freight routes we cover for our customers, highlighting some of the longest, shortest, and busiest. If you don’t see your preferred route on the list we have shared here, it’s not an indication that we don’t cover it. In fact, you will almost certainly find it possible to get a quote for your route from our online platform.

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Busiest Ocean Routes for Singapore Shipping

Because of its status as the gateway to the ASEAN region, Singapore is served by an intricate network of ocean shipping trade lanes. All of which, it’s fair to say, are always busy.

However, the busiest routes of all are those shipping Singapore-bound cargo from the country’s Asian neighbors. The following five are among the most utilized by freight forwarding companies in Singapore:

  • Laem Chabang (Thailand) to Singapore
  • Port Klang(Malaysia) to Singapore
  • Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia) to Singapore
  • Kaohsiung (Taiwan) to Singapore
  • Bangkok (Thailand) to Singapore

Shipping to Singapore: Longest and Shortest Ocean Freight Transit Times

The longest routes plied by container vessels carrying freight to Singapore are those coming from Northern European and Mediterranean ports. The routes from Spain are especially lengthy in terms of transit time, with vessels requiring anything between 48 and 55 days to steam to Singapore from Barcelona or Algeciras.

The shortest routes connect Singapore to its closest neighbors in Asia, many of which the country is also connected to by road (via the Johor Causeway from Malaysia). However, with road networks not nearly as efficient as in Europe or North America, ocean freight is still the preferred mode of transportation between Southeast Asian countries for many shippers.

One of the shortest routes however, connects Singapore with Indonesia, a country that is genuinely overseas. The route from Jakarta in Indonesia has a transit time of around one day.

Ocean Freight to Singapore: Routes and Transit Times

From America

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Canada Montreal Singapore 44 Days
Canada Vancouver Singapore 28 Days
United States Atlanta Singapore 32 Days
United States Boston Singapore 40 Days
United States Seattle Singapore 32 Days
United States Houston Singapore 38 Days
United States Baltimore Singapore 44 Days
United States Charleston Singapore 29 Days
United States Miami Singapore 31 Days
United States Mobile Singapore 39 Days
United States New Orleans Singapore 35 Days
United States Norfolk Singapore 42 Days
United States Port Everglades Singapore 31 Days
United States Savannah Singapore 31 Days
United States New York Singapore 36 Days
United States Los Angeles Singapore 21 Days
United States Long Beach Singapore 21 Days
United States Oakland Singapore 19 Days

From Europe

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Belgium Antwerp Singapore 42 Days
Croatia Rijeka Singapore 22 Days
Denmark Aarhus Singapore 40 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Singapore 41 Days
Finland Helsinki Singapore 43 Days
France Le Havre Singapore 21 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Singapore 24 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Singapore 33 Days
Greece Athinai Singapore 35 Days
Ireland Cork Singapore 39 Days
Italy Ancona Singapore 37 Days
Italy La Spezia Singapore 27 Days
Italy Genoa Singapore 42 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Singapore 42 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Singapore 43 Days
Poland Gdansk Singapore 39 Days
Portugal Lisbon Singapore 39 Days
Romania Constanta Singapore 40 Days
Russia Vladivostok Singapore 20 Days
Spain Algeciras Singapore 55 Days
Spain Barcelona Singapore 48 Days
Spain Valencia Singapore 42 Days
Slovenia Koper Singapore 25 days
Sweden Gothenburg Singapore 38 Days
United Kingdom Belfast Singapore 40 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Singapore 41 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Singapore 48 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Singapore 37 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Singapore 36 Days

From Asia and Oceania

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Australia Adelaide Singapore 7 Days
Australia Brisbane Singapore 16 Days
Australia Fremantle Singapore 11 Days
Australia Melbourne Singapore 10 Days
Australia Sydney Singapore 14 Days
Bangladesh Chittagong Singapore 7 Days
Cambodia Kâmpóng Saôm Singapore 2 Days
China Shanghai Singapore 9 Days
China Dalian Singapore 17 Days
China Ningbo Singapore 7 Days
China Xiamen Singapore 7 Days
China Qingdao Singapore 31 Days
China Shenzhen Singapore 14 Days
China Nanjing Singapore 16 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Singapore 4 Days
India Mundra Singapore 8 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Singapore 1 Day
Indonesia Surabaya Singapore 2 Days
Indonesia Belawan Singapore 5 Days
Indonesia Semarang Singapore 4 Days
Japan Kobe Singapore 7 Days
Japan Shimizu Singapore 16 Days
Japan Yokohama Singapore 10 Days
Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas Singapore 1 Day
Malaysia Port Klang Singapore 1 Day
New Zealand Auckland Singapore 21 Days
New Zealand Tauranga Singapore 19 Days
Philippines Manila Singapore 13 Days
Philippines Cebu Singapore 5 Days
Philippines Davao Singapore 4 Days
South Korea Busan Singapore 11 Days
Sri Lanka Colombo Singapore 9 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Singapore 3 Days
Thailand Bangkok Singapore 3 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Singapore 9 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Min City Singapore 5 Days

Air Freight to Singapore

Nowhere in Singapore is very far from Changi Airport, the only air freight gateway into the tiny, but affluent country. If you wish to send your shipments by air, it should be easy enough to find a logistics company to move your goods on from the airport to their final destination.

On the other hand, with Shipa Freight you can book your shipment using our door-to-door service, in which case the price includes all domestic and international transportation. This is managed through our global logistics network, and with the benefit of full traceability via our online freight-shipping platform.

Most Popular Routes for Air Freight to Singapore

Changi Airport is a major hub for passengers and cargo bound for Southeast Asian destinations, so picking out the most popular routes for air freight to Singapore is no easy task. However, the volumes of freight carried in by regional airlines are huge, and the five routes listed below are among the very busiest:

  • Jakarta (Japan) to Singapore
  • Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Singapore
  • Bangkok (Thailand) to Singapore
  • Guangzhou (China) to Singapore
  • Tokyo (Japan) to Singapore

As with Ocean freight, many shippers in Asia opt for air freight as a preferable alternative to transporting their goods by road, especially when shipments are time-critical.

This is true even where distances are very short, as in the proximity of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, a city that can be reached by road within one day. However, with as many as 40 flights per day between KL and Singapore, it’s understandable that shippers would want to take advantage of the ability to cut that one day of transit time down to just under one hour—the average duration of a flight between the two cities.

Longest and Shortest Routes for Air Freight to Singapore

As mentioned in the section on the busiest air freight routes to Singapore, the flight time of around 40 minutes makes the route from Kuala Lumpur to Changi Airport the shortest of all air freight transit-times for shipments to Singapore.

The longest route, from Los Angeles in the United States, involves a transit time of around 17 hours, which is probably not much longer than it would take to move a truckload of goods by road from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore—just to put the speed advantage of air freight into perspective.

Shipping Singapore Air Freight: List of Key Routes

From America

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
United States San Francisco Singapore 15 Hours
United States Los Angeles Singapore 17 Hours

From Europe

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Denmark Copenhagen Singapore 12 Hours
Finland Helsinki Singapore 11 Hours
France Paris Singapore 13 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Singapore 12 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Singapore 12 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf Singapore 13 Hours
Germany Berlin Singapore 12 Hours
Greece Athens Singapore 11 Hours
Italy Milan Singapore 12 Hours
Italy Rome Singapore 12 Hours
Poland Warsaw Singapore 12 Hours
Russia Moscow Singapore 10 Hours
Switzerland Zurich Singapore 13 Hours
United Kingdom London Heathrow Singapore 14 Hours
United Kingdom Manchester Singapore 14 Hours

From Asia and Oceania

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Denmark Copenhagen Singapore 12 Hours
Finland Helsinki Singapore 11 Hours
France Paris Singapore 13 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Singapore 12 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Singapore 12 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf Singapore 13 Hours
Germany Berlin Singapore 12 Hours
Greece Athens Singapore 11 Hours
Italy Milan Singapore 12 Hours
Italy Rome Singapore 12 Hours
Poland Warsaw Singapore 12 Hours
Russia Moscow Singapore 10 Hours
Switzerland Zurich Singapore 13 Hours
United Kingdom London Heathrow Singapore 14 Hours
United Kingdom Manchester Singapore 14 Hours

Shipa Freight: The Online Freight Forwarder for Singapore Shipping

Why go to the trouble of searching and researching to find a freight forwarder in Singapore, when you can get instant quotes, book, pay, and track your shipments with Shipa Freight, a one-stop-shop for all your international shipping needs?

We hope you find the information on this page useful. However, when you ship with us, you won’t need to become an expert in commercial shipping to Singapore.

Our platform makes it simple to get freight quotes, generate bookings, and provide the information we need to move your freight across international borders. We’ll take care of the logistical intricacies, so you and your team can focus on the core functions of your business.

Meanwhile, if you’re hungry for more information about international air and ocean freight shipping, you’ll find plenty in the articles on our Knowledge Series.

Or if you just want to get shipping, visit our platform and generate your first instant quote today.

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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