Hiring a Singapore Agent to Navigate Local Customs Clearance Can Boost Productivity, Efficiency
As a key Southeast Asian hub, Singapore is a small but important market for many overseas sellers.
Navigating cross-border trade processes can still be challenging and time-consuming for international companies. Whether you are venturing into the Singapore market for the first time, or you are already importing goods here but do not want to set up a local distributor or office, using an agent of exportation can considerably ease the process of bringing your goods into Singapore.
But not all third-party agents have the expertise and experience to help you handle the myriad issues of cross-border commerce, ranging from changing regulations to complex cross-border processes and new technologies.
So it is important to hire a reliable, certified Importer of Record (IOR) agent with a proven track record to help you unpack the complexities of cross-border trade.
Let’s look at some of the key challenges that a trusted IOR can help you overcome:
1) Navigating complex import procedures
Foreign trading companies may find it daunting or time-consuming to juggle multiple custom duties, especially if Singapore is an unfamiliar market to them. Common filing mistakes include failing to declare goods, not presenting the right Customs permits for clearance, tampering with Customs seals and locks on containers, and inaccurate product classification. All these errors can cause major delays or even a rejection of your shipment at Customs.
What’s more, the cost of not complying with regulations and documentation requirements can be significant – you may face fines and non-monetary penalties that have serious consequences. A minor offence can incur up to S$5,000 per offence and serious cases involving fraud led to prosecution.
A reliable IOR agent can relieve you of this pressure by acting on your behalf to import the goods, minimising risk of errors by ensuring that your goods are properly documented and declared.
For instance, an overseas e-commerce merchant selling children’s toys on Amazon in the United States can appoint an IOR agent so it can be listed on Amazon Singapore via the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program without having to set up a local registered office. This IOR agent will also advise it on import procedures, Customs requirements, and related fees, acting on its behalf to liaise and coordinate with couriers to ensure all shipments reach the Amazon warehouse in Singapore smoothly.
2) Managing multiple payments and papers to clear Customs
Foreign-based businesses that import into Singapore are required to have an active account with Singapore Customs, a registration with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and a Unique Entity Number (UEN). Hiring an IOR agent like GeTS can help you handle all this electronically on your behalf. This includes:
Import taxes – Singapore has a flat tax of 7 per cent for all imports, except for the dutiable items, such as alcoholic products, tobacco products, vehicles and petroleum products. Additional duties are charged on these items. The IOR agent can help compute the necessary duties for you, ensuring accurate product classification that can help you to save money and only pay what is due.
GeTS also assists in registering for Goods and Services Taxes, as well as managing quarterly Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) tax filing for all business transactions. This eliminates any worry about complicated tax filings and surprise audits.
Commercial Invoice – An IOR agent can help you to ensure an accurate valuation of your goods and to prepare your Cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) documents. The CIF is an international shipping agreement representing the charges paid by a seller to cover the costs, insurance, and freight of a buyer’s order while the cargo is in transit.
Air Waybill or Bill of Lading: These are documents given to a shipment company by the carrier, providing details of the shipment and representing a transfer of the title of goods. They allow exporters to receive payment and importers to receive the merchandise they ordered.
Customs Clearance: After ensuring all your documentation are in order, the IOR will proceed to submit import declaration to Singapore Customs. On approval, an import GST permit will be received, which will be sent to the forwarding agent that the customer appointed for physical clearance. There may be occasions where your shipments require secondary processing or inspection before they get clearance from Singapore Customs.
3) Coordinating end-to-end logistics
Many overseas companies under-estimate the complexity of managing logistics of delivering their products from port of arrival to last mile delivery. Some IOR agents provide this service and its imperative that you consider your own logistics needs.
At GeTS, we understand that this can be a hassle. This is why we offer a seamless IOR solution from advisory to logistics to Customs clearance, which complements the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program, providing you with additional avenues to capture opportunities in e-commerce.
Hiring the right IOR agent peace of mind that your products will reach your customers in Singapore seamlessly and efficiently, so you can focus on scaling up your business.
You can choose different types of IOR appointments: a direct IOR agent for businesses who do not want to charge GST, or an overseas principal who partners with an IOR agent like GeTS to handle various services as listed in this table below:
Looking for a reliable and efficient IOR agent in Singapore?
Check out Importer Of Record (IOR) | Global eTrade Services
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