Trading Industry Licenses and Permits
Singapore’s Market Dominance in Import/Export Trading
Singapore imported US$327.7 billion worth of goods in 2017 and exported goods worth US$373.2 billion. Singapore’s top trading partners include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, United States, Japan and South Korea. Integrated circuits, petroleum and gold count among its highest-valued import and export items. Given Singapore’s population of 5.6 million people, its import and export numbers demonstrate an impressive demand in consumption and output in production per resident.
Incorporating Your Import/Export Trading Business On ACRA
Registering your company on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore is the first step to kicking off your business venture. Successfully registered, your company will receive a Unique Entity Number (UEN), which is required when making applications for other licences and permits.
Registering with Singapore Customs and Other Legal Formalities
Importing and exporting goods into and out of Singapore requires activating an account with Singapore Customs using the company UEN. Account activation, which is free, is generally completed in less than 48 hours. As long as business entities remain registered on ACRA, their Customs Account will remain valid.
Import/Export Trading Companies, depending on their business model, must apply and acquire additional licences and permits when required.
- IN Permit and OUT Permit, for importing and exporting both Controlled and Non-controlled goods into and out of Singapore. For Controlled Goods, an additional permit must be obtained from the relevant Controlling Agencies.
- Import Certificate and Delivery Verification (ICDV), from Singapore Customs, for the import of High-technology Goods.
- Strategic Goods Control (SGC) TradeNet Permit, for exporting, transshipping or bringing in transit Strategic Goods (which include all goods and technology that are intended or likely to be used for weapons of mass destruction).
- Certificate of Origin (CO), for exporting locally produced goods. CO is divided into two categories: Ordinary and Preferential.
Freight Forwarding is an integral part of the supply chain that makes it possible for producers to export their goods beyond their immediate geographical reach. However, Freight Forwarders are not the actual deliverer of the goods, but rather experts in transporting goods from one place to another in the most seamless and cost efficient way, via air, sea or land, depending on their customer’s needs. In other words, they operate as an intermediary between the various transportation services and a shipper (customer). Therefore, a Freight Forwarder must be knowledgeable in export processes and shipping requirements for all modes of transportation, as well as the licences and permits relevant to different types of cargo and goods, as they must handle all trade and finance documentation, customs clearances and inspections, the tracking of cargo, even storage, if necessary, and all other requirements and situations that might arise.
Top Priorities for a Freight Forwarding Business Start-up
Incorporating Your Company On ACRA
Registering your company on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore is the first step to kicking off your business venture. Successfully registered, your company will receive a Unique Entity Number (UEN), which is required when making applications for other licences and permits.
Registering with Singapore Customs
Any Import, Export or Transshipment of goods will require activating an account with Singapore Customs (SC) using the company UEN. Account activation, which is free, is generally completed in less than 48 hours. As long as business entities remain registered on ACRA, their Customs Account will remain valid.
Other Legal Formalities
Depending on their assets, operational model and scope of business, and specific needs of clients, Freight Forwarding Companies may require one or more permits from the following authorities:
- Singapore Customs (SC)
- Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
- Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
- Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
- Land Transport Authority (LTA)
- Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
- Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
- National Environment Agency (NEA)
Contact VentureHaven if you require clarification or extra information regarding any legal requirement.
A Special Note on the Bill of Lading
A Bill of Lading is the most important document a Freight Forwarder must prepare. It:
- is a legally binding document between the Freight Forwarder and the freight carrier that details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being transported;
- serves as a shipment receipt when the freight carrier delivers the goods at the predetermined destination;
- must accompany the shipped goods, no matter the mode of transportation, and an authorized representative from the Freight Forwarder, freight shipper and receiver must sign it.
Information to include on the Bill of Lading:
- shipper and receiver names and complete address
- date of the shipment
- number of shipping units
- freight classification
- exact weight of every shipment item
- type of packaging, including cartons, pallets, skids and drums
- description of the item being shipped
- PO or special account numbers used between businesses for order tracking
- special instructions for the carrier
- note if the freight is classified as Hazardous (special rules and requirements apply)
- declared value of the freight being shipped
Licences to be obtained from Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) for Sea Freight Forwarding
- Harbour Craft Licence – To operate vessels within Singapore’s port
- Port Clearance Certificate – To operate vessels beyond Singapore’s port
- Ship Registration Certificate – To transport passengers or goods
- Port Limit Manning Licence – For crew members to work on-board your ships and vessels
- Launch a New Vessel Permit – To launch a new vessel more than 15 meters long in the port
- Ship Station Licence – To operate radio-communication equipment on your Singapore registered ship
- Ship Sanitation Control Certificate – To certify your vessel’s sanitary condition to transport goods
- Permit to discharge/load/transit dangerous goods and dock vessels carrying such goods
- Other Licences and Permits for related activities