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For GST-registered businesses

On this page:
GST on imports
Exempt Imports 
Claiming GST paid on imports
Relief of GST on imports
Suspension of GST on imports 
Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS)
Free Trade Zone & Transshipment
Importation on behalf of overseas principal - Section 33(2) and 33A agents

GST on imports

Generally, GST on imports is imposed regardless of whether the importer is GST-registered, except where the goods are investment precious metals or qualify for import relief. Import GST may also be suspended or deferred if the importer is approved under a GST scheme, or if the goods land in a Free Trade Zone and do not enter into customs territory. Import GST is collected by Singapore Customs. It is charged on the total of:

  • CIF value (Cost, Insurance and Freight);
  • all duties payable (as assessed by Singapore Customs); and
  • commission and other incidental charges.

Example:

Price of goods $10,000.00
Freight and Insurance  $  2,000.00
CIF $12,000.00
Add: Customs Duty $  3,600.00
Taxable Value  $15,600.00
GST at 7% $  1,092.00

 Please refer to the GST: Guide on Imports  (240KB) for GST reporting requirements, GST on importation of goods and various related schemes.

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Exempt Imports

With effect from 1 Oct 2012, the importation of investment precious metals (IPM) into Singapore is exempt from payment of import GST (i.e. an 'exempt import'). Importers do not need to pay GST on importation. Notwithstanding that the importation of IPM is exempt from payment of import GST, you are required to take up an Exemption permit via TradeNet® for the importation of IPM. For more information, please refer to GST: Guide on Exemption of Investment Precious Metals (IPM) (224KB).

You do not need to report the value of the exempt imports of IPM in your GST returns. However, you should still maintain relevant documents (e.g. import permit, purchase order, invoice, delivery note) to support such purchases.

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Claiming GST paid on imports

Subject to the conditions for claiming input tax, you are entitled to claim the GST that you have paid to Singapore Customs for your imports. The input tax claims must be supported by import permits which show you as the importer of the goods. If the name of importer was wrongly declared, please refer to Mistakes in import declaration for what you should do.

You should declare in your GST return (F5):

  • Box 5 (Total value of taxable purchases): Actual value of imports as reflected in the import permit; or value of goods as reflected in the invoice issued by your supplier.

    Where the value reflected in the invoice issued by your supplier is different from the value reflected in the import permit, you should be able to reconcile the two values.  For over-declaration or under-declaration of value of import, please refer to Mistakes in import declaration for what you should do.
  • Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed): GST amount as reflected in the import permit.

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Relief of GST on imports


Imports by Parcel Post

Goods imported by parcel post (except for dutiable products) are not subject to GST when the CIF value is not more than S$400. When the CIF value is more than S$400, the entire sum would be subject to GST.

Example:

Total value of goods Do I need to pay GST?
$200  No. The CIF value is not more than $400.
$450 Yes. The CIF value is more than $400.
GST payable = $450 X 7% = $31.50

With effect from 1 Oct 2012, if an IPM is imported together with other goods by air or by post, the value of IPM should be disregarded when determining whether the value of your import exceeds the import relief threshold of $400.

Temporary Imports

You can also apply to Singapore Customs for GST relief on imports if the goods (other than liquor and tobacco) are temporarily imported for repair, modification, treatment or other approved purposes, subject to certain conditions.

Before 1 Apr 2012, GST relief is granted on temporary imports of goods if the goods are re-exported within 3 months from the date of importation. From 1 Apr 2012, to provide businesses with greater flexibility, importers can apply for a temporary import period of up to 6 months.

For more information, please visit Singapore Customs' webpage on Temporary Importation or contact Singapore Customs at (+65) 6355 2000.  

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Suspension of GST on imports

Suspension of GST on imports (i.e. import of goods without paying GST) is available under the following schemes or situations:

Major Exporter Scheme (MES)

MES is designed to alleviate the cash flow of businesses that import and export goods substantially. If you are under the MES, you are allowed to import non-dutiable goods with GST suspended. You can also enjoy GST suspension on goods removed from a Zero GST (ZG) warehouse. Import GST is only payable when the goods are removed from the ZG Warehouse for local consumption.

You can only use the scheme for goods that are owned by you or your overseas principal [where you act as a section 33(2) agent or section 33A agent].  For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the scheme in your GST return, please refer to Major Exporter Scheme (MES).

Zero GST Warehouse Scheme

The Zero GST (ZG) Warehouse Scheme is administered by Singapore Customs. If you operate a ZG warehouse under the scheme, you can import non-dutiable goods directly into the ZG Warehouse with GST suspended. Import GST is only payable when the goods are removed from the ZG Warehouse for local consumption.

For more information on the scheme, please visit Singapore Customs’ webpage on Zero GST Warehouse Scheme or contact Singapore Customs at (+65) 6355 2000. For information on how to report goods imported under the scheme in your GST return and the GST treatment related to goods stored in ZG Warehouse, please refer to GST Guide for Free Trade Zones (FTZs), Warehouses and Excise Factories (529KB).

Approved Third Party Logistics Company (3PL) Scheme

Approved 3PL Scheme may enhance the competitiveness of logistics company that provides logistics management services for its overseas principals who use Singapore as a logistics hub.

If you are under the Approved 3PL Scheme, you are allowed to import goods with GST suspended. You can also enjoy GST suspension on goods removed from a Zero GST warehouse.  For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the Scheme in your GST return, please refer to Approved Third Party Logistics (3PL) Company Scheme.

Goods temporarily removed from Zero-GST or Licensed Warehouse for auctions and exhibitions

GST is suspended on goods removed from approved warehouses for auctions or exhibitions.  This is provided that the goods are returned to the warehouse after the auction or exhibition.

For more information, please visit Singapore Customs’ webpage on Temporary Removal of Goods for Auctions & Exhibitions or contact Singapore Customs at (+65) 6355 2000.

Approved Contract Manufacturer and Trader (ACMT) Scheme

If you are approved as an ACMT contract manufacturer under the ACMT Scheme, you can enjoy import GST suspension for your own goods, goods belonging to an overseas person in your capacity as a section 33(2) or 33A agent and goods consigned to you by your overseas client on which value added activities are performed under the ACMT scheme. 

For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the scheme, please refer to GST: Approved Contract Manufacturer and Trader (ACMT) Scheme (520KB).

Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme (ARCS)

The import GST suspension privileges under ARCS depend on whether you are an Approved Refiner or Approved Consolidator.

If you are an Approved Refiner, you can enjoy import GST suspension for your own goods, goods belonging to an overseas person in your capacity as a section 33(2) or 33A agent and goods consigned to you by your overseas customer for refining into investment precious metals (IPM) or precious metals.

If you are an Approved Consolidator, you can enjoy import GST suspension for your own goods or goods consigned to you by an overseas customer, for the purpose of refining into IPM or precious metals.

For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the scheme, please refer to GST: Approved Refiner and Consolidator Scheme (ARCS) (464KB).

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Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS)

With effect from 1 October 2010, eligible GST-registered businesses can apply for the Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS) as announced in Budget 2010.

If you are under IGDS, you must file your GST returns on a monthly basis and are allowed to defer import GST payments until your monthly GST return due dates. This means that you account for the deferred import GST and claim it as input tax in the same GST return. For more information, please refer to Import GST Deferment Scheme (IGDS).

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Free Trade Zone & Transhipments

The Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are designated areas in Singapore where the payment of duties and taxes (e.g. GST) are suspended when the goods arrived in Singapore. You do not need to declare them as your taxable purchases in your GST return until the goods crossed the duty point and into customs territory.

For more information, please visit Singapore Customs' website  or contact Singapore Customs at (+65) 6355 2000.

GST treatment related to overseas goods stored in Free Trade Zone

Overseas goods refer to goods from outside Singapore landing in FTZ and pending customs clearance.

  • If the goods are removed from FTZ into customs territory, GST is payable to Singapore Customs unless you are under the Major Exporter SchemeApproved Third Party Logistics Company SchemeApproved Import GST Suspension Scheme or Import GST Deferment Scheme.
  • If the goods are removed from FTZ into another FTZ, a Zero-GST Warehouse or Licensed Warehouse, GST is not payable to Singapore Customs.
  • If the goods are removed from FTZ for export (i.e. transhipment), GST is not payable to Singapore Customs.  GST is also not chargeable as the supplies are out-of-scope. You do not need to report the supplies in your GST return.
  • If the goods are used or consumed within FTZ, GST is payable to Singapore Customs.
  • If the goods are supplied within FTZ (i.e. goods remain in FTZ), GST is not chargeable as the supplies are out-of-scope. You do not need to report the supplies in your GST return.

For more information, please refer to GST Guide for Free Trade Zones (FTZs), Warehouses and Excise Factories (529KB).

GST treatment related to local goods stored in Free Trade Zone

Local goods refer to goods that have cleared customs control and locally-manufactured goods

  • If the goods are removed from FTZ and re-enters customs territory, GST is payable to Singapore Customs unless relief has been granted by Singapore Customs
  • If the goods are supplied within FTZ, GST is chargeable and needs to be accounted for in the GST return as standard-rated supplies. However, supplies of goods that are intended for export can be zero-rated. You need to maintain the required export evidence stated in GST: A Guide on Exports (840KB)

For more information, please refer to our GST Guide for Free Trade Zones (FTZs), Warehouses and Excise Factories (529KB).  

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Importation on behalf of overseas principal - Section 33(2) and 33A agents

Section 33(2) agent
You may import and supply goods on behalf of an overseas person who is not GST-registered in Singapore.

For GST purposes:

  • The goods are imported by you. You are entitled to claim the GST paid (subject to the conditions for claiming input tax);
  • Any subsequent supply of the goods is made by you as if you are the principal.
    • If you sell the goods locally, you should standard-rate the supply (i.e. charge GST).
    • If you export the goods and maintain the required export evidence, you may zero-rate the supply. For the types of export evidence to maintain under each type export scenario, refer to GST: A Guide on Exports (840KB) and GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme  (616KB)

The import and supply of goods on behalf of your overseas principal should be declared in your GST return.  You have to account for the output tax on standard-rated supplies and will be allowed to claim the GST paid on importation as your input tax, subject to the conditions for input tax claim.

Prior to 1 Jan 2012, you must supply the goods with no change in the form and nature of the goods. With effect from 1 Jan 2012, you are allowed to act as a section 33(2) agent even where there is a change in nature and form of the goods. However, you must be able to track the goods and ensure that all goods imported in the capacity of a section 33(2) agent are supplied.

Please refer to the GST: Guide on Imports  (240KB) for more information.


Change of Section 33(2) agent and transfer of overseas principal's goods
The overseas principal may appoint another agent to act on its behalf. As the existing agent, you are to transfer the imported goods belonging to the overseas principal to the newly appointed agent. The new agent will be responsible in charging and accounting for GST on the subsequent sale or disposal of the transferred goods.

You are allowed to transfer the overseas principal’s goods to the new agent without having to repay the import GST previously claimed, deferred or suspended on the condition that:

  • you and the new agent declare that you satisfy all the conditions and obligations set out in sections 5 and 6 of the self-review form “Self-Review of Eligibility and Declaration on the Change of Agent and Transfer of Goods under Section 33(2) of the GST Act (141KB); and
  • the original declaration form is submitted to the Comptroller before the date of transfer of goods.

    Please refer to the GST: Guide on Imports  (240KB) for more information.

     

    Section 33A agent
    With effect from 1 Jan 2012, if you import goods belonging to an overseas person and subsequently export the goods (but without a subsequent supply of the goods), you may claim the GST paid at importation on behalf of the overseas person (i.e. as an agent) under section 33A if certain requirements are satisfied.

Please refer to the GST: Guide on Imports  (240KB) for information on the requirements for a section 33A agent. 


Maintain audit trail and records

You are required to provide sufficient audit trail for import and supply of goods made on behalf of the overseas principal. Therefore, you must keep separate records for goods belonging to the overseas principal and comply with the record keeping requirements for GST.

If you are under the Major Exporter Scheme (MES)

You can use your MES status to import non-dutiable goods belonging to your overseas principal for subsequent sale in Singapore or re-export on behalf of the overseas principal. GST will be suspended at the point of importation.

For more information on the scheme, please refer to Major Exporter Scheme.

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Last Updated on 26 February 2014


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