Importing of goods

GST is imposed on most goods imported into Singapore, regardless whether the importer is GST-registered. However, there are specific reliefs, exemptions for certain goods or special schemes where the GST payable is suspended or deferred.

GST will be imposed on imported services from 1 Jan 2020.

GST on imports

GST on imports is generally payable regardless whether the importer is GST-registered. The exceptions are:

Charging GST

Import GST is collected by Singapore Customs. It is charged on the total of:

  1. CIF value (Cost, Insurance and Freight)
  2. All duties payable (as assessed by Singapore Customs)
  3. Commission and other incidental charges

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 ($15,600.00 X 7%)

Please refer to GST: Guide on Imports (PDF, 392KB) for GST reporting requirements, GST on the importation of goods and various related schemes.

Exempt imports

Investment precious metals (IPM) imported into Singapore are exempt from import GST. IPM is considered an exempt import and importers do not need to pay GST on importation. However, you must still apply for an Exemption Permit via TradeNet® in order to import IPM.

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

Please refer to GST: Guide on Exemption of Investment Precious Metals (IPM) (PDF, 389KB) for more information.

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 that 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 your imports in Box 5 and Box 7 of your GST returns.

In Box 5 (Total value of taxable purchases), you should declare the actual value of your imports as reflected in the import permit.

If the value reflected in your supplier's invoice is different from the value in your import permit, you must 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.

In Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed), you must fill in the GST amount as reflected in the import permit.

Claiming GST on the re-importation of goods for local and GST-registered overseas customers

You may be contracted to supply value-adding activities (for example, testing, repair or assembly) on goods belonging to your local customers (whether GST-registered or not) or GST-registered overseas customers. You may send the goods to an overseas subcontractor to perform part of or all the value-adding activities. When you subsequently re-import the goods into Singapore, you will incur import GST.

You are entitled to claim the full GST incurred on the re-importation of such goods as your input tax under section 33B of the GST Act, if certain conditions are satisfied.

Please refer to GST: Claiming of GST on re-import of value-added goods (PDF, 565KB), for more details.

Relief of GST on imports

Goods imported by air or by post (except for dutiable products) are not subject to GST when the CIF value is not more than $400. If the CIF value is more than $400, then the entire sum is subject to GST.

Total value of goods imported by Parcel PostDo 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

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

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

Suspension of GST on imports

The suspension of GST on imports is available for a number of schemes and also in a number of situations.

GST suspension schemes

You can import goods without paying GST if you are under the following schemes:

MES helps 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) / Licensed warehouse. Import GST is only payable when the goods are removed from the approved warehouses for local consumption.

You can only use the MES for goods that are owned by you or your overseas principal [where you act as a section 33(2) agent or section 33A agent].  You can also use your MES status to re-import non-dutiable goods belonging to your local customer or GST-registered overseas customer, which you have previously sent overseas for value-adding activities, if the conditions under section 33B of the GST Act are satisfied.

For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the scheme in your GST return, please refer to the page on Major Exporter Scheme.

The Zero GST (ZG) Warehouse and Licensed Warehouse Scheme are administered by Singapore Customs.

GST is suspended if you import non-dutiable goods directly into the ZG / Licensed Warehouse that you operate under this scheme. You only pay import GST when the goods are removed from the ZG or Licensed Warehouse for local consumption.

Please refer to GST Guide for Free Trade Zones, Warehouses and Excise Factories (PDF, 178KB) for information on:

  • How to report goods imported under the scheme in your GST return
  • GST treatment related to goods stored in ZG/Licensed Warehouses

Visit the Singapore Customs' webpage on schemes & licenses for more details on the schemes.

The aim of the Approved 3PL Scheme is to help enhance the competitiveness of logistics companies providing logistics management services for 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 approved warehouses.

For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the Scheme in your GST return, please refer to the page on Approved Third Party Logistics Company 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, as well as goods consigned to you by your overseas client on which value-adding activities are performed under the ACMT scheme. From 1 Jan 2015, you can also use your ACMT contract manufacturer status to re-import non-dutiable goods belonging to your local customer or GST-registered overseas customer, which you have previously sent overseas for value-adding activities, if the conditions under section 33B of the GST Act are satisfied.

For more information on the scheme and how to report goods imported under the scheme, please refer to GST: Approved Contract Manufacturer and Trader Scheme (PDF, 1091KB).

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, as well as goods consigned to you by your overseas customer for refining into investment precious metals (IPM) or precious metals. You can also use your ARCS status to re-import non-dutiable goods belonging to your local customer or GST-registered overseas customer, which you have previously sent overseas for value-adding activities, if the conditions under section 33B of the GST Act are satisfied.

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 (PDF, 881KB).

If you are approved under the IGDS, you can defer your import GST payment until your monthly GST return due dates. This means that you must file your GST returns on a monthly basis. You will account for the deferred import GST and claim it as input tax in the same GST return.

For more information, please refer to the page on Import GST Deferment Scheme.

Other GST suspension situations

You can also import goods without paying GST in the following situations:

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 refer to the page on Temporary Import Scheme.

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 cross the duty point and enter customs territory.

For more information, please visit Singapore Customs' webpages on import and export procedures.

This section is concerned with goods from outside Singapore landing in an FTZ and pending customs clearance.

For more information, please refer to GST Guide for Free Trade Zones, Warehouses and Excise Factories (PDF, 178KB).

This section is concerned with goods located in an FTZ that have cleared customs control and locally manufactured goods that are in an FTZ.

  • If the goods are removed from the FTZ and re-enter customs territory, GST is payable unless relief has been granted by Singapore Customs.
  • If the goods are supplied within the FTZ, GST is chargeable and needs to be accounted for in the GST return as standard-rated supplies. 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 (PDF, 717KB) to be eligible.

For more information, please refer to GST Guide for Free Trade Zones, Warehouses and Excise Factories (PDF, 178KB).

Importing on behalf of an overseas principal [section 33(2) and 33A agents]

Section 33(2) agent

You may import and supply goods in Singapore on behalf of an overseas person (who is either not GST-registered or is GST-registered under the overseas vendor registration (OVR) pay-only regime) as a section 33(2) agent.

For GST purposes:

  1. If the goods are imported by you, you are entitled to claim the GST paid (subject to the conditions for claiming input tax).
  2. Any subsequent supply of the goods is made by you as if you are the principal.
    • If you sell the goods locally, you should charge and account for GST at the standard-rate.
    • 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 of export scenario, refer to GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB) and GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (PDF, 332KB).

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. This is so even when there is a change in the nature and form of the goods. Please refer to GST: Guide on Imports (PDF, 392KB) for more information.

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

The overseas principal may appoint another agent to act on its behalf. As the existing agent, you need to transfer the imported goods belonging to the overseas principal to the newly appointed agent. The new agent will be responsible for 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:

Please refer to GST: Guide on Imports (PDF, 392KB) for more information.

Section 33A agent

If you import goods belonging to an overseas person and then export the goods (without further supply of the goods), you may claim the GST paid at the time of importing, on behalf of the overseas person as a section 33A agent, if certain conditions are met.

Please refer to GST: Guide on Imports (PDF, 392KB) for information on the requirements for a section 33A agent.

Maintaining records as an agent

As an agent, you must maintain sufficient documentary records and evidence for the import and supply of goods made on behalf of the overseas principal.

 You must:

  1. Keep separate records for goods belonging to the overseas principal; and
  2. Comply with the record keeping requirements for GST.

If you are under any import GST suspension scheme (E.g. Major Exporter Scheme (MES)) 

You can use your scheme status to import non-dutiable goods belonging to your overseas principal either for sale in Singapore or to re-export on behalf of the overseas principal. GST will be suspended at the point of import of the goods. This applies to any import GST suspension scheme such as the Major Exporter Scheme, Approved Third Party Logistics Company Scheme, Approved Contract Manufacturer & Trader Scheme, Approved Import GST Suspension Scheme and Approved Refiner & Consolidator Scheme.

Mistakes in import declarations

Instructions on what you should do when you make mistakes on import declarations, such as over-declaring or under-declaring the value of your imports, are listed below.

If you over-declared the value of imports and overpaid GST to Singapore Customs, you should declare in your GST return (F5):

  1. Box 5 (Total value of taxable purchases): The correct value of imports (i.e. the value reflected in the invoice from your supplier).
  2. Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed): The actual GST amount as reflected in your import permit.

Businesses under the Major Exporter Scheme (MES) may obtain ME permits to import goods into Singapore. GST on the imports will then be suspended.

If you have over-/ under-declared the value of imports in your ME permit, you do not need to cancel your ME permit. You should declare in your GST return (F5):

  1. Box 5 (Total value of taxable purchases): The correct value of imports (i.e. the value reflected in the invoice from your supplier).
  2. Box 9 (Total value of goods imported under the MES/ A3PL/ other approved schemes): The correct value of imports (i.e. the value reflected in the invoice from your supplier).

The import of investment precious metals (IPM) is exempt from GST.

If you have over-declared the value or quantity of IPM imports on your exemption permit, you should send an email to Singapore Customs at customs_vdp@customs.gov.sg to inform them of the mistake.

No adjustment to your GST return (F5) is required. However, you are required to maintain a copy of your correspondence with Singapore Customs as part of the record keeping requirements for GST purposes.

If you have under-declared the value of imports and under-paid GST, you need to pay the additional GST to Singapore Customs by obtaining a short payment permit. The short payment permit acts as documentary evidence for your input tax claim.

You should declare in your GST return (F5):

  1. Box 5 (Total value of taxable purchases): The total value of imports as reflected in the import permit and short payment permit.
  2. Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed): The total GST amount as reflected in the import permit and short payment permit.

If you have under-declared the value or quantity of IPM imports in your exemption permit, you need to obtain another exemption permit to declare the short-fall in the value or quantity.

For example, if you imported 100 IPM coins but wrongly declared 80 coins on your first permit, you should obtain another permit for the shortfall of 20 coins.

No adjustment to your GST return (F5) is required.

If you have declared the wrong importer's name in the import permit, you may recover the GST that had been paid from Singapore Customs. Another import permit with the correct importer's name should be obtained.

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

The import of Investment Precious Metals (IPM) is exempt from GST.

If you have erroneously obtained a payment permit and paid GST for an import of IPM, you may seek a refund of the GST erroneously paid by writing in to IRAS (the Comptroller of GST) with supporting documents to prove that the imports are IPM.

Upon approval from the Comptroller, you can claim the refund in your next GST return (F5) by reporting the amount as input tax in Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed).

An exemption permit should be obtained for the import of IPM. If you have erroneously obtained a ME permit for an import of IPM, you must send an email to Singapore Customs at customs_vdp@customs.gov.sg to inform them of the mistake.

You are required to make the necessary adjustment in your GST return (F5) by:

  1. Reducing the value under Box 5 (Total Value of Taxable Purchases).
  2. Reducing the value of Box 9 (Total Value of Goods Imported under the MES/ A3PL/ other approved schemes).

You are required to maintain a copy of your correspondence with Singapore Customs as part of the record keeping requirements for GST purposes.