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Establishing a Trading Company in Singapore

Establishing a Trading Company in Singapore

Singapore is well-known for the trading facilities it offers and according to the latest reports issued by the World Trade Organization the city-state is the 14th largest exporter in the world with a trade to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio of 404.9. Singapore is home to almost 3000 international and domestic logistics and supply chain management companies that benefit from very well-established import and export procedures.

The first step to take when establishing a trading company is to register the company with the Trade Register in Singapore. In case your are considering opening a LLCyou should visit this article about the process of setting up a private limited company in Singapore. The second step will be to register the company with the Singapore Customs. In Singapore, all importers and exporters must activate an account with the Customs authorities before starting their trading operations. The activation of an account takes about one or two days.

You can rely on our Singapore consultants in company formation for the registration procedure of trading companies in the city-state. The video below also presents the main steps to follow in order to open a company in Singapore in the trading sector:

Registration with the Customs Authorities in Singapore

After the Singapore company formation process is completed, the second step is to set up an account with the Customs Authorities as seen above. The registration consists in appointing a declaring agent who will be contact person between the Singapore trading company and the Customs Authority and creating and activating the account.

While newly-registered trading companies can activate their account once the company registration process is completed with ACRA, existing companies are required to complete and file an application with the Customs Authorities.

It should also be noted that the trading company must open an Inter-Bank Giro account (IBG) in order to be able to pay the GST, the customs duties and other fees related to the transactions they make.

Our company formation consultants in Singapore can offer more information on how to register with the Customs Authorities.

We also offer tailored guidance on winding up a company in Singapore.

Appointing a declaring agent for the Singapore trading company

As mentioned above, opening a trading company in Singapore in 20234 implies having a contact person who will be authorized to carry out any activities or complete any procedure related to transactions involving the customs authorities, including operating the IBG account. The declaring agent can be one of the company’s managers or directors or can be an independent entity. However, it must be appointed by someone in the management of the trading company.

The appointment of the declaring agents consists in filing the following information with the Customs Authority:

  • the company’s Unique Entity Number (UEN);
  • the IBG account number;
  • the UEN of the company acting as a declaring agent or personal information on the individual acting as a declaring agent.

It must be noted that the declaring agent can be replaced every one, two or three years depending on their qualifications. Declaring agents are accepted by the Customs Authorities based on an assessment of their qualifications and on the activities of the Singapore trading company.

Applying for licenses and permits for trading in Singapore in 2024

In order to be able to import and export goods into and out of Singapore, trading companies must obtain an IN Permit, respectively an OUT Permit with the TradeNet. The OUT Permit is necessary for:

  • controlled exported goods transported via railway or road,
  • for non-controlled goods transported by sea or air,
  • for exported good that have been first imported under the Temporary Import Scheme.

Imported or exported uncontrolled goods of a total value below 400 S$ on the CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) may benefit from special circumstances and not be required any license or permit in Singapore. Our incorporation agents can give you more details about the necessary licenses for trading and can also help you open a bank account in Singapore for your trading company.

Special imported and exported goods in Singapore

Certain imported or exported goods traded by Singapore trading companies are subject to the control of the Controlling Agencies. These goods are known as controlled goods and require a special permit in addition to the IN or OUT Permit. Controlled goods include cigarettes, tobacco products, animals, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.

Singapore trading companies involved in importing high-technology products may be required to provide an Import Certificate and Delivery Verification (ICDV) permit. The Singapore Customs Office will issue this type of license for importers. ICDV products must be imported in Singapore and not be exported in other countries.

Another type of license a trading company in Singapore must obtain is the Strategic Good Control (SGC) TradeNet Permit. The SGC permit is required for exporting, transshipping, or bringing Strategic Goods that are used for weapons. Singapore trading companies may also be required for a Certificate of Origin (CO) when exporting locally produced goods.

Import-export statistics in Singapore

According to the latest data, Singapore’s trading balance in April 2024 was SGD 47 billion, with both imports and exports on the rise. Moreover:

  • the value of exports reached SGD 43.4 billion, while imports were valued at SGD 40.3 billion;
  • between April 2023 and April 2024, the total exports of the city-state rose by 13.6% or SGD 5.25 billion;
  • during the same period, imports also increased by 18.9% or from SGD 33.9 billion to SGD 40.3 billion.

Among the most exported goods of Singapore were electrical machinery and appliances, petroleum and related-products, as well as, office and automated data processing equipment.

If you want to open a company in Singapore as a trading business in 2024 and need details about all required licenses and permits, please contact our specialists in company incorporation.