How to import From China to Singapore

How To Import To Singapore From China: The Ultimate Guide 2024

Considering bringing goods from China to Singapore ? It’s a smart move in our interconnected world. Long gone are the days when we relied solely on local produce. The internet revolutionized global trade in the 90s, making international shipping commonplace. If it’s not available locally, chances are you’ll find it abroad – especially in China’s vast market. But, the importing process can seem daunting. Wondering how to get started?

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How to import From China to Singapore

What Goods Can You Ship from China to Singapore?

Almost anything is fair game for import, subject to Singapore regulations. Steer clear of illegal items like weapons, drugs, harmful substances, or fakes, and you’re set to go.

Importing Electronics From China To Singapore

Before importing electronics, ensure they’re certified against electromagnetic interference to avoid customs issues.


Importing Hair accessories From China To Singapore

The global demand for hair products includes Singapore, with opportunities in both budget and luxury segments.


Importing Building Materials From China To Singapore

With economic growth, Singapore’s demand for building materials like doors, tiles, and roofing is on the rise.


Importing Solar Panels From China To Singapore

The energy crisis has spiked interest in alternative energy, opening a market for solar panels.


Importing Fashion Accessories From China To Singapore

From casual tote bags to luxury handbags, Singapore’s diverse market has room for a wide range of bag imports.

What Goods Can You Ship from China to Singapore?

Almost anything is fair game for import, subject to Singapore regulations. Steer clear of illegal items like weapons, drugs, harmful substances, or fakes, and you’re set to go.

Importing Electronics From China To Singapore

Before importing electronics, ensure they’re certified against electromagnetic interference to avoid customs issues.


Importing Hair accessories From China To Singapore

The global demand for hair products includes Singapore, with opportunities in both budget and luxury segments.


Importing Building Materials From China To Singapore

With economic growth, Singapore’s demand for building materials like doors, tiles, and roofing is on the rise.


Importing Solar Panels From China To Singapore

The energy crisis has spiked interest in alternative energy, opening a market for solar panels.


Importing Fashion Accessories From China To Singapore

From casual tote bags to luxury handbags, Singapore’s diverse market has room for a wide range of bag imports.

Importing Cosmetics From China To Singapore

With a large youth population, the African continent, including Singapore, is seeing a surge in demand for cosmetic products.


Importing Jewellery From China To Singapore

Whether it’s affordable fashion pieces or high-end luxury jewellery, there’s a growing customer base in Singapore

Importing Wedding Attire From China To Singapore

The popularity of white weddings in Singapore makes it an ideal market for imported wedding dresses.


Importing Industrial Machinery From China To Singapore

Singapore’s manufacturing sector is always on the lookout for cost-effective machines and equipment from China.


Importing Vehicle Tyres From China To Singapore

The auto industry’s need for affordable tyres presents a lucrative opportunity for importing from China.


Importing Auto Parts From China To Singapore

The auto parts industry is garnering significant interest throughout Africa. With a burgeoning population, energetic young adults, and increased economic activity, the demand for vehicles is rising. This surge necessitates a regular influx of spare parts to ensure the smooth running of these automobiles.


Exploring the Toy Market import to Singapore

Toys are carving out a significant niche in Singapore’s retail sector. From well-known stores like ToysRUS to the thriving shopping centers dotting the nation, toy retailers are emerging with striking frequency.

Furniture Imports from China: A Smart Economic Move

The fact that most people need a bargain makes it a deal to import furniture from China to Singapore. Houses continue to spring up across the country in housing complexes and estates of all kinds. They provide a ready market for imported furniture,

Importing Fashion and Footwear From China To Singapore

The importation of clothing and footwear from China mirrors that of the furniture business. Trendy women’s attire and men’s fashion enjoy high popularity. The same is valid for children’s clothing. Singapore value style, making the market for fashionable shoes and clothes a profitable avenue worth pursuing.

Importing Cars From China To Singapore

Importing vehicles from China may not be commonplace, given the hefty duties imposed on cars valued over R200,000. These taxes can make imported vehicles more expensive than those assembled locally, which is why the volume of car imports remains modest compared to Singapore’s exports.

Identifying Trustworthy Manufacturers for Imports

Determining a manufacturer’s reliability hinges on customer feedback and online presence. Direct dealings with manufacturers often yield better quality products.

When scouting for manufacturers, consider these avenues:

  • Online B2B marketplaces like
  • Social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Facebook groups
  • Search engines such as Google or Bing


While these are valid starting points, they might not lead you to the top-tier suppliers. Additional reliable sources include:

  • Personal referrals
  • Local trade associations or Chambers of Commerce
  • Industry-specific trade fairs
  • Professional sourcing agents


Trade fairs allow for hands-on product assessment, and referrals can lead to advantageous partnerships. Chambers and local associations ensure credible dealings. Sourcing agents bridge the gap between you and manufacturers, overcoming language barriers and negotiating better deals with their understanding of the local business culture.


Language obstacles can be a significant hurdle, potentially leading to miscommunication or the extra expense of hiring an interpreter unfamiliar with your industry. Sourcing agents are instrumental in this context, leveraging their knowledge of local practices and language to facilitate smoother transactions.


Consider these pathways when planning your import strategy from China to Singapore. With the right approach and connections, importing can be a seamless part of your business growth.

How to Evaluate Your Supplier’s Authenticity ? 

  • When assessing a potential supplier, dig deeper than the surface. While a supplier’s Alibaba profile may seem credible, it’s prudent to initiate a direct conversation. Relying solely on online profiles and images could lead you astray. If feasible, consider visiting the manufacturing facilities for a more thorough evaluation.
  • A supplier should offer a consistent product range. If you notice that their offerings are erratic, like mixing electronic components with sportswear and truck tires, caution is advised. This inconsistency could indicate they are reselling goods rather than manufacturing them, which could complicate quality assurance and product availability.
  • In China, business tends to be organized into industry clusters. Verify the supplier’s address to distinguish between a manufacturer and a trading company. This can provide insight into the nature of the supplier’s operations.

How To Ship Products To Singapore From China

You’ve chosen your product and secured a trusted manufacturer. Now, it’s time to consider shipping your cargo, such as three tons of baby toys.

Shipping methods vary, sea freight full container load (FCL) is the best choice for over 15 cubic meters, less than container (LCL)  loading is the best choice for below 15 cubic meters, and if speed is the primary factor, air freight is the best choice, but remember the choice should align with your cargo’s nature. 


For non-perishable items like jeans, slower sea freight may suffice.  However, if you are importing perishables or time-sensitive goods like holiday decor, you may need quicker shipping solutions.


Consider the nature of your goods when selecting a shipping method. Some items, like chocolates, may require expedited shipping or special conditions, like refrigeration, to prevent damage. Conversely, bulky or heavy items, such as machinery, are typically sea-freighted due to logistical constraints with air transport. Certain goods might have shipping restrictions. For instance, pressurized containers may not be air freight eligible. Understand the limitations when choosing between air and sea shipping. For more details, read this guide 


Understanding Incoterms

Importing goods from China to Singapore involves various terms known as Incoterms that govern the responsibilities and costs. Understanding these terms is essential to ensure a hassle-free importation process. Let’s take a closer look at the 11 Incoterms and how they affect your transactions:

Ex Works (EXW):

With EXW, the seller’s responsibility is minimal. They simply make the products available at a specific location, such as their premises. As the buyer, you shoulder all the responsibilities, including picking up the goods, loading them, and covering transportation costs, duties, and insurance.

Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF):

When using CIF, the seller takes care of delivering the goods to the vessel, handling customs clearance, freight charges, and providing minimum insurance coverage for your benefit as the buyer.

Cost and Freight (CFR):

CFR means that the seller is responsible for covering the costs and freight. Once the products are loaded onto the vessel, the buyer assumes responsibility, just before the main carriage takes place.

Free on Board (FOB):

FOB puts the onus on the seller to load the goods onto the vessel and clear customs. As the buyer, you get to choose the port from which the goods will depart. Once the products are on board, all the costs and risks are transferred to you.

Free Alongside Ship (FAS):

Under FAS, the seller remains responsible for the goods until they are delivered to the port alongside the specified ship. The seller covers customs and transport costs, ensuring a smooth process for you.

Free Carrier (FCA):

FCA is often used for containerized goods. In this arrangement, the seller takes care of arranging and paying for pre-carriage services from their warehouse to a designated place, which could be a terminal or a forwarder’s warehouse. The risks and costs transfer to the carrier when the goods reach the specified location for loading. However, the seller is still responsible for customs clearance if the place is still within their premises.

Carriage and Insurance Paid to (CIP):

CIP places responsibility on the seller for goods, carriage costs, and insurance until the products reach the destination port. Once the goods are handed over to the first carrier, all risks and costs are passed onto you as the buyer.

Carriage Paid To (CPT):

When using CPT, the seller arranges and pays for goods carriage but not insurance. Once the goods are transferred to the carrier, you assume responsibility for all subsequent costs. If desired, you can choose to obtain insurance coverage at this stage.

Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU):

Formerly known as Delivered at Terminal, DPU puts the seller in charge of all risks and costs related to goods carriage, delivery, and unloading. After unloading, the responsibility shifts to you as the buyer, including duties, taxes, and import clearances.

Delivered at Place (DAP):

Similar to DPU, DAP places the responsibility of unloading the goods from the conveyance onto you as the buyer. The seller takes care of the rest, ensuring that the goods are available for unloading at the designated place.

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP):

DDP places the most responsibility on the seller. They handle all risks and costs, including delivery, import duties, taxes, and goods insurance. Import clearance is also their responsibility, simplifying the process for you.

By understanding these 11 Incoterms, you can effectively communicate and coordinate with buyers, carriers, and freight forwarders to ensure a smooth importation process for your goods from China to Singapore.

Import regulations and procedures step by step Guideline 

Verify Product Classification

It’s critical for importers to ensure their products align with Singapore’s classifications and safety standards. Before you apply for a customs permit, it’s advisable to confirm these details, though it’s also acceptable to do so post-activation of your Singapore Customs Account.

Ensure your merchandise isn’t included in the list of prohibited imports in Singapore, detailed in an earlier segment. For safety standards, please revisit the section on Consumer Goods Safety Regulations and check compliance with Enterprise Singapore or the relevant authorities for your product type.

To identify if your goods face any restrictions or are controlled, use the HS/CA Product Code Search. Singapore adopts the WCO’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS). You’ll need to provide one of the following in the HS/CA Product Code Search:

  • Product description
  • HS code
  • CA product code

Controlled items will list the CA’s name next to the HS code, allowing you to easily reach out for any licensing needs. For a definitive 8-digit HS code, request an official classification ruling; keep in mind the Customs web engine shows HS codes up to 6 digits. This service costs S$75 per product and is exclusive to Singapore.

Activate a Singapore Customs Account

To initiate your Customs Account, obtain a Unique Entity Number (UEN), the standard identifier for entities conducting transactions with Singapore’s government. Your ACRA registration number will serve as your UEN. Should you be unable to obtain it via ACRA, contact an appropriate UEN Issuance Agency like Enterprise Singapore. Then, head to the Singapore Customs website to activate your account.

Set Up an Inter-Bank GIRO Account

An Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) account facilitates direct payments of GST, import fees, and other customs charges. Fill out the Application for Inter-Bank GIRO form and send it to the address provided by Singapore Customs. Approval typically takes 3-4 weeks. Post-approval, you can authorize your Declaring Agent to make payments using your IBG. If no IBG is established, payments default to your agent’s IBG. Funds will be deducted once your customs import permit is approved.

Organize Required Security

Certain transactions necessitate lodging security, including those involving dutiable goods or temporary imports. The amount varies by transaction type and can be checked on the Security Lodgement page of Singapore Customs. Lodge security through an Insurance Bond, Banker’s Guarantee, or Finance Company Guarantee. Submit the original to Singapore Customs for registration, which takes 3 working days.

Apply for a Customs Import Permit

For a Customs Permit, register for a TradeNet user ID on the Customs website. You can either register as a Declaring Agent or appoint someone else to do so. Apply for the permit via TradeNet, either through a solution provided by an approved vendor or the government’s application. The application fee is S$2.88, excluding additional agent and freight forwarder fees. For containerized cargo, include the shipper seal and container numbers. In the event of TradeNet downtime, use a Letter of Undertaking from the Import Permits page.

Submit Clearance Documents

Import and cargo clearance necessitate various documents, such as:

Keep printed copies for potential inspection and retain all trade documents for 5 years following customs permit approval.

Singapore Import Duties and Taxes

Singapore’s economy is largely duty-free, with over 99% of imports exempt from duties. Nonetheless, duties and excise taxes are levied on certain items such as motor vehicles, alcohol, tobacco, biodiesel blends, and petroleum products. The customs duty rate and excise duties are ad valorem, while import duty is calculated based on specific rates relative to weight or quantity. GST, currently at 9%, is applied to all imports, with dutiable goods’ GST calculated on a CIF value including all duties and charges. Non-dutiable goods’ GST also considers incidental charges. For more details, visit the ASEAN-CHINA Free Trade Area Business Portal at

Consumer Goods Safety Regulations in Singapore

# Key Takeaway: Understanding Consumer Goods Safety Regulations (CGSR) is crucial for importers bringing products into Singapore. CGSR aims to protect consumers by setting safety requirements for various categories of goods. Enterprise Singapore administers these regulations, and non-compliant products can face sales bans. Importers must ensure their products meet CGSR standards to avoid legal consequences.

Imported products entering Singapore must comply with the Consumer Goods Safety Regulations (CGSR) to ensure consumer safety. CGSR covers goods such as apparel, toys, furniture, mattresses, beddings, children’s products, recreational and sports products, and do-it-yourself tools.

Key Info:

  • CGSR sets safety requirements for imported goods to safeguard consumers in Singapore.
  • Enterprise Singapore is responsible for administering and enforcing CGSR regulations.
  • There are two categories under CGSR: Category 1 (complying with international standards) and Category 2 (complying with national/regional standards).
  • Certain products, like cosmetics, medical devices, and food products, are regulated separately by other authorities.

Importers need to ensure their products meet CGSR standards. Non-compliant goods may face sales bans and legal consequences. Prioritizing consumer safety and compliance with CGSR is essential for a successful import business in Singapore.

How to Register for a Taobao Account in the Singapore ?

We mentioned that the Taobao website is entirely in the Chinese language.  You can refer to this guide 

3 Ways to Ship from Alibaba and Taobao to the Singapore 

There are multiple ways to ship from Taobao to the Singapore. We’ll go through each of them and then discuss which one is the most suitable.

Taobao Official Logistics

Leveraging Taobao’s official logistics is widely regarded as the most secure method to obtain items from the platform, though it may not be the easiest. Taobao restricts its delivery options to just air and sea freight. To utilize Taobao’s official dispatch services, it’s necessary for you to input your Singapore delivery details into your account settings. Navigate to the “shipping address” option on the sidebar of Taobao’s main page, enter your information, and confirm by saving. With your address recorded, it’s time to select your desired items and add them to your cart. When you’re set to finalize your purchase, Taobao directs you to a split payment system for check out. The initial payment includes the cost of your items and the domestic shipping fee to the warehouse. This initial transaction addresses the first leg of the delivery journey only.

Once your goods arrive at the warehouse, a confirmation will be sent to your phone. Then, you’re able to arrange for international shipping from the warehouse. Remember, your goods can be stored at the warehouse for up to 20 days at no cost. Following this, you’ll be prompted to pay for the international leg of the shipping, which commences once the payment is verified. The final step is simply to await the arrival of your order.

Alternative Third-Party Freight Forwarder Options

For an alternative shipping route, consider employing Chinese freight forwarder. These entities are known for their dependability and expertise in managing deliveries from China to the Singapore. To use their services, register on their platform to receive a designated address. This address will replace your personal one on Taobao for shipping purposes. Though similar to Taobao’s in-house service, this option involves an external handler and an additional service charge.

The Convenience of Taobao Agents

For those finding the direct purchasing process from Taobao daunting, enlisting a Taobao agent might be a wise choice. These agents or agencies take on the task of purchasing and logistical management for you. 

More than mere shippers, these agents handle negotiations, quality checks, and ensure the safe delivery of your products, eliminating any language barriers. While there’s an added cost for their services, the convenience and assurance they provide can be invaluable, especially for those unfamiliar with purchasing from Chinese marketplaces.

Shipping Times from China to Singapore

you can refer to this China & Singapore Shipping guide 

6 Most common Risks And Problems When Importing From China To Singapore (With Recommendation)  

In the quest for cost-effective sourcing, businesses often look to import goods. While this can align with financial goals, it does come with inherent risks.


Risk 1: Communication Barriers

Overseas transactions can be hampered by language differences and cultural misunderstandings.

Recommendation: Engage with a bilingual intermediary who understands the local culture and industry nuances to bridge the communication gap.


Risk 2: Cultural Differences in Business

The business etiquette and practices in China differ significantly from those in Singapore, posing challenges in negotiations and relationship-building.

Recommendation: Partner with someone who has a decade-long experience in Chinese business culture to navigate these waters effectively.


Risk 3: Inaccurate Fulfillment


Receiving incorrect orders can be a major setback, and small businesses might struggle to get manufacturers to correct errors.

Recommendation: Work with a broker who is valued by manufacturers, as they’re seen as gateways to future business and have more sway in rectifying issues.


Risk 4: Unforeseen Expenses

Time spent haggling over prices can lead to missed business opportunities.

Recommendation: Utilize a local expert with industry pricing knowledge to avoid costly delays.


Risk 5: Excessive Shipping Costs

Air freight is expensive, and partial shipments can result in paying for unused container space.

Recommendation: Find logistics partners to consolidate shipments, sharing costs, and optimizing container space usage.


Risk 6: Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Ensuring your designs and trademarks are not replicated can be challenging.

Recommendation: Choose reputable manufacturers and work with an agent skilled in intellectual property rights to safeguard your interests.

In Conclusion

Doing thorough research before importing from China is crucial. With the insights provided, you have a solid starting point for planning your imports.


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