How to ship from Australia to Singapore

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Before you ship your items from Australia to Singapore, there are several things you need to be aware of, such as documentation requirements, prohibited goods, the payment of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and more. Australian businesses looking to ship internationally to Singapore can do so effectively when they are more informed about the intricacies surrounding cross-border shipments.

Singapore derives the majority of its revenue from foreign trade, and it's no wonder why the little island has become Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in South-East Asia in recent years. With highly lucrative trades such as Australian chocolate and wines driving Singapore export markets, Australian businesses can better leverage on these global trade opportunities to expand internationally

However, before you start sourcing for a global express delivery provider to ship your products, you must first know what requirements you need to meet when shipping internationally. 

Popular products to ship from Australia to Singapore

With Singapore being one of Australia’s largest export markets, the tropical island serves as an attractive and major global hub for Australian exporters looking to capitalise on business opportunities in Asia. In fact, US$6.75 billion of the overall exports in Australia were for Singaporean consumers.

If you are an Australian business looking to tap into the Singapore market to reach your customers beyond domestic borders and wondering what Australian businesses usually export to Singapore, this article is for you. The list is long, but below are the 10 main export products of Australia from the year 2021:

  1. Mineral fuels, oils and distillation products

  2. Pearls, precious stones, metals and coins

  3. Animal, vegetable fats and oils, and cleavage products

  4. Meat and edible meat offal

  5. Machinery, nuclear reactors and boilers

  6. Electrical and electronic equipment

  7. Dairy products, eggs, honey and edible products

  8. Beverages, spirits and vinegar

  9. Aircraft and spacecraft

  10. Optical, photo, technical and medical apparatus

A guide for Australian businesses looking to expand into Singapore markets

Before you start shipping from Australia to Singapore, there are several steps to complete such as clearing customs in both countries, obtaining import permits, preparing essential documents and paying duties and taxes. To help you out, here are some useful pointers to get you started on the export process.

1. Prohibited goods in Singapore

When it comes to international shipping, businesses must comply with international trade laws. These laws govern everything, including what products can be sold where, how goods must be labelled, and what packaging materials are acceptable. Companies must also adhere to local regulations regarding product safety, environmental protection and labour conditions, among other things.

Singapore has strict laws against importing or exporting drugs, firearms, ammunition, tobacco, alcohol and certain other items. Importing these things into the country carries heavy penalties, so checking if you need any licences or permits for the items that you want to ship is extremely crucial.

Due to Singapore being a well-regulated country, some items that you don’t expect to be banned as they seem harmless may be restricted due to health or environmental risks. For instance, the ban on importing chewing gum into Singapore was implemented to eradicate the problem of littering in public places, as it can be hard to remove and clean. However, an exception was made in 2004 for therapeutic, dental and nicotine chewing gum. Therefore, before you import such controlled goods into Singapore, it is recommended that you seek proper authorisation from Competent Authorities (CA) on the necessary licensing requirements.

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To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of the prohibited and restricted goods that you cannot bring into Singapore, according to Singapore Customs:

  • Prohibited goods

  1. Chewing gum (except medicated and dental gum)

  2. Chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products 

  3. Cigarette lighters in the shape of dangerous weapons such as guns

  4. Controlled drugs and psychotropic substances

  5. Firecrackers

  6. Obscene articles, publications, videotapes, videodiscs and software

  7. Reproductions of copyright publications, videotapes, videodiscs, laser discs, records and cassettes 

  8. Seditious and treasonable materials

  9. Endangered species of wildlife and products derived from the body of such animals

  10. Telecommunication equipment such as scanning receivers

  • Restricted goods

  1. Animals, birds and their by-products

  2. Endangered species or wildlife and their by-products

  3. Meat and meat products

  4. Fish and seafood products

  5. Fruits and vegetables

  6. Arms and explosives

  7. Bullet-proof clothing

  8. Toy guns, pistols and revolvers

  9. Weapons, spears and swords

  10. Films, video and video games

  11. Publications and audio records

  12. Pharmaceuticals and medicines

  13. Poisons 

  14. Telecommunication and radio communication equipment

2. Singapore customs duties and import taxes

Australian companies can benefit from the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and enjoy free tax savings on all exports. Apart from the termination of import tariffs, the agreement also sees other key benefits. These include the increased facilitation of paperless trading to reduce business transaction costs, and the easing of residency requirements for the short-term entry of Australian business owners into Singapore.

While Australian products are able to enter Singapore duty-free, the only standing government taxes and charges that are still payable on Australian goods imported into Singapore are excise duties, and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Excise duties are charged on four categories of products: alcohol, tobacco, petroleum products as well as motor vehicles, and Singapore levies a flat 5% GST on most goods and services. Under Singapore’s laws, arriving travellers are required to declare and pay the duty and GST to bring in dutiable and taxable goods exceeding their duty-free concession and GST relief at the Customs Examination Area. As the conditions of the SAFTA can change at any given time, it is important to stay updated on the must-knows surrounding Singapore import tax.

3. Required shipping documentation

When you ship anything overseas, there are essential shipping documents that you need to prepare ahead of time in order to ensure that your shipments get to their final destination safely. Singapore has always taken tough measures against counterfeit items entering its borders. Hence, there is an increased need for Australian exporters to ensure that their shipment documents are compliant with Singapore regulations. 

These include transit permits, customs invoices, export declarations and certificates. They also consist of numerous forms that need to be filled and stamped by the importer. Even though some of these documents are optional, it is better to have them ready and organised beforehand. If you don’t have those documents, you will likely face delays at the border and additional charges for handling fees and processing time. This could delay receiving payments to your company or even result in penalties. 

While the exact documents you need to provide varies depending on where you’re shipping your goods to, the products you’re exporting as well as export controls, the common documents are usually as follows:

  1. Export declaration

  2. Commercial invoice

  3. Air Waybill

  4. Packing list

  5. Export licence

  6. Certificate of origin

There are other additional forms that you will need to present when exporting your products out of Australia to Singapore, so do prepare them in advance to avoid any unexpected delays.

Choose DHL Express for a reliable shipping experience

If you’re planning on expanding your business into Singapore, choosing the right logistics partner is imperative for ensuring your shipments reach their destination in the most optimal conditions. DHL Express is an international delivery provider that offers door-to-door delivery services across 200 countries worldwide. With our high-quality express shipping options, you can ship from Australia to Singapore effortlessly and with confidence. Partner with us today to get started.


Any regulatory information contained herein is for informational purposes only and DHL assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information. DHL does not provide specific regulatory or legal advice to the public and you are encouraged to seek your own legal or compliance counsel.