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How to easily ship a parcel from Singapore to the USA
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Both the USA and Singapore share bilateral trade relationships, thereby enhancing investment opportunities between both these countries. However, there is a methodical approach you need to follow if you wish to export from Singapore to the USA so that your goods don’t get stuck due to customs delays. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the customs rules and shipping process to send your parcel to the USA from Singapore with ease.

Key import documents necessary

When preparing your shipment or package for export from Singapore to the USA, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary documents filled out accurately, thoroughly, and in a timely manner. Using improperly filled out or inaccurate documents may result in shipping delays or even in your shipment being rejected from customs entirely. The necessary paperwork includes:

  • Waybill with complete and accurate goods descriptions indicated
  • Commercial invoice with clear and separate breakdown of all costs, including:
    • Goods Value
    • Freight
    • Insurance
    • Signature requirements (e.g. how many originals or copies; any other specific information needed)
  • Permits (depending on related agency requirements, e.g. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) permits for animal products).
  • Licences (for defence and military use commodities).
  • Required certificates for Free Trade Agreements and Returned Goods.

Depending on the characteristics of your shipment, additional customs or regulatory requirements may be applicable. DHL Express offers optional customs services to help you navigate routine and non-routine customs clearance processes so that you can have a fast and seamless shipping experience.

Key import requirements for e-commerce businesses

E-commerce businesses planning to ship items to the USA should take note of the following import requirements for e-commerce when planning their logistics and operations:

  • De minimis clearance limited to one shipment per consignee per day
    • Number of shipments can exceed one per receiver per day, providing aggregate value is <US$800 for that day.
  • No exceptions to other government agency requirements.
  • Tax ID (SSN) is required for shipments over US$2,500 in value.
  • E-commerce returns require provision of original export details (e.g. HWB number, date of export).

Customs rules for the USA

Listed below are selected key customs considerations for common goods imported into the USA. For a full list of prohibited and restricted items (including food products, biological materials, pets, and automobiles, please refer to https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items

Fabrics

  • Textile Declarations are no longer required for textile and apparel shipments. Instead, the shipper is only required to report the complete name and address information of the manufacturer for each article enclosed in the shipment.
  • All other information (e.g. fabric content, made for gender, knit/woven, and individual value per item) should be recorded on the Commercial Invoice.

Chemical and non-hazardous goods

  • A signed Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Declaration may be required for shipments of chemical substances, mixtures or articles that contain a chemical substance or mixture. All proper certification is required before US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can release an import shipment. Find out more at https://www.epa.gov/tsca-import-export-requirements/tsca-requirements-importing-chemicals.
  • Shippers are required to specify that the imported goods either comply with TSCA, or if not otherwise classified as excluded from TSCA, are not subject to TSCA regulations.
  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is also recommended and should be imaged.

Foodstuff (including grain)

  • Cheese and cheese products are subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements and quotas. 
  • Milk and cream products are subject to requirements of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Import Milk Act. Necessary permits may be obtained from the FDA and USDA.
  • All meat and meat food products derived from cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and horses are subject to USDA regulations. Shipments must be inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the relevant USDA department and US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Agriculture Program and Liaison Office.
  • Meat products from other sources are subject to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations.
  • All imported meat, poultry, and egg products must bear inspection certificates from the country of origin. Further information can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Importing%20into%20the%20U.S.pdf.
  • Honey imported for use as feed for bees is regulated by the USDA. More information can be found at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/permits/plant-pests/bees/ct_restricted_articles. Honey imported for personal consumption or for resale as food for humans is under the purview of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and requires separate permits and/or documentation.
  • Shippers are also required to register with the FDA and provide prior notice for all food shipments. Exceptions are made on commercial or non-commercial “gift packs” and gifts between friends and family. For further details, please visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/ImportsExports/default.htm
  • Certain agricultural commodities may require inspection by the FSIS to ensure import compliance, due to import restrictions.
  • Cotton products and tomato products, from cotton and tomatoes grown through forced labour in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, whether in whole or in part and regardless of where the products are produced are subject to US Customs detention and may either be seized, exported, or destroyed. Importers will have an opportunity to provide evidence that the cotton and tomatoes were not grown through forced labour.

Plants, animals, and their products and by-products

  • APHIS inspection and quarantine requirements must be met for the importation of all plant, plant products, livestock, animals, and animal by-products. Products without approval are subject to seizure or Return to origin (RTO). Find out more at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/importexport.
  • Importers should obtain the necessary permits prior to import and include the permit along with the shipment paperwork. Consignee tax ID and Power of Attorney (POA) may also be required.
  • Some products may require the attachment of a CITES document on the outside of the package. For further information, visit here: http://www.fws.gov

Drugs (in pharmacy with or without prescription)

  • The import of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications for commercial B2B shipments is strictly controlled. The import invoice must include:
  • Import of non-prescriptive OTC medication is prohibited by (B2C/C2C) individuals.
  • Importation of prescribed medications by individuals is limited to a 3-month (90 days) supply if all of the following conditions are met:
    • Effective treatment is not available in the USA.
    • Documentation from a doctor (including the name and address) responsible for the treatment, confirming that the drug is for personal use and includes the drug name (trade/generic), dosage, quantity, and the condition being treated.
    • SSN for the US citizens for proof of foreign citizenship (passport & number), including their period of stay in the USA.
    • More information can be found at https://www.fda.gov/industry/import-basics/personal-importation

Cosmetics

  • Effective July 7, 2023, all commercial cosmetics imports are subject to FDA approval, prior to CBP clearance. Shippers must file a formal entry for import, including the following documents:
    • CBP Form 301.
    • Entry summary.
    • Bill of lading.
    • Bill of sale or commercial invoice.
  • All entry documents must be filed with CBP within 5 working days of goods arrival, by the importer or their Customs broker.
  • To prevent clearance delays, the manufacturer’s registration or establishment number and a cosmetic registration number are recommended. For further information, read from the link here: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-international-activities/cosmetics-importers

Mobile phones, accessories, and component

  • Effective January 1, 2022, manufacturers must include a test summary for lithium cell or battery shipments, including the following information:
    • Name of cell, battery, or product manufacturer, as applicable.
    • Manufacturer's contact information, including address, telephone number, email address, and website.
    • Name address, telephone number, email address, and website of the test laboratory.
    • Unique test report identification number.
    • Date of test report.
    • Description of cell or battery (e.g. type of metal cell or battery, mass, watt-hour rating or lithium content, physical description, and model or product model number).
    • List of tests conducted and results (i.e., pass/fail).
    • Reference to assembled battery testing requirements (if applicable).
    • Reference to the revised edition of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria used and to amendments thereto, if any.
    • Signature with name and title of the signatory as an indication of the validity of the information provided.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7 with damaged or defective batteries are prohibited for shipment through air until further notice from the FAA, EASA, and the airline community. The ban covers the new Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices, including the newly manufactured ones from the factory and old Samsung Note7 devices recalled from retailers or distributors and customers.

Motor vehicles and parts

  • Import of motor vehicles must be approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Find out more at https://icsw.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/FAQ%20Site/index.html.
  • Motor vehicles approved by the NHTSA are required to bear a certificate containing the manufacturer name, date of manufacture, and statement of approval with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS).

Tobacco and tobacco products

Medical/ Dental Supplies & Equipment

Eyeglasses & Contact lenses

  • Sunglasses, spectacles, spectacle lenses and frames, and magnifying spectacles require FDA clearance. For that, the consignee’s Tax ID number and Power of Attorney are needed.
  • Lenses for spectacles and sunglasses sold in the USA must comply with impact-resistant lens regulations. For further requirements, follow the link over here: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm150001.htm 
  • Prescription eyewear, frames, and sunglasses for commercial use require an IRS or SSN with the full name including the middle initial and address of the consignee. In case the consignee doesn't have an IRS, an SSN can be provided.
  • All non-US residents can request a family member or friend to provide their US SSN information, including their home address, to act as the US importer on their behalf.

FDA requirements include the following:

  • Manufacturer’s full name and address 
  • FDA registration (DEV)
  • US Importer's FDA Registration (DII)
  • Medical Device Listing (LST)
  • Impact Resistance Certification for eyeglass lenses (IRC or Drop Ball Test)
  • Prescription eyewear for personal use requires SSN with the full name, including the middle initial and address. If the consignee is not a US resident, they may use a family member or friend's US SSN information, including their home address, to act as the importer on their behalf. 

FDA requirements include the following:

  • Manufacturer’s full name and address 
  • FDA registration (DEV)
  • US Importer's FDA Registration (DII)
  • Medical Device Listing (LST)
  • Impact Resistance Certification for eyeglass lenses (IRC or Drop Ball Test)

Personal Effects

  • Household effects (excluding clothing, jewellery, photography equipment, portable radios, and vehicles) are conditionally duty-free if:
    • Used abroad for no less than one year.
    • Not intended for any other person or for sale.
  • Clothing, jewellery, photography equipment, and portable radios are considered personal effects and cannot be imported as household effects. However, duty is usually waived on personal effects more than one year of age.
  • All vehicles brought in as personal effects are subject to relevant duties.
  • A CF3299 (declaration for free entry of personal effects) should be completed prior to the importation of personal effects. Find out more at https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-107?language=en_US

Antiques and Works of Art

  • Original works of art such as drawings, paintings, collages, pastels, decorative plaques, sculpture/statues, etc. will require the artist name on the invoice, the year it was produced, the edition (e.g. 1/12, if applicable), and the title of the artwork. Find out more at https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-360

Shipping process from Singapore to the USA

Follow these steps if you want your shipment to reach the USA from Singapore safely and smoothly.

  1. Create a DHL Express Air waybill (AWB).
  2. Prepare a shipping invoice.
  3. Pack your shipment.
  4. Call up for your shipment collection.

DHL’s MyDHL+ tool makes international logistics and shipping all the more convenient by enabling you to perform the steps above in a single platform. Through MyDHL+, businesses can create waybills, shipping labels, and invoices, schedule pickups and collections, manage and track shipments, prepare relevant customs invoice data, and more. Find out more in our guide to booking and tracking shipments with MyDHL+.

Important notes:

Apart from the information provided above, companies should also take note of the following key information pertaining to shipping from Singapore to the USA:

  • All shipments entering the US with a value of over US$2,500 will require a phone number and email address of the consignee or importer on the invoice and AWB.
  • If an individual’s Harmonised Tariff Schedule (HTS) is valued over US$2,500 (Canada is exempt from this limit) or has a US export licence regardless of the price, an Electronic Export Information (EEI) is required to be filed with the US customs authorities.
  • If DHL completes the EEI filing and the shipment then gets moved to an Import Express account, a Power of Attorney (POA) is required from the foreign buyer (receiver).
  • Import of goods into the US from Iran with an Iranian origin are authorised and include:
    • Foodstuffs intended for human consumption.
    • Carpets and other textile floor coverings and carpets used as wall hangings.
  • PO Box addresses, as well as APO and FPO addresses, are not permitted in the US.

Benefits of shipping goods with DHL Express to the USA

Engaging DHL Express for your global shipping and delivery needs ensures you are connected with our experts in customs and logistics. Advantages of shipping with our express shipping services include:

  • Coverage of over 220 territories across the globe.
  • Simplified door-to-door shipping services for parcels and packages in varying sizes, including international last-mile delivery.
  • Flexible delivery options allowing customers to decide the time and place of the delivery or shipment collection.
  • Easy-to-understand processes with the help of MyDHL+, MyBill, and ODD (On-Demand Delivery) tools and services.
  • Real-time updates of the clearance of the shipment statuses for transparency from start to finish.

Worry no more about how long it will take to ship your items, how much international shipping will cost, or whether you’re getting the cheapest international shipping service possible. By creating a business account with DHL Express, you can discover first-hand just why we’re the best courier service to ship from Singapore to the USA, thanks to our upfront and transparent pricing and processes. For more information about other commodities and services, please get in contact with our certified international delivery and logistics specialists.