Guide to shipping from Malaysia to Singapore

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The shipping industry is a crucial pillar of Malaysia’s economy. It handles the export of diverse products, from electronics to petroleum products, reaching markets globally.

Among these, its trade relationship with Singapore stands out. As the leading destination for Malaysia's exports, Singapore contributes 14% of the country's total outbound trade, as per reports by Trading Economics. A Standard Chartered’s Future of Trade 2030 report further forecasts the profitability of the trade, noting that by 2030, exports to Singapore will increase to 17% of Malaysia's total.

Understanding that Singapore plays a key role as Malaysia's trading partner, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide featuring practical tips for effective and successful courier delivery between the two countries.

Main products shipped from Malaysia to Singapore

Malaysia's export portfolio to Singapore is both diverse and strategically vital. Leading the charge is the electrical and electronic sector. Reports by Statista reveal that in 2022, this sector alone accounted for exports valued at approximately RM593.5 billion, with electronic integrated circuits contributing a substantial RM301 billion.

However, the export landscape is multi-faceted. Mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products are also noteworthy, with a 2022 export value of RM75.52 billion, according to United Nations COMTRADE’s international trade data. This category serves as an indicator of the intricate energy relationship between the two nations. 

Additionally, machinery—including nuclear reactors and boilers—holds considerable weight, with exports valued at RM32.53 billion in 2022. It underscores the industrial synergy between Malaysia and Singapore, encompassing various machinery from manufacturing to power generation. 

For businesses looking to expand or solidify their presence in the Singaporean market, understanding these key exports is essential. It provides a strategic framework for leveraging Malaysia's postage services to Singapore effectively.

How to ship from Malaysia to Singapore?

Learn how to import from Malaysia to Singapore by following the steps below:

1. Secure your unique entity number and activate your customs account

Before you can ship from Malaysia to Singapore, your business must first register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to obtain a Unique Entity Number (UEN). This UEN is essential for all import and export activities. Once you have your UEN, proceed to activate a Customs Account, which is a prerequisite for all customs transactions.

2. Assess the regulatory status of your goods

Before initiating any delivery from Malaysia to Singapore, it's essential to confirm their regulatory status. This involves checking for specific controls to ensure you don’t bring any prohibited items to Singapore. For accurate and up-to-date information, you can consult databases using identifiers like the goods' description, Harmonised System (HS) code, or CA product code.

3. Establish an inter-bank payment mechanism

To facilitate the payment of import taxes and duties when shipping from Malaysia to Singapore, you'll need to set up an Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) from the customs in Singapore. This system enables direct, hassle-free payments from your bank account to the customs department.

4. Furnish the required financial guarantees

Financial security is mandatory for transactions involving dutiable goods or the operation of licensed premises. This can be a banker’s guarantee, a finance company guarantee, or an insurance bond. Make sure to comply to avoid any customs issues.

5. Obtain the necessary customs import permit

To ship from Malaysia to Singapore, either appoint a declaring agent or apply for the customs permits yourself. All permit applications must be submitted through TradeNet, a platform accessible via approved software vendors or a government front-end application.

6. Assemble all essential documentation for cargo clearance

Ensure that all necessary documents are in order for a smooth cargo clearance process. This includes invoices, packing lists, and Bills of Lading/Air Waybills. The specific documentation required may vary depending on the type of goods you're importing from Malaysia to Singapore.

7. Maintain comprehensive records of all import activities

Singapore customs mandates the retention of all relevant documents for a minimum of five years. These can be physical copies or digital scans. Keeping the records is a legal requirement and beneficial for future audits or inspections.

By following these detailed steps, businesses can navigate the complexities of shipping goods from Malaysia to Singapore more efficiently.

Tips to ensure a hassle-free import process

To make your shipping experience as smooth as possible, consider the following tips:

1. Understand the shipping regulations

When shipping from Malaysia to Singapore, it's vital to research the list of items prohibited to bring into Singapore. This is not just a matter of compliance; it's essential for maintaining your business reputation and avoiding costly disruptions.

For instance, last June 2022, there was a halt on chicken imports from Malaysia to Singapore. Although the ban has since been lifted just four months later, this example underscores the importance of staying updated on regulations to know which items or food you cannot bring to Singapore.

Moreover, certain food items like chewing gum, are strictly off-limits, unless it's dental or medicated. Controlled substances such as psychotropic drugs also fall under Singapore customs prohibited items. The same goes for any product containing nicotine or tobacco, and items like firecrackers and obscene materials.

These restrictions are enforced by law, and non-compliance could result in hefty fines or even imprisonment. Therefore, it's crucial to be aware of the prohibited items from Malaysia to Singapore and other regulations to ensure a smooth import process.

2. Be mindful of import taxes and duties

Understanding the financial aspects of shipping is equally crucial. Singapore has a specific tax structure you'll need to navigate when importing goods from Malaysia. This includes Goods and Services Tax (GST) and various customs duties that may apply depending on the type of product you're shipping.

Being well-versed in the import taxes Singapore imposes can help you budget more accurately and avoid any unexpected costs. For instance, certain goods such as liquor products or total valued goods over S$400 are subject to the standard 2023 GST rate of 8% in Singapore

It's essential to consult the latest Singapore customs tax rates and calculate the total cost of shipping your goods, including all taxes and duties. Failure to accurately account for these financial obligations can result in delays and additional expenses. 

3. Gather all documents required for import clearance in Singapore

For a smooth import process, having the proper documentation is essential. Businesses should prepare a comprehensive set of documents such as:

  • Commercial invoices
  • Packing lists
  • Bills of Lading or Air Waybills
  • Certificates of Origin
  • Additional permits or certifications may be required for specialised goods

A thorough understanding of Singapore's official import regulations is crucial to ensure that all paperwork complies. This will facilitate a smooth customs clearance process when you import from Malaysia to Singapore, helping you avoid any potential delays or penalties.

Streamline shipping from Malaysia to Singapore with DHL Express

When sending packages and parcels from Malaysia to Singapore, DHL Express stands as an unparalleled postage partner. With a global network that spans 220 countries and territories, we are uniquely positioned to connect businesses across international borders, ensuring that your packages reach their destination efficiently and cost-effectively.

Our expertise goes beyond mere shipping; we are a comprehensive solutions provider specialising in import and export servicesWe process more than 7 million customs entries per year, a testament to our proficiency in navigating complex customs regulations. 

Businesses in Malaysia exporting to Singapore can rely on us for compliance with customs regulations, including a thorough understanding of Singapore customs-banned items. This ensures a hassle-free, streamlined process that allows you to focus on what matters most—your business.

Trust DHL Express to handle your shipping needs from Malaysia to Singapore and experience the difference that comes with partnering with a world leader in logistics.